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Physical Therapy

Campus: Columbus

School: Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

The physical therapy program at Ohio State is a post-baccalaureate doctorate program. Students interested in occupational therapy should complete an undergraduate program of their choice in preparation for application to the Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy program.

Physical therapy exists to help individuals move and function while reducing pain and preventing disability or loss of mobility. Physical therapists work in hospitals, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes. Their patients are those who are adapting to or are at risk of limitations on their ability to move and perform functional activities in their day-to-day lives. Licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices.

The physical therapy program at Ohio State is a post-baccalaureate doctorate program. Students interested in occupational therapy should complete an undergraduate program of their choice in preparation for application to the Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy program.

Since physical therapy draws upon a variety of disciplines, there is no single major or even type of major that is better suited than another for undergraduate preparation. While tudents often select a course of study somewhat related to the professional area, such as health sciences, biology or psychology, any major is viable as long as the prerequisite course work for the DPT program is completed.

Undecided or undeclared students may enroll in Ohio State’s University Exploration program for the first year or two of university enrollment to explore all majors that Ohio State has to offer. Students can also choose to enroll in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences for the first year or two as pre-major students if interested in one of their professional programs or health sciences.

Students apply to the DPT program about one year prior to the proposed start of the program and/or completion of the bachelor’s degree. DPT candidates should plan an undergraduate curriculum that will give them a comprehensive base in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. Students are encouraged to take advantage of academic opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines in preparation for a very people-oriented profession that relies heavily on interpersonal communication and problem-solving skills.

The following prerequisite courses must be completed prior to beginning the DPT program:

  • General chemistry (two-course sequence; labs required)
  • General physics (two-course sequence; labs required)
  • Biology I (lab required)
  • Biology II (or an upper-level biology course)   
  • Introductory psychology
  • Human growth and development
  • Human physiology
  • Physiology of exercise
  • Human or vertebrate anatomy (including dissection lab)
  • Statistics or research design

Admission to the DPT program is competitive and based on the following requirements:

  • A bachelor's degree
  • Overall grade point average of at least 3.0 (the average GPA of students most recently admitted was 3.88)
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
  • Completion of at least 40 hours of observation with a licensed, practicing physical therapist

In their undergraduate curriculum, students interested in the post-baccalaureate Doctor in Physical Therapy program should build a strong science background and develop skills in collecting, measuring and analyzing data. Required prerequisite course work for admission to the DPT program covers the foundations of physical therapy theory and science, clinical experiences, and the use of an evidence-based approach. 

Students are encouraged early on in their undergraduate years to participate in some type of observation, volunteer and/or paid work experience in a health care or physical therapy setting. Students who plan to apply to the Doctor in Physical Therapy program must have at least 40 hours of observation with a licensed, practicing physical therapist.

Undergraduate students who choose a major in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences can benefit from internships and clinical experiences that are arranged individually with clinical sites experienced in offering the best available clinical instruction. Programs that include clinical placements provide students with extensive supervised practice in facilities both on and off campus.

Students in the Ohio State Scholars programs live together, attend classes together and have the opportunity to be a part of a close-knit community. Pre-physical therapy students may apply to any of the Ohio State Scholars programs. The Health Sciences Scholars Program and the Dunn Sport and Wellness Scholars Program may be of particular interest to students in the pre-physical therapy program because they bring together students with interests in the many health programs offered at Ohio State.

Students in any major who are interested in pursuing physical therapy can join the Pre-Physical Therapy and Pre-Occupational Therapy Club to learn more about these professions, meet others interested in physical and occupational therapy, and increase awareness of these professions on campus and in the community. 

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including children’s hospitals, general hospitals, rehabilitation centers, public and special schools, private homes, sheltered workshops, and community agencies. Some therapists also establish their own private practices. With experience or additional education, physical therapists may become administrators of physical therapy departments.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for physical therapists is $87,000.

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Office of Student Services
206 Atwell Hall
453 W. 10th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210
614-292-1706
HRSGraduateStudentServices@osumc.edu