Pre-Physical Therapy

There’s more to physical therapy than repairing bodies. Therapists are also educators, trainers, and motivators. A successful physical therapist must be able to:

  • Educate the patient about the body and the anatomy of a specific problem
  • Train the patient to accurately and effectively perform therapeutic exercises
  • Encourage the patient’s compliance and cooperation with a full treatment program

Potential therapists must also be proficient in a number of academic Pre-Physical Therapys. Fortunately, a liberal arts education allows students to master the wide range of skills and subjects required for a successful career in physical therapy.

Morris Advantages

Admission to physical therapy school is extremely competitive. The University of Minnesota Morris offers students the following advantages as they prepare for a career in this rewarding but demanding field.

  • Outstanding teaching: The Morris campus boasts the highest percentage of winners of the Horace T. Morse-Minnesota Alumni Association Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education at the University of Minnesota. Many of these instructors teach subjects required for admission to physical therapy programs.
  • An undergraduate research program: Completing undergraduate research gives Pre-Physical Therapy students a competitive edge.
  • Assistance with undergraduate research: Morris offers both stipend programs and an annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at which to present findings.
  • Shadowing and employment in medical professions: Admissions boards want to know whether or not an applicant really understands what it means to work in a medical field. Thanks to strong relationships between the University of Minnesota Morris and local medical providers, Pre-Physical Therapy students may shadow medical professionals at the Stevens Community Medical Center. Many local physical therapy patients receive care right on campus at the Regional Fitness Center.
  • An on-campus Office of Community Engagement for service learning opportunities: Taking advantage of these opportunities demonstrates the commitment to service sought by professional school admissions boards.
  • A nationally recognized study abroad program: Studying abroad helps prepare students for international health service trips common in medical professions.

Opportunities in Physical Therapy

Physical therapists need a well-rounded education that prepares them to choose from a wide range of professional settings and clientele, including:

  • Clinics treating sports and orthopedic injuries
  • Facilities specializing in workplace injuries
  • Hospitals assisting patients with recuperation from surgeries, illnesses, strokes or other neurological events that limit function
  • Schools working with children who have neurological or orthopedic disabilities
  • Rehabilitation facilities helping people return home after illness or injury
  • Nursing homes providing intensive therapy to residents who need improved function to achieve a higher quality of life

Preparing for Physical Therapy

Whether they are planning to apply to a master or doctor of physical therapy program, students must complete a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for admission to physical therapy school.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, requires three years of additional study combining academic coursework and clinical internships. An overall GPA of 3.00 plus a 3.00 in prerequisite coursework is required. Exposure to the health care delivery system through volunteer work or employment (minimum 100 hours) is an important prerequisite. Be sure to review the Morris advantages concerning these requirements.

"Which major should I choose?"

While physical therapy schools do not require any particular major, be aware that Pre-Physical Therapy students will need to demonstrate strength in the following subjects:

Biochemistry is also helpful, along with strong familiarity in administrative softwares including word-processing and spreadsheet programs. Personnel at the University of Minnesota Morris have prepared a worksheet to share with your advisor as you plan your coursework.

Applying to Physical Therapy School

Students planning to apply to a master or doctor of physical therapy program must complete a bachelor’s degree in any field to be eligible. Admission to physical therapy programs is highly competitive; most schools require at least a 3.00 GPA for prerequisite coursework.

The University of Minnesota Physical Therapy Program, one of the top 20 programs in the United States, uses a rolling admissions process that begins in July. Applicants must apply to both the program and the University's graduate school. In addition, you must submit:

  • GRE score
  • TOEFL score if you are an international applicant
  • Two letters of recommendation

Currently, the University of Minnesota program does not make use of the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service.

"What about other schools?"

You will need to familiarize yourself with the specific application requirements of different schools. Many use the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service.