Undergraduate Pre-Physical Therapy
To become physical therapist, you must attain a degree beyond a bachelor's. If you are an incoming freshman or transfer student to UIndy, you can choose Pre-Physical Therapy as a concentration, but you must also choose a major. You can choose from any major, as long as you complete the prerequisite courses for the DPT program.
After you complete your bachelor's, you can apply to the Krannert School of Physical Therapy. For high-achieving students, we offer the following options to guarantee admission or accelerate your path to earning a DPT.
Direct Admission/Early Assurance
Students will be reviewed for direct admission/early assurance to the DPT three times per year in December, January, and February. Students will be notified by mail if they are awarded a direct admit/early assurance offer and will need to return the intent form by the date noted in the letter in order to secure that offer. Students earning direct admission/early assurance must meet certain thresholds in each of their undergraduate years to retain the direct admit option. To be considered for direct admission/early assurance, incoming freshmen must have declared pre-physical therapy as a concentration by February 1.
UIndy offers an accelerated undergraduate program, known as the 3 + 3 program, for students who will complete both their bachelor's and DPT degrees at UIndy. UIndy students who complete 94 credits by the end of their junior year may enter the DPT program their fourth year on campus. The bachelor's degree is not awarded until the end of the fourth year. The first year DPT courses are electives to round out bachelor’s degree requirements. Early admission after the junior year is not guaranteed and eligible students must participate in the regular application process.
Early admission via the accelerated undergraduate option is offered to only the most qualified UIndy undergraduate students. Students who wish to pursue this option need to be particularly serious students from the very beginning of their college career. The major advantage to the early admission option is the time and money saved by entering PT school a year early.
Disadvantages to the early admission program are that it limits flexibility within the undergraduate curriculum and limits the ability to participate in some traditional undergraduate activities. For this reason, many student athletes or student government leaders elect to complete a traditional four-year undergraduate experience before entering PT school.
Preparing for a career in physical therapy
If you are in high school and are considering a career in physical therapy, the following information will help you as you plan your college education.
What do physical therapists do?
Physical therapists focus on improving the movement and function of people who have diseases or injuries that limit their mobility. Physical therapists evaluate patients, determine the plan of care, establish goals, select and delegate appropriate treatment tasks, direct and supervise support personnel, document the patient's care, and reevaluate and modify treatment as necessary.
Physical therapists might be found:
- helping a patient with a spinal-cord injury develop the endurance needed to maneuver a wheelchair up and down ramps.
- implementing an exercise program to enable an injured athlete to return to competition
- helping an infant with cerebral palsy learn to sit independently.
- developing an exercise program as part of a multidisciplinary osteoporosis prevention program offered within a retirement community.
- evaluating an assembly worker who sustained an on-the-job injury, recommending a physical therapy treatment program and working with the shift supervisor to modify the work station to prevent further injury.
- providing ambulation training to enable an elderly person to return home after a hip fracture.
Learn more about physical therapy
The best way to get an idea of what life as a physical therapist is like is to work or volunteer in various health care settings (hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers) to see how physical therapists and other health professionals work. Observe the type of care physical therapists give and talk with them about their careers. What do they like best? What frustrates them most? What changes do they foresee for the profession in the future?
High school & college preparation
Becoming a physical therapist requires a strong math and science background. Taking math and science courses in high school, including advanced algebra and trigonometry, chemistry, biology and physics, will prepare you for success in similar courses in college.
Preparation for physical therapy school requires three types of courses at the college level: general education courses, courses within your chosen major, and prerequisites.
General education courses are required of all undergraduate students. These courses ensure that students have a base of general knowledge across many disciplines and that they have the critical analysis and communication skills needed for success in any profession, including physical therapy.
Courses in the chosen major are required of all undergraduate students. Majors are designed to ensure that students graduate with specialized knowledge and skills in the major area. Although some majors seem to "fit" with the interests of pre-physical therapy students better than others, pre-physical therapy students may major in any subject.
Successful completion of a set of prerequisite courses (for example, chemistry, biology, physics, behavioral sciences, statistics) is required of all applicants to the physical therapy program. Prerequisite courses ensure that physical therapy students enter the program with the foundation knowledge needed for success in physical therapy courses.
How long does it take to become a physical therapist?
Students who wish to become physical therapists generally complete 3 to 4 years of undergraduate education, followed by 3 years of physical therapy school at the graduate level. This means that a total of 6 to 7 years of university-level education is required.
At UIndy, the degree awarded on completion of the Professional PT program is the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Students who desire a shorter route into the field should consider physical therapist assistant programs, which require only 2 years of undergraduate education.
Why choose UIndy?
Prospective PT students should consider attending the University of Indianapolis as an undergraduate for three important reasons.
- UIndy offers a quality undergraduate education in a supportive environment, whether or not students follow through with their initial interest in physical therapy.
- Attending UIndy as an undergraduate increases the chance of being admitted to our highly-ranked PT program.
- Attending UIndy exposes students, as undergraduates, to a variety of resources that can help them plan for their physical therapy careers. These resources include:
- Undergraduate advisors who are knowledgeable about the requirements for and the demands of the PT program.
- Service learning opportunities in various health and human services organizations.
- Learning and leadership opportunities within many campus organizations, including the Pre-Physical Therapy Student Organization.
Admission to the PT program at UIndy is competitive, with 8 to 10 applicants for each space in the program. Successful applicants possess strong academic records, diverse work and volunteer experiences and outstanding recommendations. Undergraduates who attend UIndy receive additional consideration in the admission process.
If you are currently deciding which college to attend as an undergraduate, contact UIndy's Admissions office for more information and to schedule a campus visit, which can include a tour of the Health Pavilion and a chance to meet admissions staff within the College of Health Sciences.
If you have completed three or more years of undergraduate education, review our DPT admission requirements to determine whether you are ready to apply for the program, or whether you need to complete additional prerequisite courses. Contact us with specific questions or to arrange a campus visit.