Physical therapy

Physical therapy (pre-professional)

Physical therapists are in demand in a wide variety of settings today—from medical centers and retirement communities to commercial health clubs and university athletic departments. Pre-health advisers, admission directors and faculty agree that developing a strong foundation in the natural and social sciences as part of a well-rounded liberal arts education is the best preparation for a graduate program in physical therapy (PT).

Central students are successful in securing acceptance into PT programs with the assistance of an on-campus pre-health coordinator, an internship coordinator and academic advisers.

The Real World


Successful Careers

  • Physical therapist,  Accelerated Rehabilitation Center, West Des Moines
  • Owner, Total Rehab Orthopedic & Sports Specialist, Grinnell and Williamsburg
  • Physical therapist assistant, Greene County Medical Center, Jefferson
  • Physical therapist, 21st Century Rehab, Grimes


  • Bio-Chem Club
  • SCATE (Students Concerned About the Environment)
  • Tri-Beta (national biological sciences honor society)
  • Health Professions Club
  • Exercise Science Club
  • CAAT (Club Associated with Athletic Training)
Central College student

Graduate Placement

  • Creighton University
  • Des Moines University
  • Duke University
  • St. Ambrose University
  • University of Iowa
  • Washington University in St. Louis


  • Athletico Physical Therapy, Chicago, Ill.
  • Pella Regional Health Center, Pella
  • Henry County Health Center, Mount Pleasant
  • Sterling Physical Therapy, Pella
  • Work Systems Rehabilitation and Fitness, Pella

Courses & Faculty

Students can choose to major in any discipline that fits their personal and professional life goals. Regardless of their major choice, students are required to successfully complete a series of courses in many different disciplines. Students must complete varying credit hours in biology, chemistry, physics, statistics, psychology, English and medical terminology. 

Physical therapy students are also required to complete an experience in the PT clinical setting and pass the Graduate Record Exam.

The Central College Career Center provides the following activities to help pre-health students narrow career options: individual appointments to identify career options in the health field, job shadowing opportunities with local professionals or Central alumni, assistance with finding and applying for internships and summer opportunities, help with graduate school applications and much more. 

Physical therapy (pre-professional) photo
Meet the faculty:
  • Glenn Barnett, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry, interest areas include biochemistry and molecular genetics
  • Anya Butt, B.A., M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology, interest areas include geospatial technologies and applications, water resources, geosciences, natural disaster resilience and global health
  • Ellie Du Pre, B.S., Ph.D., Professor of Biology and Pre-Health Coordinator, interest areas include histology, human anatomy and physiology, epidemiology and environmental endocrine disruptors
  • Cathy Haustein, B.A., M.F.A., Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry instrumental analysis, the extraction of alkaloids from natural products, fluorescence spectroscopy and fiction writing
  • Paulina Mena, B.S., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, interest areas include understanding how organisms adapt to their environment and what role their chromosomal architecture plays in that process
  • Nicole Palenske, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, interest areas include human anatomy and physiology, environmental physiology and aquatic toxicology
  • David Pavlat, B.S., M.A., Ed.D., Associate Professor of Exercise Science, interest areas include physiology, kinesiology
  • John Roslien, B.S., M.S., Associate Professor Exercise Science, interest areas include professional leadership and international travel
  • James Shriver, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor Chemistry, interest areas include organic chemistry, molecular engineering and design, supramolecular chemistry and anion binding

Sample Schedule

First year
Sophomore year
Junior year
Senior year

The Central Difference

Individualized Attention

Thanks to Central's small class and laboratory sizes, faculty are able to provide each student with individualized attention and the opportunity to develop skills necessary for graduate school. Our faculty members also provide personalized advising that ensures students meet the coursework requirements for graduate school. And to help you get into graduate school, faculty provide letters of recommendation that make a vital difference in the decision process for acceptance into medical programs.

Heartland Global Health Consortium

Central College is a founding member of the Heartland Global Health Consortium whose mission is to establish and expand multidisciplinary educational, research and service opportunities to inspire and equip students to become leaders in global public health. The consortium provides additional opportunities for students to participate in educational, global research and global medical service experiences.

Hands-On Research

Central faculty provide students with many research and professional development opportunities, of which students are encouraged to take full advantage while on campus including undergraduate research and presentations at scientific meetings, internships, shadowing programs, targeted service-learning opportunities related to career goals and much more.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad with one of Central’s international programs to enhance their development as global citizens, or with partner programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C. or New York City. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.


Central’s Vermeer Science Center was awarded the silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating from the United States Green Building Council, the first LEED-rated building in the state. Students have direct access to classrooms and laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and presentation technology.  

For physical therapy students, Central’s state-of-the-art exercise science building includes a dedicated classroom for the athletic training program that features taping stations instead of desks. The human performance lab features a hydrostatic underwater weighing tank, one of only three in the Midwest.

Learn More

Want to find out more about physical therapy (pre-professional) at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs. Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.