Mar 30, 2023  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog

Pre-Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a dynamic profession with an established theoretical base and widespread clinical applications, particularly in the preservation, development, and restoration of optimal physical function. Physical therapists seek to prevent injury, impairments, functional limitations, and disability; to maintain and promote fitness, health and quality of life; and to ensure availability, accessibility, and excellence in the delivery of physical therapy services to the patient. As essential participants in the health care delivery system, physical therapists assume leadership roles in prevention and health maintenance programs; in the provision of rehabilitation services; and, in professional and communal organizations. Every day, physical therapists in the United States help approximately 1 million individuals alleviate pain; prevent the onset and progression of impairment, functional limitation, disability or changes in function and health status resulting from injury, disease or other causes; and restore, maintain and promote overall fitness and optimal quality of life as related to movement and health.

The pre-physical therapy curriculum is designed to prepare students for admission to the entry-level Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy. Students complete the prerequisite coursework for the Physical Therapy program as part of their undergraduate work towards completion of the Bachelor’s degree at USD. The student is free to pursue any major of interest.

Prospective students are encouraged to join the pre-physical therapy club in order to hear speakers and content related to the profession as well as application information.

Additional information regarding the USD Physical Therapy program is available by contacting: Department of Physical Therapy, 605-658-6356, (; Graduate School, 605-658-6140; Academic & Career Planning Center, 605-658-3600; Health Professions Advisors, 605-658-6326 or 658-6334 or by visiting the following web site:

Jessica Messersmith
College of Arts & Sciences/Associate Dean for Academics
Arts & Sciences 110


Completion of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) should be taken during the summer in the year prior to anticipated matriculation. The results of the GRE may not be more than 5 years old at the time of application. Minimum GPA requirements for application are 3.2 cumulative and 3.2 for pre-requisite courses.

Applicants are allowed no more than two outstanding prerequisites at the completion of the fall term for the following year’s application cycle. All prerequisite courses and a baccalaureate degree must be completed prior to June 1st. The USD Physical Therapy program requires that the pre-Physical Therapy student fulfill the following academic areas. Examples of USD courses fulfilling the prerequisite areas are noted:

Statistics - in any department (3 hours)

Additional Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements, there is also a requirement for 50 hours of documented observation of physical therapists in a variety of settings including both urban and rural. 

Updated Criteria 

Any changes to the admission requirements will be updated annual on the USD PT website.


Accelerated DPT Programs: 

  • Biology, B.S.- Human Dynamics Specialization with DPT standard program

3+3 PROGRAM OPTION (by application to the program through PTCAS)1

This program is available, by application, to eligible University of South Dakota students in the Biology, B.S.-Human Dynamics Specialization program.

The following restrictions apply:  

  1. Be enrolled as a USD undergraduate student;  
  2. Earn 93 undergraduate credits by the end of the junior year;2
  3. Meet all major, distribution, general education, and testing requirements in accord with institutional and regental policies, guidelines, and requirements by the end of the junior year;  
  4. Have at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA by the end of the junior year; 
  5. Submit to the Physical Therapy program a letter of intent regarding entry into the 3+3 program option by the beginning of the third semester;  
  6. Complete the standard application for admission to the PT Program through PTCAS

1If a 3+3 program applicant moderately deviates from these requirements, and demonstrates evidence of extraordinary character, leadership, and maturity, the Physical Therapy program reserves the right to make an exception to these requirements. Admission to the DPT program through the 3+3 is not guaranteed.

2Students in this program and encouraged to take PHTH 237 Introduction to Physical Therapy in their sophomore year of study.