Physical therapy is a fascinating field. You can help people recover from injuries and greatly increase their health. Becoming a physical therapist is very rewarding both economically and from a job satisfaction perspective.
But to become a physiotherapist, you first need to get into a PT school, which requires hard work and dedication. Don’t worry, I’ll show you the easiest PT schools to get into.
However, just because these are the easiest, don’t treat them as a joke. PT school is hard, and you’ll have to put in the work to earn your certificate. Easy to get in doesn’t mean easy to complete.
The point of the article is to help those who might not have been the best students due to their circumstances, but who are still willing to go through the effort of going to PT school.
Before applying for PT school
There are prerequisites you need to satisfy before joining any PT school, no matter how lax they are. If you have everything in this list, you have what it takes to enter into PT school:
1. A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
While you don’t need any specific undergraduate major in order to be eligible for PT school, there are some degrees that will make your life easier.
Specifically, any degree that will require you to take courses on anatomy, physiology, and biology will give you a lot of useful background knowledge that you will be able to use when you get into PT school.
Don’t bother with degrees from unaccredited schools. They aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.
2. A GPA of 3.0 or higher
There’s no way around this. You need to keep your GPA high. Most schools will require you to have a GPA of at least 3.0 to let you enroll. But don’t stop at 3.0, get it as close to 4.0 as possible. The higher it is, the best your chances to get into a PT school.
How do you enhance your GPA? Take new classes that you can ace, as to improve your GPA, or retake classes you did poorly in. I can’t tell you which route is best for you, but if you didn’t do too hot in a class I mentioned in the previous point like anatomy, you should retake it. It’s all information that will help you once you are in PT.
3. Real-world experience in PT
A common requirement of PT schools is a number of volunteer or work hours under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Even if the school you want to attend doesn’t have them, I recommend getting at least some hours in. It’s going to make your life at school much easier. Try to get between 50 and 100 hours of practices.
As for where to get this experience, it’s up to you and your aspirations. You should try to get experience where you plan to work in the future, but it’s not always possible. Examples of good places where you can get real-world experience include rehabilitation hospitals, long-term care facilities, and fitness programs.
The best way to find opportunities like these is to get in direct contact with their manager.
Want to know how many observation hours are required by your school’s PT program? Check this list.
4. Good GRE scores
Last but not least, work on your GRE scores. You can take the GRE test multiple times, and it’s a great learning experience even if yours is already decent. Each program has its own GRE requirements, so check them out.
You’ll need to take a GRE test during your admission process, so make sure to be prepared to ace it. Since you can try a GRE test up to 5 times in a calendar year, you have no excuse to come unprepared.
5. Letters of recommendation
These are a must-have if you are serious about becoming a physical therapist. Perhaps not all schools will need them, but trust me, they are a lifesaver. Try to get at least a couple of letters from licensed physical therapist and a couple from professors of upper-level courses.
6. PTCAS application
The Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) allows applicants to apply to multiple DPT programs with a single application. This makes your job of applying to multiple schools much easier, as you won’t have to rewrite your application every single time.
The application is also required by all schools, so might as well go through the process.
If you have all of these prerequisites, getting into PT schools will be way easier. Let’s now see the PT schools with the laxest requirements but that still offer a rock-solid program.
You want to go to a school that is not too hard to get into, but that can still get you up and running in the field painlessly. What’s the point of getting an easy degree if it’s not considered worthy?
6 Easiest Physical Therapy Schools To Get Into
Now that you know about the requisites it’s time to explore which schools are the easiest to get into. As you can guess, these schools’ prerequisites are low, which means you won’t need to work as hard to get into them.
But let me reiterate this point again: physical therapy is a hard field. You are out there to help people regain and improve their mobility. Health is a serious matter. Don’t think that just because you can get into these somewhat easily you can coast along the course and get out as a great PT.
These are the easiest to get into, but they are still pretty damn hard to get into.
And having all of the prerequisites does NOT guarantee you will be admitted into the school. Spots are limited, and plenty of people try to get into these schools every year. As I said, don’t expect the process to be effortless.
Here is the list:
The university of Iowa tops our list of easiest PT schools to get into. They have a very high acceptance rate of 82.55% in 2021, with over 21.000 admitted students out of almost 26.000 applicants.
Nonetheless, its requirements aren’t that much laxer compared to other universities. Let’s take a look:
- For some reason the university doesn’t tell you how many observation hours are required to apply. At least it gives you actionable advice on how to get these hours done. I’d aim for at least 50 hours of observation work before applying.
- An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
- No letters of recommendation are required, which is why this university is on top of this list.
- Completion of 8 prerequisite courses: biological sciences, physiology, anatomy, chemistry, physics, psychology, mathematics, and statistics.
- Completing a GRE test.
- PTCAS application
The fact that you don’t need letters of recommendation is what makes getting into this university so easy.
The university of Delaware is a great starting point for anyone who wants to get into PT.
What makes it so great?
The fact that it has reasonable requirements, but it also offers the top ranked DPT program in the US. It offers the best mix of requirements and job opportunities after graduation.
And it’s still quite easy to get accepted into this school. As a matter of fact, the PT section of this university has a 71.36% acceptance rate.
- You’ll need to prove you have spent at least 50 hours observing a licensed physical therapist during patient care. At least 25 when you apply, the other 25 when you matriculate.
- An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
- You’ll need three letters of recommendation, two from licensed physical therapist, one from a professor of an upper-level course you took.
- Completion of 7 prerequisite courses with at least a C. The list can be seen on the university’s website. This is where picking a good bachelor’s degree comes into play.
- Completing the GRE test.
- PTCAS application.
By visiting the requirements page, you can also check the average undergraduate GPA of the people who get admitted. As of 4/1/2020 this number is 3.78.
Another university with a high acceptance rate (well, high compared to most others) of 45.33%, Baylor university offers an innovative DPT program that might be right up your alley.
What do you need to get into this school? Here are the requirements:
- Demonstrate you attended at least 100 hours of observation, volunteer, or work experience with a licensed physical therapist. The website also emphasizes how you want to diversify your hours to improve your chances, so don’t rely on a single source for these 100 hours.
- An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, but there’s a catch: you can get in with an overall GPA of lower than 3.0 if you have had a GPA of at least 3.50 over the last 60 semester or 90 quarter hour credits of coursework.
- Submission of two references through the PTCAS system.
- Completion of the GRE test within the last 5 years.
- Successful completion of an admission interview.
- Completion of all the pre-requisite courses (biology, chemistry, general physics, human anatomy and physiology, statistics, psychology, abnormal or developmental psychology, and English composition or writing).
Needing only two references is great news if you are looking to get into PT school. Not everyone has the connections to get multiple letters of recommendation from different sources.
Another excellent PT school, the university of Washington has similar requirements to the University of Delaware when it comes to admission.
- 50 hours of PT-related work or volunteer experience. It’s 25 for the autumn 2021 enrollment due to COVID, but expect it to go back to 50 in the future.
- An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
- Three letters of recommendation. The website doesn’t specify from who, but I suggest to get them both from licensed physical therapists and from your professors. You are here to prove you are a good person to work with, both in practice and academically.
- Completion of at least half of the prerequisite courses when you apply, and completion of all of them by the time the program begins. Prerequisite courses: anatomy, physiology, biology (2 courses), chemistry (2 courses), physics (2 courses), psychology, behavioral science, and statistics.
- PTCAS application
Sounds easy enough? It is, if you’ve put in the work like I told you in the prerequisites section. Again, meeting these requirements does not guarantee admission to the school.
This is where acceptance rates start falling off a cliff. With a 27.13% acceptance rate, getting into this school might seem hard. Don’t worry, you can still make it if you have the right requirements:
- A minimum of 100 hours of first-hand observation or work experience related to the field of physical therapy.
- Submission of three or four letters of recommendation. At least one of them has to come from a licensed physiotherapist.
- Submission of recent GRE test scores.
- Pass the on-site admission interview.
- This is one of the few universities who specifies you need a baccalaureate degree in a related field. While other universities only require you to have taken specific courses, the University of Miami wants you to have a relevant degree.
- A GPA of 3.0 or B average in the following courses: English composition or writing, statistics, psychology, general biology, general chemistry I and II, human anatomy, human physiology.
- PTCAS application
I know, it’s starting to get progressively harder to get into these PT schools. It can feel daunting, but trust me, you can absolutely do it if you do the work.
The university of Pittsburgh offers another excellent DPT program. In fact, it offers multiple: your typical Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, a Doctor of Physical Therapy – PhD in Bioengineering (DPT-PhD), Physical Therapy (MS), and Rehabilitation Science (PhD).
The requirements are slightly different compared to the previous universities, let’s take a more in-depth look at them:
- A GPA of at least 3.0
- Surprisingly, there is no minimum number of hours of observation required. The site is very vague about it though: it only tells you that you need “demonstrated evidence”, then says there is no minimum number of hours required. Then, it suggests to have at least 150 hours logged. Since there is no hard rule, I’d focus on getting at least 50-100 hours as I said in the prerequisites section. Sure, the more the merrier, but don’t leave everything else behind just to increase your practice hours.
- Three letters of recommendation: one from a licensed physical therapist, one from a college-level professor, and the last one from either another physical therapist, or a supervisor/employer. The website recommends for this last letter to come from someone who works in the health care field. Since you are going to apply for PT school this should be easy.
- Prerequisite courses for admission include chemistry I and II, physics I and II, biology I and II, anatomy, physiology, two courses in psychology, statistics, and English writing.
Starting to notice a pattern? The requisites are almost the same in all of these universities. You need a strong GPA, letters of recommendation, observation hours, and the right prerequisite courses.
What’s good is that these courses are for the most part the same on all schools, so you can apply to multiple PT schools at once if you’ve done them.
When it comes to observation hours, your best bet is to always diversify your portfolio as much as possible. Try to work in 3 or 4 different environments, don’t stick with 1.
Getting into PT schools is by no means easy, even the schools with the lowest requirements require you to put in lots of efforts to get accepted.
However, now you are armed with the right knowledge. Get to work, study hard, study smart, and you’ll find it was way easier than you thought.
Your next step is to look into the prerequisites and needed courses and make sure you have what it takes. Then look into getting some observation hours in different situations. It doesn’t have to be paid work; volunteering is good enough for every university out there.
What are you waiting for? Apply for the easiest PT schools to get into today.