Physical Therapy Career
The information provided here was compiled by the SJSU Pre-Physical Therapy Club. The Kinesiology department appreciates their ongoing efforts to support Kinesiology students interested in a career as a Physical Therapist.
A graduate degree is required for a career as a Physical Therapist. The current entry level degree is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), which takes approximately 3 years to complete. Master degree and bachelor degree programs are no longer offered. Most programs require applicants to: have a 3.0 GPA minimum, take the general GRE, obtain 2 or more reference letters (usually from a PT and a professor) and all require a certain number of clinical experience hours. Graduate programs all have specific prerequisite courses that must be completed with a C or better grade before applying. Most programs prefer prerequisite coursework (especially classes with lab components) be completed at a 4 year institution.
- American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
- Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS)
Almost all physical therapy schools require students to have exposure to the field through volunteer and/or paid experience under the direct supervision of a physical therapist. Working under an athletic trainer or other medical professional will not count. When you apply to a DPT program, you will need a PT to verify the hours you worked so keep meticulous records of the date, time, and location you worked. You will also need at least one letter of recommendation from a physical therapist with whom you worked.
Requirements vary depending on the PT program, but usually 100-150 hours of experience is preferred. Schools usually require a portion of these hours to be done as a volunteer in an inpatient setting. This is an environment where the patient is hospitalized and the therapist comes to the patient. The other hours can be done in an outpatient setting, where the patient visits the physical therapist in a clinic or school and then returns home. Working in a variety of settings with a variety of patient populations will give you a breadth of experience that will set you apart when you apply to DPT programs.
Note: You can get KIN 198 (Internship) credit for the hours you work in a PT setting if you plan on working at least 50 hours in one semester and the KIN internship manager signs off on it. See the KIN internships section on Current Students for information and forms.
Applying to Graduate School
Applications for most DPT programs go through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS), however schools that do not use PTCAS will require you to apply directly to that program's website (Ex: St. Augustine DPT program). Admission into programs is highly competitive, with the 2012-13 average national acceptance GPA being 3.54 and GRE percentiles of 55.4% Verbal, 54.8% Quantitative, and 48.9% Analytical. Both GPA and GRE scores are trending upwards each year.
DPT Program Requirements
This is a general list of requirements and it is important that you check for up-to-date information on the requirements for the specific DPT programs to which you are applying.
A complete list of currently accredited DPT programs and their requirements can be found at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) website: www.apta.org
The required courses for DPT programs [pdf] are NOT the same as the requirements for the Kinesiology major, however they often overlap. For the most current information on what is required for the Kinesiology major, please check your Kinesiology Undergraduate Handbook [pdf].
Pre-Physical Therapy Club at San José State University
The goal of the Pre-Physical Therapy Club is to help students determine if a career in Physical Therapy is right for them. The club also helps prospective physical therapy students become stronger candidates for Physical Therapy graduate programs.
The Pre-Physical Therapy Club provides it members with
- Information about DPT programs and the application process
- Guest speakers and Peer Advising
- Networking for Physical Therapy experience/internship hours
To find out more (or if you are interested in joining), email the club at: firstname.lastname@example.org