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Pre-Professional Programs: Pre-Physical Therapy

General Information:

Central Washington University (CWU) does not offer a degree program in Physical Therapy or Pre-Physical Therapy.  "Pre-Physical Therapy" is a non-degree advising program through which a student can prepare for admission to a professional Physical Therapy program at another institution.  CWU does offer all prerequisite courses necessary for successful admission to such a program.

There are four universities in Washington and Oregon that offer degrees and professional training in the field of Physical Therapy:  Eastern Washington University, University of Washington, University of Puget Sound, and Pacific University.  All of these programs grant graduate degrees and therefore require students to have a bachelor’s degree before admission.

Requirements for admission vary among the professional schools.  The information contained in this handout serves as an overview of those requirements.  For general information about the Physical Therapy profession, employment outlook, and professional training programs throughout the U.S., visit the American Physical Therapy Association website (  More detailed information about each of the regional programs can be found by visiting their individual websites, which are noted later in this handout. 


Take some time to study these pages, and then make an appointment with the Pre-Physical Therapy advisor to discuss Physical Therapy in general, prerequisite coursework, scheduling, and choice of a major.

The Pre-Physical Therapy advisor here at CWU is:

Dr. Tim Burnham
Nutrition, Exercise, and Health Sciences
Purser Hall 202F

What you need to do while at CWU:

1.  Decide on a degree program (major) and work toward your Bachelor’s Degree

Since Pre-Physical Therapy (Pre-PT) is not a degree program, you will need to decide on what major to declare.  Although professional PT programs do not designate any specific degree program, in most cases students choose the Bachelor of Science in Clinical Physiology ( or the Bachelor of Arts in Biology (  (Biology majors should see Dr. David Darda for advising –

2.  Take the proper prerequisite courses (and do well!)

Unfortunately, not all professional PT schools have the exact same prerequisite course requirements.  The list below includes the coursework needed to prepare for admission to all four Washington and Oregon programs.  For details about prerequisites for each program, visit the program websites noted later in this handout.

Please note:  

1.  Most courses require prerequisites*; check the catalog!
2. Course substitutions are sometimes possible but must be approved by the professional program(s) of interest.
3.  Your goal should be A’s and B’s, no D’s.

General Biology* (UW and Pacific only)BIOL 181, 182

General Chemistry*

(All programs)

CHEM 181-183 including labs

Only UW will accept the 111 series

Human Anatomy and Physiology*

(All programs)

BIOL 355 and BIOL 356

(EXSC 350 and 351can substitute at EWU, UW, and UPS)

Animal or Exercise Physiology*

(EWU only)

BIOL 455 or EXSC 450
Upper Division Biology* (EWU only)BIOL 322 or 323 or 354 or 430
Physics* (All programs)PHYS 111-113 including labs

General Psychology

(All programs)

PSY 101
One other upper division Psychology*  (All programs)e.g.: PSY 313, or 346,or 449, or 452, or 455
Statistics*  (All programs)PSY 362 or MATH 311 or BIOL 213

3.  Get some exposure to the field of PT

All Pre-Physical Therapy students will need to gain internship experience working under the direction of a licensed Physical Therapist.  In general, it is never too early to begin your internships; the more time you intern, the better; and the more varied your internship settings, the better.  Such internships may be paid or voluntary (most are voluntary).  Students pursuing the BS in Clinical Physiology may incorporate this internship in the 400-hour internship required as the culminating experience for the degree.   Be sure to obtain documentation of your experience from your internship supervisor.  In Ellensburg, contact:

Kittitas Valley Community Hospital
(509) 962-7386 or 963-7322

Argonaut Peak Physical Therapy
(509) 962-1553

Canyon View Physical Therapy
(509) 925-6220

Also, contact local nursing homes; they often employ Physical Therapists.

4.  Take the Graduate Record Exam

Most graduate PT programs require that you take the Graduate Record Exam.  Your scores will be a part of your application.  You should arrange to take this far enough in advance of  application deadlines so as to allow your scores to be a part of your application - this usually means late in your junior year or early in your senior year at CWU.  Detailed information on the GRE can be obtained from the CWU Testing Center (Boullion 125; 963-1847; or at

5.  Apply to the program(s) of your choice

The application process can be quite time consuming and must be completed well in advance of your beginning the graduate program.  All programs start with the fall term and applications are due as early as December of the previous year.  In most cases, separate applications must be made to the PT program and the university’s graduate school.  Admission is quite competitive, thus application to more than one school is encouraged.  The Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) allows PT applicants to use a single Web-based application and one set of materials to apply to multiple PT programs.

Washington and Oregon Physical Therapy (PT) Programs

For specific information (philosophy, prerequisite details, GPA requirements, length of program, admissions, application material, costs, scholarships, etc.) about the Washington and Oregon programs be sure to visit the following web sites:

Eastern Washington University
Spokane, WA

University of Washington
Seattle, WA

University of Puget Sound
Tacoma, WA

Pacific University
Forest Grove, OR

Washington and Oregon Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) Programs

Physical Therapy Assistants work under the supervision of a Physical Therapist.  PTAs must complete a two-year education program, usually offered at a community college.  In Washington and Oregon, there are several such programs.  For more information, be sure to visit the program web sites:

Green River Community College
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
Olympic College
Pima Medical Institute – Seattle Campus
Spokane Falls Community College
Whatcom Community College

Lane Community College
Mount Hood Community College