University of Vermont

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Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are hands-on health care providers who serve patients across the lifespan.  They examine, diagnose and treat individuals with an injury or disease to reduce their pain, improve mobility, restore function, and prevent disability.  They also develop fitness and wellness programs to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent injury.

Most commonly, college graduates with a B.A. or B.S. enter the field through a doctorate entry graduate program in physical therapy (DPT).  However, some schools do offer a 3 + 3 curricular option, which would allow a student to enter a professional program prior to completing their undergraduate degree.  For professional licensure, you must earn your DPT from a CAPTE-accredited program and pass a state licensure exam.  PTs work in private practice, hospitals, fitness centers, schools, nursing homes, and research centers, among other settings.

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  • Academic Preparation
  • Pre-Professional Development
  • Application Process & Timing
  • Financial Aid

    Prerequisite coursework can vary from program to program. The following table shows the prerequisites required for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at UVM.

    Common Required or Recommended Coursework Includes:


    Anatomy and Physiology I and II with Lab (8 credits)   

    ANPS 19 & 20

    Chemistry with Lab (8 credits)    

    CHEM 31 & 32

    Physics with Lab  

    PHYS 11 & 12

    Biology (6-8 credits, not botany or zoology)

    BIOL 1 & 2 or BCOR 11 & 12

    Psychology (1-2 courses--see individual school websites)

    PSYS 001
    Consider: PSYS 115, PSYS 170, PSYS 130.

    Statistics & Math

    STAT 141 (All schools require Statistics; some also require math--see individual school websites)

    Some schools require other courses, e.g., English; Exercise Physiology. Consult PTCAS, the PTCAS Course Prerequisite Summary and individual school websites for specific information.


    Schools expect that candidates have thoroughly tested and explored their interest in a physical therapy career.  Students preparing for these programs can and should do this by shadowing licensed PTs and/or volunteering or working alongside them as a PT Aide.  Some schools will specify requirements for  “observation hours,” and some will also require that a licensed PT sign a verification form for submission with your application.  Be sure to prepare accordingly by logging your time clearly. Additional relevant experience can also be gained through athletic training and massage therapy.  However, these activities would not apply to verified hours.

    The American Physical Therapy Association has identified seven core values as integral to the profession:

    • Accountability
    • Altruism
    • Compassion/Caring
    • Excellence
    • Integrity
    • Professional Duty
    • Social Responsibility

    Consider how you will cultivate and demonstrate these values throughout your development into a strong applicant. For example, an altruistic candidate will have a history of volunteering in their community.  There are countless ways to make a difference and serve others; choose something personally meaningful and engage! 
    Consider quality over quantity.  A long-standing commitment to an activity you genuinely enjoy will present more favorably than a high volume of short-term commitments. 

    Step out of your comfort zone and find opportunities to work with diverse populations.  As a professional, you will need to be effective with a broad variety of patients.

    Schools will assess your professionalism and integrity based on letters of recommendation and, very likely, your social media presence.  Start projecting a mature and professional identity now.


    You will need to submit three letters of recommendation with your application.  Specifically, two of these letters should be academic, and one professional from a licensed PT with whom you have worked or shadowed.  Choose reference providers who know you well and will support your candidacy with enthusiasm.

    Some schools require an entrance exam, most commonly the GRE.  Check school-specific requirements.  Plan to take the exam by early fall in the year of application.  

    Approximately 160 accredited DPT programs currently subscribe to PTCAS, the centralized application service for graduate physical therapy programs. Candidates applying to those schools begin with the initial centralized application, and then may submit a school-specific or secondary application. Candidates should apply to non-member schools directly. 

    Find an Accredited DPT Program
    DPT Program at UVM

    The application cycle begins in early July.  Deadlines vary by school and arrive as early as October 1st.  Note that deadlines mark the date by which you must have submitted your initial PTCAS application.  Check school-specific deadlines, plan your GRE accordingly, and apply early in the cycle, as some schools follow a rolling admissions process.

    Apply to Programs via PTCAS


    Last modified November 17 2017 08:30 AM