APPLYING TO PT SCHOOL
There are over 200 accredited PT schools in the USA. There are two accredited PT schools in South Carolina. One is in the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and the other is a part of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC, in Charleston. North Carolina is actually home to six accredited PT schools. Click this link to learn more about PT programs and find the right fit for you.
Most PT schools use the PTCAS, the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service, as a main application service. The PTCAS usually opens in July of that application year, and closes in June of the following year. However, the recommendation is to apply as early as possible!
Before you begin the application process, finish all required coursework from undergraduate school(s) with a competitive GPA. Then decide when and where you want to apply. Do you want to take a gap year? Or, do you want to go straight into PT school. Complete the PTCAS, Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service and submit all required documents that your schools require such as transcripts, 1-4 recommendation letters, GRE scores, and all PT Observation Hours. A secondary application may be required at some schools. A payment will be associated with each application at each school. If the school thinks you are a qualified applicant, they will invite you to an on-site interview. After the interview, you will hear back from the school!
The Big Six
1. Competitive GPA
A good GPA is a strong measure of how successful a PT student will be. There are three different GPAs that PT schools look at, the science GPA, the non-science GPA, and the overall GPA. Physical Therapy schools like to see a constant and steady increase in GPAs over the four years of undergraduate.
2. Competitive GRE Score
The important aspect of this test is that you need to schedule enough time to take it at least twice if you feel the need. It is probably a good idea in case you have a “bad day” on the first attempt. Also, make sure you schedule enough time so that you receive your scores within enough time that you can put the scores on your PTCAS application.
3. Letters of Recommendation
These letters are usually sent directly to PTCAS. You will need at least one letter from a professor who taught a science course that you were in, and you need at least one from an actual PT. MAKE SURE YOU DEVELOP GOOD RELATIONSHIPS. We cannot stress that enough; you need to build good relationships with professors, healthcare professionals, and employers. Make them remember you for all the good reasons. Also, you cannot ask for letters of recommendation at the last minute; you need to establish relationships early and ask for the letters early so they have enough time to write one for you.
4. Personal Statement
This is a one page essay that is a part of the PTCAS. This essay should let the schools know who you are, why you chose PT a career path, what your strengths are, and what makes you different from all of the other applicants. This will be a good warm-up for when you have to answer the question “Why do you want to become a PT?” This question will definitely be asked in your interview.
5. PTCAS and Secondary Applications
The PTCAS must be completed, and most schools require a school-specific application that must be completed. This secondary application will ask different questions than PTCAS; these questions will most likely be school specific, so understanding the school’s motto, values, and what the school tries to get out of its students is essential.
The prospective student will probably be interviewed by faculty and students alike. The four most important things the interviewers will look for is knowledge of the PT career, people and communication skills, why they want to be a PT, and responsibility and dedication. MAKE SURE YOU PRACTICE AND EVEN ENGAGE IN A COUPLE MOCK INTERVIEWS.