Each year, first-year students begin their studies toward careers in physical therapy through an undergraduate degree. Although certain courses are required for entrance into physical therapy graduate schools, no specific major is required. The undergraduate major often is biology or exercise science.
The basis for certification as a physical therapist is the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. The specific admission requirements vary considerably from school to school and generally are more extensive and detailed than those of medical schools. It is important that the applicant consult the specific prerequisite courses required for the specific school of physical therapy. Many admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; GRE; a minimum cumulative grade-point average, usually a 3.0; a minimum science grade-point average; successful completion of all prerequisite courses no later than the spring semester prior to summer admission; evidence of professional behavior required to participate effectively in a health care environment; and satisfactory completion of volunteer or paid patient care experience in two physical therapy settings under the supervision of a physical therapist, usually a minimum of 20 hours in each setting.
The following guidelines should be kept in mind while planning an undergraduate curriculum: biology, including introductory biology (BIO 121), animal biology, with lab (any zoology course); human anatomy and physiology, with lab (BIO 211 and 312); a year sequence of chemistry, with lab (CHM 111 and 112); biochemistry (CHM 422); a year sequence of general physics, with lab (PHY 171-172); psychology, including general psychology (PSC 110) and human development (PSC 235 or 242); and statistics (MTH 120 or PSC 211). In addition, the following courses are recommended or required by many schools: kinesiology, exercise physiology, neurosciences, physiological psychology, calculus, ethics, medical sociology, cultural diversity, counseling, public speaking, public health, English and technical writing, English composition, computer science and additional courses in the humanities and social sciences.
Internships with physical therapists also are required (BIO 551 or 552). Because most physical therapy programs require hands-on experience, students are encouraged to get involved in the athletic training program. Exercise Science 211, 361 and 362 are recommended to prepare students to participate in more advanced activities.
The specific admission requirements vary considerably from school to school. It is important that the applicant obtain a catalog from the specific school of veterinary medicine where he or she plans to apply. Although no specific major is required, you should plan carefully to ensure that your education and animal work experiences enhance your chances for admission.
Typical course requirements include: general and qualitative chemistry, 8-10 credit hours (CHM 112 and 211); organic chemistry, 8-10 credit hours (CHM 111 and 214); biochemistry, 3-4 credit hours (CHM 422); general biology or zoology, 5-6 credit hours (BIO 121 and an additional course in animal biology, most likely BIO 216); genetics or animal breeding, 3 credit hours (BIO 219); microbiology, 3-4 credit hours (BIO 314); physiology, 3-4 credit hours (BIO 211-312); general physics, 6-10 credit hours (PHY 171-172); statistics (MTH 120 or PSC 211); English, 3-6 credit hours; social science or humanities, 6-10 credit hours; and additional electives to satisfy the requirements of the particular veterinary school. In addition, calculus (MTH 201) and courses in animal behavior and husbandry may be required.
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As a student at Ripon, you will be assigned a faculty adviser based on your area(s) of interest. You will meet with your faculty adviser throughout your time as a student to discuss your current aspirations, plan your course schedule and plot a future trajectory. We also work collaboratively with Ripon College Career and Professional Development to help match your interests and skills to concrete goals and construct a plan for professional success offering personalized career counseling, off-campus learning opportunities and an online job board with potential to connect with local, national and international employers. Our collaboration with Student Support Services provides tutoring and additional academic and skill development, as well as tools to help with note-taking, exam preparation, goal-setting and time management. Likewise, Mentors in the Collaborative Learning Center provide in-depth, one-on-one or group mentoring for students about class projects and college-level writing, and can share problem-solving strategies to overcome academic obstacles.
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- Students work with the Health Professions Advising Committee to make sure that they are on track to achieve their goals, receive feedback on application materials, and practice mock interviews.
- Shadowing opportunities at a local physical therapist practice.