Become a doctor in Physical Therapy at The Ohio State University.

Thank you for your interest in Ohio State’s Physical Therapy program.

As a future physical therapy professional, you will be entering a challenging but rewarding career in health care that helps individuals recovering from injury or illness or prevents the loss of skills among those at risk.

In order to achieve success as a physical therapy professional, you will need to be able to think and act independently, be decisive, make accurate diagnoses, and solve problems knowledgeably and creatively.

To better prepare you for meeting these challenges, Ohio State’s Physical Therapy division offers the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This rigorous curriculum includes a balanced mix of theory, practice and research experience.

Most students complete the program with the clinical doctorate to enter practice.  However, some students come into physical therapy school knowing they want a career in research and higher education as a professor of physical therapy.  If you are one of these rare students who is highly motivated to pursue your DPT as well as a PhD for a future career in academics and research, please visit the PhD of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences website and read about our combined DPT/PhD program.

We also have three interdisciplinary specializations in Early Intervention/Early Childhood, Global Health and Research in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, that you can complete alongside your DPT.   Under the research specialization, there is also the opportunity to complete a specialization in rehabilitation engineering.

If you are interested in joining the Pre-PT/OT Club at OSU, please contact the current president by following this link or email Dr.DeWitt​, the faculty advisor.


Applicants must use the online centralized application service, PTCAS​.

Early Decision.  Applications and application materials must be received by PTCAS no later than August 17, 2015.

2015-2016 Application Instructions

The general application period will begin July 1st and end October 1st, 2015.

The Graduate School Fellowship is open to students planning to attend graduate or professional school starting the 2015-2016 academic year. Please see the Graduate School website for details and eligibility requirements.

The Physical Therapy Division is committed to maintaining an environment that acknowledges, respects and supports the diversity of its more.


Applying to the Program

We understand that applying to physical therapy school may be a complicated and intimidating process. To make the process simpler for you, we have assembled application instructions, a list of prerequisite courses, and some frequently asked questions about the application process.  

Below, you will find some basic information about the DPT program's admission process:


  • We aim to admit 48-50 students per year

  • Over the past few years the average overall GPA is above 3.8, and the average GPA in prerequisite courses is over 3.7

  • Average GRE: Verbal =155, Quantitative = 155, Combined = 310, Writing = 4.0

  • Three very good recommendation letters


  • Most students have ties to Ohio, but no preference given for in-state vs. out-of-state

  • We typically admit 5-8 out-of-state students

  • An out-of-state student may apply for Ohio residency after their first year of classes.  There are specific procedures and rules that must be followed to qualify.

Majors and Universities

  • Majors vary from exercise science and health science (most common) to dance and nutrition

  • About 33% of admitted students attended Ohio State, and many of the rest attended other schools in Ohio.  As noted above, this is driven through self-selection by students who apply to and accept admission to the program.


  • The program director position at Ohio State has been very stable.  The current director, Dr. Buford, is only the 6th director since the founding of the program in 1955.

  • The faculty include a careful balanced blend of research faculty, clinical faculty, and practicing clinicians to bring the best level of expertise to each aspect of the student’s education.

  • The student-faculty ratio in laboratory skills courses ranges from 4 to 1 to 8 to 1.  Overall, the ratio is about 11:1.

  • The faculty have a large extramural funding portfolio and are nationally and internally recognized for their leadership in research and discovery.

Clinical Education and Outcomes

  • Our clinical education program is designed to assure that every student has at least one full time clinical experience in the acute care (hospital) setting, the outpatient musculoskeletal setting, and a rehabilitation setting.

  • There are two integrated clinical experience to help students prepare, the first in musculoskeletal PT and the second in acute care.  There are four required full time clinical education experiences totaling 36 weeks.  A final practicum of 6 weeks allow for advanced or specialized practice, leadership training, or other experiences tailored to the student.

  • Students in the pediatric specialization also have an integrated clinical experience in pediatrics and an opportunity for a full time clinical experience in pediatrics.

  • Service activities and a service learning course at a pro bono clinic provide additional opportunities for development of clinical skills.

  • We out ultimate pass rates on the NPTE of 100%, and first time pass rates ranging from 95 – 100%.  (i.e., sometimes one or two students have to repeat the test, sometimes everyone passes on the first attempt).

  • All graduates report employment as a PT within 6 months.


Prerequisite Courses

Completion of the following prerequisite courses at Ohio State, or the acceptable equivalents at another college/university, are required for admission to Ohio State's Physical Therapy program. (Prospective applicants should match course descriptions below with those of courses offered at their respective institution.)

One two-course sequence in general chemistry

  1. General Chemistry: Dimensional analysis, atomic structure, the mole, stoichiometry, chemical reactions, electron configuration, periodicity, bonding, and molecular structure.
  2. General Chemistry: Acids and bases, redox reactions, gases, liquids, solids, solutions, colligative properties, thermochemistry, kinetics, and chemical equilibrium.

One two-course sequence in general physics

  1. General Physics: Mechanics and Heat
  2. General Physics: Electricity, Magnetism, and Light

One two-course sequence in general biology

Biological Sciences: Energy Transfer and Development Exploration of biology and biological principles; topics include cell structure and function, reproduction and development of plants and animals, bioenergetics, genetics, and evolution.

One course in general psychology

General Psychology: The application of the scientific method to behavior; topics include learning, motivation, perception, personality, physiological basis of behavior.

One course in human growth and development

Examples of possible courses:

  1. Introduction to Life Span Developmental Psychology: A survey of developmental psychology including some phylogenetic perspective.
  2. Critical Phases in Life: An examination of human development from conception to death and factors critical to continuing health.
  3. Life Span Human Development: Survey of human development across the life span directed toward an applied understanding of the individual and forces that shape development.

One course in human physiology

Introduction to Physiology: A survey of human nerves and nervous system, sense organs, muscle function, circulation, respiration, digestion, metabolism, kidney function, and reproduction.

One course in physiology of exercise

Applied Physiology of Exercise: In-depth examination of the effects of acute and chronic exercise on the human body.

One course in human or vertebrate anatomy

Introductory Anatomy: Fundamental principles of human anatomy, supplemented by demonstrations of human material.

One course in statistical analysis OR research design

Five options:

  1. Elementary Statistics: Introduction to probability and statistics, experiments, data analysis and interpretation.
  2. Introduction to the practice of statistics: Topics include probability, descriptive statistics, correlation, regression, design of experiments, estimation, and testing; emphasis on applications, statistical reasoning, and data analysis using statistical software.
  3. Research in Psychology: An overview of issues, methods, and techniques of scientific psychological research.
  4. Introduction to Inquiry, Principles, Strategies, and Techniques: Introduction to inquiry strategies and their role in educational development; emphasis is on the conceptualization of educational problems.
  5. Research Design in Biomedical Sciences: Concepts related to initiating and conducting research; experimental design; use of computer graphics and statistics; and analysis of research reports.

Preparation for Undergraduates

Preparing for the Doctor in Physical Therapy Program

The program at Ohio State is a post-baccalaureate Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Thus, new freshmen and transfer students who are interested in physical therapy as a career will complete an undergraduate program of their choice in preparation for application to the nine-semester post-baccalaureate program in physical therapy​.

There is no one “right” major at Ohio State in preparation for the Doctor in Physical Therapy (DPT). Students may elect a course of study that is somewhat related to the professional area, such as biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or exercise science, but there are no limits as long as the necessary prerequisite course work is integrated into the undergraduate major.

Students apply to the DPT program about one year prior to the proposed start of the program and/or completion of the bachelor’s degree. DPT program candidates should follow an undergraduate curriculum that is broad and comprehensive in preparation for a very people-oriented profession.

Students are urged to take advantage of academic opportunities in the arts and humanities as well as the sciences and to develop strong communication and interpersonal skills. In choosing to complete an undergraduate degree at Ohio State, prior to the DPT program, students may enroll in any academic unit offering the undergraduate degree the student has elected to pursue. Undecided or undeclared students may enroll in University Exploration for the first year or two of university enrollment. However, many students may choose to enroll in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) for the first year or two as pre-major students.  

Ohio State students in any undergraduate major who are interested in pursuing physical therapy are invited to join the Pre-DPT/MOT Club.

Admission to the Doctorate in Physical Therapy is competitive. Qualified applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and an overall GPA of at least 3.0. However, the average CPHR of students most recently admitted was over 3.8. In addition, students are required to submit competitive GRE scores and have completed at least 40 hours of direct association with a physical therapist in a physical therapy department or clinic. The undergraduate preparation for physical therapy should include a strong science, social science, and research foundation, as well as cover every prerequisite course required for admission.

To obtain additional information about Ohio State undergraduate programs in general, you may contact our graduate advisor at

Advanced Educational Opportunities

Advanced Educational Opportunities

Physical Therapy students at Ohio State can extend their entry level education in a variety of ways. At the simplest level, students can register for an independent study course to explore an interest with faculty guidance. At the highest level, students can earn a combined DPT/PhD to prepare for a career as a leading investigator and educator in the field.

There are also specializations and other advanced educational opportunities in specific areas of concentration. Each of these is optional, not a requirement of the entry level doctorate of physical therapy degree.

Graduate Specializations

A graduate specialization is similar to a minor for an undergraduate degree.  Each specialization requires specific coursework and experiences, and is formally noted on the student’s transcript. Any DPT student in good standing can apply for entry to a specialization.

Early Intervention

The Interdisciplinary Graduate Specialization in Early Intervention is offered through the Graduate School. The coursework focuses on the strengths and needs of infants and young children with special needs and their families. Practicum experiences working in early intervention settings are also required.

Students completing the program will be able to apply theories and models of early intervention practice and analyze efficacy research that supports those theories and models. Graduates will understand the roles of professionals of early childhood and will value teamwork while understanding the complexity of interdisciplinary models of practice.

Global Health

The Interdisciplinary Graduate Specialization in Global Health is offered through the Graduate School. The coursework develops the knowledge and skills needed to work with underserved populations. Students participate in a mentored practicum that involves working with individuals from disadvantaged and underserved populations at an international site.

This specialization prepares graduates to be active participants in the advancement of global health through academic enrichment, service-learning, and research pertaining to issues of global health. Students gain specific expertise in the unique challenges of healthcare in the developing world and among immigrant populations both domestically and abroad.


The Research in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Specialization is offered through The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Students participate in an ongoing research project with a faculty mentor and complete additional coursework in research methods. The specialization allows students interested in research to work with our highly recognized faculty, who have ongoing studies at Ohio State.

Completion of this specialization enables students to develop foundational research skills for future collaboration with independent researchers. The formal recognition of accomplishments provided by the research specialization, helps graduates compete for admission to PhD or other advanced degree programs, and also prepares graduates for jobs that involve program evaluation or outcome research.

Post-Professional Graduate Degrees

The MS Degree requires graduate coursework and completion of a thesis or project to demonstrate the student’s mastery in an area of their discipline. Courses are held in the afternoons and evenings so that working professionals can enroll in the program.

This degree can be a bridge to the PhD program, or an end in itself. The MS provides advanced preparation which enables graduates to participate in scholarship, teaching and leadership within student-selected cognate areas.

The PhD Degree in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences is a full-time commitment. Students who enter with a bachelor’s degree can complete the MS en route to the PhD. Students with a graduate degree enter the PhD program directly.

The PhD program engages students across disciplines in a broad course of studies in health and rehabilitation sciences, and also requires in-depth coursework in a chosen area of emphasis. Students in this program will spend an extended, full-time period of study working in the research program of a faculty mentor.

Through practical experience, PhD students learn to design, conduct, and report the results of original research projects in health and rehabilitation sciences. PhD students also receive training in teaching and leadership.

DPT students can enter this program upon completion of the DPT, or can enter a dual degree DPT/PhD program. PhD graduates are prepared to succeed as scientists and faculty members at the nation’s most demanding universities.

Contact for more information about these graduate programs.

Advanced Clinical Educational Programs

A clinical residency is a planned program of post-professional clinical diagnostic education designed to significantly advance the resident’s preparation as a provider of patient care services in a defined area of clinical practice.

Of the eight clinical specializations recognized by the American Physical Therapy Association, Ohio State currently has residency programs in five: geriatrics, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, and sports. A residency program in Women’s Health is about to begin.

No one offers more. Our model for residency education has been praised nationally and adopted by other institutions.

DPT Students at Ohio State enjoy the presence of residents in their clinical skills teaching labs. As these outstanding young physical therapists work through their clinical residency to achieve specialization, they reinforce their skills by acting as assistants to the faculty during clinical skills labs. This increases the availability of instruction for the students, and sets an example for commitment to education.

Clinical fellowships represent an even higher level of training. Fellows must already be clinical experts, and are often already certified as specialists. Fellowship training is focused on a subspecialty in clinical practice. At OSU there are fellowships in professional baseball, manual therapy, and dance medicine.

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