Physical Therapy School - Application
Each physical therapy school has specific application/deadline submission dates which are noted on individual websites. PTCAS is the centralized application service that many physical therapy schools use, however not all physical therapy programs participate in PTCAS. Current lists of participating physical therapy schools are on the PTCAS website. It is important for you to know the deadline dates for the schools/programs that you plan to apply as well as any requirements needed.
Many physical therapy programs have physical therapy observation requirements as part of their application process. Gaining experience by shadowing physical therapists through working, internships, and volunteering will be key to one’s acceptance at a competitive program. Additionally knowledge of a foreign language and multicultural competence is expected for many physical therapy schools.
Most physical therapy schools require applicants to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). See the ETS website for more information on preparing for and taking the GRE. GRE submission requirements vary by school since there is no GRE code for PTCAS. Students must direct ETS to send scores to individual schools. PTCAS has a list of updated GRE submission requirements by PTCAS participating schools.
Letters of recommendation are critical. Letter requirements vary from school to school but generally, two to three letters of recommendation are required. Students can find specific LOR requirements on the PTCAS References webpage. Most schools require letters from professional references who are acquainted with the applicant’s academic, work and volunteer experience. In general it is also wise to obtain a letter from a physical therapist who can speak to your interests and knowledge of the healthcare field. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure you are submitting the correct letters for each school you apply.
You can influence the quality of your letter by providing your letter writer with useful information that will aid them in preparing your letter: a copy of your transcripts, your resume, a copy of your personal statement discussing why you want to be a physical therapist. You should plan on meeting with you letter writers to discuss the letter they will write you.
Electronic letters are strongly preferred by individual physical therapy programs as well as PTCAS. Follow the instructions on individual application websites regarding what you need to do as well as how your writers can upload your letters. Read more tips and resources for how to obtain strong letters of recommendation.
A written personal essay is required in the admission process. In your statement, plan on addressing why you selected physical therapy as your career. The statement is an important aspect of the application and should receive careful attention. This is your opportunity to discuss how your relevant personal background and interests, education, and experiences have led you to select an education in the physical therapy field. Take time to review and rewrite your statement as many times as needed. Select individuals who know you either personally or professionally to read your statement and provide you feedback. Also refer to individual school application sites that don’t participate in PTCAS for complete details regarding their statement requirements.
Not all physical therapy schools interview candidates. In many cases interviews are offered only to competitive applicants at physical therapy programs. Interviews will vary from school to school. You may be interviewed by a PT faculty member, PT student or practicing PT. Your interview may even include an orientation program. When you are offered an interview, it is important that you research the type of interview each school conducts so that you can best prepare yourself.
Interviewing for Health Professions offers some tips and suggestions to help you prepare for your interviews.