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Pre-Physical Therapy Advising

Physical therapy is an integral and unique component of health care. As a health profession, physical therapy focuses on the neuromuscular, musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary systems of the human body as these systems relate to human motion and function. The physical therapist must be dedicated to promoting health, preventing disease, and rehabilitating people disabled by injury or disease. Graduates of physical therapy school will receive a Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT).

 As a college student preparing for graduate work in physical therapy, you should be aware of several steps necessary for admission into an accredited physical therapy program:

  • Contact PT education programs to learn what prerequisites are required
  • Perform volunteer work in a physical therapy clinic and hospital
  • Find a physical therapist mentor and/or meet members of the field
  • Become familiar with issues related to the profession

Similar to the Pre-Med program, William and Mary students can select any major while fulfilling the requirements for physical therapy graduate school.

If you have questions please contact the College of William and Mary Pre-PT advisor, [[enburnet, Prof. Evie Burnet]].

Prerequisite Courses for DPT graduate school

Since the exact prerequisite courses vary for each graduate school it is important for the student to examine the graduate schools they are interested in attending during their freshman or sophomore year to allow time to complete all of the prerequisite courses. The list of courses below contains the most common prerequisite courses when examining many physical therapy graduate program admissions requirements:

12 to 16 credits - Biological Sciences
  • 4-8 credits - College Biology with labs
  • 4 credits of Human Anatomy and 4 credits of Human Physiology with labs
  • Or, 8 credits of A&P I and A&P II
  • Exercise physiology is not an acceptable course for these 12 credits.

8 credits – Chemistry with labs

3 credits – Mathematics (some schools will require through precalculus, others calculus)

3 credits – Statistics (in addition to the other math course)

8 credits – Physics with labs

6 credits – Psychology

  • One introductory course required
  • One course in Human growth and development or abnormal psychology are often required or recommended.

William and Mary courses that fulfill these requirements include:
PHYSICS 107 and 108 and labs
BIOL 203 and 204 and labs
CHEM 103 and lab
CHEM 206 and lab

KINE 303, Human Anatomy
KINE 314 or 315, Human Anatomy Laboratory
KINE 304, Human Physiology
KINE 305, Human Physiology Laboratory

PSYC 202, Introduction to Psychology as a social science
PSYC 310, Developmental Psychology
PSYC 318, Abnormal Psychology

Math 103, Pre-calculas Mathmatics
KINE 394, Statistics and Evaluation, or
PSYC 301 and 302, Elementary Statistics and Experimental Methods, or
MATH 106, Elementary Probability and Statistics

Graduate schools have accepted substitute courses for many of the prerequisite courses so it may be a good idea to talk directly with the admissions personnel about satisfying the prerequisite courses.

Most schools have a minimum GPA requirement around 2.7 out of 4.0. However, our observation indicates that you must have a William and Mary GPA near 3.0 to be seriously considered for physical therapy graduate school. Students with GPAs between 3.3 and 3.5 are usually accepted into PT graduate school, and students with GPAs over 3.5 are always accepted into PT graduate school.

Test Requirement

Applicants to physical therapy graduate school must take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE). This is normally taken at the end of the junior year or beginning of the senior year. It is best to complete all of the required biology, chemistry and physics by that time.

Internship Requirement

In addition to the course work described above, students must complete observation hours. Generally, at least 100 observation hours, paid or volunteer, in at least two different practice settings are required. It is typically recommended that one setting be acute care/hospital. The student may receive 3 internship credits (KINE 498) while completing these hours.


Students are encouraged to examine physical therapy graduate school websites as well as visit the campus in person to determine which school provides the best environment for them. Here are a few of the common physical therapy schools that William and Mary students have attended:

Virginia Schools
Mary Baldwin, Staunton, VA
Marymount University, Arlington, VA
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA
Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA

Other Schools W&M graduates have attended
Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Boston University, Boston, MA
Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Creighton University, Omaha, NE
Columbia University


American Physical Therapy Association’s list of graduate programs