D.P.T. Programs' Admissions Overview

The Commission of Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is the only accreditation agency recognized accredited entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) education programs in the United States. Many of of these accredited programs utilize the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Services (PTCAS) to simplify the application process for prospective PT students, though not all accredited programs utilize PTCAS. PTCAS provides a list of PTCAS participating and nonparticipating accredited programs.

Application Timeline

Most PTCAS participating schools have deadlines in early fall semester. D.P.T. programs may have multiple deadline dates (i.e. preferred, priority, or early decision) or operate on a rolling admissions process. All deadlines should be confirmed with individual D.P.T. programs. PTCAS provides a list of PTCAS participating programs' deadlines, which you can sort by the deadline date or the institution names.

When applications are due in the fall or spring, you're applying for the next incoming class' cohort. For example, if you apply in Fall 2020 and the D.P.T. program starts in the fall, you're applying for the Fall 2021 entering cohort. You can apply when you are ready to be a competitive applicant, meaning that all your prerequisite coursework, required observation hours, and other requirements are completed.

Direct Entry

Applying for direct entry means after the completion of your undergraduate education, you immediately start your D.P.T. program when the next cohort begins. Continuing with the previous example, if you apply in Fall 2020 (the fall of your senior year) and are accepted to a D.P.T. program for the Fall 2021 entering cohort, you'll graduate from JMU in Spring 2021, and begin a D.P.T. program to which you're admitted in Fall 2021.

If you are applying for direct entry, this will take careful planning to ensure that all requirements can be met by the summer prior to your final year (Senior or Super-Senior). Should you choose to pursue this preparation timeline, you will experience a highly structured and challenging sequence of courses.

Intentional Gap Year

Applying with an intentional gap year is the period of time between the end of your undergraduate education and the start of your D.P.T. program. Continuing with the previous example, if you plan on graduating in Spring 2021, you apply for D.P.T. programs in Fall 2021, and begin a D.P.T. program to which you're admitted in Fall 2022. Therefore, you have a gap year between ending your undergraduate education (in Spring 2021) and beginning your D.P.T. program (in Fall 2022).

By planning on an intentional gap year, you can utilize your entire Undergraduate career to complete your coursework and other application requirements. This allows greater flexibility for scheduling classes, and strengthening your GPA and overall application by taking extra and/or coursework.

Materials Needed

The "Apply to PT Programs" section of this website goes into more details about each of the following:

  • Complete all prerequisite coursework for the D.P.T. programs to which you intent to apply, and request that official transcripts from every college or university attended be sent to PTCAS or the institution, as required by each D.P.T. program.
  • Complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the standardized test for the majority of D.P.T. programs, at least 6 weeks before the application deadline.
  • Request references from appropriate professionals, as required by D.P.T. programs to which you intend to apply.
  • Obtain physical therapy observation hours and have your hours verified by a PT, if required by your designated programs.
  • Write essays that are required by PTCAS (Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service) and individual programs.
  • Review and complete the PTCAS checklist if you are applying to programs that use PTCAS.

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