Skip to main content

Apply Now

PT Lab


The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program accepts students who will begin in August of each year. The program is highly competitive and only admits up to 48 students per year. At the time of matriculation, applicants must have earned an undergraduate degree and completed all pre-requisite courses. The competitive applicant will have a strong grade point average (e.g. > 3.5 for both last 90 hours and in pre-requisite courses), knowledge of the physical therapy profession gained through volunteer or paid experience, and excellent communication skills. 

How to Apply

Step 1. First, applicants must apply through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Physical Therapy Central Application Service (PTCAS)


Step 2 details: Request that Educational Testing Service (ETS) send official scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test to Western Carolina University: PTCAS GRE Code 0342.  (Note: the last acceptable date for this cycle is September 17, 2024 to ensure your score will be received by the deadline.)

Step 2: send GRE scores to Western CArolina University



Application Deadline

The application deadline is October 1st. All application materials must be submitted to PTCAS and the WCU Graduate School by that date.

Once your completed application has been submitted and transcripts verified in PTCAS, it will be reviewed by our Admissions Team. Qualified applicants are interviewed as part of the decision-making process. Following the interview, applicants will be notified they are receiving an offer of admission, waitlist or denied. Those on the waitlist can be offered admission as spots open up, however no timetable is given as this process evolves throughout the spring.


Interviews are conducted on campus, in-person, in the HHS building for the most qualified applicants.  Interviews for 2024 will be conducted from November 8-16. 

Application Requirements

More information can be found on our PTCAS program profile. All of the following application materials must be submitted through PTCAS.

Applications must include:

  • Official college/university transcripts from all previous coursework
  • Completion of prerequisite courses (see our PTCAS program profile)
  • An essay written on a topic specified by PTCAS
  • Complete the GRE general test
  • Experience demonstrating that the applicant has chosen a career in physical therapy with thoughtful consideration and with a realistic understanding of the scope of physical therapy practice. Volunteer or paid experience with a physical therapist in at least two different clinical settings is strongly recommended. Applicants should consider getting up to 40 hrs observation in two if not three different setting types (e.g. outpatient PT, acute care/inpatient PT, nursing facility, etc.).

Physical therapy practice requires certain aptitude, abilities, and skills to ensure success and client safety. Students accepted into the physical therapy program must attest to meeting these essential functions.

How to be a Strong Applicant

The Basics: The competitive WCU DPT applicant will have a strong grade point average (e.g. > 3.5 for both last 90 hours and in pre-requisite courses), acceptable GRE scores (>30% percentile), knowledge of the physical therapy profession gained through volunteer or paid experience (see below), and excellent communication skills (demonstrated both during interviews and noted on letters of recommendation). 

Observation Hours: Obviously it is important to know about the career you’re getting into, and students often want to know how much experience they should attain. Likewise, the admissions committee wants to see your commitment to learning about the profession in a variety of settings. While a minimum of 40 observation hours are required for application submission, but we recommend 120 hours across three differing settings (e.g. 40 hours each setting). Observation hours can be volunteer hours or paid hours through a PT Aide position and the hours must be completed under the supervision of a licensed PT who will be required to certify the hours in PTCAS.

Extra-curricular, Service and Work Activities: Did you receive as special academic or service recognition/honor from your university? Have you had a previous career (especially as a licensed PTA)? Were you a college athlete? Did you start your own club? Or were you a caretaker for a family member? Tell us more about your work, leadership, extracurricular activities, and volunteer experience! This can also include any military experience. We recognize that each applicant has a unique journey to the WCU DPT program, and we want to learn about yours. We want to know what makes you stand out and what skills you have developed along the way, outside of the classroom.   

Letters of Recommendation (LOR): One letter of recommendation must be from a professor/instructor who taught you and another from a licensed physical therapist. The last letter can be from an individual of your choosing. Check out our PTCAS directory page for additional guidance.   

    • All LORs should be provided by individuals who know you well and can speak of your personal characteristics and traits that align with those of a successful graduate student or health care professional.
    • *Note, if employed as a PT Assistant or Aide, it is recommended that one of your LORs is from a PT at that site.

Personal Statement Essay and PTCAS short answer question if re-applying: These are opportunities for you to tell our admissions committee more about you! Be sure to fully answer each prompt and tell us something that cannot be found on your resume or transcripts.  If re-applying, tell us specifically how you have improved your preparation and application.

Information for International Applicants

Citizens of other countries, whose degrees are not from U.S. institutions, must have their transcripts and full course descriptions translated into English and evaluated by a recognized credential evaluation service such as World Education Services. International applicants from countries where English is not the primary language must submit a minimum score of 550 (paper-based), 213 (computer-based), or 79 (Internet-based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and provide a statement of financial responsibility.

Office of Web Services