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Pre-Physical Therapy

Academic & Career Information


Physical Therapists (PTs) evaluate and treat people of all ages with movement disorders and other health problems resulting from diseases, disorders, conditions or injuries. The treatment goals of Physical Therapists include making patients stronger, relieving their pain, helping them to regain and maintain maximum human performance and educating patients on proper health maintenance. Treatment may include therapeutic exercise, cardiovascular endurance training, and training in activities of daily living.

Physical Therapists are employed in hospitals, private offices, community health centers, industrial health centers, sports facilities, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, schools, research institutions, or teach in colleges or universities. They work with other health care providers such as physicians, occupational therapists, nurses, mental health professionals, and speech pathologists and audiologists. In 2012, physical therapists’ median salary was $79,860. About 204,200 PT jobs were held in the U.S, with much faster than average growth of 36% projected through 2022. Demand for physical therapy services will come from the aging baby boomers, who are staying active later in life, and for the need to treat people with mobility issues stemming from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or obesity (Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014,


Admission requirements vary by program, but most admissions committees are very selective and are looking for specific prerequisites courses, strong academic and prerequisite course records, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), quality letters of recommendation, and work or volunteer experience in the field as indicators of potential to succeed. Application deadlines vary from October of the year prior to matriculation to May. Most programs require a student to have at least a 3.0 cumulative and prerequisite GPA, although the average GPA for accepted students may be higher. Increasingly, programs are also requiring applicants to have paid or volunteer experience in one or more physical therapy settings and may ask that a student have adult Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification. Prerequisite requirements can vary widely from program to program. Most programs require Anatomy, Physiology, the year‐long sequences of General Chemistry and Physics, all with laboratory plus courses in psychology and mathematics. Many programs also have additional required and strongly suggested courses.



The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredits physical therapy programs. All accredited entry‐level physical therapy programs are at the master’s level (MSTP or MPT) or doctorate level (DPT). There are currently 221 accredited programs, 1 of which offers an MS/MPT and 220 offering DPT degrees. Although both degrees currently prepare students to be eligible for the PT license exam in all 50 states, effective December 31, 2015, CAPTE will require all programs to offer the DPT degree. American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) vision is that by the year 2020, Physical therapy will be provided by physical therapists who are doctors of physical therapy. Physical Therapy graduate course work investigates questions related to body movement, simple and complex motor skill development, and the effects of therapeutic activity. Research in the field focuses on understanding the impairments underlying disability, or applications for practical clinical problems.

There are currently 15 accredited Physical Therapy programs in California: Azusa Pacific University, Chapman University, Loma Linda University, Mount St. Mary’s College, Samuel Merritt College, Western University, UC San Francisco, San Francisco State, USC, CSU San Marcos, University of the Pacific, CSU Fresno (MPT/DPT), CSU Long Beach, CSU Northridge (MPT/DPT), and CSU Sacramento. PLEASE NOTE: Assembly Bill 2382 allowing CSU schools to offer the DPT has passed. For updates, visit


To practice in the US students need to graduate from an accredited professional physical therapy graduate program and pass the national licensure exam. Most programs require two to three years of education including didactic work and clinical training in various health care settings.

This is NOT a comprehensive list of prerequisites for all programs. Students maintain responsibility for verifying course selection with individual programs.


Azusa Pacific University Prerequisites ​IVC Courses
​Biology - four courses from:
Human Anatomy with lab
Human Physiology with lab
Cell Biology or General Biology
with lab
One additional Biology course
​Four courses from:
BIO 11
BIO 12
BIO 16 or BIO 1/BIO 1L or BIO 1H/BIO 1L
One additional Biology course
​One year of General Chemistry or Organic Chemistry ​CHEM 1A and 1B or CHEM 12A and 12B
One year of Physics with lab​ ​PHYS 4A and PHYS 4B
​Exercise Physiology ​KNES 104
​Statistics ​MATH 10, PSYC 10 or 10H, ECON 10 or 10H, or MGT 10 or 10H
​General Psychology and
Any other Psychology course
​PSYC 1 or 1H and
PSYC 2, 3, 5 or 5H, 7, 13 or 13H, 20, 30, 32, 33, 37 or 37H, 106
​English Composition ​WR 1 or 1H
​Humanities and Arts – two courses from:
English Literature
History/Political Science/Sociology
Music/Art Appreciation
Philosophy/Ethics (Recommended)
Speech/Communication (Recommended)
​Two courses from:
Refer to catalog/schedule of courses offered
MUS 20 or 20H or ARTH 20
COMM 1 or 1H or COMM 5
Additional Courses (recommended but not required): Athletic Training, Exercise Science, Kinesiology/Biomechanics, Nutrition, and Writing Course


Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences to doctor of Physical Therapy

Chapman University Prerequisites IVC Courses​
​One year of Biology with lab (not botany) ​BIO 16 and BIO 94
​One year of Human Anatomy and Physiology ​BIO 11 and BIO 12
​One year sequence of General Chemistry with labs ​CHEM 1A and CHEM 1B
​One year sequence of General Physics with labs ​PHYS 4A and 4B
​One course in Psychology/Human Behavior ​PSYC 1 or 1H, PSYC 37 or 37H, or PSYC 106
​One course in Statistics ​MATH 10, or PSYC 10 or 10H



CSU Northridge Prerequisites IVC Courses
​Biology with lab ​Any BIO course with a lab
​Anatomy with lab ​BIO 11
​Physiology with lab ​BIO 12
​One year of General Chemistry with lab ​CHEM 1A and 1B or CHEM 12A and 12B
​One year of General Physics ​PHYS 2A and 2B or PHYS 4A and 4B
​Statistics ​MATH 10, or PSYC 10 or 10H, or ECON 10 or 10H, or MGT 10 or 10H
​Psychology ​Any PSYC course
​Psychology – Upper division ​Not available at IVC


CSU Long Beach-Biology w/Physiology option Prerequisites IVC Courses​
​Human Physiology ​BIO 12
​Human Anatomy* ​BIO 11
​Introduction to Evolution and Diversity ​BIO 94
​Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology ​BIO 16
​Biostatistics ​PSYC 10 or 10H
​Two semesters of Chemistry I ​CHEM 1A, CHEM 1B or CHEM 12A
​Two semesters of General Physics ​PHYS 2A and PHYS 2B
​General Psychology* ​PSYC 1 or 1H
​Upper division Kinesiology ​Course not available at IVC

*Check website for up-to-date information on course substitutions.


USC Prerequisites IVC Courses
​Two semesters of General Biology (not Botany or Zoology) ​Two semesters of General Biology
​Two semesters of Human Anatomy and Physiology with lab ​BIO 11 and BIO 12
​Two semesters of General Chemistry with lab ​CHEM 1A and CHEM 1B
​Two semesters of General Physics with lab ​PHYS 2A and PHYS 2B
​General Psychology ​PSYC 1 or 1H
​Abnormal Psychology ​PSYC 37 or 37H
​Statistics ​MATH 10, PSYC 10 or 10H
​College-level geometry or trigonometry is recommended but not required ​MATH 124


The ENTRY-LEVEL DOCTORATE program is for individuals who have an earned Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university

Loma Linda University Prerequisites IVC Courses
Natural Sciences
Human Anatomy & Physiology with lab sequence
General Chemistry with lab sequence
General Physics with lab sequence
Statistics (one course)​

Two additional Biological Science courses
Medical Terminology
​BIO 11 and BIO 12
PHYS 2A and 2B or PHYS 4A and 4B and 4C
MATH 10, or PSYC 10 or 10H, or ECON 10 or 10H, or MGT 10 or 10H

Two additional Biological Science courses

Not Available at IVC
Social Sciences
General Psychology (substitute courses may be approved by the Chairman of the Department)
Human Growth and Development

PSYC 1 or 1H

PSYC 7 or PSYC 106

COMM 1 or 1H
Work Experience – A minimum of 80 hours of work/observation experience (volunteer/employee) in a physical therapy department, 20 hours of which must be in an in-patient setting and 20 hours must be in an outpatient setting.


​Mount St. Mary’s – LA Prerequisites ​IVC Courses
​Two semesters of Biology with lab ​BIO 2 and BIO 5 or BIO 16
​Two semesters of Human Anatomy and Physiology ​BIO 11 and BIO 12
​Two semesters of Chemistry with lab ​CHEM 1A and CHEM 1B
​Two semesters of Physics with lab PHYS 2A and PHYS 2B​
​One semester of General Psychology
Two Psychology Electives - 6 units, developmental highly recommended
​PSYC 1 or 1H
PSYC 7 and PSYC 106
​One semester of Statistics ​MATH 10
​One semester of Oral Communication ​COMM 1 or 1H
​Once semester of Written Communication    ​WR 1 or 1H
​One Upper-Division Science, Psychology or Kinesiology course ​Not Available at IVC
Additional Recommended Courses: Computer Science/Literacy, Ethics/Critical Thinking, Gerontology, Kinesiology, Motor Learning/Development and Psychobiology


Tiffany Tran
Articulation Officer
T: 949-451-5324

Jacky Rangel
Articulation Specialist
T: 949-451-5647

F: 949-451-5307
O: Student Services Center, SSC 210 


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