By: Mathew Hilton, PT, DPT, MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy program admissions have become very competitive over the years and many applicants often ask about the relative importance of different aspects of the application. Is the application process truly “holistic?” Will the admissions committee value all of your years of working a physical therapy aide, volunteering, studying and serving on leadership positions of clubs? However the most common questions from most pre-physical therapy students are:
“Are my GPA & GRE scores high enough? And how much do they matter?”
Here are some thoughts to consider as you ask these questions:
1. GPA & GRE Scores Are (Usually) Very Important*
Try to think of this from the perspective of physical therapy faculty members: they want to know that their students are academically prepared to handle the rigors of a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. Not only will you have to pass the rigorous coursework of a 3-year doctoral program, but you’ll also have to pass the licensure exam in order to practice physical therapy as a clinician and many programs believe that your GPA and GRE are a measure of your potential to pass the exam.
As stated in my previous post about how to decide where to apply to physical therapy school, the school must publish their licensure pass rates. Therefore they seriously consider your academic record. If you present any flags such as a "D" or "F" grade, will you be able to explain this as an applicant?
2. It Depends On The Program*
The bar for each school will vary in terms of grades and GPA. Some schools will publish their GPA & GRE averages, but read these with caution--just because you are above or below their averages does not mean that you will be accepted or rejected, respectively. If you are unsure of your chances for admission, email the program directly and ask them about your opportunity for admission based on your numbers. Many admissions officers will be very open and honest about decisions that you should make to improve your application, such as retaking crucial classes and/or retaking the GRE.
3. The Bottom Line
You need to have acceptable grades and GRE scores* for the given program in which you are applying. Do not try to accumulate thousands of hours of volunteering and/or aide work in lieu of having competitive scores. Your time and energy will be better spent by retaking courses and/or the GRE. It’s okay to retake courses and the GRE, because many programs will consider the better grade in your GPA when you retake a class and the same applies for the GRE.
I hope that provides some context to the GRE and your GPA, but if you have more questions, let me know in the comments! In my next post, I’ll discuss some strategies for you to earn your best GPA possible.
*Not every school requires the GRE for admission. If you have low scores or you do not wish to take the GRE, then you may consider applying to DPT programs that do not require the GRE.
- Apr 24, 2018 How to Easily Find Inpatient Physical Therapy Experience Apr 24, 2018
- Feb 19, 2018 How to Improve Your GPA as a Pre-Physical Therapy Student Feb 19, 2018
- Jan 28, 2018 How Important are my GPA and GRE for Physical Therapy Admissions? Jan 28, 2018
- Jan 15, 2018 Do You Want to Become a Physical Therapist? Jan 15, 2018
- Nov 20, 2017 Pre-Physical Therapy: 3 Ways to Build a Strong Application Over Winter Break Nov 20, 2017
- May 26, 2017 DPT Program Financial Analysis For Pre-DPTs May 26, 2017
- Mar 27, 2017 4 Things to Remember to Stay Sane When Applying Mar 27, 2017
- Jan 30, 2017 5 New Ideas for Better Pre-Physical Therapy Meetings Jan 30, 2017
- Nov 17, 2016 4 Tips to Leverage Mentorship During Your First Clinical Affiliation Nov 17, 2016
- Nov 1, 2016 The Doctor of Physical Therapy Interview: Essential Questions for Faculty and Students Nov 1, 2016
- Oct 25, 2016 The Doctor of Physical Therapy Interview: Make the Most of the Campus Tour Oct 25, 2016
- Oct 19, 2016 The Doctor of Physical Therapy Interview: Preparing for the Questions Oct 19, 2016
- Oct 12, 2016 The Doctor of Physical Therapy Interview: Preparing for Different Interview Types Oct 12, 2016
- Oct 6, 2016 The Doctor of Physical Therapy Interview: What to Expect Oct 6, 2016
- Sep 20, 2016 Essential Experience: Succeed in the Physical Therapy Aide Interview Sep 20, 2016
- Sep 12, 2016 Back to School: What Should I Do as a Pre-PT Student? Sep 12, 2016
- Aug 31, 2016 Essential Experience: How to Find a Physical Therapy Aide Position Aug 31, 2016
- Aug 13, 2016 Essential Experience: Become a Physical Therapy Aide Aug 13, 2016
- Jun 20, 2016 Where Should I Apply for Physical Therapy School? Jun 20, 2016
- Jun 5, 2016 Fresh Perspectives: A Conversation on Social Media & The Job Market (UpDoc Media guest post) Jun 5, 2016
- May 15, 2016 Leverage Your Volunteer Experience When Applying to Physical Therapy School (NGPT Guest Post) May 15, 2016
- May 9, 2016 Don’t Submit Your 2016-2017 PTCAS Personal Statement Without Answering This May 9, 2016
- Apr 20, 2016 The 2017-2018 PTCAS Personal Statement Guide Apr 20, 2016