High School

The program neither requires nor recommends students earn their Bachelor's in any particular major or field of study.   Students should select an academic major they are interested in and passionate about.  Though many pre-PT students major in the physical sciences (i.e. Biology) or exercise science (i.e. ESS or Kinesiology), we have admitted PT students with majors in history, English, psychology and business.  All students, regardless of major, will just need to complete the prerequisites required in biology, chemistry, physics, statistics, sociology and psychology.  Students may attend any accredited institution and pursue any major they choose, provided they complete courses which will meet our prerequisite requirements and earn an undergraduate degree. 

We consider and admit to the program students from a wide variety of undergraduate institutions.  There is probably less variability in the preparation students get from different institutions, than there is diversity among students' own interests and experiences.  We have admitted students with degrees from many colleges and universities in the region and elsewhere, both public and private.  It makes little difference where a student goes to school; it is more important how the student does academically and what else they do to prepare.

Students interested in our PT Program do not need to earn their undergraduate degree from UW-L.  Matriculating at UW-L as an undergraduate may have some advantages, but certainly should not be perceived as a guarantee of admission.  UW-L offers an exceptionally strong preparation in both the sciences and the liberal arts, and has a nice variety of majors from which to select.  As a smaller university UW-L students have many opportunities to get to know their faculty and fellow students well.  Classes and labs are nearly always taught by faculty and academic staff, rarely by teaching assistants.

For undergraduate students at UW-L who declare "pre-PT" as their second major, PT Program faculty provide academic advising.  In this way we are able to help UW-L students make good choices along their pathway to applying to PT programs.  Having two large health care institutions in La Crosse (Gundersen Lutheran and Franciscan Skemp) provides students with many excellent opportunities for work experience in healthcare.  As faculty we get to know our pre-PT students well, certainly better than most students from other universities.  Thus, we are probably able to make a better assessment of UW-L students' appropriateness for our program. 

Of the students we have admitted in recent years about 1/3 have done their undergraduate work at UW-L, so we do admit more UW-L students than any other university.  UW-L undergraduates have also been quite successful in seeking admission to other PT programs in the region and nationally.

Students completing their undergraduate degree have the choice to pursue a dual degree program leading to an undergraduate degree in Biology (no emphasis) or Physics (Biomedical Concentration) from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a graduate degree in Physical Therapy at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.  This is available to qualified University of Wisconsin-La Crosse students meeting the posted criteria.  The dual degree program will require at least three years of attendance at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse to complete undergraduate requirements, followed by 34 months of attendance at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in the graduate program in Physical Therapy.  Dual degree students are not guaranteed admission to the PT program and must apply for admission.
Further information regarding the Dual Degree is available here - Dual Degree Programs

High school students should take high level science and math courses to better prepare themselves for the science courses they will have to take immediately upon arriving on campus, whether here at UW-L or elsewhere.  Students interested in pursuing PT will have to take lab courses in biology and/or chemistry their initial semester.  Taking challenging courses in high school provides a solid foundation and easier transition to college level work.

We encourage high school students to take advanced placement courses, when available, however, know that not all PT programs will accept AP courses/credits towards meeting prerequisite course requirements.  Even though the student may earn college credit for their AP exam performance, it is usually in the student's best interest to take these courses in college for credit and a grade.