About Physical Therapy

Physical Therapists help patients restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent physical disabilities. PTs work in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, extended care facilities, clinics, and private offices. PTs often consult with physicians, dentists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists to coordinate patient care. Some PTs treat a wide range of ailments while others specialize in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, sports medicine, neurology, and cardiopulmonary physical therapy. Employers also seek PTs to evaluate worksites, develop exercise programs, and teach safe work habits. Physical therapy can be a physically demanding job that requires stooping, kneeling, lifting, and standing for long periods. 

Preparation and Applying

In order to be accepted into an accelerated BSN program, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree.

  • Shadow a physical therapist to make sure this is the right field and you truly understand what a PT does.
  • Many schools will require at least 40 hours of observing a professional in the field and that this time be spent in several settings (for example, in-patient and out-patient settings).
  • Many programs require a grade of C or higher in prerequisite courses.
  • Initial courses are similar to other professional health care fields such as MD and OT programs.
  • Take an aptitude test, which is typically the GRE.
  • If English is not your first language, a TOEFL score may be required.
  • Application to most schools is through an online system called PTCAS.
  • Competitive applications will have:
    • Strong academic performance including a grade point average of 3.4-3.8 and scores above national average on the GRE.
    • Leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.
    • Undergraduate research experience is a plus.
    • Volunteer and shadowing/observation experiences.
    • Strong positive letters of recommendation (mostly from faculty and physical therapists)
  • Early application is essential. PTCAS generally opens in late June/early July. Submission by mid-August is ideal.
Education and Licensure
  • A bachelor’s degree with a major in any field, prerequisite courses), and often an aptitude test (the Graduate Record Exam) are required.
  • Physical therapy education programs in the U.S. offer the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.
  • All physical therapists must pass a licensure exam before they can practice.

Additional Resources