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We receive the question often—what are some tips for completing a strong application to the University of Pittsburgh Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program? With the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Services, or PTCAS, opening in mid-June, we decided to share these five tips when preparing your application to our DPT program, now with residential and hybrid options. First and foremost, read the directions carefully and keep the following in mind:  

  1. Letters of Recommendation (LOR): One letter of recommendation must be from a professor/instructor who taught a PT prerequisite course or a course associated with your undergraduate major. The two additional letters can be from an individual of your choosing. Check out our admission page for additional guidance.   
    • All letters should be provided by individuals who know you well and can speak of your personal characteristics and traits that align with those of a successful graduate student or health care professional. Letters of recommendation are key components of the application that should share why you are a good candidate for the program.   
  2. Personal Statement and Program-specific (PTCAS) short answer question: These areas are another opportunity for our admissions committee to learn more about you! Be sure to fully answer each prompt and tell us something that cannot be found on your resume or transcripts.  
  3. Extra-curricular, Service and Work Activities: Were you a college athlete? Did you start your own club? Did you have a job throughout college, or were you a caretaker for a family member? Tell us more about your work, extracurricular activities, volunteer and leadership history! This can also include any military work or ROTC experience. We recognize that each applicant has a unique journey to DPT school, and we want to learn about yours. We want to know what makes you stand out and what skills you have developed along the way, outside of the classroom.   
  4. Observation Hours: A minimum of 40 observation hours are now required for application submission. These hours must be completed under the supervision of a licensed PT–these can be volunteer hours or paid hours through a rehab aid/tech position. We want to see your commitment to learning about the profession in a variety of settings. 
  5. Self-reflection on Academic Performance: This portion of the application is where you can share why your GPA may not reflect your academic capabilities. Provide further context and tell us how you overcame challenges!   

We hope you find these quick tips beneficial. If you need more information, review our website or attend an upcoming information session with our DPT faculty.  



Written by: Grace Hariharan  
Student Services Administrator, Department of Physical Therapy 



Published May 23, 2022

Updated September 13, 2023