Visit the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) Program Prerequisites to see the course requirements at your schools of interest, as they vary slightly for each PT school.
To see which UCLA courses satisfy the most common course requirements, refer to the UCLA Pre-Health Requirements Worksheet, found here.
Do I have to be a specific major to be able to apply to PT school?
A: NO. Any undergraduate major is acceptable. For students in the initial stages of undergraduate preparation, a major in Kinesiology or biological sciences tends to be the most direct route into a physical therapy program. UCLA does not offer a major in Kinesiology.
Centralized Application System
The Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) allows applicants to use a single application and one set of materials to apply to multiple PT programs. The goal is to facilitate the admissions process for applicants and programs, promote the physical therapist profession and educational programs to a broad spectrum of applicants, and provide rich applicant data for institutional, regional, and national analysis. A list of participating programs and instructions are available on the PTCAS website. Not all professional PT programs participate in PTCAS. Applicants who wish to apply to a NON-participating PTCAS program must apply directly to the institution using the PT program’s local application.
- Application Checklist: http://www.ptcas.org/Checklist/
See the Pre-Application Checklist for everything you should do leading up to the application process.
- Should be taking the GRE or waiting for the release of your score from an earlier test. Taking earlier test dates can help avoid delays in your application.
- Confirm deadline dates for individual PT programs. Many PTCAS participating schools have deadlines in late Fall continuing through the Spring.
- PTCAS application is available in July. Begin to fill out application. Contact PTCAS directly for specific questions.
- Have letters of recommendation sent to PTCAS or individual schools. Check with individual schools for instructions.
- PTCAS verifies primary application and begins sending application to schools within 4 weeks of submission.
- Continue to work, volunteer, etc.
- Make an appointment at the Career Center for a Mock Interview.
Winter / Spring
- Continue sending in applications according to institutional deadlines.
- Complete each school’s supplemental applications by their specific deadline.
- Several (but not all) PT schools conduct interviews.
- Admission decisions are made after interviews and applicants are informed. Timeline varies by program.
Most PT programs require applicants to submit GRE scores. In addition, some programs require that the GRE test scores must not be more than 5 years old. Applicants are encouraged to retake the exam if they score below the recommended minimums at their programs of interest.
Arrange for PTCAS to receive an official transcript from every US college and university you attended. PTCAS will not verify or forward your application until all official US transcripts, application, and correct fee payment are received. For more information click here: http://www.ptcas.org/Transcripts/.
Letters of Recommendation
Do I need Letters of Recommendations? How many?
A: Yes. Applicants may enter up to 4 evaluator names on the PTCAS application. Applicants should review the PTCAS Directory (http://www.ptcas.org/ProgramPrereqs/) to determine the number and types of evaluators required by each institution. The reference requirements vary across programs, and not all programs require references. PTCAS will not determine if you have met the reference requirements for a particular program. Request References early! You are encouraged to contact your evaluators in advance to confirm they are willing to submit a letter of reference on your behalf and to obtain their preferred email address. Alert your evaluators to watch for an email from PTCAS that describes how they will login to the PTCAS Reference Portal and the 2-part reference process. Paper and emailed references are not accepted.
Who should I ask for Letters of Recommendations (LOR)?
A: The reference requirements vary across programs, and not all programs require references so please check each program’s requirements before asking for LOR’s.
Please note that UCLA does not write committee letters.
PTCAS accepts applicants’ letters of evaluation directly, however, some students choose to use an external letter service instead (such as, but not limited to, Interfolio Dossier).
For additional guidance and UCLA resources for asking for letters of recommendation, visit the Prepare to Apply section of this website.
For guidance and UCLA resources for writing a personal statement, please visit the Prepare to Apply section of this website
Choosing Schools & Programs
PTCAS List of Programs: http://aptaapps.apta.org/ptcas/programlist.aspx
Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE): http://www.capteonline.org/Programs/Accredited/
Deciding which PT schools to apply to and attend is a complex and highly individualized process. Visit the Prepare to Apply section of this website for considerations that may help you with these decisions.
PT schools encourage or require applicants to have volunteer or paid experience related to Physical Therapy. Having work or volunteer experience in a healthcare setting may be an important factor in the admissions process. If you are a physical therapist assistant (PTA), enter your paid experience. It is up to each program whether or not it accepts paid experience. Your selected programs can view your experiences, regardless of whether the hours were verified by a physical therapist. Not all programs require PT observation hours or a signed form as part of the admissions process. Review the Directory for program-specific requirements. PTCAS will not determine if you met the requirements for your selected programs. For more information click: http://www.ptcas.org/PTHours/
All applicants must be able to demonstrate some understanding of the work and professions of physical therapy gained through paid or volunteer experience in a variety (e.g. outpatient, inpatient, rehabilitation) of physical therapy settings working under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist. The clinical observation hours must be completed and electronically verified in PTCAS by the application deadline. Some schools have specific requirement, so please research the programs you plant to apply to thoroughly.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to plan ahead to obtain a mix of both inpatient and outpatient experiences. Keep in mind that many inpatient facilities have long waiting lists for volunteers which can range anywhere from 6 months to over a year. All applicants are encouraged to research facilities in their area for more opportunities to obtain clinical observation experiences under a licensed physical therapist. Applicants may also research skilled nursing facilities that may have opportunities to work under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Although, there is no requirement to work as a Physical Therapy Aide prior to applying to programs, many applicants seek this opportunity in order to obtain more hands-on experience and guaranteed hours of clinical work.
PT-Related Student Organizations at UCLA:
- Society for Physical and Occupational Therapy Club at UCLA (SPOT): http://uclaspot.weebly.com/
You can get paid healthcare experience by being a (not an exhaustive list):
- PT Assistant (PTA)
- PT Aide
- Corrective Exercise Therapist
- Medical Receptionist/PT
- UCLA Sports Medicine Internship Program (SMIP): https://uclabruins.com/sports/2019/6/9/ucla-sports-medicine-internship-program.aspx
Not all programs require PT observation hours or a signed form as part of the admissions process. Review the Directory for program-specific requirements. PTCAS will not determine if you met the requirements for your selected programs. If you have shadowing experience, enter all of your paid or volunteer physical therapist observation hours on the application. If you have observed a PT in more than 1 setting, select “Add New Entry” for each additional experience. If you are a physical therapist assistant (PTA), enter your paid experience as well. It is up to the individual program whether or not it accepts paid experience. Your selected programs can view your experiences, regardless of whether the hours were verified by a physical therapist. See Gain Experience for additional guidance on finding shadowing opportunities.
Visit the Gain Experience page of this website for more ideas on how to gain clinical, research, leadership, and/or community service experience that can help you clarify your goals, develop your skills, and demonstrate your commitment to healthcare.
- American Physical Therapy Association (APTA): http://www.apta.org/ProspectiveStudents/
- Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE): http://www.capteonline.org/home.aspx
- ONet Online: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1123.00
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm