Before You Apply

Start planning now

It’s never too early to start planning.

Early preparation is the key to a smooth (and successful!) application and admission process. The number of applicants to our program has grown dramatically to around 800 in recent years. We’re limited by space and resources to accepting 60 students annually.

The UIC Department of Physical Therapy looks for well-qualified students with talents and backgrounds that bring diversity to our program. We consider any applicant who submits a complete application by the deadline date and meets the minimum requirements.

Give yourself the best chance of joining our program by doing your research and putting your best application forward.

COVID-19 Considerations

At UIC, the Department of Physical Therapy understands the hardships that the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused. In this unprecedented time, exceptions for the DPT application include:

  • Pass/Fail or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory courses: While graded prerequisites are preferred, credit only courses will be accepted for spring and summer 2020 courses.
  • Online and/or distance learning courses:
    • Spring 2020: Science courses that began in 2020 with in-person labs, but were completed with online labs, will fulfill prerequisite requirements.
    • Summer 2020: Online 2020 summer courses, including science labs, will fulfill prerequisite courses.
    • Fall 2020 and beyond: In-person labs are preferred, especially for Anatomy and Physiology, however, online labs will be accepted.
  • GRE: The at-home GRE testing being offered by ETS will be accepted in place of in-person exams. More information on the home GRE testing is available on the ETS website. Use code 7784 for UIC DPT.
  • Interviews: After our pilot testing, we determined that interviews will no longer be conducted.
  • Transcripts: In the event official transcripts cannot be sent to PTCAS, unofficial transcripts will be accepted for application processing and verification only. Official transcripts will be required upon final offer or prior to matriculation.
  • PT shadowing/observation hours: While 40 hours of observation is a preferred minimum, with a written request in the PTCAS question about COVID, UIC will consider waiving that requirement, and the PT verification of shadowing experiences for the 2020 application cycle.
  • Other exceptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Please include specific considerations in the PTCAS question about the impact of COVID-19.


Take the first step in preparing your application by attending one of our (now online!) pre-admissions advising sessions. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about our program and the admissions process. It’s your chance to ask questions about prerequisites, the application process and evaluation criteria.

Can’t make it to an Advising Session?  Contact Erin Fagan at

Are you a pre-PT student at UIC? You’re welcome at these advising sessions, too! You can also go to the LAS advising office in University Hall for help.

Know your deadlines

Applications are due the first weekday in October of the year before classes begin. There is no early admission.

There are two parts to the application process: The online PTCAS application and an online UIC application. Both will be available the first weekday in July.

Don’t wait until the last minute to apply! Start early and give yourself plenty of time to make sure your letters of reference, transcripts, and GRE scores arrive. Applicants are often contacted by PTCAS to take some corrective action, so it’s recommended to provide a buffer of time for that possibility.

Check your requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in any field of study
  • GRE General Test
  • Prerequisite Courses (listed below)
  • Forty hours of physical therapy clinical experiences

See details of how we weigh these criteria on the After You Apply page.

International Students: If English isn’t your native language, you may need to take a minimum English proficiency test. Check out the International Requirements to see if this applies to you.

Transfer policy

We don’t accept transfer students from other physical therapy programs or other types of health professions programs for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. All applicants must apply through the regular DPT admissions process.

If you’re offered admission to the program, you may petition the faculty for consideration to waive certain courses. See more details on the waive policy on the After You Apply page.


If you’re applying for Fall 2025, you will be most competitive if you have completed at least seven of the science and math prerequisite courses (with a grade of C or better) by the end of the Summer 2024 semester. Three outstanding prerequisites are allowed at the time of application.

Ideally, required science and math courses should be taken within five years of application. Courses taken before that time will be considered as meeting requirements for prerequisites but may weaken your potential for admission.

Science prerequisites

These courses must have lab components, carry at least four credit hours including lab, and qualify for majoring in the sciences. In-person labs, especially for Anatomy and Physiology, are preferred, but online labs are accepted.

  • General Biology
  • Human Anatomy AND Human Physiology (or a year of human anatomy/physiology combined)
  • Two semester courses of Chemistry
  • Two semester sequence of General Physics

Other prerequisites

These courses must carry at least three credit hours.

  • Applied Statistics
  • Introductory Psychology
  • Developmental or Abnormal Psychology – NOTE: The name for “Abnormal” Psychology has changed to “Introduction to Psychological and Behavioral Disorders” at UIC

Prerequisite courses are expressed in terms of semesters.

Your school is on quarters?  Three quarter courses are equivalent to two semester courses.

Advanced Placement credit courses must appear on a college transcript to be considered for satisfaction of a prerequisite.

If you don’t have all your prerequisites done when you apply, you must have a reasonable plan for completing them before entering the program.

Clinical experiences

By the application deadline, you must complete 40 hours of physical therapy experiences of observing, volunteering or working. Clinical experiences are documented on PTCAS. Hybrid, in-person observations with telehealth hours are acceptable. We recommend applicants to have over 100 observation hours.

Also, it is best if the experiences are of different specialties, like in-patient and out-patient. Including patients with different demographics and conditions is to your advantage. The more extensive and varied your experiences, the more prepared you’ll be for elements of the program.

You may consult hospitals, nursing homes, community organizations (such as Easter Seals, United Cerebral Palsy or March of Dimes), home health agencies (such as Visiting Nurses Association), health maintenance organizations or stand-alone physical therapy clinics for observation opportunities.

You are responsible for finding your own volunteer placements.

Prepare your documents

When you apply, you must submit your transcripts and two to four letters of recommendation. Get started on those now! Refer to the Applying page for all the specifics.

The application process is paperless. Please don’t mail any materials unless told to do so. Uploaded documents must be in PDF format, no larger than 5 MB in size. “Portfolio” PDFs and secured PDFs which require a password are not compatible with our system.

International Students: You may have to provide additional items. Read the International Requirements page to make sure you have everything you need.

Have your test scores sent in advance

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores are required for all applicants.

There are several UIC departments, so be careful to send your GRE results to the right one. Scores should be sent directly from Education Testing Service to Code 7784. The GRE must be taken within five years of the application due date –request that scores be sent from ETS to Code 7784. Be sure to TAKE the GRE before the Oct deadline and to SUBMIT your application before the Oct deadline. Then, there is time for scores to arrive and your application to reach VERIFIED status by the Nov deadline.

International Students: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores must be submitted to UIC directly from ETS. Paper score reports will not be accepted.

Think about funding

See what funding options are available to you. Most students seek fund their education via loans. The Graduate College has information on financial resources. DPT students are considered graduate students for financial aid purposes.

The department occasionally offers part-time research assistant-ships to DPT students. These carry a partial tuition waiver and a monthly stipend. We also offer limited part-time hourly positions that do not include tuition waivers.

Once enrolled, students can apply for scholarships that are awarded based on merit and need.