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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to many of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) application process can be found below. If you have additional questions, please contact our office at

Program & Deadlines

 When does the DPT program start? Can I choose which term I would like to enroll?

New DPT students join the program in the fall term each September. No, you may not apply to start the program in other terms.

 How long is the DPT program?

The DPT program is three academic years or two-and-a-half calendar years, beginning classes in September.

 What are the estimated student costs and debt?

 When is the Fall application deadline?

  • Early decision deadline is August 1st.
  • Preferred application deadline is October 1st.
  • Firm application deadline is December 1st.

 Does my application need to be verified by PTCAS by the deadline?

No. You must submit your application in PTCAS by the deadline to be considered in the current application cycle. However, we will not begin reviewing your materials until PTCAS has verified your file and, as that process can take several weeks, we do encourage submitting your application before the deadline if possible.

 Do you have rolling admission?

Yes. The firm application deadline is not until December 1st. However, we will start making admission offers on October 1st—on a rolling basis—until the Class is filled. We will review all applications that are submitted to PTCAS by our deadline. We begin reviewing applications as soon as PTCAS verifies them, so we encourage you to submit your application before the deadline.

 I’ve been admitted to the program. May I have an extension on the commitment deadline?

No. The deadline to respond to your admission offer cannot be extended. If you do not submit a tuition deposit by the deadline, your spot will be offered to an alternate candidate.

 Do you offer a transitional DPT degree for PTs with a master’s or international degree?

No. We only award the DPT degree to students who enroll and complete the full three-year curriculum and all clinical education requirements at Northwestern University.

 Do you have a Guaranteed Freshman Admit program?

No. Our department only reviews applicants for the graduate-level DPT degree program. Visit the Undergraduate Admissions site for information about undergraduate education at Northwestern.

 Do you offer any other degree programs?

Yes. DPT applicants may also apply for dual-degree programs, including the DPT/MPH (Master of Public Health) or DPT/PhD (PhD in Engineering). The department is also affiliated with the PhD in Neuroscience degree with students studying movement and rehabilitation science. 

 Do you offer graduate fellowships or assistantships?

No. We do not offer fellowships or assistantships for DPT students, but there are opportunities for part-time student work in areas such as admissions, technology and course logistics. Positions involve less than 10 hours per week and are scheduled around the student's class schedule. Applications are competitive and taken at the beginning of each academic year.


 Do all of the prerequisites need to be complete before I apply?

No. You may apply before completing all of the prerequisite coursework. All admission offers are contingent on the successful completion of required courses before enrolling in the DPT program. We recommend applying after you have completed the majority of the required courses (especially your core science courses) to present a stronger application.

 Do you accept community college or online courses for the prerequisites?

Yes. Courses from any regionally accredited institution are acceptable for the prerequisites. Online courses are acceptable with the exception of lab work in Anatomy, which must be completed in a live classroom setting.

 Will taking my prerequisites at a community college hurt my chances of admission?

No. We recognize community college courses are often the best option, especially for applicants who are changing careers or in need of a few courses that were not offered at their degree institution. Completing some of the prerequisites, especially the core sciences, at a four-year institution will strengthen your application and better prepare you for the rigor of the DPT curriculum at Northwestern.

 Will my AP credits fulfill the prerequisites?

Yes. AP credit(s) may satisfy prerequisites as long as the credit can be confirmed via your college or university transcript or other official documentation.

 I completed my prerequisites several years ago. Do I have to retake them before applying?

No. We have no time limitations on when prerequisites are completed, so older courses can fulfill the requirements. Retaking courses may be beneficial if you need to refresh your knowledge in a subject in order to be prepared for the DPT curriculum.

 What courses will fulfill the Behavioral Science prerequisites?

One course must be introductory or general Psychology. For the remaining credit hours, we will accept any courses under Psychology, Sociology or Anthropology and will consider other courses that focus on human behavior.

 Should I take Anatomy through the Kinesiology department or through the Biology or Anatomy department?

Taking an Anatomy course through the Biology or Anatomy department will best prepare you for physical therapy school.

 What undergraduate major should I choose?

As long as you complete the prerequisite courses, we have no preference for undergraduate major. Some common majors include Kinesiology, Exercise Science and Biology, but we have many successful applicants each year with non-science majors.

 Do you calculate a separate prerequisite GPA?

No. We primarily rely on the GPA calculations provided by PTCAS but do look closely at GPAs in the core science subjects.

Application Materials

 What application materials should I send to Northwestern?

The $50 supplemental application fee is the only item sent to Northwestern. All other materials are sent directly to PTCAS.

 Is the GRE required for admission?

No. Starting with the 2021-2022 admission cycle, the GRE will no longer be required as a part of the application review process. 

 Does Northwestern University offer an application fee waiver?

We will waive the supplemental application fee for applicants who have received a PTCAS fee waiver. Please forward your PTCAS fee waiver confirmation to Learn more about the PTCAS fee waiver.

 Is there a minimum GPA requirement for admission?

Yes. Applicants must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA to be eligible for admission.

 My GPA is under the 3.0 minimum. Can I still apply?

We welcome all applications but do require a 3.0 cumulative GPA to be eligible for admission. Exceptions to that rule are very rare but possible for unique candidates who may have struggled in earlier years of schooling but have proven their academic ability with strong performance in the prerequisite subjects and have excellent references, essays and physical therapy experiences.

 Do I need to submit separate transcripts for foreign coursework?

For degrees completed outside of the U.S. and Canada, an official evaluation from World Education Services must be sent to PTCAS. Separate transcripts or other documentation is NOT required for study abroad courses as long as the credits appear on your degree institution's transcript. All documents should be sent directly to PTCAS.

 How many PT observation hours are required for the application?

We do not have a minimum requirement for PT hours. On average, successful applicants report 100 or more hours in a variety of settings completed by the time of application.

 How are my PT hours verified?

Enter all PT experience hours in your PTCAS application. You will enter your supervisors' contact information and they will receive an email with instructions to verify your hours in PTCAS. The electronic signature in PTCAS is strongly preferred, but uploaded forms are also acceptable.

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