Pre-Physical Therapy

What does a physical therapist do?

A physical therapist works with patients after an accident or debilitating medical condition to help regain gross motor function. They may help an amputee learn to walk with a prosthesis, help a person with back problems strengthen their muscles to alleviate pain, help stroke victims regain strength in the affected side, etc. Most physical therapists work in rehabilitation centers, but they can also be found in a variety of other settings including hospitals and outpatient clinics. Physical therapists may choose to specialize in acute care, orthopedics, geriatrics, pediatrics, sports medicine, etc.

How long will it take to obtain a degree in physical therapy, and what is the curriculum like?

Degrees in physical therapy are currently only at the Master's (entry-level MPT) or Doctorate level (entry-level DPT). Most Wittenberg students enter a Master's degree program in physical therapy program after graduating from Wittenberg. The entry level Master's program is typically 2 to 2.5 years and intended for college graduates who do not have a degree in physical therapy. During the program, you will become a licensed physical therapist. This opens opportunities for you to work in a clinic or hospital, open your own practice, or move into management. The terminal degree in physical therapy is the doctoral degree. Many schools are beginning to offer this degree, and the doctorate will be advantageous in the future if you desire to get into a clinic or hospital management position, run your own physical therapy practice, or teach in a physical therapy graduate program. The Doctorate programs add a basic research component investigating a problem related to the practice of physical therapy and generally take a total of 3 to 3.5 years to complete.

Pre-Health Advisor

Matthew Collier, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
BDK Science Center 207
(937) 327-6395

What courses should I take at Wittenberg to prepare for physical therapy school?

Many physical therapy schools require the following courses for admission:

  • 1 year of General Biology (170 and 180)
  • 1 year of Anatomy and Physiology, preferably human
  • 1 year of General Chemistry (121 and 162)
  • 1 year of Physics (201 and 202 or 280)
  • 1 year of Psychology, preferably Developmental and Abnormal
  • 1 year of English (101 and an English A course)
  • 1 semester of Statistics (DATA 227)

While the above prerequisites apply to many physical therapy schools, some schools add other requirements. Be sure to check the schools that you are interested in applying to for other required coursework, such as:

  • 1 semester of Neurobiology
  • 1 semester of Pathology (Electron Microscopy)
  • 1 semester of Sociology


  • Medical Terminology. Most Wittenberg students complete this requirement via an independent study. One recommended text is Medical Terminology, a Programmed Text by Smith et al. from Delmar Publications (1-800-347-7707)
  • Computer competency. You are expected to be computer literate upon enrollment. Completed by past experience as documented or course in computer science.
  • CPR certification
  • Shadowing of a physical therapist in 2 or more different settings (usually out-patient and in-patient settings).

What major should I pursue at Wittenberg if I am interested in physical therapy?

You can choose any of Wittenberg's 20+ majors as long as you take the prerequisite courses required by the schools to which you apply. As far as physical therapy schools are concerned, they do not put much emphasis on whether you graduate with a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree - that choice is yours. Look at the prerequisite requirements for the schools that you are interested in and the degree requirements for your major to determine which degree is the best match for you.

Do I need to have medically related hours when applying to physical therapy schools?

Yes. Most physical therapy programs have specific minimum requirements for number of paid or volunteer hours spent with a physical therapist. The required minimum number of hours varies greatly from school to school (see tables below). The schools usually prefer that you spend time with a physical therapist in at least 2 different settings (cardiac rehabilitation center, hospital, small physical therapy clinic, etc.) to better get a feel for the breadth of the profession. Volunteering for 2-3 hours each week during the semester demonstrates to the schools your loyalty and commitment to the profession at a time when they know you are already busy.

Is it important that I participate in extracurricular activities while at Wittenberg?

Yes. While the schools do not require a specific number of extracurricular activities or leadership positions, they look for both in your application materials. They consider how many years you spent with each organization and how involved you appear to be with each one (e.g., leadership roles). The schools use your experiences in this area to better understand your ability to socially interact with others, your leadership potential, and your time management skills. They seek to recruit well-rounded individuals who can successfully balance a heavy academic load with medically related experience and extracurricular activities. If successful, they infer that you will rise to the challenge of their academic program when you have fewer non-academic commitments.

How can I locate the physical therapy program that is best for me?

Start early. The physical therapy schools have not agreed on one standard set of prerequisite requirements. Identify 8-10 schools of potential interest before registering for classes in the spring of your SOPHOMORE YEAR. The courses listed above are common to many physical therapy schools, but there may be additional requirements for the schools you are interested in. It is best to know about those requirements while you still have room in your schedule to fulfill them.

Do research. Go to the schools' websites and make a table of courses required, average GPA of their incoming class, and number of hours in a medical setting (if any). These will give you some idea of where you need to be academically when you graduate from Wittenberg, and the courses you need to take inside your major and in the general education program to make you a good candidate for that particular set of schools. Schools consider both your science GPA and your cumulative GPA, so it is not wise to prioritize your grades in science courses over those taken for your general education requirements. The American Physical Therapy Association website ( is a great resource for students interested in pursuing a degree in physical therapy.

Summarize your findings.Create a sample table of school information assuming all require general biology and general chemistry. Add a column for each different course as you encounter them as prerequisites at your schools of interest.

 Human A&PBiochemPsychPhysicsO Chem IAverage GPAHours with a PT
School 1XXX X  
School 2XX XX  
School 3X X X  

Evaluate your findings. Match your cumulative GPA and GRE scores with the averages for the last incoming class at each school. Read all web pages for the hospitals/medical centers that have a specialty that interests you. Make sure that the schools you have interest in are accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association. Look for data that report on the percentage of students that have passed the board exams.

Always apply to the schools in the state where your parents are living and paying taxes. You have the best chance to get into the public schools in that state, and the tuition at your in-state school is much less than at a private or out-of-state public school. Apply to the physical therapy school(s) in your home state. If your parents live in Michigan, you should definitely apply to the Michigan physical therapy schools. Michigan residents who lived in Ohio for 4 years while attending Wittenberg get no preference to Ohio's physical therapy schools. When choosing to apply to schools outside of your home state, choose schools that accept at least 30% out-of-state students, which are usually private schools. This ensures that you at least have a chance to be interviewed. Apply mainly to private physical therapy schools outside of your home state. Consider applying to between 5 and 7 physical therapy schools.

How and when should I apply to physical therapy schools?

  • If you intend to go directly from Wittenberg to physical therapy school, it is generally wise to apply directly to the schools of your choice by the end of October of your senior year. While not all of the deadlines occur at this time, many schools have rolling admissions and getting your application in early can make a difference in your outcome.
  • You should take the GRE prior to your application (see below), if required by the schools to which you are applying.
  • Typically, they will require official transcripts and three letters of evaluation be sent on your behalf in addition to the regular application materials. It is best to have at least one faculty member and one physical therapist send letters to the physical therapy school, but be sure to follow the specific directions for each school.
  • Some physical therapy schools do not require on campus interviews. It is in your best interest to arrange a visit with the schools that you are interested in, however, to better evaluate their faculty, facilities, and students in order to determine which schools are a good match for you.
  • Wait for the results of your application after the interview to find out if you have been accepted, wait listed, or rejected by that particular school.
  • You are at a disadvantage if you opt to take the GRE late or submit your materials late in the cycle - applications are often considered as they arrive, not at the time of the deadline. Complete and send your materials in a timely manner.

Do I need to go through the Pre-Health Professions Committee when applying?

No. Physical therapy schools do not require its applicants to have a composite letter of evaluation that is generated by Wittenberg's Pre-Health Professions committee. Instead, you will usually be required to have three letters of evaluation submitted directly to the schools on your behalf. When choosing your evaluators, consider asking at least one physical therapist and one faculty member, but be sure to follow the specific directions for each school to which you apply.

What is the General Record Exam (GRE)?

The General GRE is a test taken by students wishing to pursue a graduate degree in many professions including physical therapy and is typically taken at the end of your junior year. It is not a test based on specific courses that you have taken in college, but rather is a test of general knowledge and aptitude. While it is not linked with specific courses, the General GRE is difficult, and you should consider studying for it well in advance. The verbal section is particularly difficult as they assume that you have continued to learn new vocabulary throughout your college career. It may be taken as many times as you like, but has a mandatory wait period before it may be retaken. The General GRE is a computerized test that can be taken year round at testing centers in Athens, Centerville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Stowe, and Toledo, Ohio.

The General GRE is approximately 3 hours in length and contains three sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning: Composed of analogies, antonyms, sentence completions, and reading comprehension, this section has students apply their knowledge of words, concepts, and sentence structure, and apply that knowledge to understanding complex passages.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: Consisting of basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis, this section tests logical reasoning and basic mathematical skills. You are not allowed to use a calculator for this section of the test.
  • Analytical Writing: This section is designed to assess your ability to communicate complex ideas effectively in writing. In the "issue" task, students choose one of two provided opinions and then construct and defend their own view of the issue. The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate sound thinking as you defend your position. In the "argument" task, students are given only one argument and critique the logic of that argument.

For more information on the GRE, visit the GRE Web site at or call 1-800-GRE-CALL.

Which physical therapy schools have Wittenberg students been accepted to in the last 10 years?

  • Andrews University
  • Bellarmine University
  • Duke University
  • Slippery Rock
  • University of Southern California
  • Washington University
  • Youngstown State

What are some of the physical therapy programs in this geographical area?

OhioAvg. GPAGREPT hoursDegree
Andrews UniversityDPT3.5Not required80 hours
Cleveland State UniversityMPT3.4RequiredNo requirement
College of Mount St. JosephDPT3.5Required>80 hours
Medical University of OhioDPT>3.0/td>Not requiredRecommended
Ohio State UniversityMPT, DPT3.5Required>40 hours
Ohio UniversityMPT3.5RequiredNo requirement
University of CincinnatiMPT>3.0>450 each of V&Q>50 hours
University of FindlayMPT>3.0Not required>100 hours
Walsh UniversityMPT3.51000 V&Q, 3.5 A. Writing24 hours
Youngstown State UniversityMPT3.6>100040 hours
Andrews UniversityDPT3.5Not required80 hours
Central Michigan UniversityMPT, DPT3.65Not required50 hours
Grand Valley State UniversityMPT3.4Not required50 hours
Oakland UniversityMPT, DPT3.4Not requiredNo requirement
University of Michigan - FlintDPT>2.8Not required20 hours
Wayne State UniversityMPT3.4Not requiredNo requirement
Indiana UniversityDPT>3.2Not RequiredRequired
University of EvansvilleMPT3.4Not required100 hours
University of IndianapolisDPT3.5RequiredNo requirement
Bradley UniversityDPT3.3/td>RequiredNo requirement
Governors State UniversityMPT>2.8RequiredNo requirement
Midwestern UniversityDPT3.3RequiredNo requirement
Rosalind Franklin UniversityMPT, DPT3.1Required40 hours
University of Illinois at ChicagoDPT3.2>1000 V&Q45 hours
Arcadia UniversityDPT3.61190 V&QRequired
Chatham College/td>DPT3.0RequiredRequired
Duquesne UniversityMPT>3.0Not required>250 hours
Gannon UniversityDPT3.46Not requiredNo requirement
Lebanon Valley CollegeDPTNANot required>30 hours
Neumann CollegeDPT3.0Required200 hours
Slippery Rock UniversityDPT>2.75Required>100 hours
Temple UniversityDPT2.850% on V&QNo requirement
Thomas Jefferson UniversityDPT>3.0Required>50 hours
University of PittsburghMPT3.51200 V&Q200 hours
Widener UniversityDPT3.2Required40 hours
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