Physical Therapy

Physical therapists participate in the evaluation of the capabilities and disabilities of their patients. They administer treatments to alleviate pain, correct or minimize deformity, and improve the general health of the patient. The physical therapist develops a treatment program which may involve teaching the patient to gain strength or better coordination of movement; or administering forms of heat, cold, ultrasound or massage.

The need for physical therapists is critical, but professional physical therapy programs are highly selective. A student may be admitted to some professional programs after two years (64 credits) and after three years (96 credits) but most students will attend Northwestern for four years, graduating with a B.A. degree before entering a 2-3 year physical therapy professional program. A student may select any major but the following pre-professional courses must be completed.

Graduates of Northwestern’s athletic training program are also candidates for physical therapy graduate programs. Athletic trainers cannot become physical therapists without completing physical therapy professional training, nor can physical therapists become athletic trainers unless they have graduated from an accredited athletic training program and passed the Board of Certification examination. Some universities offer a program that combines an entry-level graduate athletic training program and a graduate physical therapy program for students whose undergraduate degree could be in exercise science, biology or a related field.

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Recommended courses

Biology elective: 4 credits
Mathematics elective: 3-5 credits
Psychology electives: 12 credits
BIO 115 - General Biology: Molecular and Cellular Biology
(4 credits) General Biology I emphasizes the unity of life, examining the processes common to living organisms, and introduce the diversity of life, examining unicellular organisms. This introduction will provide students with a basic understanding of macromolecules, cell structure and function, respiration and photosynthesis, the cell cycle, meiosis, the relationship between gene structure and function, mechanisms of evolutionary change and Christian perspectives on evolutionary biology.A fee is associated with this course.(
BIO 221 - Human Anatomy
(4 credits)A study of the gross structure of the systems of the human body.Prerequisite: BIO102, 115 or permission of instructor. A fee is associate with this course (
BIO 222 - Human Physiology
(4 credits)A study of the mechanisms by which the human body functions. Emphasis will be given to nerve and muscle function, and thereafter to hormonal control and the integrated systems that allow for respiratory, digestive, excretory and reproductive activities.Prerequisites: BIO102 or 115 and CHE101, 102 or CHE111, 112 or permission of instructor. A fee is associated with this course (
MAT 116QR - Statistics for the Natural and Social Sciences
(3 credits)(IGE option under Quantitative Reasoning) This course is designed to introduce topics in probability and statistics with an emphasis on problems in the sciences. We will study discrete and continuous distributions, estimation and hypothesis testing, p-values, correlation, and simple linear regression. There will be three main sections in this course, examining descriptive statistics (the nature of data and how to summarize it), basic probability concepts (the mathematical study of uncertainty), and inferential statistics (making claims or decisions based on one or more sets of data). Note: Students may receive credit for only one course among MAT 116QR, MAT 117QR and MAT 208.Prerequisites: C- or better in MAT090, an ACT math score of 20 or above (SAT 480 or above), a passing score on the basic algebra placement exam, or permission of instructor.
PHY 111 - General Physics I
For students in mathematics, the physical sciences, and those students seeking candidacy to a medical school or other graduate program. Topics will include kinematics, Newtonian mechanics, energy, momentum and thermodynamics. Prerequisite: C- or higher in MAT109, or ACT math score of 24 or better (SAT 550 or above), or consent of department chair. (4 credits)
PHY 112 - General Physics II
A continuation of General Physics I. Topics will include simple harmonic oscillation, mechanical and electromagnetic waves, electromagnetism and modern physics.Prerequisite: successful completion of PHY111 with a grade of C- or better, or consent of department chair.(4 credits)
Choose one sequence: 8
CHE 101 - College Chemistry
(4 credits)An introductory course in inorganic chemistry. The treatment of topics is predominantly descriptive and the content is especially suited to meet the needs of students whose programs require only one year of chemistry. A fee is associated with this course (
CHE 102 - College Chemistry
(4 credits)An introductory course in organic and biological chemistry. The content is especially suited to meet the needs of students whose programs require only one year of chemistry.Prerequisite: CHE101. A fee is associated with this course (
CHE 111 - General Chemistry
(4 credits)An introductory course in chemistry that emphasizes physical and inorganic concepts, problems and calculations. Topics include chemical reactions, stoichiometry, properties of gases, thermochemistry, theories of atomic structure, and chemical bonding. The general chemistry sequence (Chemistry 111 and Chemistry 112) is recommended for students with good math / science preparations who intend to proceed to advanced courses in chemistry, the biological sciences or engineering.Prerequisites: high school chemistry and ACT math and natural science scores above the 74th percentile. A fee is associated with this course (
CHE 112 - General Chemistry
(4 credits)A continuation of Chemistry 111. Topics covered include kinetics, thermodynamics, chemical equilibria, acid-base chemistry and nuclear chemistry.Prerequisite: CHE111 or consent of the instructor. A fee is associted with this course (

Total credits recommended: 50-52