Virginia Commonwealth University

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Pre-Physical Therapy

Program Information

In 2002, the VCU Department of Physical Therapy implemented the Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) degree program. The program takes a minimum of approximately three calendar years to complete.

Advising Information

To prepare for a physical therapy program, students are required to fill the required math, science and English composition pre-requisites. Students must also obtain a bachelor’s degree, which can be in any field, before they begin a physical therapy program. Preparation for a doctoral program in physical therapy generally takes four years of undergraduate study. The pre-physical therapy program at VCU is designed for students who are interested in attending the doctoral program at VCU. The pre-requisites to prepare students to enter other programs in physical therapy can be taken at VCU, but requirements differ from one physical therapy program to another, so students should identify the specific programs to which they want to apply before choosing courses. A list of accredited physical therapy programs can be found on the APTA Web site.

VCU’s Department of Physical Therapy offers a three-year degree program that leads to a professional degree, the D.P.T., or Doctor of Physical Therapy. Students should declare an academic major in one of the regular four-year degree programs at the university and indicate they wish to pursue the pre-physical therapy advising track. The classification of pre-physical therapy exists to identify the student’s career interests, but the student does not earn a pre-physical therapy degree.

A student who initially is “undeclared” about an academic major, but who has indicated they wish to pursue the pre-physical therapy track, will clarify his or her academic interests through regular conversations with his or her advisor. At the same time, the student will complete the necessary prerequisites for application for admission to the physical therapy program of his or her choice.

Admission requirements

A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. A grade of “D” in any required course is unacceptable.

A minimum grade-point average of 2.7 (on a 4.0 scale)
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Scores should be reported directly to Virginia Commonwealth University.

For non-native English-speaking applicants, regardless of immigration status, a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of at least 600 (score of 250 on computerized exam). Scores should be reported directly to Virginia Commonwealth University.

A minimum total of 100 volunteer hours in at least two physical therapy practice settings.

Three recommendations, with at least one from a physical therapist.

Admission to VCU’s professional physical therapy program is competitive. While the minimum GPA requirement to be considered for the program is 2.7, the average GPA of recently admitted students was 3.3. The admissions committee uses the total GPA, math/science GPA and GRE scores to rank all applicants. We select the top applications for thorough review and grading of the total application. There are 54 open seats per class and, on average, the Graduate School receives over 150 applications for the D.P.T. program.

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Prerequisite course work

Pre-requisite Worksheet

Biology – 12 credits including laboratory

Must include 4 semester hours of college biology
Must include 4 semester hours of anatomy and 4 semester hours of human physiology or 8 semester hours of anatomy/physiology
An exercise physiology course is not an acceptable substitute for a human physiology course.
Biology majors should take BIOL 151, BIOZ 151, BIOL 152, BIOZ 152, BIOL 218, BIOL 301, BIOL 311 and BIOZ 311 as part of their major requirements.
Cell biology and histology are highly recommended but not required.
Introductory biology course :

(3) BIOL 151 Introduction to Biological Science-I

(1) BIOZ 151 Introduction to Biological Science lab-I

Physiology courses

(3) PHIS 206 Human Physiology
(1) PHIZ 206L Human Physiology Lab
Anatomy courses

(4) BIOL 205 Basic Human Anatomy

It is strongly advised, though not required, that students also take:
(3) BIOL 218 Cell Biology
(4) BIOL 308 Vertebrate Histology

Chemistry – 8 credits including laboratory

Advanced placement or CLEP credits may be used to meet these prerequisites.
(3) CHEM 101 General Chemistry I
(1) CHEZ 101L General Chemistry Laboratory I
(3) CHEM 102 General Chemistry II
(1) CHEZ 102L General Chemistry Laboratory II
Physics – 8 credits including laboratory

Courses that emphasize mechanics, electricity, heat and light are highly recommended.
Advanced placement or CLEP credits may not be used to meet these prerequisites.
(4) PHYS 201 General Physics
(4) PHYS 202 General Physics
Prerequisite is MATH 151

PHYS 207-208 will count toward the physics requirement for the biology/pre-PT major; however these classes are intended more for physics or engineering majors.

(5) PHYS 207 University Physics I (Prerequisite is MATH 200)
(5) PHYS 208 University Physics II (Pre or co-requisite is MATH 201)
Mathematics – 4 credits

These credits must be in precalculus or above
Advanced placement or CLEP credits may be used to meet these prerequisites.
Students must complete MATH 141 Algebra with Applications through course work or math placement test.
(4) MATH 151 Precalculus Mathematics
(4) MATH 200 Calculus with Analytical Geometry (required for the biology major)

Statistics – 3 credits

(3) STAT 210 Basic Practice of Statistics

Psychology – 6 credits

One introductory course and one course in human growth and development or abnormal psychology is required
(4) PSYC 101 Introduction to Psychology
(3) PSYC 304 Life Span Developmental Psychology or PSYC 407 Psychology of the Abnormal

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Elective course work

Most physical therapy programs prefer candidates with broad educational experience. In addition to a strong science background, professional schools require a solid foundation in basic verbal and quantitative skills. Math and verbal are the two main components of the GREs that are evaluated in the admission process. It is also advisable for students with a concentration in pre-physical therapy to have more than the minimum number of science courses required for admission. Science majors will automatically meet this recommendation. They should choose electives from within the liberal arts. Non-science majors should select from upper-level science courses, such as genetics, histology, etc.

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Standardized tests

Students applying to the physical therapy program in the VCU School of Allied Health Professions are required to take the GRE. The GRE General Test is composed of verbal, quantitative and analytical writing sections. Information about the GRE and registration for the test can be found online. There is no minimum score required for admittance to VCU’s physical therapy program; however, the average score of students admitted in the past was V – 500, M – 610.

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Application information

There is no centralized service for applying to physical therapy programs. It is the student’s responsibility to contact each program individually. For a link to accredited physical therapy programs in the United Stated visit the American Physical Therapy Association Web site.

Students applying to VCU’s professional physical therapy program will apply in the fall of their senior year. Students should have their bachelor’s degree and have all the pre-requisites for the program. Students may apply if the required pre-requisites have not been completed, however the student must document a plan for completion of these pre-requisites in the application prior to registration at VCU. Students must have completed their bachelor’s degree and all required course work before beginning the D.P.T. program.

To download the application or to request an application by mail visit the Department of Physical Therapy’s Web site.

For further information contact:

Admissions Coordinator
Department of Physical Therapy
Virginia Commonwealth University
P.O. Box 980224
Richmond, VA 23298-0224
(804) 828-0234

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Guaranteed graduate admission for honors students

Qualified VCU undergraduate students participating in the Honors College may apply for guaranteed admission to the physical therapy program before matriculation at VCU or early in their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the Honors College at (804) 828-1803. Students entering VCU from high school can download applications to the Guaranteed Admissions program.

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Collecting letters of evaluation

The Office of Pre-Health Sciences Advising does not collect letters of evaluation for pre-physical therapy students. Since the application process to physical therapy school is a self-managed process, it is recommended that students follow the guidelines for each program they are applying to and have letters sent to their home addresses before submitting them to the individual program.

Advice for collecting letters of recommendation

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Volunteer hours

Students applying to the professional program in physical therapy must have a minimum of 100 hours volunteer (or paid) work experience in at least two physical therapy settings. Clinical settings with physical therapists may be found in local hospitals, outpatient clinics, school systems, nursing homes, private practices and home health agencies. It is recommended that students keep a record of the of their volunteer or paid work experience, including the dates, the setting and the number of hours completed. Students also should provide a brief description of their duties and get documentation of their work from supervisors.

Volunteer listings are posted on the Pre-Physical Therapy Club Web site.

Application to volunteer in the VCU Health System.

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The Pre-Physical Therapy Club

The Pre-Physical Therapy Club is a student-run organization that provides information for students interested in physical therapy as a career. Events include presentations from deans of admission and trips to schools offering physical therapy programs to tour facilities and meet with faculty and students.

Pre-Physical Therapy Student Club

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Timeline to apply for fall admission

Even though physical therapy students are admitted in the fall, classes begin in July of the year of admission. We recommend students submit their applications, including personal statements, letters of recommendation, official transcripts and GRE scores to the centralized application service by August (11 months before the desired start date of the program).

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