The pre-physical therapy program provides rigorous training designed to prepare you for graduate work toward a doctorate in physical therapy.

The Houghton program in pre-physical therapy entails a major in biology (with pre-physical therapy emphasis) plus a minor in athletic training. The 30-hour program includes coursework in biology, physical education, chemistry and mathematics.

This major emphasizes rigorous hands-on and experiential training in courses such as Physiology of Exercise, Kinesiology, and Care, Prevention & Management of Athletic Injuries. Furthermore, clinical experience may be obtained via the Pre-PT Field Experiences (shown below) or Pre-Health Practicum or by assisting our athletic trainers.

To learn more, contact Dr. Aaron Sullivan, program adviser and department chair.

PHED 281 - Pre-Physical Therapy Field Experience I

Mastery of competencies in injury prevention, recognition and assessment; taping and bracing techniques; understanding of the lower extremity; and medical documentation. Requires 25 hours of observation in each of three settings - orthopedics, pediatrics and geriatrics - with an additional 25 hours assisting with rehabilitation in the Houghton College training room.

PHED 381 - Pre-Physical Therapy Field Experience II

Mastery of competencies in injury prevention, recognition and assessment; taping and bracing techniques; understanding of the back and upper extremity; and developing rehabilitation programs. Requires 25 hours of observation in each of three settings - orthopedics, cardiac and neural rehabilitation - with an additional 25 hours assisting with rehabilitation in the Houghton College training room.

Why Study Pre-Physical Therapy at Houghton?

  • Do science in your very first year in our hands-on, experiential program.
  • Be mentored, supported and cared for by invested faculty members who care about your academic success as well as your spiritual, emotional, and professional growth.
  • Shadow local practitioners for real-world experience in the field.
  • Travel to a developing country to study foundations of health development.
  • Enroll in our pre-health practicum, where you will live with - and learn from - a Houghton alumnus who is a practicing health care worker.
  • Conduct, publish and present real research with one or more of Houghton College’s faculty members.

Major Requirements

Biology major with pre-physical therapy emphasis (BA)


Personal Attention from Invested Faculty

With a departmental emphasis on personalized teaching and close relationships among faculty and students, pre-PT students have many opportunities to get to know their professors on a personal level. Professors teach the labs as well as lectures instead of relying on teaching assistants to teach the laboratory sessions, and class sizes are deliberately capped to maximize interaction between faculty and students.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

At Houghton, we emphasize hands-on engagement in the field of biology where our students do science as scientists in the first year of the general biology sequence. Learning experiences are often open-ended and require critical thinking and input from students regarding design, implementation and analysis. Students can work directly in the field through off-campus study, practicums, internships and student-faculty research collaboration.

Undergraduate Research

Many motivated majors do real research with one or more of the faculty at Houghton College. Some of these students publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals or present talks and posters at regional and national conferences. Opportunities for research include the Collaborative Research in Biology course, independent study, senior honors projects and the Summer Research Institute. Students have also traveled with faculty to work with collaborators (e.g., Cornell University and the Sierra Nevada mountains of California).