Pre-Physical Therapy

Pacific University undergraduates who are interested in a career in physical therapy may choose to complete a pre-physical therapy track along with their bachelor’s degree in preparation for graduate school. Pacific University offers a doctor of physical therapy program through its College of Health Professions. Pacific also offers several other pre-professional tracks.

About Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is the examination, treatment and instruction of human beings to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate and limit physical disability, movement dysfunction, bodily malfunction and pain from injury and disease. It includes the administration, interpretation and evaluation of tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures.

Physical therapists today includes a range of patients from pediatrics to geriatrics. Physical therapists can be certified specialists in neurology, orthopedics, hand therapy, aquatics and pediatrics. They serve as a vital part of preparing patients to return to their normal daily activities and are primary educators of patients on how best to perform these activities.

The role of physical therapists has grown from passive assistants following physicians’ orders to active participants in patient rehabilitation. Most therapy today is conducted in clinics owned by therapists or in therapy units where the physical therapist is in a management position.

Employment of physical therapists is expected to increase 39 percent from 2010 to 2020 with demand coming, in large part, from aging Baby Boomers who are staying active later in life than previous generations. The median annual wage of physical therapists was $79,860 in 2012.

Program and Requirements

Physical therapists are required to have a postgraduate professional degree. Programs usually award a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree, though a small number award a master of physical therapy (MPT). Doctoral programs typically last three years, while MPT programs require two to three years.

Most programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission, including specific prerequisites, such as coursework in anatomy, physiology, biology and chemistry.

Physical therapy students complete academic coursework, as well as clinical rotations, gaining supervised work experience in areas such as acute care and orthopedic care. Physical therapists may complete residency programs of nine months to three years following graduation. All states require physical therapists to be licensed, though licensing processes vary from state to state.

The Pacific University School of Physical Therapy offers a three-year DPT program. Admission is highly competitive. Undergraduate students interested in the program should complete a bachelor’s degree with a major of their choice, but coursework should also include the suggested course sequence of prerequisites below. The Pacific University School of Physical Therapy values proficiency in writing and a strong education in the humanities and social sciences. Admission is very competitive, so superior grades are important, particularly in science courses.

Prerequisites

Biology (12 hours)

  • Biol 202 General Biology I or Biol 204 General Biology II
  • Biol 224 Human Anatomy with lab
  • Biol 240 Human Physiology with lab

Chemistry (2 hours)

  • Chem 220 and 230

Statistics (2 hours)

  • Math 207, Psych 350, or Soc 301

Physics (8 hours)

  • Physics 202 and 204 or Physics 232 and 242

Psychology (6 hours)

  • Psy 150 (Intro) and one other psychology course

English/Writing (6 hours)

  • Must include one writing course beyond the introductory level (ENGW 201 or higher). May use HUM 100 (FYS) if not using it for humanities/social sciences requirement.

Humanities/Social Sciences (6 hours)

  • This can be satisfied by carefully selected core requirements: Fine arts, humanities, history, philosophy, religion, English, anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, economics, music, speech/communication foreign language (any level), theatre, women’s studies, etc. Note: May use HUM 100 (FYS) if not using it for english/writing requirement.

Most schools require extensive volunteer or paid work experience. A bare minimum is usually 100 hours, but many look for 1,000 hours or more.

Many schools require or highly recommend that at least one of the applicant's letters of recommendation be written by a physical therapist with whom the applicant has worked. Many schools of physical therapy also require GRE scores.

More Information

Pacific University Advising Center
Pacific University School of Physical Therapy
American Physical Therapy Association