Person doing therapy on their arm

Pre-Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy programs vary in their admissions requirements, program delivery, missions, and quality. It is important to research Physical Therapy schools to determine which schools best fits your interests as well as your needs. Most students apply to an average of 4-5 Physical Therapy programs.

Pre-Physical Therapy Club

To join the Pre-Physical Therapy Club: 

  1. Sign up at Orgsync.com
  2. Search for Pre-PT Club
  3. Click "submit request"
  4. Pay the one-time fee

(See UVU Clubs office if you have further questions.)

 

Schedule an appointment

Prerequisite Courses

Note: Physical Therapy programs determine their own individual requirements. It is important for you to research the specific requirements for each school you are interested in applying to.

Your Pre-Health counselor will help you plan your prerequisite courses, ensuring a doable sequence and proper timeline. It is recommended you prioritize the registration of prerequisite courses over major and general education requirements as you may often finish some requirements during the application process.

Note: The prerequisites listed here are a general guideline of common courses required by Physical Therapy programs. It is your responsibility to research the specific requirements for each school you are interested in applying to. If you have questions, always contact each individual program.

Required by most Physical Therapy programs with a grade of C or better (generally avoid online pre-req. options):

  • College Biology I with lab: BIOL 1610/1615 (recommended)
  • Human Anatomy with lab: ZOOL 2320/2325
  • Human Physiology with lab: ZOOL 2420/2425
  • Principles of Chemistry I and II with labs: CHEM 1210/1215 and 1220/1225
  • Physics I and II with lab: PHYS 2010/2015 and 2020/2025
  • General Psychology: PSY 1010
  • Abnormal Psychology: PSY 3400
  • Principles of Statistics: MATH 2040 or BESC 3010
  • First Aid: HLTH 1200 or Advanced First Aid Certification (Must be current when applying)

In addition, some schools require the following courses:

  • Human Development and Life Span: PSY 1100
  • College Biology II with lab: Biology 1620/1625
  • Medical Terminology I: HLTH 1300
  • Public Speaking: COMM 1020
  • Trigonometry: MATH 1060 or Calculus I: MATH 1210 (Required by University of Utah)
Commission on Accreditation in PT Ed.

GPA

GPA is a vital part of your application to physical therapy school. All grades received for college credit may be calculated into your GPA even if you have retaken the class. If you have taken any classes at a different school or if you have retaken classes, your UVU GPA may not be an accurate calculation for vet schools.

You can calculate your science GPA by downloading the GPA calculator through the following link. Although the calculator is specific to MD medical schools, it is still a useful tool for other health professions programs. Most programs will calculate your GPA in a similar way - science GPA, non-science GPA and cumulative GPA. Be sure to follow the guidelines below for the most accurate calculation. 

GPA Calculator

GUIDELINES:

  • Include every course you have taken for college credit even if you have retaken the course.
  • Include transfer credit from other schools you have attended.
  • Biology courses include BIOL, MICRO, BOT and ZOOL.
  • Physics courses include ASTR.
  • Exercise Science courses that are science based (Kinesiology, Biomechanics, etc.) should be calculated with the science GPA.
  • Pass/Fail courses are not included in the GPA.

GRE

The GRE  is administered via a computer-based format on a year-round, first-come, first-served basis. Plan to register for the GRE early and take it at least 6 weeks prior to your earliest application deadline.

The GRE revised General Test measures:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing
About the GRERegister for the GRE

Studying for the GRE

Note: UVU does not endorse or recommend specific GRE preparation courses or materials. Research potential study methods and determine which ones fit your needs most appropriately. The GRE is a challenging exam that merits careful preparation. Plan to study for the GRE for several weeks in the way that fits your budget, schedule, and learning style best.

Kaplan Test PrepBYU Test PrepU of U Test Prep

Free Study Materials:

ETS Materials

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities help Physical Therapy programs evaluate your potential as a clinician and professional. They can help you stand out as an applicant and demonstrate your motivation for pursuing a career in healthcare.

Consider planning out your extra-curricular activities by semester, just like your prerequisite courses. Starting early helps avoid the stress associated with cramming everything into the last few semesters prior to the application.

Minimum Recommended Extra-curricular Activities

  • PT Experience:  The mean of those accepted is 200-500  hours of PT experience in at least 2 different settings. Some schools ask for 1000 hours
  • Volunteer Service: 45 hours during each of the pre-PT years including the year of application
  • Leadership: 2 different leadership positions during the pre-PT years
  • Research (strongly recommended): 50 hours. Must be hypothesis-based

It is extremely important to be involved in activities outside of the classroom in order to be competitive for admission into pharmaceutical school. GPA and GRE scores are important, but they do not make you unique. Extracurricular activities are a chance for you to set yourself apart and display your motivation for pursuing Physical Therapy and dedication to serving the community. Preparing to apply for PT school is NOT about checking off boxes. pharmaceutical schools are not going to care if you have done the experiences if you have not learned from them. Admissions committees want to know that you are willing and able to learn in any circumstance and/or environment.

Research

How do I do it?

There are a few different ways to participate in research.

  1. Create your own project
    1. Develop a hypothesis for a subject of your choice
    2. Approach a professional who knows how to conduct research and ask for his or her help as a mentor
    3. Work with the professional to complete the research following sound scientific principles
  2. Help a professor with his or her own project
    1. Approach a professor to see if he or she is participating in research
    2. If YES, ask if you might be able to participate/assist.
      1. Follow the professor's expectations to complete the research
    3. If NO, ask if he or she knows 2-3 people that might be able to help
      1. Use that reference to approach the referral
      2. Repeat steps until you find a professor who will accept your assistance
  3. Find a professional (healthcare professionals, research organizations, other universities, etc.) to help with an existing project
    1. Approach a professional to see if they might accept your assistance OR
    2. Apply for a research position/internship like you would apply for a job
    3. Follow the professional's expectations to complete the research

Healthcare Experience

What is it?

Healthcare experience outside of shadowing usually includes volunteering or finding employment in a healthcare setting, usually with direct patient contact (i.e. offering clinical care and not just working in a healthcare environment). Many students will consider getting a basic certification or may find opportunities that offer on-the-job training.

Examples of healthcare experience:

  • Volunteering with hospice
  • Working full-time as a paramedic
  • Taking a C.N.A. certification course and finding a position at a local hospital
  • Receiving on-the-job training to work as a Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy Tech
  • Getting an internship with the 30-Day Heart Challenge

Why should I do it?

Health professions programs will have greater confidence in your ability to interact positively with patients and withstand the rigor of a career in healthcare if they know you have already been part of the industry. As you work in healthcare, you will develop concrete examples of yourself showing compassion to patients, working with a team of healthcare providers, and solving problems. These experiences will likely assist you in your application, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and interviews. Additionally, many health professions programs actually REQUIRE healthcare experience or patient contact.

What are the expectations?

Research the requirements for your health professions program to ensure you are meeting their expectations for healthcare experience. Some programs will specify the hours required and may require the experience to be paid. The recommendation for physical therapy healthcare experience is 150-1,000 hours shadowing/experience.

How do I do it?

How you choose to get healthcare experience will depend on the qualifications of the jobs or volunteer opportunities you are seeking. Many positions in healthcare require a certification (e.g. C.N.A., medical assistant, paramedic) while others are more flexible and require on-the-job training. Sometimes approaching organizations directly is more effective than simply responding to job ads online. Many students will also offer to volunteer for free, which sometimes leads to paid employment.

For assistance looking for and applying to healthcare jobs, contact the UVU Career Development Center.

Choosing a Physical Therapy School

PT programs vary in their admissions requirements, program delivery, missions, and quality. It is important to research Physical Therapy schools to determine which schools fit your interests and needs most. Most students apply to an average of 4-5 Physical Therapy programs.

Choosing the right PT school for you takes significant research. Plan to apply to at least 4-5 schools, more if you do not feel you are as competitive as you would like to be.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Physical Therapy School

  • Admissions criteria
  • Location
  • Cost
  • Quality and reputation
  • Mission, philosophy, values
  • Curriculum and program delivery
  • Internship/externships
  • Specialties
  • Research interests
  • Career resources and job placement
  • Licensure test scores
  • Facilities
  • Faculty

Information on Physical Therapy Programs:

PTCAS ServiceAmerican PT AssociationCommission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Ed.

Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS)

Approximately 62%+ of all Physical Therapy programs use the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). PTCAS allows you to apply to several schools without filling out multiple applications. PTCAS usually opens early July and runs for nearly one year per admissions cycle. Follow the application instructions required by each school you plan to apply to.

Plan to apply to Physical Therapy school as soon as prerequisites are completed (or almost completed), starting in July). Ideally, students will apply to PT programs approximately one year prior to graduation.

PTCAS usually opens early July and applicants will typically apply one year prior to admission. The PTCAS application is subject to small changes each year, but generally you should plan to include:

  • Letters of recommendation (up to 4)
  • Official transcripts from every college/university attended
  • Personal statement—approximately 4500 characters
  • Verification of PT experience (from a licensed Physical Therapist)
  • Summaries of extra-curricular experiences
PTCAS Service

How to be Competitive for Physical Therapy School

Admission to Physical Therapy school is a highly competitive process. It is vitally important that Pre-Physical Therapy students prepare themselves to be competitive applicants during their undergraduate years.

Applicants are evaluated on a holistic level, with consideration on GPA, GRE scores, Physical Therapy shadowing/experience, research, and volunteer and leadership experiences.

Work closely with your Pre-Health counselor who can assist you with:

  • Prerequisite academic planning
  • Extra-curricular considerations (i.e. shadowing, pharmacy experience, volunteering, etc.)
  • PTCAS and the application process
  • GRE planning
  • Writing personal statements
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Mock interviews