Preparing for Physical Therapy School
The Huntingdon College Physical Therapy Track program provides you with the knowledge, confidence, laboratory training, and skills to be successful in physical therapy school and in a variety of P.T. settings.
Huntingdon offers an on-site physical therapy clinic in which students can gain hands-on experience. In addition, contact sport athletic training provides an important resume-building experience. Challenging coursework and opportunities for other meaningful internships give you a competitive advantage for admission to P.T. programs. Moreover, letters of recommendation written by Huntingdon faculty who know you well 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.
Through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS), PT applicants may use a single web-based application and one set of materials to apply to multiple PT education programs.
The PTCAS website lists participating programs. Not all professional PT education programs participate in PTCAS. If you choose to apply to a non-participating program, simply apply directly to the institution using the program’s local application.
The Steps to PT School Application
- Research PT programs to determine the ones that will meet your educational needs.
- Find out the courses the programs you have selected require for admission.
- Gain physical therapy experience and have your hours verified by a PT, if required by your programs.
- Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) at least 6 weeks before the application deadline.
- Request references from appropriate individuals.
- Arrange for official transcripts from every college/university attended to be sent to PTCAS or the institution, as required.
- Submit the completed application before the program’s deadline date. Some programs use a rolling admission process.
College Course Prerequisites
Course prerequisites for admission vary significantly across PT education programs. Visit the institutional website or the PTCAS directory to determine the courses required by each institution. At the same time, identify the classes you have taken or will take to fulfill the program’s course requirements.
The most common prerequisites are:
- Advanced Psychology (abnormal, developmental, sports, etc.)
- Advanced Biology (cell, microbiology)
- Anatomy and Physiology I & II
- Biology I & II
- Chemistry I & II
- Physics I & II
Other Physical Therapy Admission Requirements
Most PT programs have minimum grade point average (GPA) requirements. These scores vary by institution. The average overall undergraduate GPA for accepted PTCAS applicants from 2011 through 2015 was 3.68.
Most PT programs require applicants to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Programs may have minimum acceptable scores and last acceptable test dates. Be aware that policies regarding the consideration of multiple sets of GRE scores vary by institution.
Physical Therapy Volunteer Experience
Many programs require that applicants volunteer or earn paid experience working under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. The program may specify the hours, settings, and types of experiences required. Often, this experience is an important factor in the admission process.
Respectfully contact physical therapy clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare settings in your area to find observation opportunities. APTA cannot assist you in these efforts.
Many physical therapy programs require one to four letters of reference 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. Your references should know you well and be able to speak to your maturity, dependability, dedication, compassion, communication skills, leadership, and hands-on experience in the field.
PT programs may require competitive applicants to visit 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 you are invited to interview, dress in professional business attire. Be prepared to discuss why you have chosen a career in physical therapy and how you perceive the role of physical therapists in health care. Research and PT experience prepare you to respond to interview questions. During the interview, you may be rated on your oral communication skills, professional behaviors and attitudes, the ability to interact in a group, knowledge of the profession, ability to solve problems, and motivation to pursue a career in physical therapy. In addition, your written communication skills may be measured with an on-site essay.
For more information about the Physical Therapy Track program, contact Pre-Health Professions adviser Dr. Mike Bamman.