Pre-Physical Therapy

​​​Physical therapists help people who have injuries or illnesses improve their movement and manage their pain. They are often an important part of rehabilitation and treatment of patients with chronic conditions or injuries.

Admission Requirements for Physical Therapy School

Education and Training

The Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) through the American Physical Therapy Association accredits entry-level academic programs in physical therapy. In 2013, there were over 230 accredited physical therapy programs.

From the time you begin college, you are assembling a complete universal application to apply to these professional schools. Physical Therapy schools will review your application as a whole; you can work with your advisors to provide a competitive application.

College Major

You are not required to select a particular major in order to be eligible for admission to a PT program. The most common undergraduate majors among Pre-PT students include Exercise Science, Biology, Psychology, Child Development, Therapeutic Recreation and Neuroscience. In selecting a college major, consider how you will you satisfactorily complete the prerequisite courses for your designated physical therapist programs in addition to the college/university's degree and major requirements. Work with your academic and/or pre-PT advisor to plan your course schedule.

You have the option to choose from a wide variety of undergraduate majors to prepare you for a physical therapy program. There are no major requirements; you can choose any major for physical therapy school.


Most programs look for a minimum undergraduate cumulative 3.0 GPA but the average GPA for matriculates is a 3.5 cumulative and a 3.6 in the sciences. Keep in mind these numbers are averages and various schools can have their own averages that are higher or lower. Also, these averages are climbing higher each year and admission to physical therapy schools is more competitive than ever. Be sure you take your studies seriously and put in the proper time for reading, studying, and review for each course.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

Most programs will require some standardized testing. The most common exam required by physical therapy schools is the GRE. This is a computerized exam offered year-round. Examinees may take the test once every 60 days, but no more than 5 times within a 12-month period.

In order to register for the GRE you will need to complete the following:

Click here for more information on the GRE.

Quick Look at the GRE

Verbal Reasoning (60 minutes)

  • 40 questions
  • Score range: 130-170
  • Content: reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, vocabulary
  • CMU courses with relevant content: ENG 101, ENG 201

Quantitative Reasoning (70 minutes)

  • 40 questions
  • Score range: 130-170
  • Content: basic math, algebra, geometry, data analysis
  • CMU courses with relevant content: MTH 105 or higher

Analytical Writing (60 minutes)

  • 2 essays (30 minutes/essay)
  • Score range: 0-6
  • Content: grammar, writing ability, analytical reasoning, communicate complex ideas, assemble evidence
  • CMU courses with relevant content: ENG 101, ENG 201

When do students take the GRE?

Usually in the spring or early summer after your junior year; however, the exam is offered year-round.

Where is the GRE administered?

On CMU's campus and in many locations throughout Michigan and the United States

What is the cost of the GRE?

$195, which covers the cost of sending scores to 4 graduate programs; additional fee for score reports beyond the 4.

How should you prepare for the GRE?

  • Begin at least 3 months before your test date
  • Questions emphasize problem-solving abilities, not rote memorization
  • Essential to obtain practice tests

Experience in Physical Therapy

Many PT programs require applicants to have a certain number of volunteer or paid experiences working with patients in a physical therapy clinic. The program may specify which settings or types of experiences are required. Applicants also may be required to have a licensed physical therapist verify the number of hours and type of experience. This experience may be an important factor in the admissions process.

Other qualifications. To be a physical therapist you should have strong interpersonal and communication skills so that you can educate your patients about their condition and treatments. Physical therapists also need to be compassionate and possess a desire to help patients.

Michigan Physical Therapy Schools

Applying to Physical Therapy Schools

There is a centralized application process for physical therapy school. You may file one application and send it to multiple physical therapy programs. Most physical therapy schools use the PTCAS (Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service) site as a centralized application site.

Course Requirements

Certain basic requirements must be fulfilled before you can be accepted to a graduate program in physical therapy. This is a GUIDE only.  Students must consult​ with their advisors AND the appropriate PT programs on a regular basis for revisions to course requirements and to identify and ensure completion of all required courses. Some of the most common requirements include:

  • 1 year Anatomy & Physiology
  • 1 semester Biology
  • 1 semester Exercise Physiology
  • 1 year Chemistry
  • 1 year Physics
  • 1 year Psychology
  • 1 semester Statistics
  • Mathematics

Below are the CMU courses we recommend to meet these requirements (these are not prerequisite courses for CMU's PT program):

Subjects Course Numbers Credits
Anatomy & Physiology HSC 214 & 215 or BIO 337 &392 8 credits
Biology BIO 110 or BIO 101 3-4 credits
​Exercise Physiology ​HSC 308 ​3 credits
Chemistry CHM 131 & 132 or CHM 120, 127 & 342 8 credits
Mathematics MTH 106 & MTH 107 or MTH 130 4-6 credits
Physics PHY 130, PHY 131, PHY 170, PHY 171
or PHY 145, PHY 146, PHY 175, PHY 176
10 credits
Psychology PSY 100 & PSY 220 6 credits
Statistics STA 282 or STA 382 or BIO 500 or HSC 544 3 credits

Some physical therapy schools may have additional courses required or recommended. Review the admission requirements of the physical therapy schools you plan on applying in advance.

All required courses must be taken for a grade. Each school has its own policy regarding AP credit. Usually, AP credit in these areas should be followed with additional upper level work in the discipline including labs.

Additional Courses

To further strengthen you application and your ability to succeed in physical therapy school, here are some additional CMU courses you could take:

Subjects Course Numbers
Medical Terminology HSC 201
Sociology SOC 100 or SOC 221
​CPR Certification


Pre-Physical Therapy Club

The Pre-Physical Therapy Club is dedicated to informing and bringing together students interested in the field of Physical Therapy. Students range in ages, grades, and majors. Meetings provide insight to the graduate school application process, specialties in the field of physical therapy, assistance with undergrad major decisions and course work, along with interactions with physical therapists and graduate school faculty. Events are held during each semester, including socials, fund-raisers, and volunteer events.

The club meets every other Tuesday at 9:00 PM. Dues are $20 per year.

For more information, contact the club at

Job Outlook

Physical therapists held about 204,200 jobs in 2012.

Employment of physical therapists is projected to grow by 36 percent from 2012 to 2022. Demand for physical therapy services will come, in large part, from the aging baby boomers, who are staying active later in life than previous generations did.



Median annual wages of physical therapists were $79,860 in May 2012.


Online Resources

For additional career information and a list of accredited educational programs in physical therapy:


Pre-Health Professions Academic Advisor

Lisa E. Snider
Emmons Hall 136B
(989) 774-2711

Faculty Advisors​

John Scheide
Brooks Hall 112 
(989) 774-3291