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Pre-Physical Therapy (PT) Curriculum 

The “pre-physical therapy curriculum” is just a list of courses that are required for admission to PT school. It is NOT an academic major, a minor, or an emphasis area. Prerequisite courses can vary between PT schools, so it is important to check with individual schools about their requirements and deadlines.

Physical Therapy programs do not require a particular major. All students who attend USM must declare an academic major. Many students choose to major in Biological Sciences, Kinesiology, Kinesiotherapy, or Athletic Training. Other majors are acceptable, however, including those in the sciences, humanities, social sciences, and business-related areas. It is important that the academic major is in an area that the student is comfortable working in and can act as a backup plan.

Some students already have a B.A. or B.S. and then decide to pursue becoming a physical therapist. Students in this category should consult with our pre-professional office. In general, these students lack some of the science courses required by most PT schools; in some cases, the required courses may be over 10 years old, which most PT schools do not accept. It is common for these students to take the prerequisite science or non-science courses for PT school at USM as post-baccalaureate students while also working on polishing their applications and taking the MCAT.

Some post-baccalaureate students take the prerequisite courses as a non-degree student while other students choose a second major to pursue at USM. In either case, students must go through the University Admissions Office to be admitted (or re-admitted for former students) before enrolling in courses.


Physical Therapy School Possibilities

Students wishing to practice physical therapy should apply to a university that provides a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. PT schools in Mississippi and the surrounding states are listed below. A more complete list of PT schools throughout the nation can be found at the American Physical Therapy Association website.

Local Physical Therapy Schools

*ASU's program is currently in probationary accreditation. For more information about the accreditation process and the different statuses, visit the CAPTE website.


Requirements for Applicants 

The requirements listed below are based on the program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). Though many programs exist that have similar requirements, it is important that students check with their ideal schools to make sure that they meet any unique requirements and deadlines.

  • Applicants must complete a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university prior to matriculation.
  • Students must provide evidence of at least 40 hours observation in at least two physical therapy clinical departments or practices in their year of undergraduate study at the time of application. A maximum of 20 hours for each site is credited towards meeting the 40 hour requirement. Evidence must be provided using the Verification of Observation Form.
  • Applicants must have an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. (On average, applicants interviewed and accepted typically have a GPA of 3.5 or above.)
  • Prerequisite courses must have been taken within the past ten years. AP or CLEP courses are not accepted. Students must make a minimum grade of C on all prerequisite courses and have a minimum prerequisite GPA of 3.0.
  • More than half of the prerequisite courses must be completed by the end of the Fall semester when the application is submitted.
  • Applicants must submit official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
  • Applicants must be able to meet the technical standards and will complete an interview if accepted.

Required courses include the following:

  • General Biology - BSC 110/L & 111/L
  • General Chemistry - CHE 106/L & 107/L
  • General Physics or Physics with Calculus - PHY 111/L & 112/L OR PHY 201/L & 202/L
  • Advanced physical or biological science with laboratory (1 course at or above the 300 level)*
  • Statistics - PSY 360 or other statistics course

*The advanced science must be taken at a four-year institution. Science courses for non-majors are not acceptable. Courses with labs are greatly recommended.

William Carey University's requirements are similar to UMMC's, with the addition of an anatomy and physiology sequence (taken separately or in combined courses). All science courses should be taken with their labs. Consult their program for complete admissions requirements.


 Suggested Course Sequence & Strategies for Success

The course sequence below is merely a guideline for taking the courses required for the UMMC DPT program in a timely manner. Courses to fulfill the major must be worked into the student’s schedule. Students must consult the USM Undergraduate Bulletin, the USM Class Schedule Guide for each semester, and their academic advisor.

During the last semester of the Sophomore year, students should develop a more detailed plan for the Junior and Senior years because many upper level courses in all majors are offered in specific semesters (Fall or Spring only) and/or on a rotating two-year cycle.


  • BSC 110/L or BSC 111/L (4h) a
  • CHE 106/L (4h)
  • MAT 101 (3h) b
  • ENG 101 (3h)
  • One additional course (3-4h) c


  • BSC 110/L or BSC 111/L (4h) a
  • CHE 107/L (4h)
  • MAT 103 (3h) b
  • ENG 102 (3h)
  • One additional course (3-4h) c

a   The order in which students take the introductory Biological Sciences (BSC) courses does not matter; 110 covers molecular and cellular topics whereas 111 covers ecology and organisms.

b   Placement in mathematics (MAT) courses depends on the student’s ACT subtest score. Consult the prerequisites for the math course you plan to take. Calculus is required for some majors in the USM College of Arts and Sciences but is not required by most PT schools.

   Additional courses can include supplemental courses for the PT application or courses to fulfill the student's academic major or minor.

Strategies for Success

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.
  • Students should focus on doing well in their academic studies, particularly the required science and math courses.
  • Students should become involved with extracurricular activities, including meaningful community service learning, volunteer activities, and leadership positions that will demonstrate effective interactions with diverse people, as well as effective time management skills. Students should maintain a record of the dates and total hours spent performing such activities. Records should also include the name of the activity's supervisor and their contact information. This will be needed when it comes time to apply to PT school.
  • Students could start getting hands-on exposure to physical therapy. Students must provide evidence of 40 hours observation in at least two physical therapy clinical departments or practices within a year of application to PT school, but getting additional hours early in the academic career is recommended.
  • Students may join AED (Alpha Epsilon Delta), the National Health Preprofessional Honor Society, as associate members at any time even if they do not fulfill the requirements for full membership (must be enrolled at a university for a minimum of three semesters and meet specific course and GPA requirements). Full members are inducted during the Spring semester. Applications and instructions for membership are available at the preprofessional office.


  • PHY 111/L (4h)
  • PSY 360 (3h)
  • Additional courses (8-11h) d


  • PHY 112/L (4h)
  • Additional Courses (11-14h) d

Additional courses can include courses to supplement the PT application or to fulfill the student's academic major or minor.

Strategies for Success

  • Students should continue with previous success strategies.
  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.


  • Advanced science elective (4-5h) e
  • Additional courses (11-14h) f


  • Advanced science elective (4-5h) e
  • Additional courses (11-14h) f

e Advanced science electives must be at the 300 level or above and must include a lab. Not all sciences offered at USM will fulfill this requirement; rather, the sciences chosen should be medically focused and be primarily targeted towards humans, such as Human Embryology or Immunology and Serology. Advanced sciences used to fulfill this requirement are typically biology courses, but chemistry courses such as Biochemistry may suffice. It is wise to check with UMMC admissions to make sure the course selection for this requirement will be satisfactory.

f Additional courses can include courses to satisfy the student's academic major or minor, as well as courses to supplement the application to PT school.

Strategies for Success

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.
  • Students should continue previous success strategies.
  • Students must provide evidence of 40 hours observation in at least two physical therapy clinical departments or practices during their year of application at the time of application to UMMC’s DPT program.
  • Students applying to UMMC PT program must have completed at least 5 of the 8 required courses by the end of the fall semester in which the application is submitted. Applicants accepted for admissions must complete the remaining prerequisite courses by the end of the subsequent spring semester.


  • Classes to fulfill major, minor (15-18h)


  • Classes to fulfill major, minor (15-18h)

Strategies for Success

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.


The Application Process

  • For UMMC, apply online directly to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the UMMC School of Health Related Professions. New application forms are posted on or before July 1 each year for the next matriculating class. The application deadline is November 1 of the year prior to program entry. The program itself begins in May each year.
  • For William Carey, the application is done in part through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). The application deadline is November 1 of the year prior to program entry. The program itself begins in August each year.

Scores from the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE) are usually required for admission into PT programs. Schools vary in score deadlines and the length of time during which scores are accepted, so students are encouraged to check with their prospective schools prior to scheduling an exam and/or submitting scores. Reserve a GRE testing time at least 6 weeks ahead of the test date and allow about a month for your scores to be sent to the PT school before the school’s deadline.

Students should study on their own to prepare for the GRE. Students are strongly encouraged to take an online practice GRE before taking the GRE that they will use on their application. 

Students are advised to practice their interview skills BEFORE attending their first interview. For interview preparation at USM you may use the online Big Interview resource. You can also sign up for mock interviews through Career Services or the preprofessional office (contact information below).

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