Pre-Physical Therapy 

Cornell College students interested in pursuing a career as a Physical Therapist are considered part of the Pre-Physical Therapy program. Pre-Physical Therapy is coordinated by the Dimensions Program for Health Professions.

The Dimensions Guide to Pre-Physical Therapy includes information on DPT program prerequisites, a sample course timeline, and other tips and resources helping you navigate your pre-PT career at Cornell College. 

The Co-Curricular Activity Journal is a resource aiding students in reflection and meaning making throughout their experiences leading to a healthcare career. The Dimensions Co-Curricular Activity Journal helps students keep an active record of co-curricular activities contributing to a strong application to Physical Therapy school.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Physical therapists (PTs) teach patients various therapeutic exercises and activities that strengthen muscles, improve mobility, and relieve pain. PTs are often an important part of rehabilitation and treatment of patients with chronic conditions or injuries. 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. 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 private offices, nursing homes, clinics, adult daycare programs, rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, school districts, and hospitals (Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015). PTs also work with athletes in various settings.

Click here to watch a video on physical therapy from the American Physical Therapy Association. PTs must complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program and pass a board exam in order to practice as a licensed Physical Therapist. Medical careers related to physical therapy include Physical Therapy Assistants (PTAs).  

Preparing for PT School at Cornell College

Like all health professions, preparing for Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs requires extensive study in the sciences. DPT programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission and a series of prerequisites like many other graduate and professional programs in healthcare.

DPT programs are highly competitive and have more prerequisites than medical programs. Depending upon your interests, you can seek advanced certification in a clinical specialty such as orthopedics, neurology, cardiopulmonary, pediatrics, geriatrics, or sports therapy after completing a DPT program.  

Choosing a Major

Many Cornell students interested in PT double major in either Biology and Psychology or Kinesiology and Psychology.

Prerequisite Coursework

DPT  programs pay attention to a student's academic record and seek well-rounded applicants interested in science and who can work well with people. Prerequisites for DPT programs include biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, physics, psychology, statistics, and courses in the social sciences. Because not all physical therapy programs require the same prerequisites, it is best to start working with the Associate Director of Dimensions during your second year on campus to explore programs and check specific school prerequisites.

The average cumulative GPA of those accepted into DPT programs is 3.5 or higher. A list of common DPT program prerequisites can be found on the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) website. 

Admissions Examination

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

Most DPT programs require the GRE administered by the Educational Testing Service for admission. A competitive composite GRE score of 1000 or higher is required by most DPT programs.

Dimensions has additional resources that can assist you in preparing to apply to DPT programs including GRE test preparation books.

Application Process

Students applying to DPT programs nationwide utilize PTCAS.  

Dimensions is your primary source for information when you reach the planning stage for your DPT application. Cornell students are expected to utilize the Health Professions Committee before the start of their intended application cycle. 

Additional Resources 

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
ExploreHealthCareers.org 
Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook