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Athletic Training
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Icing the injuryAmerican Physical Therapy Association

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 75,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and physical therapy students throughout the United States.  Among the Association’s objectives are enhancement of physical therapy education, practice, and research; accreditation of physical therapy education programs; communication with members; improvement of minority participation and representation in the profession; quality assurance; professional development and continuing education; interaction with governmental agencies and legislative bodies; attention to reimbursement issues and development and implementation of public relations programs.

The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is recognized as the accrediting agency for education programs in physical therapy by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.  The commission evaluates physical therapy education programs to determine it they meet the standards and criteria for approval.  Accreditation recognizes professional education programs for a level of performance, integrity, and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the education community and the public they serve.

Physical therapists attain their prerequisite skills through extensive academic and clinical education.  About 6,000 students complete physical therapy education programs each year.  All professional programs include basic sciences and clinical medical science courses and emphasize the theory and practice of physical therapy.  The curriculum includes opportunities to apply and integrate theory through extensive clinical education in a variety of practice settings.

The APTA is encouraging students pursuing a career in physical therapy to enter the profession with a postbaccalaureate (masters) degree.  They feel that the level of education will prepare physical therapists to better meet the changing needs of patients today and in the future. 

Additional Information for Physical Therapy Schools

  • Physical therapy schools receive hundreds of applications for 20 to 50 openings.  Make yours stand out.
  • All schools require a bachelor's degree before pursuing a master's in physical therapy.
  • Grade point average is very important.  Study hard.
  • A wide range of experience may be helpful.  If your focus of physical therapy is in only one area (i.e. sports) you will be at a disadvantage to someone who has experience in acute care, outpatient care, & research.  Volunteer your time.
  • Each application to school requires an application fee & official transcripts.
  • Application deadlines for schools are often six to nine months before the start of school.  Plan ahead.
  • Application to physical therapy school is usually separate from the school with which it is affiliated. It is possible to be accepted to the school, but not the physical therapy program.
  • Don’t limit yourself to attending only one or two schools.
  • Do look ahead to schools you might be interested in and check out what their specific requirements are.  The above information is only a guideline.  Some schools have programs that are closed to out of state residents and/or prefer continuing students.
  • Do not apply to schools if you have not completed all the prerequisites or will have them completed by the beginning of the program.
  • Choose a major that the prerequisites will complement.
  • Work with a variety of physical therapists and/or athletic trainers.
  • Demonstrate activities outside of school, i.e. church, community, club activities.
  • List school honors, club activities and scholastic awards on applications.
  • Once accepted in a program of physical therapy, be prepared to be a full time student for 2-3 years depending on the length of the program.  You will not be able to work (even part-time) while in a program.
For more information
American Physical Therapy Association
111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA  22314-1488
(800) 999-2782