Aug 4, 2016
Pre-Physical Therapy
So, I'm currently about to go into my senior year of undergraduate and I've been incredibly confused the last year about how my timeline for applying to DPT programs has been supposed to go. Being constantly having my attention split between that and multiple things coming up outside of my school life, I've just been feeling completely overwhelmed. In fact, this post will probably seem like a mess in and of itself.

I've just now realized that the deadlines for most programs are approaching in about 1-3 months and I still haven't even scheduled to take my GRE nor would I be able to have my LORs ready in time. I'm pretty sure others were already applying in their Junior years while I've been completely oblivious and just passively going through my classes and getting some observation hours. I've read numerous FAQs but I've feel like I'm trying to take in too much at once and I just need some straightforward information instead of going from link to link trying to put everything together. I realize this is mostly my fault and I guess what I'm hoping to get out of this post is advice and guidance for where I should go from here.

Thanks to any that reply


7+ Year Member
Dec 1, 2010
East Coast
If you need "some straightforward information", you should be contacting your target schools instead of looking/asking on SDN. While this board is extremely useful, it cannot replace info coming out of the horse's mouth.
- Call up (or look at the websites of) your target programs;
- Write down their requirements and dates; those will be your goals;
- Write down what you currently have;
- What you're missing should be obvious when you compare the two. Then make a plan to bridge the gap.
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Sep 22, 2014
Physical Therapy Student
Make a list of your target programs

Look up the websites - PTCAS is a great source for websites and requirement, but PTCAS isn't always 100% factual nor do they have EVERY PT program's requirements, so make sure you look at an official program website or call. PTCAS also has a list of all PT programs, whether they use the central application system or not.

Make a spreadsheet of requirements. (Spreadsheets are so great, seriously.)

Schedule the GRE

Take it a step at a time.


2+ Year Member
Dec 26, 2015
Huntsville, Tx
Pre-Physical Therapy
Like the previous reply said: one step at a time! You still have time to do this, but you gotta start now.

Sit down. Breathe. Grab a piece of paper.

1) First, write down your stats: your cumulative GPA, your last 60 hours GPA and your pre-requisite GPA (for your purposes use 8 hours of biology, 8 hours of chemistry, 8 hours of physics, math, statistics, psychology and A&P; this is not how every school calculate their pre-requisite GPAs but it should give you an idea). Also write down the amount of observation hours you did.

2) Go on PTCAS and look at the program directory by states. Choose the state(s) you want to apply and visit the websites of every single school. This is time consuming, but it's needed. When you're on the website something important to do is to compare your stats to those of the accepted students (do you compare? do you have your chances at that school?), and to see if you meet the programs requirement. Come up with a list of the programs you will be applying to. Make a spreadsheet with the program names, the requirements for that program and deadlines.

3) Now you need to figure out your hours situation. It's hard for us to really tell you much because like @jbill said this is very school dependent. You might want to apply to schools that don't require many hours.. figure out what is the minimum you have to do and try to go above that... get as many hours as you can. Getting hours is not as complicated as it sounds, look for a place on Google, go there and ask and hopefully they'll let you shadow soon. Try to get ~40hours per place and try to do different settings. Hospitals are great but you don't really get to build a relationship with the PTs. You need LORs so target small practices, places where you feel like you're going to be able to really get to know the staff and learn from them.
Also figure out how you're going to get your hours verified. Not all schools might require you to have them verified, but they might. You said you did some hours here and there, now would be a great time to re-contact those places, tell them you're applying to school, make sure you have a paper trail or something that summarizes the amount of hours that you did there. Also get their emails in case you want to do electronic verification.

4) Schedule your GRE. Get you a study book (Princeton review, Kaplan, Magoosh, all of those are great) and start studying. If you have enough free time you can do some hours in the morning, study your GRE in the afternoon. It took me ~2,3 weeks to study for the GRE, I would say that that's about average but that might be just me.

5) Now figure out your LORs situation. LORs requirements depend on school. Start thinking of a faculty member, or an employer that could write one for you. Keep in mind that you're going to want also 1 or 2 PTs to be your references as well.

6) Create a PTCAS account, send your transcript to PTCAS and start working on your application, and writing your essay.

It is a lot and it might be overwhelming but it can be done. You just really have to start being pro-active now. If you do 5 hours of observation a day, by the end of August you can potentially have ~100 and 2 LORs.
In the process you might realize that this is too much and that you're not ready enough to apply this cycle and that's okay. Just regroup, learn from your mistakes, make your gap year purposeful and come back stronger next cycle.

Good luck !! :)


2+ Year Member
Sep 16, 2015
Pre-Physical Therapy
Make a plan and stick to it. Schedule your priorities. In two months you will forget how hard it may have been.
Jul 2, 2016
I know its cliché, but welcome to adulthood. You're going to have to get used to the idea that no one other than your immediate family really has a vested interest in your success, and you alone will be responsible for that success. This may mean juggling several things at once. I'm a non-trad student, I've had a career and salary, currently I'm working 40 hours a week, taking pre-reqs at night, paying more bills than I can count, and working on a serious relationship. What I'm trying to say is "I get it." I'm overwhelmed too, but fortunately as you get older that sense of being overwhelmed begins to feel very familiar and becomes easier to manage. Don't be afraid of it. You're not trying to take in too much at once, you just feel like you're trying to take in too much at once. Make the phone calls, send the emails, do all the work you need to do to get into PT school this round. Do it because it's worth it, and also because logically you will not be avoiding anything by not doing it -that stress and sense of overwhelming will hit you again and again, in various forms, for the rest of your adult life -so accept it now.