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Physical Therapy

Students who wish to eventually enter a physical therapy professional program should be aware that a pre-physical therapy program can be carried out at Idaho State University. The pre-physical student is strongly urged to plan an academic major program to run concurrently with the pre-physical therapy requirements, although the following majors are the most common ones selected: Biology, Zoology, Exercise Science and Psychology.

What courses should the pre-physical therapy student take? That is a difficult question to answer in a simple way. The reason is that there are substantial differences between the many physical therapy programs in their pre-physical requirements. It is absolutely essential that each pre-physical therapy student develop a list of physical therapy programs that he/she plans to apply to for admission and to contact to them for a list of specific pre-physical therapy requirements or obtain that information from web sites of each program ( at ISU. Competition for admission to Physical Therapy programs is sufficiently great that each student is advised to apply for admission to several physical therapy programs (we would advise about 5 programs).

Even though there are substantial differences between programs in terms of pre-physical therapy requirements, it is clear that there are some courses that are required by all or nearly all of them. For example, they all require at least one year of chemistry, a semester each of human anatomy and human physiology, a year of general physics, and two or three semesters of psychology. The following courses can be used as a guide toward initiating a pre-physical therapy program at Idaho State University. Remember, however, that you should get precise pre-physical therapy course requirement information from several physical therapy programs before progressing too far into your program. Contact the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) on their homepage at for additional information. Links to individual programs can be found at that website.

Courses Required for Entry into most Physical Therapy Programs

CHEM 1111, 1112 General Chemistry 1 & II 9 credits total
BIOL 1101, 1102 Biology I & II, with lab 8 credits total
BIOL 3301, 3302 Human Anatomy and Physiology 8 credits total
PHYS 1111-1114 General Physics with lab 8 credits total
PSYC 1101 Intro to General Psychology 3 credits total

ISU Courses Required for Entry into many Physical Therapy Programs

PSYC 2225 Child Psychology 3 credits
PSYC 3301 Abnormal Psychology 3 credits
PSYC 3341 Social Psychology 3 credits

Statistics courses, such as:

*Math 1153 or Introduction to Statistics 3 credits
PSYC 2227 or Basic Statistics 3 credits
MGT 2216 Business Statistics 3 credits
BIOL 2221, 2221L Intro. Microbiology plus lab 4 credits total
CHEM 3301, 3302, 3303, 3304 Organic Chemistry 8 credits total

As indicated earlier, each individual physical therapy program will likely have a variety of specific requirements beyond those indicated above.

After a "phase-in" period of about ten years, all physical therapy programs in the U.S. are not at least entry level masters programs (either M.S. in Physical Therapy or a Master of Physical Therapy, MPT). ISU's program began in 1989 and was an MPT program. That program was converted to a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in the fall of 2002. There is currently a major shift to DPT programs across the U.S.

In addition to the above concerns about coursework leading to acceptance into a physical therapy program, it is also essential that students get some experience working with, working for, or observing practicing physical therapists. Such experience, which should be obtained over a reasonably long time (a year or more), will demonstrate the student's interest in and knowledge of the field. It will also provide the framework within which a practicing physical therapist can provide a meaningful letter of evaluation to be eligible for admission. ISU's DPT physical therapy program requires a minimum of 80 hours of PT experience, obtained in at least two PT facilities, one of which must be a hospital physical therapy department. This experience must include a minimum of 40 hours in each of those two facilities.


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