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. Currently in Virginia patients must first obtain a referral from a physician before seeing a physical therapist for treatment. The physical therapy profession has initiatives in many states to allow PTs to see patients without a physicians referral. Graduate schools are now offering Doctorates in Physical Therapy (DPT) degrees in preparation for the approval of these initiatives. Though it is possible to obtain a Masters in PT to work as a PT, the trend is toward DPT degrees. Therefore, DPT programs are recommened over MPT programs.
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
- Continue volunteer work in a physical therapy clinic
- 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, Prof. Ray McCoy, at [[rwmcco]] or (757) 221-2783, or you can contact Prof. Evie Burnet [[enburnet]].
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 sophomore or junior 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 credits - Biological Sciences
- 4 credits - College Biology
- 4 credits of Human Anatomy and 4 credits of Human Physiology
- 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
6 credits – English
- 3 credits of English
- 3 credits of a writing intensive course outside of the English Department
3 credits – Humanities (a course of Philosophy or Ethics is required)
3 credits – Mathematics (credits must include, trigonometry, precalculus, calculus, or equivalent)
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 required.
William and Mary courses that fulfill these requirements include:
PHYSICS 107 and 108
CHEM 103 and 151 (Lab)
CHEM 206 and 252 (Lab) or CHEM 308 and 354 (Lab)
KINE 303, Human Anatomy
KINE 303L, Human Anatomy Laboratory
KINE 304, Human Physiology
KINE 305, Human Physiology Laboratory
KINE 450, Cardiovascular Physiology, or other physiology courses, may satisfy the additional Biology course in addition to the anatomy and physiology courses.
PSYC 202, Introduction to Psychology as a social science
PSYC 310, Developmental Psychology
PSYC 318, Abnormal Psychology
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.
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.
In addition to the course work described above, students must complete at least 100 hours of internship with at least two physical therapists. The student may receive 3 internship credits (KINE 498) while completing these hours.
Links to Physical Therapy Information
Students may investigate the physical therapy profession by visiting the American Physical Therapy Association website and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
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:
Hampton University, Hampton, 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