There are more than 200 accredited physical therapy programs in the United States. Physical therapists help patients with physical disabilities to restore function, improve mobility and/or reduce pain. The application process is extremely varied and entrance into those programs is very competitive.
Students should begin applying to physical therapy programs in their junior year.
Letters of Recommendation
Physical therapy programs often require letters of recommendation. It is important to provide recommendations from both science and non-science professors who can address your ability to read, write, support your ideas, logically draw conclusions and organize your work.
Volunteer or Part-Time Work
It is recommended that you strengthen your application by listing any volunteer or part-time work. Some ideas are to observe a physical therapist; volunteer at a hospital or medical clinic; participate in a community activity such as Habitat for Humanity or serve as a committee member on a local club or student organization. Participating in research during the summer is also great exposure and can help you gain valuable experience.
Most physical therapy programs interview applicants. Characteristics that interviewers most commonly assess are evidence of extracurricular activities; communication skills; empathy and concern for others; social awareness and self-awareness; and judgment and problem-solving abilities. View information about how to prepare for the interview.