Pre-Physical Therapy

Congratulations on your interest in becoming a Physical Therapist. As a pre-Physical Therapy student at Radford University, you will have unique opportunities to engage in research, complete PT school course prerequisites, participate in STEM clubs, and so much more; all while learning in a community-based education environment. Radford’s small class sizes and demanding laboratory experiences will allow you to connect with faculty and study with classmates in a way that prepares you for the rigors of PT school.

While there is not a Pre-PT degree at Radford University, most students choose to major in Exercise, Sports & Health Education (ESHE). Some students will also choose to major in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Psychology and take additional courses to fulfil their remaining Pre-PT prerequisite coursework. Physical Therapy school prerequisites often include Anatomy and Physiology, biology, chemistry, physics, and medical terminology, but all pre-PT students must investigate the specific requirements of each institution where an application will be sent. Pre-PT students can use this table to learn more about prerequisite coursework for all PT. 

As a pre-PT student, you and your advisor will compose a degree path that suits your interests and best prepares you for PT school. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) website is also a valuable resource when considering PT school after graduating from Radford University.

Pre-PT students at Radford University have a special opportunity to apply directly to Radford University Carillion (RUC) for Physical Therapy school, or Physical Therapy Assistant school. Learn more about continuing your studies at Radford University Carillion Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

  • Use APTS’s website as a resource to investigate all things pre-PT, including information that will help you decide if pharmacy is the right career path for you.

  • All Pre-PT students apply to PT school using PTCAS.  

Applications: Use the PT checklist during your undergraduate studies at Radford University and use the PT calendar once you are ready to apply to PT schools. 

FAQ about Physical Therapists

The following information is provided by the American Physical Therapy Association.  

What Physical Therapists Do

Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.

Physical therapists diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to people at the end of life. Many patients have injuries, disabilities, or other health conditions that need treatment. But PTs also care for people who simply want to become healthier and to prevent future problems.

Physical therapists examine each person and then develops a treatment plan to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function, and prevent disability.

Physical therapists can have a profound effect on people’s lives. They help people achieve fitness goals, regain or maintain their independence, and lead active lives.

Visit, APTA’s official consumer information website, to learn more about the benefits of physical therapy.

Where Physical Therapists Work

Physical therapists practice in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, people’s homes, schools, sports and fitness facilities, workplaces, and nursing homes.

How Much Physical Therapists Earn

The median salary for a physical therapist is $85,000. Salaries vary based on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting.

Demand for physical therapists varies by geographical region and area of practice, but PT unemployment rates are typically low across the country. The need for physical therapists is expected to remain strong as the United States population ages and the demand for physical therapist services grows.

Physical Therapist Education and Licensure

To practice as a physical therapist in the U.S., you must earn a doctor of physical therapy degree from a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education-accredited physical therapist education program and pass a state licensure exam.

The length of professional DPT programs is typically three years. Primary content areas in the curriculum may include, but are not limited to, biology/anatomy, cellular histology, physiology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, pathology, behavioral sciences, communication, ethics/values, management sciences, finance, sociology, clinical reasoning, evidence-based practice, cardiovascular and pulmonary, endocrine and metabolic, and musculoskeletal.

Approximately 80% of the DPT curriculum is classroom (didactic) and lab study and the remaining 20% is dedicated to clinical education. PT students spend on average 27.5 weeks in their final clinical experience.

If you are an internationally educated PT or PTA, please read more information on internationally educated PTs and PTAs.

Getting Into a DPT Program

Most DPT programs require applicants to earn a bachelor's degree prior to admission. Other programs offer a 3+3 curricular format in which three years of specific preprofessional (undergraduate/pre-PT) courses must be taken before the student can advance into a three-year professional DPT program.

A few programs offer freshman entry, recruiting students directly from high school into a guaranteed admissions program. High school students accepted into these programs can automatically advance into the professional phase of the DPT program, pending the completion of specific undergraduate courses and any other stated contingencies, e.g., minimum GPA.

At the link below, there is a list of programs including their requirements.

Find a DPT Program

Choosing the Right Program

APTA does not rank DPT education programs. Programs are accredited by CAPTE, which assures quality in physical therapist education. Among the factors you should keep in mind when choosing your program:

Cost and financial aid opportunities. Most DPT students graduate with student loans.Make sure you are financially aware and prepared. Programs offer different student experiences and have different costs.

Program length. The traditional DPT program is three years, but some programs compress academic requirements into a shorter time span, which could help you manage the total cost of your education experience and enter the field faster.

Demographics and setting. You will be investing a lot into your physical therapy education. Make sure that you select a program where you feel at home.

You may wish to contact current students and recent graduates of the program, or interview employers who hire new graduates, to ask about a program’s strengths and weaknesses.


The Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service allows applicants to use a single web-based application and one set of materials to apply to multiple DPT programs.

Learn About the Admissions Process

After Graduation

Licensed physical therapists may choose to pursue a residency or fellowship programto enhance their knowledge and practice.

A clinical residency is designed to advance a physical therapist's preparation as a provider of patient care services in a defined area of clinical practice. It combines opportunities for ongoing clinical supervision and mentoring with a theoretical basis for advanced practice and scientific inquiry.

A clinical fellowship is a planned program of post professional clinical and didactic education for a physical therapist who demonstrates clinical expertise in an area of clinical practice related to the practice focus of the fellowship. (Fellows are frequently postresidency prepared or board-certified clinical specialists.)

Physical therapists also have the opportunity to become board-certified clinical specialists through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. Specialization is the process by which a physical therapist builds on a broad base of professional education and practice to develop a greater depth of knowledge and skills related to a particular area of practice. PTs are not required to be certified in order to practice in a specific area.


Student Testimonial from Alum, Tyler Porter:

With the help of Radford’s intentional and knowledgeable faculty, the University’s highly-specific pre-PT major, and reputable health programs, I have been able to reach where I am today.

After experiencing my first year of DPT school at Duke University, I would tell aspiring PT students to be willing to learn and understand that you will make mistakes. With this in mind, don’t be too hard on yourselves and strive to be the best PT and person that you can be. Use the resources available to you and know that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. You’re going into the best career field out there!