What are my Chances of Getting into PT School?

by | Mar 13, 2017 | 0 comments

As the popularity of an allied health career increases, competition rises and the chances of getting into PT school become even lower for those with below average grades and test scores.

Overall, PT schools tend to look at GPA, GRE scores, volunteering hours, letters of recommendation, and previous experience in order to choose ideal candidates for the physical therapy program.

chances of getting into PT school


A 4.0 is ideal, but for a program with a long list of demanding prerequisites, it is not always possible. Most schools require at least a C average (2.0), but require a 3.0 average GPA overall.

With over 32,000 applicants to PT schools, and under 9,000 offers granted each year, it is beneficial to be competitive and strive for perfection where possible.

Taking advantage of extra credit, studying well in advance of tests, and completing homework assignments can raise course GPA and offer better chances of getting into PT school.

GRE Scores

The GRE Covers three sections:
Verbal Reasoning
Quantitative Reasoning
Analytical Writing

Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning are both measured in 1-point increments from 130-170 points total. Analytical writing is based off of .5-point increments for a total of 6 points as a perfect score.

Many PT schools will take at least 144 for the first two sections and a 3.0 for the writing portion; however, top schools such as the University of Southern California—which is one of the best schools for physical therapy—require at least 150 points in the first two categories, with additional points awarded to those who score higher.

Studying months in advance in order to get a higher score can increase the chances of getting into PT school.

chances of getting into PT school - Therapeutic back massage

Volunteering Hours

Volunteering hours are required to get into most PT schools. Some schools require this be performed in multiple settings, and students must log anywhere from 40 to 150 hours prior to acceptance.

Recording more hours than is necessary may look better on an application to PT school, but does not necessarily grant more points when it comes to determining acceptance.

Letters of Recommendation

Many of the best schools for physical therapy will also require at least one letter of recommendation. This is to show faculty that the student is able to hold a professional relationship, and can come from a previous employer, volunteer preceptor, past professor, etc.

A well-worded letter of recommendation can greatly increase chances of getting into PT school as it gives faculty an idea of the student’s character and personality instead of educational standing.

Previous Experience

As with letters of recommendation, previous experience can increase chances of getting into PT school. Some schools award credit or advanced standing to members of the military.

Past experience can also help if there is a formal interview portion of the admission process. A student showing that they have a talent or love for the medical field—especially physical therapy—can earn favor with the interviewers.

Students with previous experience in physical therapy may also have a better understanding within PT school, making the chances for dropping out during the program significantly less.

Typically the best schools for physical therapy also have the highest graduation rates.

chances of getting into PT school - Hand massage.

What are my Chances of Getting into PT School?

Overall, the chances of getting into PT school are dependent on the individual scores that are checked for the application process. This includes

GRE Scores
Volunteer Hours
Letters of Recommendation

If one or more of these is not up to par, it may be beneficial to apply to several different programs. It is best to start in the state of residency (out of state tuition is sometimes double that of in state tuition), and branch out from there.

This is especially helpful because some schools weigh different aspects of an application to be more or less important. For instance, one school may determine an offer based on GPA and GRE scores, and another may decide the formal interview is a more important aspect.

Overall, hard work and dedication will greatly increase chances of getting into PT school.

Retaking classes or the GRE prior to the next application deadline can also make a world of difference when it comes to being admitted to a DPT program. If a student must wait another year before reapplying, trying to get a job in the PT field or continuing to volunteer and raise individual course grades will also help chances of getting into PT school.