Physical Therapy

So, you want to be a physical therapist?

Physical therapists provide care to people suffering from injuries.

They work with patients long-term, developing goals and plans for the patients recovery.

They work in a variety of settings and give to patients through dedication, motivation and positivity.

To become a physical therapist one must graduate from PT school, typically taking 2-3 years.

Key Points

  • "Pre-PT" is not a major. Major in an area of personal interest to obtain a degree.
  • Being "Pre-PT" is an interest in addition to your major.
  • PT schools accept a variety of majors. You can major in whatever you are interested in as long as you complete the requirements.

Programs and Requirements

Doctor of Physical Therapy, DPT

The Doctor of Physical Therapy degree takes approximately 3 years to complete. Prospective physical therapists must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to become licensed practitioners.

Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science

Rehabilitation Science focuses on human function and disability. This degree contributes to the knowledge of rehabilitation science or translate research findings into practice to advance the field.

The courses below only apply to the DPT program.

Various Schools in Alabama

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions (UAB) - DPT & PhD in Rehab Sci - Birmingham, AL

University of South Alabama Patt Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions (USA) - DPT - Mobile, AL

Recommended Course & GPA Requirements

To be a competitive student, a 3.5+ cumulative and science GPA is recommended.

Pre-requisites of the below courses are enforced.

Schools look for these classes:
Hours NeededCourse NeededWhat to Take at UAH
8 hrs General Biology BYS 119 & BYS 120
8 hrs General Chemistry CH 121/125 & CH 123/126
8 hrs General Physics

PH (101&102) or PH (111/114 & 112/115)

8 hrs Anatomy & Physiology I and II BYS (215 & 216) or BYS (313 & 314)
4 hrs Precalulus Algebra and Trigonometry MA 115
3 hrs Statistics MA 281/ST 281 or PY 300
3-4 hrs Medical Terminology BYS 491
9 hrs 3 Social Sciences, 2 must be Pysc Courses Choose w/Advisor
Courses positively adding to your application:
Course NeededWhat to Take at UAH
Calculus MA 171
Anatomy & Physiology I and II BYS (313 & 314)
General Physics PH (111/114 & 112/115)
Kinesiology & Biomechanics BYS 402
General Microbiology I BYS 321
Exercise Physiology BYS 401
Genetics BYS 219
Developmental Psychology PY 201 or PY 315

Upper level science courses illustrate interest in science and provide an in depth look into such subjects. There is a lot more you can do to make your application stand out.

The above courses support required and suggested coursework for Alabama schools. The combination of courses are guidelines and specific requirements may differ amongst schools.


The GRE is a standardized, computer-based exam, testing on verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.

  • Verbal: Evaluation of written work, analysis of information obtained, and relationships among words and concepts.
  • Quantitative: Measures problem-solving skills; focuses on arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.
  • Writing: Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills; Ability to articulate and support complex ideas effectively.

Testing Centers

The GRE can be registered for through their list of testing centers and taken at a nearby testing centers in Huntsville. The GRE is offered multiple times of year. Register for the GRE test here.


The strongest way to increase your score is to take practice tests. In between each test, assess strengths and weaknesses, focus on improving weaknesses, and re-assess with another practice test. Many of the GRE Prep books and verbal flashcards on the most commonly used words on the exam may also be of assistance. Visit the GRE website for recommendations on preparation.

Timing and Organization

Take the exam after preparing. Most people do so around the Spring semester of the year they are planning to apply to professional school. Schedule a one-on-one advising appointment with the Pre-Health Advisor to discuss timeline of the exam with the application process.

Many programs have "rolling admission" deadlines; meaning seats at their school begin to be filled as soon as their application cycle opens. It becomes crucial to apply early.

Outside Class It's More Than Just Grades


What are you truly passionate about? What motivates you to make a difference in the world? This passion could be turned into a project, which showcases your characteristics as a person.

Health Care Experiences

What better way to make sure you want to be in healthcare than by shadowing? Gain experiences and possible references. Consistent and committed shadowing will go a long way in not only making you a mature applicant, but making sure others see you as prepared.

Many schools have requirements on the number of documented shadowing hours needed for their programs. Our office can help you understand requirements needed for a strong application.

Community Service and Volunteering

Working in healthcare means having a heart of service. This means wanting to give back to the community (in both health related and non-health related ways). Find something enjoyable and go forth! Spend dedicated and committed time in service areas. 

Keeping a Journal

Keep a journal and use it to record thoughts on your experiences. Activities come to life with reflection. Topics to consider writing about may include: Why one chose their profession, shadowing, or volunteering. This journal will be very helpful when it comes to writing your personal statement.


Research experience can provide you with the opportunity to work with faculty, learn skills beyond the classroom, use research methods, and engage in critical analysis. Research allows a better understanding between theory and practice using innovative and creative thinking.

Getting into professional school is not about accomplishing the perfect checklist. It's about truly desiring to be a better person and better future healthcare professional. It's a complex process and we're here to help!