Health Professions and Prelaw Center
Home » Other Health Professions » Overview of Admission Process (OT, PT, PA)

Overview of the Admission Process

(Guidelines for Pre-OT, PT, and PA students)


Welcome to our overview of the admission process!

On this page you will find helpful information and guidelines pertaining to the competitive admission process, the central components that comprise the application, rolling admissions, and criminal background checks / academic integrity / professionalism.




Competitive Admissions IS Manageable!

Because more people apply to any given program than there are seats available, programs have selective admission. In other words, the admission process is competitive because programs can afford to be choosey, selecting only those applicants they consider most likely to excel in a rigourous, graduate-level program.


Still, the level of competitiveness varies dramatically across programs. Cumulative and science / prerequisite GPAs of those admitted generally range from 3.00 to 4.00, depending on the given applicant and program (note that a 3.0 gaining admission is less common).


Because most programs count science or prereq courses twice (as part of both the cumulative GPA and a separate science / prereq GPA), it is especially important that you do well in your prerequisite coursework. Sometimes a lower CGPA can be somewhat balanced by a higher science / prereq GPA, or vice versa, however this too depends on the program. Obviously your goal must be to earn excellent grades across your entire transcript. To this end, we urge you to utilize the HPPLC Time and Sanity Management Sheet and consistently follow the tips therein. Also consult What Is A Competitive GPA? so you can set goals for yourself and have a realistic idea of where you stand.


Come and talk with us if you have concerns, or if you'd like help planning and strategizing your preprofessional process! Simply click the Make An Appointment link on the HPPLC homepage and follow the instructions.



Admission Components

In addition to prereqs and excellent grades, programs require some or all of these other common application components:

  • Graduate Record Exam scores
    • PA: Most PA programs require the GRE. The MCAT is required or accepted by a very small number of PA programs. Pre- PA students, click HERE for additional info.
  • Hands on experience:
  • Personal essay and supplemental essays
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Admission interview for those selected
  • Clinical observation (shadowing) of professionals within your chosen field. Shadowing is usually required for OT and PT, and everyone, including pre-PA students, should consider it mandatory! It goes without saying that you need substantial shadowing to learn about the profession, to garner a letter of recommendation from someone in your chosen field, and to facilitate a strong personal essay and strong interviews.
  • Thorough program research is one of the most important ways to increase your odds of being admitted, and is therefore at least as important as the above components. Don't worry, we've provided user-friendly guidelines and resources to help you through the research process. Begin program research early on!


REMEMBER: Each and every aspect of the preprofessional process has a corresponding set of well-organized guidelines and tips linked from this page, and from the OT, PT, or PA page! We urge you to use the linked Contents menu on the page for your area of interest, as well as the all-important Timeline page, to tap into these resources throughout your entire preprofessional process! While GPA will always be a critical admission factor, programs consider your entire application portfolio when making their decisions. Most place significant emphasis on the other admission factors noted above.



Rolling admissions - Apply Early!

Many programs have "rolling admission" deadlines, meaning they begin to fill spots as soon as their application cycle opens. Other programs offer "early decision," through which you can find out earlier if you've been admitted to their program Furthermore, some programs have application deadlines as early as August 1.

Therefore, contact programs to learn when their cycles tend to become more competitive, and then apply early to beat the rush! Avoid the trap of believing that "fall is when you apply"! Fall is often too late.


Remember: Even for programs that do not have rolling admissions, you should apply at least a month before the application deadline to allow time for application processing, and to correct errors or other problems that commonly crop up.

Required Criminal Background Checks; Academic Misconduct

There are two points in your process at which a criminal history or other conduct breach could become an issue: during the program application / admission process, and during the professional licensure process (after the professional program has been completed).

Always be completely honest when you are filling out disclosure forms. Many programs, and the licensure process itself, will require that you submit a criminal background check. If there are differences between what you yourself report and what the background check reveals, you could run into serious difficulties. Such a disparity would imply or reflect a degree of dishonesty which programs and state licensure boards are not likely to overlook. In addition, dishonesty at any point in the process would put in doubt someone's ability to function ethically within the profession and with patients.


Bottom line: keep your conduct and your record clean, both off and on campus, at school and at home! College presents countless opportunities for success, but also opportunities to undermine your goals. While a misdemeanor on your record may not necessarily prevent you from being admitted to a program or from practicing in a given health field, you can't know for sure, and will thus experience a lot of unneeded additional stress as you wait to find out. Why take the risk?


Gross misdemeanors and felony charges are obviously much more serious, but the impact of any given criminal history will depend on various factors and circumstances, such as the nature of the offense, how recent it was, and whether there is a pattern of offenses. While a single underage drinking charge from high school may not become a serious issue, a string of them could. Likewise, for example, a DUI charge is much more serious because driving under the influence also puts others in danger, which of course not only shows an alarming degree of irresponsibility on the part of the offender, but also contradicts the very nature of the health professions.


It often surprises people to learn that dismissed charges, nolle prossed, deferred adjudication, and pre-trial diversion can be included in criminal background checks. Even expunged records can turn up in criminal background checks under certain conditions


The same holds true for student conduct and ethics violations: keep your conduct and your record clean! Examples of violations include but are not limited to plagiarism, other forms of cheating, and harming another person. Even being in a dorm room while others are breaking the conduct rules (drinking, smoking pot, etc.) is itself a violation!


If you already have charges on your record, be honest during those parts of the application which ask you to disclose this information. During the licensure process there is usually an opportunity for you to offer an explanation of a mark on your record, and to explain what you learned from the experience. You can also add a similar addendum to program applications. Don't worry: most offenses are manageable if the applicant is honest, and can show they have learned from the experience and are not a danger to themselves or others.

If you have related concerns at any point, you are welcome to come in and discuss them with a HPPLC advisor. Simply click the Make An Appointment link on our homepage and follow the instructions.




Related to all of the above: before you proceed any further, read about professional conduct during your research and application process, on our Researching Accredited Programs page. We have seen applicants denied admission for not following these guidelines!







This information was prepared for Indiana University Bloomington students by the Health Professions and Prelaw Center. Please note that specific requirements and policies can change at any time without notice. Students are responsible for obtaining the most current information directly from application and testing services, financial aid resources, and the schools and programs in which they have an interest. Refer to each program's web pages, bulletins, and other publications for the most current information. Students are responsible for understanding degree course requirements, as well as other requirements, policies, and procedures related to the degree(s) they are pursuing; for enrolling in appropriate courses; for understanding IU policies/procedures; third-party policies/procedures; and for following through properly with regard to all of the preceding.