Physical therapists are committed to meeting the health needs of society through prevention, rehabilitation, public education, and research. They promote optimal human health and function by applying scientific principles to prevent, identify, assess, and correct acute or prolonged movement dysfunction problems.

Specialization areas in physical therapy include cardiopulmonary systems, electrophysiology, geriatrics, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, sports physical therapy, and women’s health.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at Iowa is a graduate degree and is not offered as an undergraduate major. However, undergraduate students can designate themselves as pre-physical therapy students in order to receive specialized advising and course work in preparation for applying to the DPT program.

Why Study at Iowa

Iowa’s Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science has an excellent reputation. It is ranked fourth among all public and private institutions nationwide by U.S.News & World Report, and it is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Iowa's physical therapy students also enjoy a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the National Physical Therapy Examination for licensure.

The department is part of the university’s Carver College of Medicine and has close ties to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, one of the nation’s largest public university teaching hospitals. Its location on the University of Iowa health sciences campus provides access to vital resources, including faculty in basic sciences and medicine, basic science courses, and the atmosphere and facilities of an outstanding medical college. Iowa’s facilities are well equipped for classroom and laboratory instruction and include seven state-of-the-art independent research laboratories.

Course Work

As an undergraduate interested in becoming a physical therapist, you'll need to take course work that will prepare you to enter the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduate degree program. You must complete a bachelor’s degree and all prerequisites for the DPT program at an accredited U.S. institution prior to enrollment. 

Prerequisites include course work in the biological sciences, chemistry, physics, physiology, psychology, mathematics, and statistics. All science courses must include the appropriate labs, and prerequisites must be taken for a letter grade. Advanced Placement Program (AP) credit only counts toward the mathematics requirement.

Review Physical Therapy in the UI General Catalog or the department website for more details.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in applying to the graduate DPT program at Iowa can choose any major for their undergraduate degree. Review our Areas of Study for the admission requirements and application information associated with the major you choose.

Admission to the DPT Program

The DPT program accepts applicants with a wide variety of undergraduate majors. Choose an area of study that genuinely interests you and consult frequently with your undergraduate academic adviser. 

Admission to the DPT Program is competitive and requires completion of an undergraduate bachelor's degree among other criteria. Iowa's program admits 36-40 students each year from a pool of about 500 applicants.

An overall grade-point average (GPA) of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) is required for admission, and a GPA of at least 3.00 in all prerequisite course work is recommended. The program advises prospective students to complete at least 50-60 hours of work or volunteer experience in inpatient and outpatient physical therapy settings so that they can make an informed career choice. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required as part of the application process.

Review the department website for more details about admission requirements and how to apply.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to having nearly 600 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Living-Learning Communities, Study Abroad Programs, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.


The employment outlook for physical therapy graduates is strong. Opportunities exist in teaching and research professions as well as in inpatient, outpatient, and community-based organizations. These include general or specialized hospitals, programs for children with disabilities, private physical therapy clinics, extended care facilities, nursing homes, community and governmental agencies, rehabilitation centers, the armed forces, foreign service, home health agencies, school systems, fitness centers, and athletic facilities. Physical therapists report a very high level of job satisfaction, driven both by prevalent employment opportunities and social interaction.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

The DPT program is a graduate program that requires first completing an undergraduate degree. Review our Areas of Study to see the admission requirements and application process associated with your undergraduate degree.


Preprofessional Program(s)
Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
Competitive Admission
Admits 36 students per year