Physical therapists improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injuries or disease. Their patients include accident victims and disabled individuals with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, nerve injuries, burns, amputations, head injuries, fractures, lower back pain, arthritis, and heart disease. Therapists evaluate patients' medical histories; test and measure their strength, range of motion, and ability to function; and develop treatment plans accordingly.
Bachelor's and master's programs in physical therapy are offered across the nation, and entrance into either degree program is very competitive. Master's degree programs require at least three years of pre-physical therapy course work followed by three years of professional education. All pre-physical therapy requirements for programs in Michigan, and for most programs in the United States, can be obtained at Michigan Tech.
Entry into Physical Therapy Programs
While colleges of physical therapy do not require a specific major of their applicants, they do require certain course preparation. The course requirements at the different professional schools are quite varied, but they typically include
- two years of biology with lab, including anatomy and physiology;
- two or three years of chemistry with lab, including introductory chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry;
- one year of physics with lab;
- one year of math, including calculus;
- one course in statistics;
- one year of English composition; and
- three to four courses in psychology, including developmental psychology.
In addition to course work, applicants to professional programs must have completed at least 50 hours (some schools require much more) of volunteer work in a physical therapy facility. There are excellent opportunities for obtaining this experience in the Houghton-Hancock area.
Physical therapy programs are among the most competitive programs to which you could apply. To be successful, you should have at least a 3.5 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale). In addition to GPA, schools also examine your performance on the Graduate Record Examination (MS programs only), letters of evaluation from people who know you well, one of who must be a physical therapist, and your record of volunteer work.
About the Program
Most Michigan Tech students who apply to physical therapy programs are enrolled in the Department of Biological Sciences. You may enroll in any of the department’s degree options, or in the medical laboratory sciences degree program. Michigan Tech's biology core provides you with a strong, diversified curriculum in the biological sciences, and our other degree requirements provide a solid foundation in the physical sciences and mathematics. Also available are elective courses such as hematology, immunology, microbiology, medical bacteriology, virology, human nutrition, exercise physiology, and cardiopulmonary physiology. Other requirements, such as psychology, will be taken to meet Michigan Tech's general education requirements.
We encourage our pre-health professions students to also take elective course work in the humanities, social sciences, and economics. Popular choices for pre-health students are courses in biomedical ethics, the economics of health care, entrepreneurship, sociology of the family, social psychology, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, and abnormal psychology. With between 14 and 18 credits of free electives available, you can explore many areas of interest.
Because the requirements for a bachelor's degree in biological sciences fulfill the entrance requirements for many health professions programs (such as medical school and dental school) or for graduate education in biology, you will find yourself well prepared to enter a variety of careers in the biological sciences.
Pre-health Professions Advising
Since each physical therapy program may have entrance requirements unique to that institution, you will work with the health professions advisor to determine which Michigan Tech courses you will need to meet the requirements for the programs to which you wish to apply. The director of pre-health professions studies can assist you with
- choosing the professional career that is right for you;
- learning the requirements for the professional schools of your choice;
- obtaining application forms for admission tests (for example, the GRE);
- selecting courses and planning curriculum;
- forming proper study habits; and
- answering other questions you may have.
The director of pre-health professions studies will also write letters of evaluation to the schools of your choice.
For further information, contact the Director of Pre-Health Professions Studies, John Durocher.