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Pre-Physical Therapy Program: Bachelor of Science or Arts (B.S. or B.A.) in Biology with a Concentration in Exercise Science

The pre-physical therapy program is an undergraduate educational track that prepares you to be a competitive candidate for admission to a physical therapy (PT) graduate program after completing your bachelor's degree.

Physical therapists help injured, ill, and physically challenged people of all ages improve their mobility and manage their pain. They are important members of healthcare teams charged with treating, rehabilitating, and preventing chronic conditions among patients. 

  • The benefits of a PT career include (1) a high level of personal and professional satisfaction from a rewarding career in which you (2) improve quality of life for patients and (3) enjoy good job security with strong national demand.
  • In addition, PTs can choose from a wide range of work settings—from hospitals to private practice, outpatient clinics, skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, home health services, schools, athletic and fitness facilities, and corporate and business settings.
  • According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), nearly 22 percent of PTs are owners or partners in a PT practice, so this field is especially suited for those who may have an interest in becoming an entrepreneur.

In order to become a PT, you need to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited college or university and be state licensed to practice. Completing the DPT typically takes about three years and includes both classroom, lab, and clinical experience.

During the 2017-18 academic year, there were just over 240 accredited physical therapy programs in the U.S. In the state of Indiana, for example, there are currently five programs from which you might choose.

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for PTs is expected to increase by 28 percent through 2026, which is much faster than average compared to other occupations.
  • The demand will primarily come from a large population of middle-aged and retired adults who are staying active later in life (making them susceptible to injury) and health conditions like strokes, diabetes, and obesity that have a negative impact on their mobility. 
  • The median annual wage for PTs in 2018 was $87,930.

To find an accredited school, visit the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE) website. CAPTE is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the national PT accrediting agency.

Why choose the pre-physical therapy program at Marian?

Marian University's pre-physical therapy program takes the guesswork out of preparing for admission to the PT program of your choosing.

Some universities weigh their admission decisions on certain areas of your application and your academic preparation more heavily than others. These strengths, listed in decreasing order of importance, are among those typically ranked more highly than others.

1.  Completion of prerequisite coursework

  • If you have not completed all prerequisite courses before applying for admission to PT school, most schools will reject your application.
  • With our program, you will complete all pre-requisite coursework by the end of your junior year, which gives you plenty of time before applying to PT school.

            2.  Grade Point Average (GPA)

            • According to the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS), the average cumulative GPA of accepted applicants for the 2016-17 year was 3.59.
            • We recommend pre-physical therapy students at Marian strive for a 3.6 cumulative GPA with a minimum 3.45 GPA in science and math courses.
            • Our curriculum is specifically sequenced to gradually challenge you at increasing levels of difficulty. Faculty and peer tutors will support and help you learn the knowledge and skills required to master your coursework.

            3.  Clinical Experience

            • It is important to check the clinical prerequisite requirements for the PT programs in which you are interested so you can plan ahead. 
            • Many, but not all, DPT programs require that applicants have a certain number of verified observation, volunteer, or paid clinical experiences. The minimum observation hours ranges from a low of 20 up to 100 for some schools. In addition, some schools recommend (not require) as many as 200+ hours of clinical experience. So, you'll want to plan ahead in order to meet these requirements. 
            • You can obtain this experience at physical therapy clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation facilities, and other settings.
            • Because we embed research experience into your freshman and sophomore years, you will have more time to gain clinical experience during your junior year.

            4. Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

            • Most (but not all) DPT programs require applicants to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), a standardized exam.
            • Most have minimum acceptable GRE scores and due dates by which you must have completed the GRE. These policies differ according to school and program. It is important for you to research whether the DPT program(s) in which you are interested require that you complete the GRE.
            • Our curriculum, combined with carefully selected general education requirements, maximizes your exposure to content, problem-solving, and critical analyses covered on the GRE. 

            5. Letters of recommendation

            • You will have plenty of opportunities to build strong relationships with Marian University teaching and research faculty, providing you with the professional contacts you need for letters of recommendation that may be required for admission to DPT programs.
            • The contacts you make during your clinical experience are other good sources for professional letters of recommendation.

            6.  Research experience

            • While research is not required for admission to most DPT programs, with the growing need for evidence-based healthcare, it may be used as a deciding factor when schools are considering multiple candidates for the same spot in their next class.
            • Marian's "research across the curriculum" model embeds authentic scientific research experience within our core curriculum and carefully selected prerequisite courses.
            • As a pre-PT student at Marian, you will work with faculty mentors and peers on at least two research projects and you will present your work and findings at at least two undergraduate research symposia before graduation.

            Internship Opportunities

            Many of our students gain clinical experience by working as a health aid and in local physical therapy offices. For information, talk with one of our faculty advisors and staff at The Exchange.

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            Marian University does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age or disabilities in the selection of administrative personnel, faculty and staff, and students.
            *Placement rates are gathered from data collected from graduates within six months of graduation.

            Students may make a complaint to the Indiana Commission of Higher Education.

            Marian University is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana.

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