The University of Wisconsin-Madison Doctor of Physical Therapy Program participates in the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). A class of 40 students begin the program each June. Please do not apply to the program if you have not met all admission requirements. Your application will not be considered.

Admission deadlines

Early decision: Aug. 15, 2018
General admission: Nov. 1, 2018

If you are not offered admission using early decision, you cannot reapply using the general admission deadline. However, the Admissions Committee may choose to consider your application again with the general admission applicant pool. You will be notified if the committee makes this choice.

Application process

All application materials must be submitted to the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service except for our $50 program supplemental fee. A check for $50 must be mailed to our program, postmarked by Aug. 15 for early decision applicants and Nov. 1 for general admission applicants.

The program does not have an interview process. The Admission Committee considers all parts of your PTCAS application. Both academic and non-academic factors are valued. We strongly encourage you to highlight the unique aspects of your background and life experiences in your application. References, your PTCAS essay, observation hours, answers to our school-specific questions and all your supporting information is appreciated.

Non-academic factors are strongly considered and include all parts of your PTCAS application, except for your transcript(s), course work, GPAs and GRE scores. No particular community or extracurricular activities are preferred. However, evidence of community service and leadership are valued, as is your unique background and life experiences. We strongly encourage you to include these in your application materials.

The rigor of your undergraduate education (e.g., intensity of course load, school attended, and honors courses) is also considered, in addition to your GPAs and GRE scores.

Early decision and general admission

Applications for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program that begins summer 2019 will be accepted from PTCAS 2018-19 between July 1 and Nov. 1, 2018.

  • Candidates using early decision*, with completed applications received by Aug. 15 will be emailed their admission decision sometime in mid-September.
  • Candidates with completed applications received by Nov. 1 will be emailed their admission decision sometime in mid-December. We do not have rolling admissions; all applications completed by Nov. 1 will be fully considered. However, you are encouraged to submit your materials to PTCAS as early as possible. This will help ensure that PTCAS receives all our required application materials by the deadline.

*The class will not be filled with early decision applicants. Over the past three years, 20-22 students per year have been accepted during early decision.

Academic eligibility

A bachelor's degree must be completed prior to beginning the University of Wisconsin-Madison Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. Please see prerequisite courses. Minimum Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores and GPA thresholds noted below must be achieved for your application to be considered.

  1. GRE scores must be submitted using our program PTCAS GRE code: 0315. Scores sent to the UW-Madison code are not accepted.
  2. Scores are accepted up to five years old. Minimum required scores are:
    • Verbal: 144
    • Quantitative: 144
    • Writing: 3.5
  3. Overall GPA of at least 3.0. This is calculated by PTCAS and includes all undergraduate, graduate and professional courses.
  4. Science GPA of at least 3.0. This is calculated by PTCAS and includes all biology, chemistry and physics courses, in addition to anatomy and physiology courses completed in a biology, neuroscience, anatomy, or an integrated physiology departments. Science GPA will include UW-Madison courses KINES 337: Anatomy and PHYSIOL 335 and 435: Physiology. It will not include KINES 314: Physiology of Exercise.
  5. All prerequisite courses must be complete prior to the program beginning in June and no more than two prerequisites can be outstanding when you apply. Courses in progress and courses you have not yet enrolled in are considered outstanding.
A woman climbs stairs
Students learn by working with patients during regular pro bono clinics.

Custom questions specific for our program 

The following custom questions are found and answered in PTCAS. You can view and answer these questions only after you have chosen to have your PTCAS application submitted to our program.

  1. Have you previously applied to this physical therapy education program?
  2. If you are reapplying to this program before, how have you strengthened your application during this admission cycle? If you are not reapplying, write “not applicable.” (4500 characters)
  3. Please explain why the UW-Madison Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is a good fit for you and what can you contribute to our program? (2000 characters)
  4. Please explain a leadership role you have taken on and what you have learned from this experience. (1000 characters)
  5. What would you like us to know about you that is not reflected in your application? (1000 characters)
  6. If you speak a language(s) in addition to English, please list the language and describe your level of fluency and how the language was acquired. (600 characters)
  7. If you have aspirations to practice physical therapy in a medically underserved setting, please explain how you acquired this desire. (600 characters)
  8. If you have not yet taken a course that fulfills our exercise physiology prerequisite, enter the following information about an exercise physiology course you will be taking: school name, course name and number, number of credits and the course description. (600 characters)

This PTCAS essay question is part of your PTCAS application and is not specific to our program:

  • Describe a meaningful experience in your life. Reflect on how that experience influenced your personal growth, such as your attitudes or perceptions. (4500 characters)

Physical therapy observation hours

Applicants must have a minimum of two physical therapy observations for a total of at least 40 hours from different settings. Observations have to be verified and be from at least two different types of physical therapy settings. Types of settings identified in PTCAS include:

  • Acute care hospital
  • Rehabilitation/sub-acute rehabilitation
  • Nursing home/extended care facility
  • Free-standing PT or hospital clinic
  • School/pre-school
  • Wellness/prevention/fitness
  • Industrial/occupational health
  • Home health
  • Other outpatient facility - please use this choice for unique types of outpatient facilities, such as sports medicine or pediatric clinics.
  • Other inpatient facility - please use this choice for unique types of inpatient facilities, such as a children's or specialty hospital.

Download a full explanation of physical therapy observations as a volunteer (pdf).


  • Three letters are required. If a fourth letter is submitted, it will also be considered.
  • It is required that one reference be from a physical therapist. There is no other requirement as to who writes reference letters; however letters are not to be written by friends or family members.
  • Letters that provide information about your unique background and diverse life experiences will strengthen your application.

Program-related esssential functions

Be sure to read the program-related essential functions (pdf). If there is anything that may interfere with your ability to successfully complete the program, including fulfilling course requirements and participating in program activities, please contact the admission advisor or program director to discuss accommodations. Reasonable requests for appropriate academic adjustments will be granted. All requests are treated confidentially.

International applicant requirements

In addition to all the above requirements, international applicants must have:

  • A degree comparable to an approved U.S. bachelor's degree (World Education Services evaluation of foreign transcripts)
  • Quality of work high enough to warrant admission
  • Evidence of adequate financial resources for the duration of the program

Applicants whose native language is not English, or who have not completed all their undergraduate work in English, must provide Test of English as a Second Language scores that are current within the past two years. Preferred scores are: 580 paper-based, 237 computer-based, 92 internet-based.

Further information for international students is available from the International Student Services website.

If you are offered admission

If you are offered admission, you must do the following to accept a position in our program:

  1. Complete a UW-Madison application and pay the $75 application fee (university admission is guaranteed)
  2. Fill out a residency form
  3. Sign a program acceptance letter.
  4. Pay a non-refundable $500 program deposit, which is applied toward your first semester tuition


The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program complies with all federal and state laws and university policies, including affirmative action and equal opportunity.

Transfer students

Due to the highly integrated and longitudinal natures of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health's health profession programs' curricula, beginning immediately upon matriculation, transfer students are not accepted. Written petition for exception must clearly document that the transferring student's education can only be completed at the School of Medicine and Public Health and must state why the student's original institution cannot fulfill the training needs of the student.