Pre-Physical Therapy

Bellarmine University prepares students interested in careers in physical therapy for application and admission to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Bellarmine, and for application to other doctoral programs in physical therapy at universities throughout the country. Physical therapy is an exciting professional career that has experienced significant scientific growth over the past decade. Physical therapists are recognized as experts in understanding the “human movement system”, are considered the practitioner of choice for movement related problems and the practitioner of choice of movement related disorders dysfunction and now graduate with professional doctoral degrees. Physical therapy is a very fulfilling and rewarding profession that allows for many different areas of specialization following graduation including post-doctoral training opportunities in residencies and fellowships

The need for physical therapists will grow as we move in to the future because of our aging society.  In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statics in the Occupational Outlook Handbook states the employment opportunities for physical therapists is expected to grow 36% over the next several years and the growth is “much faster than the average for all occupations”. 

The education of a physical therapist is quite similar to that of a dentist or a physician; students apply to a school of physical therapy later in their undergraduate career (typically junior or senior year of undergraduate education) and enter the professional education program after receiving a bachelor’s degree. There is not a preferred or typical undergraduate degree for students to hold, although it is important the applicant be sure to complete the necessary prerequisite courses the program requires. At Bellarmine, students often receive undergraduate degrees in psychology, exercise science, biology, communications, respiratory therapy or business before entering the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program.

Application to schools of physical therapy is competitive; mean incoming grade point average for most schools is 3.5 or higher. The minimum application GPA varies between schools, but GPA of 3.0 or higher is necessary to be considered competitive. Successful applicants to physical therapy schools are good students with a strong basic science background who have thoroughly researched physical therapy as a career and are prepared for three or more years of rigorous professional graduate education at the doctoral level.

While each school of physical therapy has specific entrance requirement, the majority of schools in the United States require the following prerequisite courses (Bellarmine equivalents): 

  • Two semesters of anatomy and physiology with lab (BIOL 108 and BIOL 109)
  • One semester of biology with lab (BIOL 130)
  • Two semesters of college physics with lab (PHYS 201 and 202 or PHYS 205 and 206)
  • Two semesters of college chemistry with lab (CHEM 103 and 104)
  • One semester of statistics (MATH 205)
  • One semester of general psychology (PSYC 103 or 104)

In addition, the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Bellarmine requires applicants to complete the following prerequisite course:

  • One semester of advanced physiology (BIOL 300, BIOL 314 or EXSC 240)

Most schools of physical therapy (including Bellarmine) require candidates to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and to have completed many hours of work or volunteer experience, preferably in a variety of physical therapy clinical settings. The Bellarmine DPT Program requires a minimum of 25 documented contact hours of work or volunteer experience in a physical therapy setting.

Please visit the APTA website (www.apta.org) or information on general information about the profession of physical therapy, or PTCAS (www.ptcas.org/home.aspx) for specific admission requirements for schools of physical therapy.

Application to the program at Bellarmine University and many other schools of physical therapy is done using the on-line Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service or PTCAS.  Students applying through PTCAS have the advantage of applying to many schools with a single application. 

Students interested in physical therapy as a career are encouraged to attend Pre-Physical Therapy Association meetings or by contacting the Pre-PT faculty advisor Dr. Dawn Hall-Bibb or the Program Director, Dr. Tony Brosky.

For more information on physical therapy at Bellarmine please visit the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.