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Admission to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is contingent on the completion of a baccalaureate degree and all prerequisite course work from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university. Individuals should have completed the majority of the science course requirements and have GRE scores prior to the application deadline. Only candidates who have earned, or who will earn their baccalaureate degree before the class begins in July will be considered for admission.

Course Requirements

The following prerequisites must be completed prior to enrollment in the program:

Biological Sciences

A complete introductory course in principles of general biology or zoology and advanced course work in biology or zoology (for which an introductory course is prerequisite), equivalent to 12 semester hours;


A systemic human physiology course, equivalent to 3 semester hours;


Human or comparative vertebrate anatomy, preferably with a lab component, equivalent to 3 s.h.


*A two-course sequence of anatomy and physiology, preferably with a lab component, equivalent to 6 s.h. can fulfill the Physiology and Anatomy prerequisites.


A complete introductory series, equivalent to 8 semester hours; 


A complete introductory series, equivalent to 8 semester hours; 


Courses equivalent to 6 semester hours;


A college-level mathematics course, at the level of trigonometry or higher, equivalent to 3 semester hours;


A statistical methods course, equivalent to 3 semester hours.

All science courses must include the appropriate laboratory instruction. The prerequisite courses must be taken for a letter grade. However due to the current pandemic, P/F or P/NP grading will be accepted for the spring and summer 2020 academic sessions. Credit awarded through the AP testing program may be applied to the mathematics requirement only.

Grade-point Requirement

An overall grade-point average of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale) is the minimum for consideration for admission. A grade-point average of 3.0 or above in all prerequisite course work is recommended.

Graduate Record Examination

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is required for admission. Arrange to take the test early to ensure receipt of the scores prior to the application deadline.  

Observation Hours/Exposure to Physical Therapy

Many applicants are finding it difficult to gain traditional observation hours in physical therapy settings.  The following are examples of ways in which an applicant can demonstrate the steps taken to learn more about physical therapy, healthcare environments, and populations who may be served by physical therapy:

  • Job shadowing, gaining work experience in a physical therapy setting, or conducting interviews with physical therapists
  • Volunteer work in a hospital, rehab setting, or clinic
  • Direct patient or client care in acute care, residential care, recreation settings or private homes (CNA, respite care, nursing home, camp, etc.)
  • Volunteer work with diverse populations that are different from yourself in terms of age, race, ethnicity, country of origin, socioeconomic status, physical abilities or mental abilities

Professional Opportunities

Changes in the health care system have made possible many practice opportunities for physical therapists. In addition to hospital based practice, an increasing number of physical therapists select private practice. In the last several years, areas of specialization have become available in orthopedics, cardiopulmonary, electrophysiology, neurology, geriatrics, pediatrics, and sports physical therapy. Some potential practice settings are as follows:

  • General or specialized hospitals and nursing homes
  • Private physical therapy clinics or offices
  • Home health agencies
  • Skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation centers
  • Corporate or industrial health centers
  • Fitness centers and sports training facilities
  • Athletic facilities
  • Schools or pediatric centers
  • Community and governmental agencies
  • Education or research centers

Criminal Background Checks

Enrollment in the DPT Program will be contingent on a successful criminal background check. Those applicants accepting admission offers will be contacted by the PTCAS background check service vendor, Certiphi Screening, Inc. via email to start the background check process. Their email will include a link to a secure, online form that will request additional information and your consent to initiate the background check process. The background check fee is currently $77.75 per applicant and will be paid to Certiphi by the applicant. The applicant is given an opportunity to review the results before they are released to us. Applicants should also be aware that some clinical education sites require drug screening for students performing clinical rotations. DPT students are also required to provide annual attestation of any new felony or misdemeanor experiences.

Cultural Diversity Statement

The University of Iowa's Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences acknowledges the importance of recognizing and understanding cultural diversity. The department's faculty, staff, and students strive to promote trust, respect, and appreciation for individual differences in matters of practice, research, and education. Efforts are made to provide a supportive environment, one appreciative of human differences, while cooperating with each other in the constructive expression of ideas and actions. Please visit the University's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website for additional information and resources.