Physical Therapy Programs: Evaluating Your Options


The right doctorate of physical therapy (DPT) program is different for everyone, and choosing the right program involves weighing several factors- from how the courses are scheduled to location of the program to admissions requirements. To help you narrow down your list of potential schools, we will take you through the following 3 step process, complete with resources to help you evaluate each individual school for all necessary criteria.

Step 1: Determine what DPT programs exist where you are willing to travel

Step 2: Find out if you meet minimum admissions criteria

Step 3: Determine which DPT programs fit your interests and needs

 

Step 1: Determine what DPT programs exist where you are willing to travel

We will start with what may be a quick way to eliminate some of your options- it is likely that you have a target location in mind as to where you would like to complete your DPT, with the exception of any programs that you already know about and have specifically sought out. Depending on if there are any limitations on where you can or are willing to complete your degree, you should make sure to check out all of your options in the places you are willing to go. To determine what’s available to you- check out our page on physical therapy programs by state.

Another thing to consider when thinking about location is in-state acceptance rates- if you are applying to schools where you are considered “out of state” it is good to know what portion of their acceptances go to in-state students. You can learn more about that on our page on physical therapy programs by state.

 

Step 2: Find out if you meet admissions criteria for your selected DPT programs

Many physical therapy programs have strict minimums for who will or won’t be accepted to a program based on a variety of factors. Although it is possible that some of these programs may offer some leeway on occasion, you should make sure you are aware of what these minimums are and that you apply to programs that you qualify for. Make sure to check requirements on the following:

GRE Scores

Some physical therapy programs do not require the GRE, others require it without a minimum score, and many have minimum scores for one or more of the subject areas. Some schools base requirements off percentiles and others base admissions off of raw scores. To learn more about GRE requirements for the schools you are interested in, check out our information on GRE requirements by school.

GPA Minimum

Most physical therapy programs have a GPA minimum. Sometimes, they have additional GPA requirements as well, such as a science specific GPA or a higher minimum for the later years of your bachelor’s coursework in instances where you had a rough start. To learn more about GPA requirements by school, check out admissions requirements resource.

Observation Hours

Some schools require you to take observation hours with a licensed PT in order to be accepted. These requirements can be nonexistent, or range from as low as 10 hours to as high as several hundred hours. Most programs have you apply through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS), where there is a standardized way in which licensed PTs can sign off on your hours. You can learn more about school by school requirements on our admissions requirements page.

 

Step 3: Determine which DPT programs fit your interests and needs

DPT programs can differ in how they are completed as well as in whether they fit your professional interests. It is important to research the following for each school that you apply to:

DPT Program Structure

How is the program’s curriculum structured? Do you need a program that offers a little more flexibility? There are a few DPT programs that offer part time or online options, which can narrow down your list considerably if you are looking for options that grant you that flexibility. Additionally, looking at a program’s website can help you understand more about when you can expect to be in class or completing clinical experience requirements throughout your program.

Which Programs Fit With Your Interests Within the Physical Therapy Field?

Physical therapy is an exciting field that offers you the opportunity to focus on a variety of specific areas if you choose to. If you already know that you want to focus on a certain aspect of the field, go on program sites to learn more about what courses are offered, who the faculty are, and what is being researched at the school, so you can find a program that aligns with your interests.

 

Narrowed Down Your List? Start Applying!

Once you have found schools that meet all of your criteria, it is time to start applying! While you will do most of your applying through PTCAS, they will also alert you of any programs that you must apply to separately.