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Admission Factors

Physical therapy programs generally consider the following factors when deciding who to admit.

Academic Ability

  • Successful completion of prerequisite coursework, usually with a grade of C or above.
  • Most PT programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0, but accepted GPA averages are much higher.
  • Most programs require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.

Patient Contact Experiences

Many schools require volunteer or paid experience working with patients in a physical therapy setting.  We encourage students to review the Required PT Observation Hours chart to learn about a specific program’s requirement. Volunteer experiences allow applicants to test their career decision and be confident that PT is a good fit. Applicants who have researched and gained direct exposure to the profession will also be better prepared to write a compelling application essay and respond to interview questions.

Obtaining PT Experiences

  • Many hospitals and community clinics may offer physical therapy-related and/or patient-related volunteer experiences.
  • Review the Explore Opportunities section on this web site for possible physical therapy-related volunteer opportunities.
  • We encourage students to also reach out to physical therapists for informational interviews to learn about specific areas of physical therapy practice.

Letters of Reference

Most physical therapy degree programs require letters of references, and may require that these letters come from particular individuals, such as a physical therapist, professor, or academic advisor.

  • PTCAS has a summary of letter of reference requirements by school in terms of number of letters required and types of recommenders accepted by individual PT programs.
  • Although HPA offers a recommendation file service for medical and dental school applicants, DPT applicants should use the electronic letter of reference system provided through PTCAS.
  • Applicants applying to non-PTCAS participating programs should check each school's specific directions regarding letters or recommendation.


  • If asked to interview for a physical therapy program, you should be prepared to discuss why you are pursuing a career in the physical therapy profession and how you perceive the role of the physical therapist in health care.
  • You are most likely to be rated on how you present yourself and interact in a group, your knowledge of the profession, and your motivation to pursue a career in physical therapy.
  • Some PT programs do not interview their applicants.