If you want to work with patients who need help overcoming physical injuries or disabilities, then physical therapy may be the career for you. Physical therapists (PTs) assist patients in a wide range of activities from teaching patients how to walk again after head-injuries to helping athletes improve their physical performance on the playing field.

PTs also teach patients various therapeutic exercises and activities that strengthen muscles, improve mobility, and relieve pain. Their patients include accident victims and clients with such conditions as amputations, stroke, vertigo, low back pain, sports injuries, arthritis, heart disease, fractures, head injuries, and cerebral palsy. PTs work in a variety of healthcare environments, such as hospitals, clinics, physician offices, nursing homes, home health agencies, rehabilitation centers, adult daycare programs, and school districts. PTs also work with athletes in various settings.


After receiving a degree from Cornell, students may enter a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. Depending upon your interests, you can seek advanced certification in a clinical specialty, such as orthopaedics, neurology, cardiopulmonary, pediatrics, geriatrics, or sports therapy after completing a DPT program.  

Cornell Courses and Other Requirements

Cornell can help prepare you to be a competitive candidate and succeed in PT school. The general coursework prerequisites for physical therapy programs are similar to other pre-health programs, with greater emphasis in human anatomy and physiology.

PT programs are highly competitive and have more prerequisites than medical programs. The average cummulative GPA of those accepted into PT programs is 3.5 or higher. In addition, a GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) composite score of 1000 or higher is needed to be competitive for graduate school. Clinical experience is required for acceptance into these program.  Schools often require a specific number of clinical hours and may stipulate the type(s) of work settings required. Cornell students often meet these requirement through volunteer work, part-time work in a therapy setting, and job shadowing. 

Because not all physical therapy programs require the same pre-requisites, it is best to check specific school pre-requisites during your sophomore year. The Associate Director of Dimensions can assist you in obtaining this information. Generally, courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, physics, psychology, statistics, and the social sciences are required. Many Cornell students interested in PT double major in either Biology and Psychology or Kinesiology and Psychology

Click here to see what most schools require.
Click here to see a sample Cornell College course timeline.

Additional information: 

American Physical Therapy Association (APTE)
Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
Physical Therapy Post-Professional Degree Programs
Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service