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Physical Therapy

Want a career as a physical therapist (D.P.T.)? Most students choose to major in biology or exercise science from UNC before going to physical therapy school, but you can choose any undergraduate major.

Choosing a major outside of the sciences might extend the time it takes you to earn your degree as you'll also need to complete the graduation requirements for that major.

Contact Information

NHS Advising Center



Ross Hall, Room 1210

Suggested courses

Each PT school has its own list of prerequisites. However, the following courses are required by most programs

  • Two semesters of general biology
  • Two semesters anatomy and physiology (exact course depends on PT school requirements)
  • Two semesters of general chemistry
  • Two semesters of physics
  • Two semesters behavioral science
  • One semester statistics
  • One semester of math (trigonometry or calculus recommended) 
  • One semester college writing

Other recommended courses

These courses could also help you on your next journey:

  • One semester cell biology
  • One semester biochemistry
  • One semester organic chemistry

Illustration of footsteps


During your time here, you should do your best to stick to this timeline. It will help make sure you're ready for PT school.

  • First Year

    During your first year, it's important that you focus on your coursework and learn how to be a successful student. Knowing how to study and manage your time is critical and can help you earn a strong GPA. You should also:

    • Begin to work on prerequisite courses, especially both semesters of biology (BIO 110 and 111) and chemistry (CHEM 111 and 112)
    • Shadow a physical therapist (D.P.T.) — either over breaks or during the summer
    • Research various medical careers
    • Join the Pre-Physical Therapy Club and/or the Pre-Health Professionals Club (PHPC) student organization
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
  • Sophomore Year

    You should continue doing as best you can in your courses to earn a strong GPA and complete prerequisite courses during your sophomore year. You should also:

    • Begin and/or continue community service
    • Look for leadership and research opportunities
    • Start working or volunteering with physical therapist for clinical experience
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
    • Consider who to ask for letters of recommendation
  • Junior Year

    During your junior year, you should still strive to earn a strong GPA as well as continuing your community service and shadowing (or other clinical experiences) and leadership activities. You should also:

    • Finish your science prerequisite courses 
    • Study for and take the GRE
    • Conduct research in your major
    • Obtain letters of recommendation
    • Work on your personal essay
    • Meet with you pre-health advisor
    • Fill out and submit PTCAS application — see application info below
    • Submit letters of recommendation
  • Senior Year

    You should continue your community service and shadowing (or other clinical experiences) and leadership activities during your senior year, as well as continue your research experiences. You should also:

    • Prepare for interviews
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
    • Go to PT school interviews

How to apply to PT school

Start by completing the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) application. This will then be sent to the PT schools of your choice.

We've outlined the general process below, but you can also learn more about the PTCAS application process.

  1. You will need to complete and submit your application along with your official transcripts to PTCAS. Each application includes a space for your personal essay, coursework history, list of activities, GRE score and the names of your recommenders (letters of recommendation are typically sent directly to each PT school).
  2. Once applications are received schools might send secondary applications. These require additional information and ask short answer/essay questions. Once complete send them to each school.
  3. After reviewing your secondary application and letters of recommendation, PT schools may then invite you for interviews.
  4. From here, you will either be accepted, denied or placed on a waitlist for each school. The next choice is all yours!

General information about applicants

Students accepted to PT school typically have an overall GPA of 3.57, science GPA of 3.41 and an GRE score of 304.

PTCAS application logo

The application opens early July.

Start Your PTCAS Application