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The Department of Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences at Northwestern University maintains the richest possible educational environment through the enrollment of a diverse student body, one that represents applicants from underrepresented populations, applicants with work experience and applicants from the smallest to the largest of our nation's colleges and universities. 

Factors considered for admission include academic performance and knowledge of the physical therapy profession. Applicants are expected to demonstrate personal and professional behaviors consistent with those expected in professional practice. Characteristics and skills such as integrity, initiative, sound judgment, acceptance of responsibility and interpersonal communication are evaluated through the application, essays and recommendations. Interviews are typically not required but may be requested at the discretion of the Admissions Committee. All applications from eligible persons that are submitted to PTCAS by the application deadline will be evaluated.


 Academic Performance

Applicants must successfully complete a bachelor's degree at a regionally accredited college or university by the time of entry in the DPT program (First week of September) and hold a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Please see the PTCAS website for information about how GPAs are calculated.


Application essays are evaluated for content as well as writing ability. Applicants must submit three essays: 1 PTCAS essay and 2 Northwestern essays (submitted via PTCAS, after adding Northwestern as a Program Designation). Applicants also have the option to complete an essay about the impact of COVID-19 on their academic planning.

PTCAS Prompt

Max 4,500 characters, including spaces: “Every person has a background, an identity, interests, or talents which they feel their application would be incomplete without having mentioned. Describe the traits or experiences that make you unique and explain how they will help you be a successful physical therapist."

COVID-19 Impact Essay

If you feel as though your pathway to a physical therapist education program was educationally, personally, or professionally impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, please describe for your programs the impact you experienced. Some impacts you may want to consider when responding include:

  • Educational: Did your institution move to requiring online or distance coursework? Were you able to effectively interact with your program faculty and professional staff and receive the support needed to succeed? Were you required to move to a Pass/Fail grading system? 
  • Personal: Did you unexpectedly have to change your living situation? Did you need to care for yourself or a loved one who was directly impacted? Did you seek out new volunteer opportunities that arose from the crisis?
  • Professional: Did you have a change in employment status, a change in available shadowing experiences, or other professional or financial changes?

Northwestern Essay 1

Max 1,200 characters, including spaces: In the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, we value individual differences and diversity as a measure of excellence. We define diversity as the collective richness of traits, characteristics, experiences, and skills. We are seeking a diverse incoming class of learners who can contribute to the educational environment and the capacity of our graduates to serve a diverse patient population. Please comment on how you will leverage your diverse traits, experiences and/or behaviors to contribute to the DPT program at Northwestern and the patients we serve.

Northwestern Essay 2

Max 1,200 characters, including spaces: Applicants may select one of the following two options:

  • Selecting a DPT program can be both exciting and challenging. Please discuss your top priorities when looking for and determining the DPT program you will ultimately attend.
  • Going beyond the activities listed in your application, please describe what you have learned and/or the skills you have developed from these experiences.  Please describe how that will translate to your studies as a DPT student and your career as a Physical Therapist.


A minimum of three letters of reference are required and should be submitted directly through PTCAS. Among the three references, one must be a physical therapist who has supervised the applicant in a health setting and one must be a college professor or instructor who has directly instructed the applicant.

 PT Observation Hours

Applicants must acquire firsthand knowledge of physical therapy by working, observing or volunteering in a health-related facility. Experience in a variety of physical therapy settings is beneficial, and most successful applicants report at least 50 hours completed by the time of application. All hours must be verified by a licensed physical therapist. The electronic signature in PTCAS is preferred; uploaded, signed forms are also acceptable.

 International Applicants

All applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in the English language by scoring 100 (Internet-based)/600 (paper-based) or higher on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Official TOEFL scores must be submitted to PTCAS via ETS code 5312.

Applicants who have earned a post-secondary degree from an institution where the official language of instruction is English are not required to submit TOEFL scores.

For degrees completed outside of the U.S. and Canada, an official evaluation from World Education Services is required and should be sent directly to PTCAS.

 Supplemental Application Fee

A supplemental application fee of $50 is the only item sent directly to Northwestern University; all other materials are submitted via PTCAS.

The supplemental fee is due by the Dec. 1 firm application deadline.Visit the online portal to submit the fee. If you prefer, a check or money order payable to "NUPTHMS" may be mailed to:

Office of Admission, Application Fee
Northwestern University, PTHMS
645 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60611

The supplemental Northwestern fee will only be waived for applicants who have received the PTCAS fee waiver. Please forward your PTCAS fee waiver confirmation email to

 GRE (no longer required)

As of 2021, GRE scores will no longer be factored into the application review process.

COVID-19 Admissions Requirements

Exceptions to the admissions requirements due to COVID-19

  • Prerequisite Courses
    For the time period impacted by COVID-19 where alternative grading was utilized, we will accept course grades of Pass, Satisfactory, or a letter grade of C or higher for prerequisite courses.
  • Online Labs
    If you were enrolled in an Anatomy lab course that ended up moving online, we will accept online Anatomy labs for the time period affected by COVID-19. We currently accept online labs for all other prerequisite courses. 
  • PTCAS Essay
    Applicants will be given the opportunity to explain how they have been impacted (educationally, personally or professionally) by COVID-19. ​

If there is anything we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to call us at (312)- 503-0988 or via email:

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