Biology Major,
Pre-PT/OT Concentration

Department of Biology

Preparing for a career as a physical or occupational therapist

Coordinator: Dr. Lori Turner

The Biology Major with a Pre-Physical/Occupational Therapy Concentration tailors the standard biology major to meet the course requirements to apply to professional PT and OT programs. Students interested in going to these schools will complete the same curriculum as the normal Bachelor of Science with a major in Biology with a little less flexibility in the choices of elective courses. Pre-PT/OT students should acquaint themselves with the specific requirements of the physical or occupational therapy schools to which they plan to apply for admission, as every school has its own course requirements. Ideally this should be done by the end of the sophomore year as students begin to register for upper-level science courses. Each student planning a career in PT or OT should also register with the Pre-PT/OT Coordinator to get assigned the appropriate advisor.

What is the difference between Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy?

While the professions are similar, a physical therapist focuses on regaining movement and flexibility in parts of the body after injury or surgery, while an occupational therapist helps a person adjust to normal everyday activities. For example, a patient recovering from a stroke may see a physical therapist to learn how to walk again and an occupational therapist to learn how to button a shirt or use the restroom.

Applying to Physical/Occupational Therapy School

Students are encouraged to send applications to a number of potential physical therapy/occupational therapy (PT/OT) schools, not just one. At the minimum, most PT/OT schools require the following:

  • Required coursework: General Chemistry, General Physics, General Biology, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Medical Terminology, Psychology, and Statistics.
  • GPA requirement: Most PT/OT schools have a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0, but the average to get in is 3.5.
  • Professional experience: Successful applicants usually have experience in some or all of the following:
    • Volunteer opportunities
    • Leadership roles
    • Independent research
    • Clinical internships/shadowing of a physical therapist or occupational therapist specifically.
      • Check individual school websites for specific number of experiential hours required for admission.
    • Membership in professional/honor societies
    • Evidence of presentation and communication skills
  • Entrance exam: PT/OT Schools generally require the GRE General Test.
    • Based on the 2021-2022 cycle competitive applicants scored a 310 or above.
  • Application service: Most PT/OT schools use an online application service.
  • Letters of recommendation:
    • At least 2 are usually required for PT applications.
    • And at least 3 are usually required for OT applications.
    • At least 1 should come from a professional therapist.

If your application is strong enough, most schools will request an in-person interview. After the interview, you will either be accepted, rejected, or placed on a waiting list. As other candidates accept or decline offers, those on the waiting list may receive offers. If your application is rejected, there are several things you can do to strengthen your application: retake the GRE for a higher score, retake courses to increase GPA, perfect your personal statement, gain additional clinical hours and/or research experience, practice with mock interviews, reconsider your letter writers, apply to more schools, or submit your application for “early admission” consideration.

General Education Requirements

Communications (9 hours)

  • ENGL 101: Analysis & Argument (3)
  • ENGL 102: Rhetoric Genre Research (3)
  • SPCO 101: Basics of Oral Communication (3)

Social Sciences (9 hours)

  • POLI 101: U.S. Government or POLI 103: Introduction to Political Science (3)
  • Two elective courses in Anthropology (ANTH), Economics (ECON), Geography (GEOG), Political Science (POLI), or Sociology (SOCI). (3)
    • Sociology 201: Introduction to Sociology is recommended.
    • Honors (HNRS) courses 250-259 will also fulfill this requirement.

Humanities (12 hours)

  • Literature (ENGL) (3)
  • History (HIST) (3)
  • Fine Art Appreciation (ART 101, MUSI 101, or THEA 101) (3)
  • One elective course in Art (ART), Literature (ENGL), History (HIST), Music (MUSI), Theater (THEA), or Philosophy & Religious Studies (PRS) or AAAS 200: Introduction to African American Studies or GNDR 200: Gender Studies (3)
    • Honors (HNRS) courses 260-269 will also fulfill this requirement.

Mathematics (6 hours)

  • A minimum of 6 hours of mathematics courses MATH 111 or higher.
    • Most Pre-PT/OT Majors take:
      • MATH 132: College Trigonometry with Analytic Geometry (3)
      • MATH 134: Probability and Statistics (3)

Natural Sciences (12 hours)

  • A minimum of 12 hours of science courses with laboratories.
    • Pre-PT/OT Majors fulfill this General Education requirement automatically.
    • Biology (BIOL) or Environmental Science (ENVR) (4)
    • Chemistry (CHEM), Physics (PHYS), or Physical Science (PSCI) (4)
    • Astronomy (ASTR), Biology (BIOL), Chemistry (CHEM), Environmental Science (ENVR), Physics (PHYS), Physical Science (PSCI), Psychology (PSYC 206/216) (4)
      • Honors (HNRS) courses 280-289 will also fulfill this requirement.

Major Requirements

Biology (33 hours)

  • One course from Introductory Group I: (4)
    • BIOL 105/BIOL 115L: Biological Sciences I
      • BIOL 103 and BIOL 104 may substitute for BIOL 105/115L with permission from the Department.
    • BIOL 107: Integrated Biological Concepts I
  • One course from Introductory Group II: (4)
  • One course from the Cellular and Molecular Biology Block: (4)
  • Genetics and Evolution Block: (4)
  • Two additional (BIOL) courses are needed to bring the total biology credits to 33 hours.
    • Courses must be 200-level or above.
    • Most PT/OT Majors take Human Anatomy (BIOL 205) and Human Physiology (BIOL 406) since they are usually required for admission to most professional programs.
    • The BIOL 494: Pre-Health Internship course does not fulfill the biology elective requirements for the Pre-PT/OT concentration.

Chemistry (12 hours)

Physics (8 hours)


Minor/Collateral Requirements

FMU students are required to complete either a minor or two collaterals in addition to their major for graduation.

  • A minor in another discipline requires at least 18 hours of coursework in that discipline.
    • Some restrictions may apply, please check minor requirements for other disciplines.
    • Some Pre-PT/OT Majors choose to take 2 more chemistry courses to complete the Chemistry Minor.
  • Collaterals in other disciplines require 12 hours of coursework in those disciplines.
    • Some restrictions may apply, please check collateral requirements in other disciplines.
    • Pre-PT/OT Majors earn a Chemistry Collateral automatically when they complete the major requirements and many choose to complete a second collateral in psychology instead of the minor in chemistry.
      • PSYC 325: Abnormal Psychology and PSYC 334: Life Span Development may be requirements for some professional schools. 

Additional Information

  • Additional elective courses in any discipline may be needed to reach the total 120 hours required for graduation.
    • When choosing electives, students should remember that certain career paths may seek knowledge that are not strictly required for the biology major.
      • Examples: technical writing, statistics, calculus, computer science, business and accounting, management, etc.
  • To advance to a higher biology course, a student must earn a grade of C or higher in each prerequisite biology course.

Ars Medica Club for Pre-Health Students

All Pre-Health Students are invited to join the Ars Medica Club at Francis Marion University, which provides an outlet for meeting other students and participate in health-related campus and community events. Ars Medica has been in existence at Francis Marion University since 1974. Its primary goal is to bring in outside speakers for health-related career planning and information. This serves to inform students of career options and provides a venue for social interaction with other students having similar interests.