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Pre-Physical Therapy

Overview

Physical Therapists (PTs) are licensed health care professionals who diagnose and work with patients of all ages to improve their physical and functional abilities. According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, “They help individuals maintain optimal health and fitness, and prevent the onset or progression of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities related to disease, disorders, and other conditions.” Physical therapists can specialize in a variety of areas and work in diverse clinical settings to practice.

By 2015, all physical therapy programs are required to grant a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). DPT programs usually last three years.

Here you will find information about pre-physical therapy required coursework, required tests for admission to physical therapy programs, and additional helpful websites about the field of physical therapy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for physical therapists is expected to grow by 39% between 2010 and 2020.

Coursework

Many physical therapy (PT) programs require the following coursework for admission to medical school. However, different schools may have different pre-requisite coursework so be sure to check with individual schools about their admission requirements.

Edgewood College's major academic plan (MAP) for biology majors planning for physical therapy is located here.


Biological Sciences

Many physical therapy programs require at least one general biology course with a lab as well as courses in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and exercise physiology. At Edgewood, we recommend the following Biological Sciences courses for a PT route:

  • Bio 151 General Biology: Cell Biology and Ecology (or)
  • Bio 181 Honors General Biology: Cell Biology and Ecology
  • Bio 152 General Biology: Genetics and Evolution (or)
  • Bio 182 Information Flow in Living Systems – Honors
  • Bio 210 Anatomy and Physiology I
  • Bio 211 Anatomy and Physiology II
  • Bio 220 Intro Human Biomechanics (offered in fall only)
  • Bio 415 Exercise Physiology (offered odd springs)

Chemistry

Some PT programs require two semesters of general chemistry with labs. At Edgewood, the following courses meet this requirement: 

  • Chem 120 General Chemistry I
  • Chem 121 General Chemistry II

English

Some PT programs require courses in English or composition.


Mathematics

Some PT programs require mathematics and/or statistics. We advise that you take at least one math course and one course in statistics, such as:

  • Math 114A Precalculus A: Algebra
  • Math 114B Precalculus B: Trigonometry
  • Math 231 Calculus I
  • Math 121 Statistics

Physics

Some PT schools require a one-year, or 8-credit, physics sequence with labs. At Edgewood we recommend either of the following two sequences (the second-sequence, Phys 201 and 202, is calculus-based):

  • Phys 130 and 131 General Physics I and II
  • Phys 201 and 202 College Physics I and II

Psychology

Many PT programs require 6 credits in psychology. Recommended courses include abnormal psychology and lifespan development. At Edgewood, these courses include:

  • Psy 101 General Psychology
  • Psy 210 Child Development
  • Psy 220 Adolescent Development
  • Psy 340 Abnormal Psychology
  • Psy 345 Lifespan Development

Many physical therapy programs require a minimum of 40 to 100 hours of supervised volunteer hours. Students need to volunteer in each of two different environments--i.e. a hospital and a clinic; or a nursing home and a school.

Relevant tests

Many PT programs require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for admission. A fee reduction program is available. Individual programs vary, so check with each PT program about any prerequisite tests.