Majors + Academics


Physical Therapy

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical Therapy is an exciting profession that offers endless opportunities in clinical practice, education, and research. In today’s health care environment, physical therapists have ever-increasing independence and take active roles in health promotion, wellness and prevention, fitness, and rehabilitation. Being a physical therapist requires knowing the science of movement, being skilled in the art of human interaction, and understanding the dynamics of the health care system. There are many specialties within physical therapy including orthopedics, geriatrics, neurology, pediatrics, sports, cardiopulmonary physical therapy, and women’s health.

Washington University's Degree Program

3-year Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

  • After a 4-year undergraduate program at Washington
    University or another university
  • Focus is on professional education



  • 2 semesters of physics with labs (8 credits)
  • 2 semesters of chemistry with labs (8 credits)
  • 2 semesters of biology courses for science majors (cell structure and function & introduction to genetics) (6 credits)
  • 1 semester of Psychology (3 credits)
  • 1 semester of Statistics (3 credits)
  • 1 semester of Anatomy with Lab (4 credits)
  • 1 semester of Physiology with Lab (human physiology is preferred) (4 credits)
  • Competence in medical terminology
  • First aid and CPR

Courses that are helpful to take include english composition, abnormal psychology, and either trigonometry or calculus.

Application Requirements

  • Centralized Application Service ( required
  • Standardized Test: GRE required (
  • Strong GPA in core prerequisites (minimum of 3.0)
  • Strong GPA in math and sciences courses (minimum of 3.0)
  • Written essays to assess thinking and writing ability
  • Three letters of recommendation to assess academic integrity, professionalism, and interpersonal skills (to include an academic instructor)
  • Interview is not required

Most Popular Majors

Most often, students enter the Program with undergraduate degrees in biology, kinesiology, exercise science, or psychology, but many other majors are also represented. Some students have majored in engineering, business, athletic training, communication, literature, microbiology, music, and sociology. Regardless of major, students should be able to think critically and have strong communication and analytical skills.

Learn from Leaders

The Program has 39 faculty members—15 hold Ph.D.'s, 26 hold D.P.T degrees, 1 holds a doctoral degree in another discipline, and 34 are PT's. The Program's faculty members are actively engaged in clinical practice, research, and teaching. They are recognized regionally, nationally, and internationally as leaders in clinical measurement, classification of movement-related problems, and prevention and treatment of movement dysfunction. An open-door policy encourages communication between students and faculty members. The Program’s faculty also includes more than 160 adjunct teachers who bring qualified experiences to the classroom.

What is the curriculum like?

The curriculum includes three years of combined academic and clinical work that prepares students to pursue rewarding careers in the profession of Physical Therapy. Courses in the foundation sciences, clinical sciences, and professional skills are provided. Content within and between semesters is integrated, so that knowledge and skill build as the student progresses through the curriculum. Hands-on skill laboratories are used extensively, in addition to lecture. Case studies are regularly used to reinforce learning. Independent study is required.

Experience in the Field

Clinical education provides students the opportunity to learn outside the classroom and to expose students to the variety of Physical Therapy practices. The Clinical Education faculty assists students in identifying different locations to better prepare them as general practitioners. Students will have in-patient and out-patient experiences with patients who are of varying ages and who have a variety of musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, or cardiovascular-pulmonary conditions. During the first year, students have an early clinical experience during the first and second semesters. In the second and third year of study, students complete 38 weeks of full-time clinical experience. Approximately 3/4 of more than 400 clinical sites we affiliate with are outside the St. Louis metropolitan area.

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