Preparation for Physical Therapy Programs

PrePhysical Therapy

Academic Preparation

Academic preparation for a Physical Therapy (PT) program requires completion of a set of prerequisite classes, usually science, which vary from school to school. Most programs require a Bachelor’s degree in order to matriculate. For your degree, any major is appropriate. There is no preference in this regard, so study something you love!

Extracurricular Preparation

Preparation for Physical Therapy programs involves engaging in experiences that develop and demonstrate skills in communication, leadership, community service, and familiarity with the profession. What you do outside of class is as important as what you do in class so don’t neglect these activities. Keep in mind that these activities complement your coursework, but will not compensate for low grades. Both are important!

Extracurricular Activities

  • Make sure you have contact information for supervisors and physicians you work with or shadow in case you need a recommendation letter. Try to keep an open relationship with them after you discontinue activities.
  • Keep a record of all hours of service and experiences. The Prehealth Planner Spread Sheet on our website can help with this.
  • Writing reflections on each activity in a journal will be helpful when you write your personal statement.

This should be one of your first experiences as a PrePT student. Observing Licensed Physical Therapists working in different environments will help you understand the profession. Shadowing also help you get to know PTs. This is important as many programs require at least one recommendation letter from a PT. Many students find shadowing opportunities through volunteer experiences at medical facilities private facilities and wellness clinics.

Interacting well with sick people is one of the key indicators of a successful healthcare provider. In order to gain experience providing direct “hands-on” with patients, most students obtain a job as a PT Aide in hospitals, nursing homes or hospice care after volunteering several months at these facilities.

(UUPT suggests students shadow a minimum of 100 hours, but the average number of observation hours among matriculated students to their program is 250 hours with 1-2 different PTs.)

Since you are preparing for a humanitarian profession, it is important to demonstrate compassion, and interact with people from different backgrounds from your own. This will strengthen your interpersonal and communication skills. This does not have to be only in a medical field.

As a physical therapist, you will be a leader and team member in many ways – with your patients, your staff, your colleagues, and in your community. Examples includes offices held in organizations, committee work; leadership in church activities; coordinating a project; managing, training, supervising at work or in other activities; teaching experience of any kind; coaching, peer counseling or mentoring, etc.

For University of Utah PT program (UUPT), leadership is considered equally important as observing PTs.

PrePhysical Therapy Coursework

This guide is designed for applying to a range of PT programs. It is not a comprehensive list. Requirements may vary by school so applicants should look closely at what is required at the schools at which they are applying. The following list indicates the most commonly classes required or recommended by PT programs in the west and the top ten schools that University of Utah graduates attend.  See a Preprofessional advisor for more information.

AP & IB CREDIT

Students with Advance Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) credits in science or math should meet with a Preprofessional advisor in order to discuss AP in relation to prerequisite classes. Those awarded hours may or may not be accepted to complete prerequisite coursework. Check each program’s requirements online. For example, The Univeristy of Utah PT program (UUPT) will accept AP Math tests with a score of 4 to fulfill Calculus I, but many other programs do not.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE CREDITS

PT schools vary on their view of prerequisite classes taken at Community Colleges. Some accept them but look on them with some disfavor, other schools readily accept them.  Students should be aware of this when planning their education.

There are a number of very good reasons for students to begin their college education at a Community College, so we have some recommendations for those who wish to do so. In general it is okay to take the following classes at the Salt Lake Community College.

MATH 1050 College Algebra and anything below

MATH 1060 Trigonometry

BIOL 1610 & 1615 General Biology 1 labs in place of BIOL 1210 at the U of U

CHEM 1210 & 1215 General Chemistry 1 with lab

ENGL 1010 and 2010

  • CLEP Credit & Correspondence Study—Credits may or may not be accepted as completed prerequisite coursework. Check each program’s requirements online.
  • Online Courses—Depends on program. Ask programs you are considering applying to directly.
  • Withdrawals— W’s should be used only for emergencies, although W’s will not affect GPA.
  • GPA Most PT programs require minimum overall AND prerequisite GPA of 3.0. Competitive applicants for most programs have 3.3 or higher in both the overall and prerequisite GPA.
    • UUPT requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 for both cumulative and prerequisite GPA to apply, but they recommend a minimum prerequisite GPA of 3.2 or higher. The average prerequisite GPA for students accepted to the UUPT program is 3.4.
  • Minimum Course Grade Requirement— Most programs set a minimum grade requirement for prerequisite courses of C or better.
  • Grade Expiration— Many programs require certain prerequisite courses to be completed within 5 to 7 years of entering a PT program. Check each program’s requirements for more information.
    • UUPT requires anatomy and physiology courses to be taken within 7 years, and math courses within 10 years.
  • Repeated Courses— PTCAS will include all of the grades if you repeat, but how each PT program views repeated courses varies.
    • UUPT will take the better grades only in prerequisite courses. However, many programs, including UUPT will consider your performance in each class and the frequency of repeats. It is better to take it once and do well.

Science Courses

BIOL 1210, Principles of Biology (3 credits) Even if not required, this is the prerequisite for most Biology classes

BIOL 2325, Human Anatomy (4 credits) Prerequisite BIOL 1210

Required by UUPT

BIOL 2420 Human Physiology (4 credits) Lab 2425 (1 credit) Prerequisites BIOL 1210 and CHEM 1210

Required by UUPT

REQUIRED OR RECOMMENDED BY SOME SCHOOLS

KINES 3091 Exercise Physiology (3 credits) Lab KINES 4301 (3 credits) Prerequisite BIOL 2325, BIOL 2420, and MATH 1050

Required by UUPT

In order to take the proper math class, you must have ACT, SAT or math placement test scores, or successfully pass a prerequisite math course. Some students will need MATH 0980 or MATH 1010 before starting the PrePT Math sequence.

REQUIRED BY MOST SCHOOLS

MATH 1050 College Algebra (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1010 or placement

MATH 1060 Trigonometry (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1050 or placement

Math 1070 Statistics (3 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1010 or placement. Other Statistics classes can be accepted (for example, PSY 3000, FCS 3210 or SOC 3112)

Required by UUPT

U of U PT Program (UUPT) requires any 1 years sequence of Chemistry. However, many schools have more specific requirements

REQUIRED BY MOST SCHOOLS

CHEM 1210 General Chemistry I (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1050 or math placement

Lab CHEM 1215 (1 credit)

CHEM 1220 General Chemistry 2 (4 credits) Prerequisite CHEM 1210

Lab CHEM 1225 (1 credit)

REQUIRED BY SOME SCHOOLS

CHEM 2310 Organic Chemistry I (4 credits) Prerequisite CHEM 1220

Lab 2315 (2 credits)

REQUIRED BY SOME SCHOOLS

1 year of Physics with labs: Students have 2 series to choose from

Algebra and Trig based Physics

PHYS 2010 General Physics I (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1060

Lab PHYS 2015 (1 credit)

PHYS 2020 General Physics II (4 credits) Prerequisite PHYS 2010

Lab PHYS 2025 (1 credit)

OR

Calculus based Physics

PHYS 2210 Physics for Scientists and Engineers I (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1210

Lab PHYS 2015 or 2215 (1 credit)

PHYS 2220 Physics for Scientists and engineers II (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1220 and PHYS 2210

Lab PHYS 2025 or 2225 (1 credit)

Non-Science Courses

REQUIRED BY MOST SCHOOLS

2 semesters of English Composition courses

WRTG 1010 (3 credits)

WRTG 2010 (3 credits) Prerequisite WRTG 1010

CW course (3-4 credits) If no course in your major, choose something from either Writing or English department

REQUIRED BY MOST SCHOOLS

1-2 Psychology courses (Usually PSY 1010 + Upper Division course such as Abnormal or Developmental Psychology)

UUPT does not accept Psychology Courses offered through the KINES department

REQUIRED OR RECOMMENDED BY SOME SCHOOLS

One Sociology course

UUPT requires current First Aid and CPR Certification before matriculation. Since these expire after 2 years they recommend getting them up to date after acceptance.

OPTIONAL PREPARATORY COURSES FOR MATH, CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS

  • MATH 10 (non credit) Math Boot Camp for Intermediate Algebra, 1 week workshop offered the week before fall and spring semesters begin
  • MATH 15 (non credit) Math Boot Camp for Precalculus, 1 week review workshop offered the week before fall and spring semesters begin
  • CHEM 10 (non credit) Chemistry Boot Camp for General Chemistry, 5 hours per day 5 days per week for 2 weeks
  • CHEM 1200 (3 credits) Preparation for College Chemistry, Usually offered online. Check class schedule for more information
  • CHEM 1208 (1 credit) Introduction to the Periodic Table, Offered online between semesters for 2 weeks
  • CHEM 2308 (1 credit) Introduction to Organic Chemistry Offered online between semesters for 2 weeks.
  • PHYS 1500 (3 credits) Preparation for College Physics, Offered once a year. Check class schedule for more information

OPTIONAL COURSES FOR EXPLORING THE MEDICAL FIELD

  • PH TH 1010Foundations of PT (2 credits) offered online
  • College of Health LEAP, LEAP 1100 (3 credits) and 1101 (3 credits), 2 semester seminar course for Freshman considering health majors, http://leap.utah.edu/program-options/college-of-health/.
  • HEDU 2010 (3 credits)Introduction to Health Profession (Fall only)

Prepare for Letters of Recommendation

Requirements for letters vary between schools, so research schools early and know what you need. Generally, you will need one letter from each of the following people. Plan ahead! Get to know people from these categories so they can write excellent letters for you. The PT Application Service, PTCAS, limits applicants to 4 letters, but most programs just require 3 letters.

  1. Physical Therapists you shadowed
  2. Professor (Usually Science)
  3. Any Supervisor (Usually employment)
  4. Other professor (Possibly a professor in your major. UUPT may accept a letter from an athletic coach.)
  • Tell professors at the beginning of the semester that you would like them to keep an eye on your performance in class. It will give them a longer observational window.
  • Visit their offices regularly
  • At the end of the semester, if you do well, ask them if they would be willing to write you an excellent letter of recommendation when you are ready to apply.
  • A key to a good letter is the establishment of a relationship between student and professor based on shared academic interests.
    • Ask thoughtful questions
    • Delve deeper into concepts presented in lectures
    • Share your academic and career goals
    • Ask for recommendations for additional reading
    • Inquire about their areas of interest and research
  • After you have gotten to know professors, ask about further opportunities, e.g. teaching assistantships, individual research projects, etc.

Resources

Prehealth Planner Keep Track of your activities, and your research on medical schools.
downloadable summary  

personal statement guide

 
Last Updated: 5/24/18