Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are specialists in the mechanics and functionality of the human body.

In this profession, you'll use physical therapy techinques such as therapuetic exercise, modalities like massage and electrotherapy, and patient education. Physical therapists preserve, improve or restore movement and physical function affected by illness, injury or disease.

The College of Charleston's pre-professional advising program is designed to guide your through the process  of preparing for admission to top PT schools and programs.

Contact Health Professions Advising

Pre-Physical Therapy Advising Guide

While there is no "pre-physical therapy major" at the College of Charleston, the following guide and consultation with your advisor can help prepare you for your application and potential admission to a physical therapy program.
  • Undergraduate Preparation/Prerequisites

    Each physical therapy school establishes its own set of prerequisites. The following lists common prerequisite courses for admission into PT school. Make sure to check the websites of the PT programs that you are most interested in applying to for complete undergraduate requirements.

    • General Biology with labs (8 semester hours)
    • Anatomy and Physiology (8 semester hours)
    • General Chemistry with labs (8 semester hours)
    • Math (3 semester hours)
    • Statistics (3 semester hours)
    • Physics with labs (8 hours)
    • Psychology (6 semester hours)
    • Highly Recommended 
      • Nutrition
      • Medical Terminology
      • Emergency Preparedness/First Aid


    Most PT schools require at least 20-50 hours of shadowing with a licensed physical therapist. Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) requires 40 hours. Always check the schools you are most interested in applying to for the most current requirements.

    View Catalog Course Descriptions
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

    The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a standardized examination required by most U.S. Physical Therapy Schools

    The test covers basic mathematics and reading comprehension skills and is designed measure your general academic ability including critical thinking, analytical reasoning, quantitative reasoning and communication skills.

    The GRE consists of five sections.

    • Analytical Writing (One section)
    • Verbal Reasoning (Two sections)
    • Quantitative Reasoning (Two sections)
    Learn More on the GRE
  • Timeline

    First Year

    • Declare your major. Identify yourself as a pre-health profession student on the major declaration form.
    • Make an appointment/get to know your advisors. Discuss your academic game plan. Check in regularly to discuss your academic progress.
    • Begin taking your basic science courses.
    • Join a student organization (Occupational and Physical Therapy Alliance (OPTA)
    • Start PT experience (PT aide, Observing/Shadowing).

    Sophomore Year

    • Continue with your sequence of courses.
    • Stay involved in extracurricular activities (shadowing, service, volunteer). Consider leadership positions in these groups.
    • Visit your professors during office hours (You will need letters of recommendation).
    • Visit Health Professions Advising to begin assessing competitiveness.
    • Identify the PT programs that you want to apply to. 

    Junior Year

    • Talk to your advisors about competitiveness.
    • Register for the GRE (Fall). Don't miss the deadlines!
    • Study and take the GRE (Spring/Summer).
    • Identify three to four individuals to write letters of recommendation (Spring).
    • Complete and submit your application PTCAS (Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service) (Spring/Summer).
    • Continue engaging in activities.

    Senior Year

    • Meet with your advisor.
    • Get a degree audit and apply for graduation.
    • Ensure your application materials are organized and submitted within the deadlines (earlier is always better).
    • Prepare for interviews (if applicable).
    • Interview and wait.
    • Explore sources for financial aid.
    • Send updated transcripts directly to the schools to which you applied (Spring).
    • Discuss alternative plans with your advisor if necessary.
    • Finish your degree requirements and graduate.