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Pre-Physical Therapy

Bachelor of Science

Physical therapists help their clients restore, maintain and promote optimal health, so they can live active lives. Optimal physical function is important at all stages of life and drives the growing need for physical therapists.

Program Overview

Become a force for healing and recovery.

Although the demand for physical therapists is on the rise, acceptance into Doctor of Physical Therapy programs continues to be highly competitive. Through hands-on coursework in Biology, Exercise & Sport Science, Chemistry, Math, Physics and Psychology, you’ll be well-prepared to apply for advanced degrees in the flourishing and competitive field of physical therapy. In the program, you’ll also have access to our Healthcare Advisory Board, who will offer you guidance and connect you with immersive educational opportunities inside and outside of the Gunnison Valley.

Set up for success

Our hands-on coursework, 1:1 advising, original research and shadowing opportunities are designed to set you up for success.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

The Pre-Physical Therapy Emphasis requires a minimum of 74 credits, including the 26-credit Biology Nucleus, 10 additional credits in Biology, and 38 credits of supporting courses.  

All Biology majors require the 26-credit Biology Nucleus.

Biology Nucleus
BIOL 150Biological Principles (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)4
BIOL 151Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory)4
BIOL 301General Ecology3
BIOL 310Cell Biology3
BIOL 312Genetics (with recitation)4
CHEM 111General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)3
CHEM 112General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1)1
CHEM 113General Chemistry II3
CHEM 114General Chemistry Laboratory II1
Total Credits26
Required Biology courses
BIOL 372Human Anatomy and Physiology I (with laboratory)4
BIOL 373Human Anatomy and Physiology II (with laboratory)4
At least two credits of Capstone Experience courses:2
BIOL 495Senior Seminar
BIOL 496Senior Thesis2-4
Total Credits12-14
Minimum supporting courses:
CHEM 331Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 332Organic Chemistry II3
CHEM 334Organic Chemistry Laboratory I1
CHEM 335Organic Chemistry Laboratory II1
CHEM 471Biochemistry I3
ESS 185Lifetime Wellness3
ESS 330Exercise Physiology3
ESS 331Exercise Physiology Lab1
ESS 380Biomechanics3
MATH 213Probability and Statistics3
PSY 100General Psychology (GT-SS3)3
At least one of the following:3
PSY 270
Development Psychology
PSY 368
And either:8
PHYS 170
PHYS 171
Principles of Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
and Principles of Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
PHYS 200
PHYS 201
General Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
and General Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
Total Credits38

Capstone Course Requirement

The following courses in the Biology Major fulfill the capstone course requirement: BIOL 495 Senior SeminarBIOL 496 Senior Thesis or EDUC 409 Secondary Student Teaching.

Graduation Requirements

Undergraduate programs require a minimum of 120 semester credits for graduation.  Of those 120 credits, 40 credits must be in upper-division courses (those marked 300 and above).  Fifteen of these 40 upper-division credits must be earned in courses that are part of the standard or comprehensive major program being pursued. 

Students are expected to review all graduation requirements, which can be found in the Western Undergraduate Catalog: Graduation Requirements

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
BIOL 150 Biological Principles (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4
CHEM 111 General Chemistry I (GT-SC2) 3
CHEM 112 General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1) 1
ENG 102 Academic Writing (GT-CO1) 3
HWTR 100 First Year Seminar 1
MATH 213 Probability and Statistics 3
BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory) 4
CHEM 113 General Chemistry II 3
CHEM 114 General Chemistry Laboratory II 1
COM 202 Academic Writing and Inquiry (GT-CO2) 3
ESS 185 Lifetime Wellness 3
PSY 100 General Psychology (GT-SS3) 3
Year Two
BIOL 310 Cell Biology 3
BIOL 372 Human Anatomy and Physiology I (with laboratory) 4
CHEM 331 Organic Chemistry I 3
CHEM 334 Organic Chemistry Laboratory I 1
General Education course 3
BIOL 301 General Ecology 3
BIOL 373 Human Anatomy and Physiology II (with laboratory) 4
BIOL 300 Basic Nutrition 3
CHEM 332 Organic Chemistry II 3
CHEM 335 Organic Chemistry Laboratory II 1
General Education course 3
Year Three
BIOL 312 Genetics (with recitation) 4
CHEM 471 Biochemistry I 3
ESS 330 Exercise Physiology 3
ESS 331 Exercise Physiology Lab 1
PHYS 170 Principles of Physics I (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4
ESS 380 Biomechanics 3
General Education courses 6
PHYS 171 Principles of Physics II (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4
Psychology Elective course 3
Year Four
BIOL 495
or BIOL 496
Senior Seminar
or Senior Thesis
ESS 430 Topics in Clinical Exercise Physiology 3
General Education course 3
 Total Credits101


Career preparation starts your first year at Western and is the primary focus of every degree.

Visit Career Services in Library 120 or online to discover your interests, define your goals, and land the career of your dreams.

The data below is automatically collected by Burning Glass Technologies, a firm that sources job market data and provides analytics. The statistics illustrate general trends in U.S. careers, but do not precisely represent every job and salary.



  • Must have a clearly defined interest in pursuing a profession within healthcare. Fields of interest may include, but are not limited to, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, registered dietitian nutritionist, etc.
  • Must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (non-weighted)
  • Preference will be given to female students
  • Preference will be given to under-represented minorities
  • Preference will be given to first generation students
  • Preference will be given to students that attend a Preview Day and healthcare networking event (date announced annually)


This scholarship serves to celebrate Erich and Beth Ferchau’s and their friends’ commitment to the University and their desire to contribute to the success of pre-health students at Western. The scholarship may be awarded to up to two incoming freshman. Students who maintain eligibility may receive this scholarship for up to 4 years.


$2500 per year


For application and deadline information, contact Emily McMahill at 970.943.2311 or emcmahill@western.edu.

Alumni Association Future Alumni Scholarship

The Alumni Association Scholarship is a one-time scholarship of $1,000 and is applicable for the student’s junior or senior year at Western.

Any child or grandchild of an alumni is eligible to receive the Future Alumni Scholarship.

  • This is a one-time non-renewable scholarship of $1,000.
  • Only one Future Alumni Scholarship will be awarded per academic year.
  • GPA must be 3.2 or above (college).

Due date has been extended to April 1 for 2022. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Council, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.


Alumni Legacy Scholarship

The Alumni Legacy Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western (incoming freshman or new transfer students are eligible).

Do you have a son or daughter looking at college? Have they considered attending Western? As an alumni, your son, daughter and/or grandchildren are eligible for certain benefits distributed through this scholarship, as follows:

  • This is a one-time scholarship of $1,000.
  • Nominee must be an incoming first-year student or new transfer.
  • The cost of orientation is reduced by half (a $45 value).
  • The admission application fee is waived (a $30 value).
  • GPA must be 2.5 or above (high school or college of transfer).

The applicant must fill out the application form found below. Application forms are accepted year-round. If the applicant meets the GPA guidelines, the scholarship will be awarded.


Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

The Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western. This scholarship is not available to midyear transfers or students beginning in the spring semester.

Are you an alumni or employee of Western and know a prospective (or incoming) student who would be a great fit at Western? A recommendation from alumni and employees can support any new student and provide them a $500 scholarship their first year. (Western employees may not recommend a spouse or dependent receiving tuition benefits).

  • Any Western alumni/employee may nominate only one student per academic year to receive the $500 scholarship (distributed $250 per semester).
  • The scholarship is good for the first year only and is non-renewable.
  • The recommended student must be a full-time undergraduate student, attending Western for the first time.

The applicant must fill out the application form found here. The nominating alumni/employee must fill out the application form and submit the required documents by June 1. The recommended student must meet university admissions acceptance standards and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.


The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation shall be an elite class of scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program.

There are eight Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 each. Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships will be awarded to two incoming first-year students.

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student’s GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

Expand your community and your network.

There are so many ways that you can maximize your educational experience at Western. Take advantage of these opportunities to advance your career.

  • Lab Assistantships: Students commonly land positions helping their professors with fieldwork and research.
  • Pre-Health Club: Brings together students with a common interest in health fields to network and to provide career preparation, advice and peer support.
  • Shadowing: Opportunities to shadow practicing professionals exists both locally and throughout the United States.
  • Thornton Biology Research Program: Students work with faculty mentors on funded and original research.
  • Tri-Beta: Honor society for biology student researchers.
  • Pre-Health Mentorship Program: Students are paired with a qualified health professional to help them gain hands-on experience and prepare for a career after graduation.

A competitive advantage

By combining hands-on coursework in Biology, Exercise & Sport Science, Chemistry, Math, Physics and Psychology, Western has created an emphasis that’s tailor-made for students interested in the flourishing and competitive field of physical therapy.

News & Research

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Additional Resources

Thornton Biology Research Program

The Thornton Biology Research Program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to work with faculty on funded, original research.

Learn More

Skin Smart Campus

Western has been named a Platinum-level Skin Smart Campus. We are dedicated to educating our community about the importance of skin cancer prevention.

Learn More

Department Chairperson

Anne W. Ryter, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry

Administrative Assistant

Lori Clement

NES Administrative Assistant

Contact Information



Campus Location

Western Colorado University
Hurst Hall 128
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231

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