Professional physical therapy education programs in the United States are doctoral-level programs (Doctor of Physical Therapy or DPT). Most of these programs require that applicants have earned a bachelor’s degree prior to admission into the DPT program. In addition, most DPT programs require a minimum number of clinical experience hours with a physical therapist.
Pre-physical therapy students should select an undergraduate major that complements their interests and strengths, while at the same time providing the necessary prerequisite courses. Most students will major in a science field such as biology, exercise science, or chemistry that will include at least some of the common prerequisites (e.g., Anatomy, Physiology, General Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Psychology). Each DPT program will vary in their specific requirements and it is the student’s responsibility to know the requirements for the programs to which they intend to apply. The American Physical Therapy Association’s website (http://www.apta.org) is an excellent resource for pre-physical therapy students. In addition, it is essential that an advisor in the chosen major be consulted early in the student’s academic career for proper guidance and course selection.
High school students intending to pursue a career in physical therapy should prepare for an undergraduate degree that is heavily science-based and rigorous. Their preparation should include higher-level math and science courses.