Physical Therapy Requirements

Most physical therapist education programs require applicants to earn a bachelor's degree prior to admission into a professional physical therapy program.

  • Certain coursework
  • Good GPA
  • Test scores (GRE)
  • Experience
  • Recommendations

A competitive applicant for PT programs will have taken the recommended coursework (see below), have a GPA of 3.3-3.5, taken the GRE, have good references, and have some PT experience (shadowing, observation, volunteer, etc, ...).

There is some variation in the pre-requisite coursework needed at the undergraduate level.  Below is a listing of LU courses that meet the minimum undergraduate coursework required by most programs. Also listed is some additional coursework that may be required by some programs.

Minimum Pre-Requisites:
  • Biol 130 – Cells to Organisms
  • Biol 150 – Organisms to Ecosystems
  • Biol 310 - Human Anatomy
  • Biol 370 - Human Physiology
  • Chem 116 – Energetics and Dynamics (may need 115 Structure and Reactivity)
  • Phys 141 – Principles of Mechanics
  • Statistics (Math 107, 207, or Biol 170) 
  • Psyc 100 – Principles of Psychology
  • Psyc 270 – Social Psychology
Additional courses for some programs:
  • Another biology course
  • Another chemistry course
  • Another physics course (req by UW-Milwaukee)
  • Another math course
  • Another one or two psychology courses

Usually a biology major works well for preparing for physical therapy school.  A psychology or chemistry major also works well.


The length of professional physical therapy programs is typically 3 years and the average cost per year for programs in 2017-18 were as follows:

Public: $22,000  

Private: $38,000 


To practice as a physical therapist in the US, you must earn a PT degree from a CAPTE-accredited physical therapist education program and pass a state licensure exam.


Drexel University, Marquette University, Northwestern University, UW-La Crosse