Pre-Physical Therapy

A career in physical therapy requires a lot of hard work and dedication. A physical therapist, also called a PT, is a healthcare professional who helps patients regain movement and function after an injury or surgery. The need for physical therapy graduates is expected to grow in the coming years as the population ages and people live longer and more active lives.

For students interested in becoming physical therapists, you will need to complete a pre-physical therapy program like the pre-PT program from Goshen College. These programs typically last two to three years and are offered at many colleges, universities, and physical therapy schools. During the program, pre-pt students will take classes in biology, chemistry, physics, and other health sciences. You will also learn about human anatomy, exercise physiology, and medical terminology — and have the opportunity to shadow a physical therapist in a clinical setting.

I came to GC because of its strong science and music departments. GC’s small size, combined with its positive attitudes towards crossing disciplines, has enabled me to combine a French horn music minor with my pre-physical therapy natural science major.”
GC graduate Kristen Metzler

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Why Study Pre-Physical Therapy at Goshen College?

Goshen College can give you the academic foundation needed to enter the field of physical therapy. Goshen College students find many opportunities for academic studies and research; physical therapy students can also gain experience in programs linking GC with local healthcare providers and the American Physical Therapy Association.


Goshen College has an excellent record in preparing students to succeed in science and a physical therapy degree program.

  • Goshen students who apply to a physical therapy graduate program have a historically high rate of success. In recent years, more than 90% of GC students who have applied to medical school have been accepted.
  • In a study by Franklin and Marshall College of over 500 undergraduate institutions, Goshen College ranked in the top 5% for its percentage of graduates who earned Ph.D.s in life sciences.
  • In comparison to 70 undergraduate institutions in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Goshen was #1 in the percentage of graduates who received Ph.D.s in the life sciences


Our modern science building offers comfortable and safe research labs that are well-ventilated and well-equipped for basic research in the biochemical, genetic, cellular, molecular, vertebrate, aquatic, and marine areas.


Students can interact personally with science faculty in classes, labs, and research activities.

  • The student-faculty ratio is 10:1, giving you the opportunity to work one-on-one with your professors.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to participate in various undergraduate research projects directed by faculty members.
  • Many students work with professors as lab assistants.


Students will find many opportunities to gain valuable experience (paid or volunteer) in and around GC.

  • Most Goshen College PT school students spend a semester abroad in GC’s unique Study-Service Term (SST).  Students who are interested in a health-related career are encouraged to spend their six-week period of service working in a health-related assignment, such as hospitals or outpatient clinics.
  • Pre-physical therapy school students must spend time observing physical therapists working; Goshen Health Hospital is conveniently located just across the street from GC, facilitating such observation during the school year.
  • You might also find it helpful to seek employment at Greencroft, a large nursing home/assisted living center (within walking distance of GC), or Oaklawn, a psychiatric hospital (a 10-minute drive from GC).


Successful admission into an accredited physical therapy program is highly competitive. Carefully chosen coursework at Goshen College will give you a strong base for application. There are currently two types of physical therapy programs:  master’s degree and doctoral degree programs. The majority of programs are now doctor of physical therapy degree programs, and it appears likely that all will be in a few years. Students would normally need four years of undergraduate college education, followed by two or three years of graduate school education. The two-year graduate programs end with a master’s degree, and the three-year graduate programs are doctoral programs.


Most students preparing for a career as a physical therapist major in biology, natural science, or one of the other sciences. Practically any major is possible, however, as long as the prerequisite courses required are taken.

The following courses are required for the first-year schedule for nearly all physical therapy programs and represent a good way to get started:

First Year

Fall Spring May Term
General Chemistry I General Chemistry II CORE: Engaging the Bible
Ecology & Evolution (NW Perspective) Organismal Biology
CORE: Identity, Culture, & Community & Learning Comm. Cell Biology & Genetics
CORE: Academic Voice  CORE: Seminar & Learning Comm

Many schools also require:

  • Developmental or Abnormal Psychology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Statistics

Other courses sometimes required/recommended:

  • Developmental Vertebrate Biology
  • Foreign language
  • Genetics
  • Humanities
  • Intro to Computers (or computer proficiency)
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Precalculus or Calculus
  • Sociology
  • Vertebrate Physiology

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