Pre-Physical Therapy


Do you know what a physical therapist does?

He/she works with patients of all ages who have medical problems or other conditions that limit their ability to move around well or perform daily activities.
Requirements for admission to a graduate program leading to a doctoral degree in physical therapy (DPT)  vary among professional schools. If you are interested in a career as a physical therapist, please contact Pre-Health Professions Advisor at UNA and consult the catalog of the graduate school offering the physical therapy program. 
No specific major is required, although the most common majors nationwide are movement sciences like exercise science and biology.   Students applying to graduate programs must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university.  The following courses are usually required before acceptance into a physical therapy doctoral degree program.  These courses may be taken as part of your undergraduate degree program or in addition to it. Click here for a list of the PT schools, their pre-requisites and PT observation requirements.

PT Observation/Shadowing

Most schools of physical therapy want you to have significant shadowing of licensed physical therapists in several different types of settings (e.g. pediatric, geriatric, in-patient, out-patient, etc.). Most of the time, you will maintain your own records of shadowing hours (that you will add to your application when the time comes to apply), but some schools do want documented shadowing hours with school-specific forms that are available on the schools' websites.  Check your target schools before beginning shadowing.

Course Requirements vary among schools, however the following are the most common required pre-requisites:

  • Principles of Biology I & II
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II
  • General Chemistry I & II
  • General Physics I & II
  • Pre-calculus Trigonometry or Pre-calculus Algebra and Trigonometry
  • Statistics
  • General Psychology AND 2 other psychology courses (i.e. Psychology of Adjustment, Abnormal Psychology, Physiological Psychology)

Most of these courses are part of the curriculum for a major in biology, but if you wish to major in exercise science rather than biology, click here. Just remember many of these classes will have to be taken in addition to those required for the exercise science major. The choice of major is completely up to you!

If you are looking to stay in Alabama for PT school, you have four options:

Where you go is up to you and how you fit best with each program, but you need to apply to more than one program.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The GRE is the test taken for admission to most schools of physical therapy.  The GRE has three sections:  Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. The content closely mimics the types of thinking required of graduate programs.  For more information on the GRE, including test dates at UNA, click here.