Cover Photo Image

General Overview

Physical therapy (PT) is a health care profession designed to enhance the quality of life of patients through the assessment, evaluation and rehabilitation of a variety of anatomical and neuromuscular functions. Licensed physical therapists commonly provide services in a variety of settings, including but not limited to hospitals, private clinics, school systems, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and community health centers. There are currently 212 physical therapy programs at colleges and universities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, which have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). It is the vision of the profession that by the year 2020, physical therapy will be provided by doctors of physical therapy (DPT), recognized by consumers and other health care professionals as practitioners of choice to whom consumers have direct access for the diagnosis of, interventions for, and prevention of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities related to movement, function, and health. Further information can be found at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). The Virginia Physical Therapy Association (VPTA) also provides great information. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredits physical therapy programs to assure quality. View CAPTE's list of accredited PT programs.

Choosing a Major

Students are not required to complete a particular major to be eligible for admission to a DPT program. When selecting a major, consider how you will complete both your JMU degree (major) as well as the pre-PT prerequisite courses; some majors include many of the prerequisites commonly associated with admission to DPT programs. Admissions committees are most concerned with the overall scope and quality of a student’s undergraduate performance and it is important that students select a major based on their interests and aptitudes. 

Which JMU undergraduate majors are represented amongst successful applicants to physical therapy schools ('10 - '14)?

Declaration and Progression Standards

As a Pre-PT student, you will be subject to performance standard reviews twice a year once you have completed 10 or more credit hours in the following courses at James Madison University: BIO 140, BIO 270, BIO 290, CHEM 131, CHEM 131L, CHEM 132, CHEM 132L, PHYS 140, PHYS 140L, PHYS 150, PHYS 150L, and PSYC 101, 160 or 250. You must achieve and maintain an overall G.P.A. of 3.00 or above and a Pre-Physical Therapy Pre-Requisite G.P.A. (the courses previously listed) of a 2.70 or above to maintain your Pre-Physical Therapy Program declaration. Since physical therapy programs consider all course attempts during the admissions process, the G.P.A. calculations for the Pre-Physical Therapy Program will include all course attempts. If your academic performance standards fall below a 3.00 overall G.P.A. or a 2.70 Pre-Physical Therapy Pre-Requisite G.P.A., you are at very high risk for not being admitted to a physical therapy school. Therefore if you are unable to attain or maintain these G.P.A. standards, then your Pre- Physical Therapy Program will be administratively dropped.

Coursework

Pre-Professional Health Advising has developed requirements for the Pre-Physical Therapy Program based on the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) program prerequisite summary. The review of pre-requisite courses to develop the requirements for the Pre-Physical Therapy Program below was completed in spring semester 2017. You should look at individual physical therapy (PT) schools' list of pre-requisites to assure completion of all pre-requisite coursework. Because these courses are pre-requisites to PT programs, PT school admissions committees will use your academic success in these courses as a metric of your ability to achieve success in PT school.

If you have credit for any of the following courses by earning Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Cambridge International Exam (CIE), community college credit, or departmental test credit, please read the Non-JMU Coursework for Pre-Requisite Coursework below.

Biology Coursework

Students are required to complete 8 credit hours of General Biology with labs.

  • BIO 140: Foundations of Biology I (4 credits)
  • BIO 150: Foundations of Biology II (4 credits)

Pre-Physical Therapy students are required to complete Human Anatomy and Physiology.

  • BIO 290: Human Anatomy (4 credits)
  • BIO 270: Human Physiology (4 credits)

Chemistry Coursework

Pre-Physical Therapy students are required to complete 8 credit hours of General Chemistry with labs.

  • CHEM 131: General Chemistry I (3 credits)
  • CHEM 131L: General Chemistry Laboratory (1 credit) or CHEM 135L: Special General Chemistry Laboratory (1 credit; Chemistry majors only)
  • CHEM 132: General Chemistry II (3 credits)
  • CHEM 132L: General Chemistry Laboratory (1 credit) or CHEM 136L: Special General Chemistry
         Laboratory (1 credit; Chemistry majors only)

Physics Coursework

Students are required to complete 8 credit hours of General Physics with labs.

  • PHYS 140*: College Physics I (3 credits) or PHYS 240: University Physics I (3 credits)
  • PHYS 140L: General Physics Laboratory I (1 credit)
  • PHYS 150*: College Physics II (3 credits) or PHYS 250: University Physics II (3 credits)
  • PHYS 150L: General Physics Laboratory II (1 credit)

* Pre-Professional Health Advising recommends that you take the PHYS 140-150 sequence rather than the 240-250 sequence, unless your major requires otherwise. The PHYS 140-150 sequence is the non-calculus sequence in general physics. The 240-250 sequence is the calculus sequence that requires MATH 235-236 as co-requisites, respectively. Because it is not the calculus sequence of Physics, PHYS 140-150 is able to cover more breadth within Physics than the 240-250 sequence.

Mathematics Coursework

Pre-Physical Therapy students are required to complete 3 credits of a 200- or 300-level Statistics and are encouraged to complete a 200-level Calculus class. There are two considerations when choosing appropriate statistics and calculus courses.

  1. Double-Counting with Other RequirementsRefer to major and minor requirements in the Undergraduate Catalog to determine if there are specific calculus or statistics courses required for your major or minor requirements. Most of these classes will fulfill General Education: Cluster 3: Quantitative Reasoning, but this may also be a consideration.
  2. Your Math Placement Exam (MPE) ScoresUtilize the MPE Matrix to determine the appropriate calculus and statistics courses to take. You can find your MPE for calculus and statistics within the Student Center of MyMadison. You can watch a video to learn how to find your MPE scores.

Statistics: There are two statistics courses that Pre-Physical Therapy students are encouraged to take at James Madison University. Your MPE - Statistics score may require that you take MATH 105: Quantitative Literacy and Reasoning beforehand to be successful in these courses.

  • MATH 220: Elementary Statistics (3 credits)
  • MATH 318: Introduction to Probability and Statistics (4 credits)

Calculus: There are four 200-level Calculus options at James Madison University. There are two calculus "pathways"; the 231-232 sequence, 233-234 sequence, and 235 prepare you for more advanced calculus courses. MATH 205 does not prepare you for more advanced calculus courses. Your MPE - Calculus score may require that you take MATH 155 or 156: College Algebra beforehand, or that you take MATH 199: Algebra/Precalculus Gateway in conjunction with one of the following courses to be successful.

  • MATH 205: Introductory Calculus I (3 credits)
  • MATH 231: Calculus with Functions I (3 credits)
  • MATH 233E: A Modeling Approach to Calculus, Part A (3 credits)
  • MATH 235: Calculus I (4 credits)

Psychology Coursework

Pre-Physical Therapy students must complete 6 credits of Psychology. Students are encouraged to utilize opportunities to take Psychology coursework that will also count for General Education's Cluster 5: Sociocultural Domain.

  • PSYC 101: General Psychology (3 credits)
  • PSYC 160: Life Span Human Development (3 credits)
  • PSYC 250: Introduction to Abnormal Psychology (3 credits) or PSYC 335: Abnormal Psychology (3 credits; Psychology majors only)

English, Literature, and Writing Coursework

Pre-Physical students must complete 6 credits of English, literature, or writing. Typically, students complete this requirement while completing General Education's Cluster 1: Writing and General Education's Cluster 2: Literature requirements. Courses that can fulfill the 6-credit pre-requisite that many schools require can include:

  • WRTC 103: (3 credits)
  • any ENG course (3 credits)
  • HUM 200: (3 credits)

Competitive Applicant Coursework

Pre-Physical Therapy students are required to complete additional coursework to be a competitive applicant. Specifically, students are required to complete one of the following two courses:

  • KIN 302: Exercise Physiology (3 credits)
  • HTH 210: Medical Terminology (3 credits)

Students are also encouraged to take a Biomechanics course, though it's not required to complete the minor.

  • HTH 441/KIN 407: Rehabilitative Biomechanics (3 credits)
  • KIN 306: Human Biomechanics (3 credits)
  • BIO 490: Mechanics of Animal Movement (4 credits)

Articulation Agreements

An articulation agreement is a formal arrangement between James Madison University and a school offering a graduate professional physical therapy degree whereby JMU students who have an interest in attending such schools may apply and be accepted into such a school, so long as the student has met the minimal requirements for admission.

Some arrangements between JMU and the physical therapy program allow for an unlimited number of JMU students to be admitted into their program; other schools will put a limit on the number of students. If a program limits the number of students accepted through an articulation agreement, it does not mean that other JMU students will not be accepted. It simply means that a certain number of JMU students will be accepted to the program under the agreement. For example, if the school's agreement allows for 5 JMU students to be admitted, once they have chosen the five students from JMU who they feel are most qualified, those 5 students would be admitted under the articulation arrangement regardless of the pool of applicants from JMU that particular year. The remaining JMU students would compete with the rest of the applicants for acceptance into the physical therapy program.

JMU has articulation agreements with the following physical therapy programs:

If you are interested in attending a PT program with whom JMU has an articulation agreement, you should begin your planning as soon as possible. Contact your Pre-PT advisor who can direct you in taking the appropriate courses and inform you of the opportunities available at JMU for you to develop a pre-professional portfolio of experience.

Arcadia University

For admission and entry into the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Arcadia University, candidates must submit an application available through the PT Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). All requirements listed on the PTCAS website for Arcadia University (including courses, grades, GRE scores, observation hours) must be met. The application deadline is published on the program specific page in PTCAS.

James Madison University has a 4+3 articulation agreement with the DPT Program at Arcadia University.

To be eligible for the terms of the articulation agreement, JMU students must submit the completed PTCAS application by the published deadline, meeting all requirements listed in PTCAS as well as the following additional requirements:

  • Submit three letters of recommendations, one from the pre-PT advisor at JMU and the other two as stipulated on PTCAS. 
  • Achieve a minimum 3.5 Overall GPA and a 3.5 Prerequisite GPA.

A maximum of three JMU students will be guaranteed a seat via this articulation mechanism. If there are more than three applicants in a given year, the decision will be based on overall ranking by Arcadia and the remaining candidates can still be considered for a seat with the general pool.

For further questions regarding this agreement, please contact Marty Eastlack, PT, PhD at 215-572-2864 or by email at Eastlack@arcadia.edu.

Old Dominion University

This program is designed for highly qualified students attending James Madison University wishing to enter ODU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program. Students who qualify with the requirements of this agreement will be guaranteed a position in the DPT Program at ODU to the class following completion of a baccalaureate degree.

  1. Have completed all prerequisite science courses at JMU -- Advanced Placement courses from high school that are accepted by JMU will also be accepted as prerequisites -- earn a minimum grade of B in science courses with a cumulative science GPA of 3.5 or above. Prerequisite courses include 8 credits of biology with lab, 8 credits of anatomy and physiology with lab, 8 credits of physics with lab, and 8 credits of chemistry with lab, general psychology, and statistics.
  2. Planned graduation from JMU with a baccalaureate degree and a 3.5 cumulative GPA.
  3. Completed the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) with scores of at least 150 each for verbal and quantitative sections, and a writing score of at least 4.
  4. Submit 3 letters of recommendation, with at least one from a physical therapist, and one from the pre-PT advisor or advisory committee.
  5. Completed 80 hours of volunteer time in a physical therapy setting. These hours must be completed in two (2) or more different types of PT settings. At least twenty (20) hours must be in one or more of the following settings; acute care (hospital), rehab (transitional or day rehab), short or long term (nursing homes or assisted living), pediatrics, wound care specialty care centers, or home health. Volunteer hours must be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
  6. Essay question #1: “Why are you interested in the DPT program at Old Dominion University?” (limited to 750 words)
  7. Essay question #2: answer the essay question provided to your advisor from the ODU admission committee (limited to 4500 characters)

The ODU DPT Admissions committee reserves the right to withdraw guaranteed entry on the basis of applicant character in the case of conviction, violation of honor code, disciplinary action by the University, or negative references.

This agreement will be honored through June 2018.

**** JMU students interested in this Guaranteed Entry Program note:

  1. The application for this does *not* involve PTCAS.
  2. Information will need to be sent directly to ODU by September 15th.
  3. An application packet is available at the Pre-Professional Health Advising office.

Saint Francis University

The articulation agreement between Saint Francis University and James Madison University for matriculation of students into the Saint Francis University Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (4 + 3) is as follows. We do hereby agree to the following considerations concerning students at James Madison University who wish to enroll at Saint Francis University (SFU) for the purpose of matriculation into the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program.

  1. The undergraduate degree will be awarded by James Madison University.
  2. The DPT degree will be awarded by SFU.
  3. Each student at James Madison University who declares intent to complete the DPT program at SFU shall be co-advised by assigned members of the faculty from James Madison University and from SFU during his or her time at James Madison University.
  4. Up to three (3) James Madison University students will be guaranteed acceptance into the SFU DPT program annually as long as they have met the criteria listed below.
  5. In order to be considered for guaranteed acceptance to SFU, students must meet the requirements listed on PTCAS (including prerequisite courses, observation hours, essays, etc.) as well as the following specialized requirements.
    • A completed application must be submitted thru PTCAS by October 15 of a student’s senior year at James Madison University.
    • Students must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.200 and an earned bachelor’s degree.
    • Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.200 for the prerequisite courses as listed on PTCAS.
    • Students must maintain a record of good citizenship as demonstrated by a strong letter of recommendation from the director of the James Madison University Science department.
    • Students must submit a letter of intent to enter the SFU DPT program by the end of the spring semester of the student’s junior year. The letter should be addressed to the Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at SFU and should contain an official transcript and initial letter of endorsement from the director of the James Madison University Science Department.
  6. Any exceptions must have the advance approval of both institutions. Reasonable advance notice and acceptable exceptions will be determined by SFU.
  7. Students whose credentials do not meet the requirements that assure them automatic admission to the DPT program may still apply. They will be considered in relation to other qualified candidates in the general applicant pool.
Prerequisite Courses Identified
Saint Francis University
Course Requirements
James Madison University 
Courses
4 credits, General Biology with lab BIO 114
8 credits, Anatomy & Physiology with labs BIO 270, BIO 290
8 credits, Chemistry with labs

CHEM 131, 131L
CHEM 132, 132L

8 credits, Physics with labs PHYS 140, 140L
PHYS 150, 150L
4 credits, Exercise Physiology KIN 302, 302L
3 credits, Pre-Calc Mathematics Suggested: MATH 205, 231, or 235
3 credits, Statistics MATH 220
9 credits, Psychology Suggested: PSYC 101, 160 and 250

Visit Saint Francis University for more information on the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Degree . For further questions regarding this agreement, please contact Janet Long, Coordinator of Graduate Physical Therapy Admissions, at jlong@francis.edu or (814) 472-2764.

Shenandoah University

This articulation agreement between Shenandoah University's Physical Therapy program and James Madison University is designed for applicants who have completed the pre-requisites and will be obtaining a baccalaureate degree from James Madison University. This agreement is available to all students enrolled full-time at James Madison University for undergraduate study.

Admission Requirements

For admission and entry into the DPT Program through this articulation agreement, candidates must submit an application available through the PT Centralized Application Service. All requirements listed on the PTCAS website for Shenandoah University (including courses, grades, volunteer hours, references*, GRE scores) must be met. The application deadline is published on the program specific page in PTCAS.
*It is expected that one of the letters of reference in the application packet will be from an academic professor at James Madison University.

Priority status will be offered to those who meet the following criteria:

  • A Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree with all pre-requisites completed at JMU.  A grade of “D” in any prerequisite course is not acceptable.
  • A minimum grade-point average of 3.2 (in a 4.0 system) for all prerequisite courses.
  • Acceptable Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
  • Students for whom English is not their first language must have acceptable scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Scores should be reported directly to Shenandoah University, school code R5613.
  • A score of acceptable or above in a personal interview with an SU Division of Physical Therapy faculty member and current student.
Admissions Process

Up to a total of four students/graduates per year from James Madison University, who meet the criteria for admission through the Articulation Agreement will be granted priority status for admission to the Division of Physical Therapy at Shenandoah University. As with all other applicants, priority applicants must have an on-site interview prior to admission and receive an interview score of acceptable or above.

If more than 4 students meet the application deadline and qualify for priority status, Shenandoah University’s Division of Physical Therapy will rank-order all priority applicants based on consideration of the full set of application materials and the evaluations from the admissions interview. The additional students will enter the regular applicant pool.

All decisions for Admission into the Doctorate in Physical Therapy program are made by the Admissions Committee for the Division of Physical Therapy. Final decisions for all applicants are based on consideration of the full set of application materials and the evaluations from the admissions interview. Applicants who have been interviewed will be notified in writing of the Admissions Committee decision within 30 days of their visit.

Students can be given provisional acceptance indicating that some of the admissions requirements need to be completed prior to matriculation into the program.  Provisional acceptances are generally offered to those students completing final prerequisite courses prior to program entry. These students receive a letter from the Division as well as from the Admissions Office that describes/outlines which courses, materials, or other requirements (e.g.  – desired level of competency for remaining pre-requisites) that need to be completed.

Nothing in this agreement is intended to negate the usual process of student evaluation or supersede final decisions on admissions. After successful completion of the curriculum in the Division of Physical Therapy, Shenandoah University awards a Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

This agreement is intended to be a long-term arrangement. Each party may continue or discontinue this agreement on a yearly basis with notice.

Admissions Criteria and Academic Record

As part of the application process, students will be required to submit a transcript of all university course work. Overall grade point average (GPA), as well as the GPA in math and science courses, will often be used in the review of the application. Most PT programs have a minimum GPA requirement to apply; minimum GPA scores (>2.7) vary by institution and may be low when compared with the average GPA of applicants offered admission. Please refer to individual PT program requirements for further details. If you are interested, view physical therapy schools (DPT) that JMU alumni have received offers of admissions ('10 - '14).

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

A vast majority of physical therapy programs require applicants to complete the Graduate Record Exam (GRE); some have minimum acceptable scores and deadlines for last acceptable test dates.

Preparation Timeline

Most applications for physical therapy programs will need to be completed during the early fall semester of the student's senior year. Students should have all of the prerequisites completed by the time of application. Both the chemistry and physics requirements involve yearlong sequences. Other required courses, such as psychology, have sequencing requirements. Students need to carefully plan each semester to ensure that all requirements can be met within the chosen time frame. Should you choose to pursue this preparation timeline, you will experience a highly structured and challenging sequence of courses. Some students choose to extend their preparation timeline to allow for greater flexibility in scheduling.

Many physical therapy schools utilize the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). Information about participating schools, admission requirements, and the application process are available at the PTCAS website. APTA also provides great information on the physical therapist admissions process.

Experience

Students are encouraged to begin accumulating physical therapy volunteer experience and observation hours in a variety of physical therapy settings (e.g. acute care, rehabilitation, extended care, school, wellness, home health, industrial). Most physical therapy programs require observation hours and will require verification by a licensed supervising physical therapist (i.e. keep a log, some programs require as many as 200 hours).

Letters of Recommendation or Evaluation

Physical therapy programs typically require 1- 4 letters of evaluation (LOE). Establishing mentoring relationships with professors in the university setting as well as PT work place settings is important. Most physical therapy programs require at least one letter from a science professor and a physical therapist.

Back to Top