Physical Therapists

Physical Therapists (PT) assess, plan, organize, and participate in rehabilitative programs that improve mobility, relieve pain, increase strength, and improve or correct disabling conditions resulting from disease or injury. PTs often teach patients to prevent or manage their own condition to achieve long-term health benefits and healthy active lifestyles. 

Clinical Involvement

Clinical involvement is a crucial part of the pre-physical therapy journey, as it will help you to explore and confirm your interest in the profession and demonstrate a commitment to serving others. While there is not a required number of clinical hours for the physical therapy school application, you should plan to spend a significant amount of time outside of class gaining experience in clinical settings to strengthen your application. 

Check out all of the opportunities at UVA and around Charlottesville here!

Application Process

Below is a list of action steps to plan for when you are applying to physical therapy school. This is a simplified version of a multifaceted process, so we recommend meeting with a Pre-Health Advisor at least once per year to make sure you are on the right track. 

For a full guide and details on each step in applying to medical school, read the Pre-Health Application Guide.  

Application System

Create an account for the system that you plan to use for your applications using  PTCAS

Entrance Exam

Take the GRE no later than the May prior to the application cycle beginning in July

Selecting Schools

It is important to select schools that are not only a good fit for your academically, but also a good fit for your values, skills, and interests that will help you become the professional you want to be. Take time to research programs prior to the application process.

Here are some factors you should consider:

  • Admission Requirements
  • Institutional mission, goals, and values
  • Size of cohort
  • Location
  • Clinical rotations and patient population
  • Your professional interests as it aligns with the school’s mission and training

It is recommended to apply to 5-7 physical therapy schools 

Letters of Recommendation

Confirm your letter writers at least 3 months before you plan to apply. You should determine specific letter requirements and quantities from your programs of choice. Letters are most commonly required from at least one of the following categories:

  • Science Faculty
  • Non-Science Faculty
  • Faculty Advisor
  • Employer
  • Physical Therapist
  • Healthcare Provider
  • Volunteer Supervisor

The application process lasts approximately 12-14 months. You should submit your primary application as soon as possible when the application opens in early July.

Personal Statement

This is a distinctive part of your application that takes time and reflection. Consider the following questions to begin:

  • Why do you want to become a physical therapist? Why is this the profession you have chosen instead of another?
  • Think back to your experiences volunteering, shadowing, researching, studying abroad. Can you provide a specific story that deeply impacted you and your decision to become a physical therapist?
  • What do you want the committee to know about you as a person or future colleague? What makes you a good fit for the profession?
  • How do / will you embody the American Physical Therapy Association's vision for the profession?


Character Limits:

  • PTCAS: 4,500 characters (including spaces and punctuation)

Academic Pre-Requisites

Pre-requisite course requirements vary widely by individual school. We encourage you to begin researching individual program requirements as early as possible. If you are a resident of a particular state, you should start with those public institutions.  You should determine specific requirements for programs of choice using the:

The summary below is a list of the most common pre-physical therapy requirements.



Required for Schools?

English/Writing Composition

1-3 courses


Introductory Biology

2 lectures, 2 labs


General Chemistry

2 lectures, 2 labs


General Physics

2 lectures, 2 labs


Anatomy and Physiology

1-2 courses



1 course



1-3 courses


Communication/Public Speaking

1 course


Medical Terminology

1 course


Upper Level Biology:

  • Cell Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry


Some; Varies by School