University General Course Catalog 2017-2018 
    Jun 07, 2023  

Physical Therapy, Preparatory

A physical therapist is a healthcare professional concerned with restoration and maintenance of function following disease or injury. Their patients include accident and stroke victims, injured athletes, children with disabilities and people with minor joint or muscle aches. The goal of therapy is to improve circulation, strengthen muscles, restore motion, correct deformities, relieve pain and expedite recovery. In addition to clinical work, physical therapists can advance into the areas of research, administration, supervision and teaching.

Personal qualifications important to physical therapists include patience, empathy and warmth, strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to instruct and motivate. Patients often are suffering emotional as well as physical stress, and treatment requires sensitivity in addition to technical proficiency on the part of the therapist.

Students obtain a bachelor’s degree, while simultaneously fulfilling requirements for entrance into a physical therapy degree program. Practicum experience is required to help students clarify career goals and provide opportunities to consult practitioners who have current information about the profession. Most schools require 100 to 200 hours of actual work or volunteer experience prior to admission.

Required Pre-Physical Therapy Course Work

Pre-physical therapy is not a major, but a set of courses required by physical therapy programs for admission. Any major is appropriate as long as the student fulfills all pre-physical therapy requirements, be it through required courses or elective courses. Choose a major according to your strengths and interests. It is wise to work toward a degree in any area which would serve as an attractive alternative in the event you were deterred from your goal in physical therapy. High school students are advised to gain a strong foundation in math and sciences.

Due to the dynamic nature of physical therapy education, the prerequisite courses set by each program are subject to change. It is the applicant’s responsibility to determine the requirements of the school(s) of his/her choice and to fulfill these requirements before the projected date of entrance.

All required course work must be taken for a letter grade. The basic course requirements of the majority of physical therapy programs are listed below.



Biological Sciences


There are several courses from which to choose, please refer to the Course Offerings  section of this catalog.


In addition, other courses such as calculus, computer science, oral communication, microbiology, sociology and exercise physiology are required by some schools. Check the requirements of each school to which you are going to apply.

Application Process

Applications to physical therapy programs are made during fall semester a year in advance of expected enrollment. Most physical therapy schools belong to a centralized application service (PTCAS) that allows students to apply through one initial application.  PTCAS applications are submitted approximately one year prior to entering physical therapy school.  For more information go to Schools of physical therapy usually do not accept students with grade point averages below 3.0.  Most schools require a statement of purpose as well.  

Letters of Recommendation: Most programs require that the applicant send two or three letters of recommendation. It is advisable that one letter be from a physical therapist, preferably one with whom you have worked. Also letters from science instructors and/or former employers may be required.