Prioritize Your PT School Choices

Uncategorized Jan 07, 2018

A lot of hard work goes into applying to physical therapy school. You take several prerequisite courses, complete dozens or hundreds of shadowing hours, figure out PTCAS, and write a killer essay. But besides having a stellar application, it’s important to apply to the right schools. Knowing where to apply can be just as important as the application itself because ultimately you’re deciding where you will spend the next three years of your life. Here are some factors to keep in mind while you’re deciding where to apply:

1. Cost. This can vary widely from state to state and from public to private schools. Look into loans and scholarships, and think about how these things might affect you in the years to come, both while you’re in school and after you graduate. This could mean the difference between paying back loans for only a few years or for the next 30 years.

2. Location. It’s not just important in the restaurant business. Where do you want to live for the next three years? Although I loved going to college in upstate New York, I knew I wanted to be in a larger city for graduate school. Also, where do you want to start your career? Many of your contacts will be in hospitals and clinics affiliated with your school, making it easier to find work post-graduation near your school. And keep in mind the cost of living in various regions of the country, as well as other factors such as proximity to friends and family. Flying home to visit your family several times per year can add up fast.

3. How do you stack up? On each school’s page, the APTA lists the average GPA and GRE scores of the students there. While I think it’s great to apply to a reach school or two, and that grades don’t tell an applicant’s full story, you will probably want to apply to a few schools whose stats match your own. This will increase your chances of acceptance by ensuring your fit.

4. Pre-requisites. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) does a great job listing requirements for many programs. Since you could probably spend 10 years taking enough courses to satisfy the requirements for every PT school in the country, you’ll need to do a bit of research to find schools with admissions requirements you can meet. For example, I chose to take an upper-level biology course in order to apply to Columbia, the program from which I ultimately graduated, but I ruled out other schools that required an extra course I didn’t have time to take. I also had three courses out-standing at the time I applied, which prevented my application to certain programs. Finally, be sure to check out each school’s individual website because sometimes they can be more thorough and up to date than PTCAS.

5. The details. Decide what’s important to you.  At one school I visited, I noticed banners in the health sciences building for the medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, etc. When I asked where the PT flag was, the student leading our tour said, “Oh, I don’t know. There’s never been one. I guess they don’t really care that much about us.” Although noticing a missing flag sounds insignificant, I knew I did not want to attend a school where the physical therapy program was not a priority. Other factors I found important included having a cadaver that wasn’t previously dissected by the medical students, and being able to choose my own internships.


Some of these preferences can also be put aside until you have the luxury of deciding between multiple acceptances. Good luck!

About the Author:

Dr. Jasmine Marcus, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist and writer. Her writing has been featured on several physical therapy websites and she has been quoted as a physical therapist in numerous national publications. She also edits physical therapy application essays and other important documents for physical therapists. You can connect with her through her website, on Twitter at: @JMarcusDPT, and on Instagram at: @JMarcusDPT.Or click the images below!

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.