Pre-physical therapy is a curricular focus for students who plan to enter a graduate degree program in physical therapy.
Pre‑Physical Therapy at Ship
Most pre‑physical therapy students are biology majors; however, a pre‑physical therapy student can major in virtually any discipline. Pre‑physical therapy students are advised by the pre‑physical therapy advisors with regard to prerequisite courses required by physical therapy (PT) programs, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) preparation, physical therapy school application procedures and current trends in physical therapy school admissions.
Science classes are small at Shippensburg University, usually having no more than 16 students per laboratory section. Seasoned professors, not graduate students, teach lectures and labs. State-of-the-art laboratory equipment is available to students, giving them hands-on experience with current techniques.
The university has a consistent record of placing qualified students into physical therapy programs. Pre-physical therapy advisors stay current with admissions procedures and standards by visiting a number of physical therapy programs during the summer months. They attend conferences for health professions advisors where they meet colleagues from other universities and share ideas. This ensures our pre-physical therapy students receive accurate, current, and comprehensive information.
Shippensburg University is affiliated with Thomas Jefferson University College of Health Professions in Philadelphia. Because TJU offers the doctorate in physical therapy (DPT), a baccalaureate degree is required prior to entering their graduate program. Shippensburg University students do receive preferential consideration in the application process, however, and former students have established a strong track record of success at Jefferson.
Admission and Degree Requirements
Course requirements vary considerably among the numerous physical therapy graduate programs. Most often, however, prerequisites for entry into PT programs are at least:
- 16 credits of biology (including human anatomy and physiology)
- 8 credits of chemistry
- 8 credits of physics
- 6 credits of English
- 6 to 9 credits of psychology
- 3 credits of statistics
Specific programs might require other courses so students are advised to examine the specific requirements of the schools they plan to apply early in their undergraduate program. The health professions concentration in biology enables the pre‑physical therapy student to schedule this coursework along with other course requirements for the respective major. Pre‑physical therapy students pursuing a non‑science major can include these science requirements as electives; however, physical therapy schools expect non‑science majors to perform very well in these science courses.
There are 16 physical therapy graduate programs in Pennsylvania and many more nationwide. All are highly competitive and have strict course prerequisites. Shippensburg students who have been accepted into PT graduate programs almost always have QPAs of 3.3 or better, performed above average on the GRE, and conducted internships in a variety of physical therapy settings. Leadership, community/human service and a willingness to volunteer contribute to the “personal qualities” of successful pre‑physical therapy students. Pre-physical therapy students plan a strategy early in their college career with regard to course sequences, preparing for and taking the GRE, internship experiences and application to physical therapy schools. They should also communicate frequently with their pre‑physical therapy advisor.
In light of the high level of competition for acceptance into physical therapy programs, qualified Shippensburg pre-physical therapy students have fared very well in the admissions process over recent years. Some of the programs to which students have been accepted include:
- Arcadia University
- Drexel University
- Medical College of Virginia
- Shenandoah University
- Thomas Jefferson University
- Temple University
- Widener University
Faculty-directed undergraduate research is highly encouraged at Shippensburg, and each year several biology students present the results of their research at regional, state, or national conferences.
Pre‑physical therapy students are encouraged to participate in internship experiences in private and hospital settings and attend open houses at physical therapy schools. Practicing professionals are routinely invited to speak to the Health Sciences Club. Additionally, the diverse health professional interests of Shippensburg University students and the variety of health professionals invited to speak at the university expose pre-physical therapy students to other areas of the health care field as they formulate their plans for advanced education in the health care field.