The Basics

Preparing to be a physical therapist does not happen overnight. Most people know that it is important to have strong grades, but just as important is gaining experience to develop the skills, knowledge, and maturity necessary to be an effective healthcare provider. As with others on a healthcare team, a physical therapist’s decisions and actions affect human life and well-being. Physical Therapists must pay attention to detail, have high ethical standards, communicate well with patients and other healthcare providers, maintain reliable records, and be knowledgeable about existing and new rehabilitation techniques to ensure each patient has optimal therapy results.

Knowledge of Self and Profession

Throughout the application process, you will need to demonstrate knowledge of yourself (values, goals, motivations, strengths, weaknesses), an understanding of the profession, and a commitment to become a physical therapist. You must clearly articulate your readiness to enter the profession as a result of first-hand experience in the field. There should be evidence in your application that you are committed to service and helping others. You must demonstrate your ability to work on a team, to lead, and to communicate with people with different backgrounds, values, and perspectives from your own.

Major and GPA

And finally, there is no “best major” for pre-physical therapy students. You can choose ANY major and be successful in your application to physical therapy school. Admissions personnel will review your GPA from a variety of perspectives…cumulative GPA, science/math GPA, prerequisite GPA. Choose a major that you will enjoy and allows you to successfully complete the required and recommended courses while also gaining experience outside the classroom. Consider a major that will provide many career options, recognizing that students commonly change majors and career plans multiple times as they learn about themselves and their career options.

Prerequisite Courses

Category Prerequisite Area Minimum Recommendation Course Numbers
Biological Sciences General Biology 1 lecture and 1 lab MCB 150/151 OR IB 150/IB 151 (upper level labs may substitute)
Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lectures and 2 Labs MCB 244/MCB 245, MCB246/MCB247
Physical Sciences General Chemistry 2 Lectures and 2 Labs CHEM 102/CHEM 103, CHEM 104/CHEM 105
Physics 2 Lectures and 2 Labs PHY 101, PHY 102
Mathematics/Statistics Statistics 1 Lecture STAT 100 (or equivalent)
Calculus (required for UIC) 1 Lecture MATH 220 OR MATH 221 OR MATH 234
Social/Behavioral Sciences Psychology and Human Development 2 Lectures PSYC 100 & PSYC 238 & PSYC 216 (or HDFS 105)
Additional Requirements Varies by program ---------- Additional courses in exercise physiology, psychology, human development and family studies, and/or medical terminology (CLCV 102) may be required or recommended