facebook pixel Skip to Main Content
Idaho State University home

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is care that aims to ease pain and help you function, move, and live better. Physical therapy can help to restore normal bodily functions, relieve pain, as well as preventing, managing, or controlling patient's disabilities or injuries. Physical therapy is essential health care, and can help to promote the overall health of the patient.

What does a Physical Therapist do?

  • Consults with patients to learn about their physical condition and symptoms
  • Diagnoses movement dysfunction and develops a treatment plan
  • Teaches patients relevant therapeutic exercise techniques
  • Provides stimulation or massage to promote the healing process
  • Provides equipment to patients when needed, such as a walker or wheelchair

Idaho State University does have a Physical Therapy program on both the Pocatello and Meridian campuses.

Students looking to be admitted into a physical therapy program need to complete a bachelor's degree before being admitted to physical therapy programs. The following courses are common prerequisites for physical therapy programs, however you should check individual programs for their specific requirements. See a Pre-Health Advisor for assistance with course planning.

Prerequisite Courses:



ISU Course

General Biology I & II and Labs

8 credits

BIOL 1101, 1101L, 1102, 1102L

Anatomy and Physiology I & II and Labs

8 credits

BIOL 2227, 2227L, 2228, 2228L or BIOL 3301, 3301L, 3302, 3302L

General Chemistry I & II and Labs

9 credits

CHEM 1111, 1111L, 1112, 1112L

General Physics I & II and Labs

8 credits

PHYS 1111, 1113, 1112, 1114


3 credits

MATH 1153


3 credits

PSYC 1101

Additional Recommended Courses

Course Credits ISU Course
Exercise Physiology and Lab 3 credits HPSS 3301, 3301L
Medical Terminology 2 credits CPH/HCA 2210 or HO 0106
Developmental or Abnormal Psychology 3 credits PSYC 2225 or PSYC 3301

We recommend keeping a record of all extracurricular activities. Be sure to track contact information for supervisors and physical therapists you work with or shadow, and write reflections on each activity. The Pre-Health Extracurricular Tracker can help with this and is found under the resources tab.

Shadowing Experience

Shadowing physical therapists helps you understand what the profession is actually like. The more experience you get, the more attractive of an applicant you will become. For more information, see the Shadowing Guide.

Volunteer Experience 

Many programs will require paid or volunteer experience working with patients under supervision of a physical therapist. The more experience you can get will make you a more attractive and prepared applicant.


Leadership in any setting will make you stand out from other applicants by showing you are actively preparing for your future in your career and community as well as showing that you are a strong member of a team.

Interview Preparation 

Some programs require a visit to campus for an interview. Applicants should be prepared to discuss why they have chosen a career in physical therapy, and how they perceive the role of physical therapy in healthcare.

Competency Domains:

  • Clinical Reasoning
  • Knowledge for Specialty Practice
  • Professionalism
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Systems-Based Practice
  • Patient Management

APTA Core Competencies

A personal statement is a written description of your achievements, interests, and motivations as part of an application to a graduate program. Personal statements should answer the questions “Why did I choose physical therapy?” and ”What motivates me?” You should begin writing your personal statement three to six months before your application process. For more information see the Personal Statement Guide.

Letters of recommendation are an essential part of your application. Most programs will require letters of recommendation, check with the individual programs for letter requirements. Some common recommended letters come from a science professor, and two from physical therapists. You should avoid asking family members, clergy/bishops, and lab instructors for a letter of recommendation. Your letters will be submitted to PTCAS and then distributed to the schools you applied to. Schools will request your letters after receiving your primary application, so don’t delay submitting your primary application while waiting on your letters. For more information, see the Letters of Recommendation Guide. Consult your pre-health advisor if you have any further questions.

Before applying, ensure that you are researching schools and making sure they meet your needs and wants.

Applying to a physical therapy program can be reduced down to these essential steps: 

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

The GRE is the test required for admission into physical therapy programs. The GRE is administered throughout the year. Register to take the GRE and receive test scores 10-15 days after. Check with programs to determine what is a competitive score.

Primary Application

Primary applications are submitted through a central application service, PTCAS. The same primary application will be sent to all schools you apply to. PTCAS is open from mid July to Late June. Deadlines range from August to January. Many schools opt for rolling admissions so it is a good idea to submit early, however don’t rush and make a mistake! Take your time, and submit as early as you can. Most students take a few weeks to complete an application. Your application will include your GRE score, transcripts, extracurriculars, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.

Secondary Applications

Some schools will require supplemental materials, additional fees, etc. Some schools require program-specific questions to be answered. Oftentimes, you will not be able to submit your application until all additional material requested has been sent in and completed.


Programs may invite you to interview with them. This often indicates you are an applicant of interest, and they want to get to know you better. Many physical therapy programs hold interview days, where they bring in a group of applicants for the whole day to participate in a variety of activities related to the program and your application. For more information, see the Interview Guide.

Kasiska Division of Health Sciences - Learn more about the Kasiska family legacy and impact