Physical Therapy

Preprofessional Requirements for Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a career requiring a professional degree (DPT.)  Students wishing to apply to physical therapy school are encouraged to choose an undergraduate major that aligns with their interests and strengths.  Because course requirements may change from year to year, students should research the admissions requirements for their schools of interest. These requirements are listed in the Course Prerequisites Summary, available through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) at, as well as through individual physical therapy program websites. Additional information about preparation for physical therapy programs can be found at  Admission to physical therapy school is highly competitive, requiring solid academic performance, demonstrated interpersonal skills, exposure to the profession, and completion of the Graduate Records Exam (GRE). In addition to academic advising provided by the colleges and academic departments, students pursuing physical therapy are encouraged to take advantage of Health Professions Advising services at The Career Center early in their academic career at Illinois. 

The Career Center provides health professions advising for students interested in pursuing physical therapy as a career, including discussion of required and recommended coursework, preparation outside the classroom, details of the application process, and characteristics of competitive applicants. In addition to one-on-one appointments, health professions advisors present workshops, host events, and coordinate campus visits for deans and admissions officers. More information for both current and prospective students is available on the Career Center's website at  

Current students can make an appointment with a Health Professions Advisor at The Career Center by calling (217) 333-0820 or online via our website. Students may stop by during weekly drop-in hours, or email the health professions advising team at with questions. Information about upcoming programs and services is available via the Health Careers Chronicle weekly e-newsletter.

The following chart represents common course requirements to prepare for physical therapy school. Individual programs may require additional coursework and/or expect students to go beyond minimum preparation. Students are strongly encouraged to research their specific schools of interest.

General Biology with laboratory8-10
Molec & Cellular Basis of Life
Molec & Cellular Laboratory 1
Organismal & Evolutionary Biol
Organismal & Evol Biol Lab 1
Animal Biology
Anatomy and Physiology with laboratory10
Human Anatomy & Physiology I
Human Anat & Physiol Lab I
Human Anatomy & Physiology II
Human Anat & Physiol Lab II
General Chemistry with laboratory8
General Chemistry I
General Chemistry Lab I
General Chemistry II
General Chemistry Lab II
Physics with laboratory10
College Physics: Mech & Heat
College Physics: E&M & Modern
Calculus 2
Calculus I
Courses in Social and Behavioral Sciences (typically Psychology courses)variable
HDFS 105Intro to Human Development3
PSYC 100Intro Psych4
PSYC 238Abnormal Psych3
Medical Terminologyvariable
Medical Terms-GRK & LAT Roots (or Self Study)

MCB and IB majors do NOT take MCB 151 or IB 151.  Pre-physical therapy students in any major who choose to take upper level labs do not need to take MCB 151 and/or IB 151


UIC and Northwestern require Calculus. Other schools may require statistics or no math.