Physical therapy is a great career choice. However, just thinking about the application process can be daunting.
In the US, physical therapy programs offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This clinical degree is considered entry level for physical therapy. Additionally, after obtaining your degree, you may need to pass a licensure exam in order to practice physical therapy.
The application process can be very competitive, with some schools accepting only 10-12% of applicants.
With this said, here are some tips to get you into physical therapy school:
1. Complete your undergraduate prerequisites. Check each program’s website to find out which classes are required.
Common classes include anatomy and physiology, chemistry, psychology, statistics, and physics. Maintain high marks. Most accepted candidates have an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or above.
2. Research the minimum and average GRE scores programs accept. Study with your target-score in mind before taking the GRE.
3. Be a well-rounded applicant. PT schools require, at minimum, 20-40 hours of observation in a clinical setting. Get as many hours as you can and try to get them in a variety of settings. Some good choices would include orthopedics, pediatrics, cardiac, or neurological rehab.
4. Choose which schools you want to apply to. There are many considerations when choosing which PT programs to apply to.Think about the location, cost of tuition, class size, and clinical requirements. Look at each school’s acceptance statistics (i.e. percentage of in-state vs. percentage out-of-state applicants they accept, average GPA and average pass rate on the board exam for accepted applicants).
It might seem to make sense to apply to 20 different PT schools to play it safe. But, keep in mind that not only does it take a lot of time to complete the supplemental application for each school, but every application has an associated application fee.
5. Use the Physical TherapistCentralized Application Service (PTCAS). This is a service offered by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) that allows applicants to use a centralized application to apply to many different PT programs.Currently, there is a fee (approximately $150) to apply to your first school and then an additional fee ($50) to apply to any additional programs. Not every US-based school participates in the PTCAS, so double check to ensure the schools you are interested in do participate.
6. Lastly, don’t procrastinate! Allow yourself adequate time to research schools and complete their individual application requirements like each school’s essay. Furthermore, give your references (typically a physical therapist and professor) plenty of time to write a recommendation for you.
Becoming a physical therapist requires a lot of hard work, but once you get in the field, the career can be very fulfilling. When you complete your studies, consider applying for a position at one of our Foothills Sports Medicine clinics, we have locations throughout the Phoenix Valley.