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Factors to Consider When Selecting a Physical Therapy or Pre-Physical Therapy School

Higher Education Articles March 23, 2015

Due to the requirement of doctoral or master’s degrees to gain licensure in the field of physical therapy, undergraduate programs focusing particularly on the field are rare. Those looking to become physical therapists may complete bachelor’s degree programs in pre-physical therapy or health sciences if the programs feature a specified list of requirements for graduate degree programs in physical therapy.

Selecting a Physical Therapy or Pre-Physical Therapy School

No school offers bachelor’s degree programs in physical therapy; alternatively, various four-year universities and colleges offer majors in exercise science, athletic training, or pre-physical therapy through their physical education, natural sciences, and health divisions.

Students wishing to study physical therapy may do so only by earning a master’s or doctoral degree in the field as offered at colleges and universities through their health sciences, allied science, and rehabilitation medicine departments.

In this article, we take a look at some factors to consider when you select a physical therapy or pre-physical therapy school:


While few schools, if any, offer pre-physical therapy majors, coursework in these programs cover topic areas such as medical terminology and human anatomy beginning from the first semester onwards. Select a school that offers double major opportunities, such as exercise science and athletic training programs.


Pre-physical therapy degree programs may also include internship opportunities specific to physical therapy. Students may be able to develop necessary skills via hands-on experience offered at an early part of the program; students can then choose appropriate specializations and enhance their employment opportunities.

Preparation for Continued Education

Schools offer Master of Physical Therapy (M.P.T.) and Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) programs with unique pre-admission requirements, but coursework in these programs commonly cover courses such as statistics, psychology, mathematics, physiology, anatomy, physics, chemistry, and biology.

In some instances, students are required to take the prerequisite science courses in the form of laboratory coursework. Bachelor’s degree programs in pre-physical therapy may fulfill these requirements.

Graduate Concentration and Research Choices

Through their research labs, some schools offer facilities in fields such as musculoskeletal biomechanics, orthopedic analysis, and neuromuscular studies. Students can use research opportunities to enhance their program with variety and depth. Students in some graduate programs can choose from concentration areas such as a neurologic physical therapy.

Clinical Experiences

Physical therapy programs have compulsory clinical practicums and clinical internship components, although the extensiveness could vary by program.

Some schools involve students in internships through almost the whole duration of the graduate program. In some locations, fewer internship opportunities may be offered than in others.

Physical Therapy Programs

Bachelor’s Programs in Pre-Physical Therapy

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Pre-Physical Therapy may be the preferred program of some; others may choose a bachelor’s degree in biology or health sciences. Prerequisite courses typically include subject areas such as statistics, physics, anatomy, and biology. An internship is typically available in pre-physical therapy programs. Core coursework may cover subject areas such as:

•Medical terminology

Graduate Programs in Physical Therapy

Students take about three years to complete physical therapy graduate programs leading to a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT0 or a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). Students may have to complete supervised clinical practicums to add to the engagement in research. Students enrolled in accredited programs can qualify to take national and state licensure exams. Coursework includes:

•Orthopedic principles

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