Applying to Physical Therapy Programs

Physical therapy is a rewarding and demanding field. In the United States, practicing physical therapists must earn their degrees from a CAPTE-accredited school. The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is 3 years in length and is the program available to new students. Master of Physical Science in Therapy and Master of Physical Therapy degrees are no longer available to new students in the United States. The American Physical Therapy Association maintains a list of CAPTE-accredited programs.

Most DPT programs require an undergraduate degree, but some offer 3+3 programs, where individuals may enter DPT programs after three years of undergraduate work. Rare DPT programs accept high school students.  


Course Requirements

Course requirements vary widely by program. Research your schools’ course requirements when planning your Sewanee schedule. Some schools require three courses in psychology, while others require one or even none. Nearly all DPT programs require coursework in anatomy & physiology, biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and statistics. Mathematics, exercise physiology, medical terminology, English, communication, humanities, and other courses may also be required. 

To develop competencies in the sciences, the following courses are recommended for Sewanee pre-physical therapy students (individual physical therapy school requirements may vary). 

One Year of Biology with Laboratory + Human Anatomy and Physiology - 
Note that BIOL133 and BIOL233 are non-lab courses that are pre-requisites for upper level biology lab courses that are required or highly recommended.

BIOL 133 Introductory Molecular Biology and Genetics 
BIOL 233 Intermediate Cell and Molecular Biology 

Highly recommended BIOL laboratory courses that may fulfill course requirements:
BIOL 223 Genetics (Lab)
BIOL 243 Molecular Methods (Lab)
BIOL 340 Microbiology (Lab)

Highly recommended BIOL courses needed for most schools:
BIOL 270 Human Anatomy (Lab)
BIOL 314 General and Human Physiology (Lab)

Additional recommended BIOL courses that will enhance your application: 
  • BIOL 203 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (Lab)
  • BIOL 224 Genetics
  • BIOL 229 Biology of Human Reproduction
  • BIOL 232 Human Health and the Environment
  • BIOL 275 Histology and Microanatomy (Lab)
  • BIOL 280 Molecular Genetics (Lab)
  • BIOL 312 General and Human Physiology
  • BIOL 318 Molecular Revolutions in Medicine 
  • BIOL 319 Cancer Cell Biology (Lab/320 no Lab)
  • BIOL 322 Genes and Behavior
  • BIOL 323 Environment and Development
  • BIOL 300 Biology of Aging (Lab/325 no Lab)
  • BIOL 331 Immunology
  • BIOL 333 Developmental Biology (Lab/334 no Lab)
  • BIOL 389 Epigenetics (Lab/388 no Lab)

One Year of Chemistry with Laboratory - 
Sewanee offers one semester of General Chemistry.  To satisfy the second semester of chemistry, most students will need an additional course.
CHEM 120 General Chemistry (Lab) or CHEM 150 Advanced General Chemistry (Lab)

Additional inorganic chemistry courses that will satisfy the second semester of chemistry for most schools that require an additional course:
CHEM 210 Solution and Solid State Chemistry (Lab)
CHEM 308 Inorganic Chemistry (Lab)
CHEM 352 Thermodynamics and Kinetics (Lab)

One Year of Physics with Laboratory -
Either Physics 101 followed by Physics 102, or Physics 103 followed by Physics 104, will provide a full year of physics with laboratory.
PHYS 101 General Physics I (Lab) and PHYS 102 General Physics II (Lab)
PHYS 103 Modern Mechanics (Lab) and PHYS 104 Electric and Magnetic Interactions (Lab)

One Semester of Statistics - 
STAT 204 Elementary Statistics

One Semester of Psychology - 
Many physical therapy schools require one semester of psychology, although some schools require additional semesters.
PSYC 100 Introduction to Psychology (Lab)
PSYC 101 Principles of Psychology

Additional Admission Requirements

DPT admission requirements vary, so check the requirements of the programs in which you are interested.  

Most schools require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Be sure to take the GRE a minimum of 6 weeks before your first application deadline. Check your schools' GRE codes in advance of the exam. A TOEFL score may also be required if English is not your primary language.  

Letters of reference may be required from professors, physical therapists, or other individuals. Most schools require two or three letters of reference. Check your schools’ letter requirements and be sure to request letters well in advance of your deadlines.

Many schools either require or recommend physical therapy observations hours. Frequently, a licensed physical therapist must verify these hours.  

Transcripts should be submitted from every university and college you have attended. Check your program to determine whether transcripts should be sent directly to your program or to the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). Recent and current Sewanee students can request their official transcripts through Banner. For directions, including how to request transcripts without a Banner ID, visit this website from the Registrar’s Office.

Deadlines: The PTCAS early decision deadline is August 15, 2017. Deadlines vary by program, with many regular application deadlines as early as the beginning of October. Be aware that many programs have rolling admission or more than one deadline. Research your programs and find out if they offer early decision, priority, or preferred deadlines.


Succeeding in the pre-health curriculum
The pre-health curriculum consists of a diverse array of coursework, much in the STEM fields. These courses are often extremely rigorous in order to provide students with the background skills and knowledge they need to succeed in health care fields. The Office of Medical and Health Programs (OMHP), partnering with the Sewanee Health Professions Society (SHPS), provides both leadership development opportunities for students interested in tutoring (apply here) and one-on-one peer tutoring for students seeking tutoring (request a tutor here). All peer tutors have not only succeeded in the courses in which they tutor, but they have also been shown to be good teachers and mentors.

For the academic year 2017-2018 the student leader of this program is Gil Horner.  If you have questions please refer them to Gil or Dr. Alyssa Summers.  

Those applying to be tutors need to fill out forms with Human Resources after being given approval from the Office of Medical and Health Programs. Time sheets also need turned in at a timely manner. This year time sheets are due by noon on the following dates: Sept. 4, Oct. 2, Oct. 30, Nov. 27, Dec. 18, Jan. 22, Feb. 19, Mar. 19, Apr. 16, and May 14 (no late pay sheets will be accepted after May 14th!). 

Those who have a tutor may be asked to evaluate their experience so we may provide the best mentorship and tutoring program for students. 

Apply to be a tutor here.

Request a tutor here.