There's no archetype for students admitted to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. Our current students come from wide-ranging personal, professional and academic backgrounds. Below is a snapshot of students who began the program in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Life experience

Approximately one-third of our students began the program directly after their undergraduate study and about one-quarter completed their bachelor’s degree two to over ten years prior to admission. The latter have a wide variety of work and life experiences, and many have returned to school to complete prerequisite courses before entering the Program. All aspects of applications are considered and no particular type of experience is inherently valued over others. Non-academic factors are highly valued, e.g., life and cultural experiences, leadership, volunteer commitments, work history, interests, bilingual proficiency, re-applicants, and studying/living abroad. Students have done service with various community organizations and have numerous extracurricular experiences. Service does not necessarily have to be related to health care.

Age and gender

Students gather around a physical therapy table
Physical therapy students work with patients at a Parkinson's disease clinic.

Students range in age from 21 and 39 years with the majority of students being 22 to 25 years old. There are an almost equal number of female and male students.


Every year we admit students from diverse backgrounds as we foster a culture of inclusion and respect for all. The Program is committed to providing an environment free of discrimination on the basis of age, creed, gender identity, national origin, race, sex or sexual orientation.


There is no admission preference for Wisconsin residents. Classes have an average of seven students who do not pay Wisconsin resident tuition.

Undergraduate schools

Students in our program graduated from 46 different colleges and universities. Approximately one-third of our students obtained their bachelor’s degrees from UW-Madison, one-third from other schools in Wisconsin and the remaining third from schools outside of Wisconsin.

Undergraduate majors

There is no preferred major for admission to our program. The most common but not the majority of undergraduate majors are kinesiology and exercise science. Our students have a variety of other majors, including: foreign languages, engineering, education, international studies, athletic training, sociology, biology, fine arts, nutrition, journalism, psychology, English, geography, dance, music and others.

Academic performance

The average cumulative GPA of our students is 3.76 (range 3.13-4.0); the average science GPA is 3.67 (range 3.01-4.0). Average Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are: verbal 156 (range 144-169), quantitative 156 (range 146-170) and writing 4.5 (range 3.5-5.5). One hundred percent of our students pass the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy Licensure Examination, all on their first attempt.

PT observation hours

The average number of hours completed as a volunteer was 95. Most students had experience in three or four settings.

Numbers of applicants

The number of completed applications for the class starting in June 2017 was 528, of which 335 met all our qualifications. This is very similar to the number of applications for the past two years. Approximately half the class is accepted during early decision, from a qualified applicant pool of about 55. Typically 30 applicants are placed on a wait list, many who do not wish to remain on this list, and an average of nine candidates are offered admission from this list each year.