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Physical Therapy

Will Huntingdon prepare me for physical therapy school?

Christian vick harrell

Dr. Christian Vick Harrell ’12 graduated with her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in May 2015.

The Huntingdon College Physical Therapy Track program provides you with the skills, knowledge, confidence, laboratory training, and communication skills to be successful in physical therapy school and in a variety of P.T. settings. Because of our challenging coursework, on-site physical therapy clinic, integrated contact sport athletic training program, and opportunities for meaningful internships, you will gain a competitive advantage for admission to P.T. programs. Letters of recommendation—written by Huntingdon faculty who know you personally throughout your Huntingdon academic career—will strengthen your physical therapy school applications. Mock interviews, essay writing assistance, and personal advising by faculty in Huntingdon’s Pre-Health Professions Committee are part of the Huntingdon Physical Therapy Track.

Preparing for the Admission Process

The Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS: http://www.ptcas.org/home.aspx) allows PT applicants to use a single web-based application and one set of materials to apply to multiple PT education programs. The purpose is to facilitate the admission process for applicants and programs, promote the physical therapist profession and educational programs to a broad spectrum of applicants, and provide rich applicant data for institutional, regional, and national analysis.

Applied A and P

PT Track/Exercise Science students in the Applied Anatomy and Physiology II class visit Montgomery Cardiovascular Associates’ Fitness Center at Baptist Health.

A list of participating programs and instructions is available on the PTCAS website. Not all professional PT education programs participate in PTCAS. Applicants who wish to apply to a NON-participating PTCAS program must apply directly to the institution using the PT program’s local application.

What to do:

  • Research PT programs to determine the ones that may best meet your educational needs.
  • Complete course prerequisites for your designated programs.
  • Obtain physical therapy experience and have your hours verified by a PT, if required by your designated programs.
  • Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) at least 6 weeks before the application deadline.
  • Request references from appropriate individuals, if required by your designated programs.
  • Arrange for official transcripts from every college/university attended to be sent to PTCAS or the institution, as required by the programs.
  • Submit the completed application EARLY and before the program’s deadline date. Some programs use a rolling admission process.

College Course Prerequisites

Zac Baldwin

Zac Baldwin ’15 is working toward his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at the University of St. Augustine.

The course prerequisites for admission vary significantly across PT education programs. Visit the institutional website or the PTCAS directory to determine what courses are required by each institution. PT programs may require pre-professional (pre-PT/undergraduate) science courses to be completed in a 4-year university/college within the 7–10 years prior to enrollment. Be prepared to identify what classes you have taken (or will take) to fulfill the program’s course requirements. The most commonly required course prerequisites are below:

  • Advanced Psychology (abnormal, developmental, sports, etc.)
  • Advanced Biology (cell, microbiology)
  • Anatomy and Physiology I & II
  • Biology I & II
  • Chemistry I & II
  • Physics I & II
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

Other Admission Requirements

Minimum GPA – Most PT programs have minimum grade point average (GPA) requirements. These minimum scores vary by institution and may be low as compared with the average GPA of applicants offered admission. The average overall undergraduate GPA for accepted PTCAS applicants from 2011 through 2015 was 3.68.

GRE – Most PT programs require applicants to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Programs may have minimum acceptable scores and last acceptable test dates. Policies regarding the consideration of multiple sets of GRE scores vary by institution.

Domonique Martin

Dr. Domonique Martin ’11, who earned her doctorate in physical therapy at Alabama State University, gained field experience during her Huntingdon years at the Pro Impact physical therapy clinic on Huntingdon’s campus.

Physical Therapy Volunteer Experience – Many programs require applicants to have a certain number of volunteer or paid PT experiences working with patients under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. The program may specify the settings and types of experiences required. Applicants may also be required to have a licensed physical therapist verify the hours. This experience may be an important factor in the admission process. Respectfully contact physical therapy clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities (eg, nursing homes), and other healthcare settings in your area to find observation opportunities. APTA cannot assist you in these efforts.

References – Many physical therapist programs require 1–4 letters of reference (also known as “letters of evaluation” or “recommendations”) as part of the admission process. You may need to submit references from a particular individual, such as a physical therapist, science professor, or academic adviser. If references are required, select individuals who meet the program’s requirements, know you well, and can speak to your maturity, dependability, dedication, compassion, communication skills, leadership, and any hands-on experience in the field.

Interviews – PT programs may require competitive applicants to visit the campus for an interview. The interview format varies by institution. Applicants may be required to speak with a single faculty member, a student, a physical therapist, or a panel of interviewers, or to participate in an orientation program. If invited, dress in professional business attire. Applicants should be prepared to discuss why they have chosen to pursue a career in physical therapy and how they perceive the role of physical therapists in health care. Those who have researched and gained direct exposure to the profession will be better prepared to respond to the interview questions. During the interview, applicants may be rated on their oral communication skills, professional behaviors and attitudes, ability to interact in a group, knowledge of the profession, ability to solve problems, and motivation to pursue a career in physical therapy. The applicant’s written communication skills may also be measured with an on-site essay.

For more information about the Physical Therapy Track program, contact Pre-Health Professions adviser Dr. Mike Bamman.