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What Undergraduate Degree Is Best for Physical Therapy?

by Candice Mancini, studioD

No specific major is required for admission to a physical therapy program. However, you must earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and fulfill prerequisite courses required of the physical therapy program you are applying to. These usually include anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, statistics and English composition. Before beginning college, make sure you can fulfill both your major's requirements and physical therapy prerequisites. Beyond this, major in something you enjoy or might consider as a backup career.

Athletics and Exercise Fields

Many prospective physical therapy students earn their bachelor's degrees in athletic training, exercise physiology or exercise science. These majors provide early preparation for physical therapy careers. With required courses that include anatomy and physiology, biology and other hard sciences, they allow students to easily fulfill physical therapy prerequisites. For students who ultimately take a different path, these majors prepare for other professions, such as athletic trainer or physical education teacher.


Majoring in any science provides excellent preparation for physical therapy programs. For instance, biology, physiology, biochemistry or biomedicine majors gain you in-depth knowledge of the human body, which will help you be more successful in physical therapy school. A background in science provides a solid foundation for prospective physical therapists, but keeps doors open to other career paths, too, including lab technician, biomedical engineer, nurse, doctor and science teacher.

Sociology and Psychology

Students interested in the human condition pursue bachelor's degrees in sociology or psychology. Sociology investigates social systems, such as families and cities, while psychology focuses on the human psyche. These majors require students to complete courses in the sciences, which helps fulfill physical therapy prerequisites. Additionally, an understanding of human psychology or sociology can help physical therapists better treat patients.

Business Fields

Consider a degree in business or marketing if you want to own or manage a physical therapy business. However, as a business major, you will not be required to take many science courses. To better assure you meet your prerequisites, also consider a minor in a physical-therapy related field such as exercise science, biology or physiology.

Liberal Arts

Students who are passionate about a liberal arts field, such as literature, history or philosophy, should consider this for a major. While a major in the liberal arts will not fulfill many physical therapy prerequisites, you might not have another opportunity to pursue this passion. To make it easier to fulfill requirements, consider a minor in a physical therapy-related field.

About the Author

Candice Mancini has always loved matching people with career paths. After earning her master's degree in education from the University at Albany, she spent a decade teaching and writing before becoming a full-time writer. Mancini has published articles and books on education, careers, social issues, the environment and more.

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