College of Health and Human Services
Preparing for PT Graduate School
PRE-PHYSICAL THERAPY at BGSU
Physical Therapists (PTs) are health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. (American Physical Therapy Association website – http://www.apta.org).
Technically, there isn’t a specific major in “pre-physical therapy.” To become a licensed PT, students MUST attend a professional PT Program to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Students should be most concerned about achieving the requirements for admission to the DPT program of their choice. Applied Health Science is the most commonly chosen major for “pre-PT” because it offers all the required courses and allows room for much flexibility within the curriculum. Other majors that match up pretty well with the admission requirements include Athletic Training, Exercise Science, and Biology. However, students can choose ANY major - admission to PT graduate programs is based on overall GPA, prerequisite course GPA, experience/knowledge of the field, and leadership/involvement.
ADMISSION TO PT GRADUATE PROGRAMS:
While PT Program admission requirements will vary by school, they generally include: 3.00 minimum college GPA, 1 year each of college courses in biology, chemistry, and physics (all with labs), and courses in general psychology, lifespan psychology, human anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, math, and completion of the GRE exam (like an ACT/SAT, but for graduate school). In addition to the GPA and classes, students are often required to document volunteer/observation hours under a licensed physical therapist. Students often plan these hours during their school vacations and/or summers.
PARALLEL DEGREE PLANNING:
Many students are perplexed by the following question: What do I do with a degree in "X" if I don't get admitted to a DPT program? This is a difficult question to answer. Ultimately, a student's choice of major will come with "pros" and "cons" related to PT graduate program admission. For example, the Applied Health Science curriculum offers a lot of flexibility for choosing electives, but many students think it offers few solid career outcomes. Conversely, the Athletic Training curriculum results in licensure and training for that profession, but lacks several basic science courses required for admission to PT school, so the student would need to develop a plan to complete the additional science requirements.
To review, admission to DPT programs is very competitive, but the process is simple: 1) complete a bachelor’s degree that includes all the prerequisites for admission to the DPT programs of your choice 2) earn very good grades 3) get some hands-on experience through volunteer work or observation 4) apply to PT schools at the end of your junior year of college!