You’ve decided that you want to become a physiotherapist. The question now becomes, “what is required of me to get into physiotherapy school in Canada?”
We understand that figuring all of this out can be a daunting task, but our goal is to help clear all of that up for you in this blog post.
In this blog, we’ll be covering the following topics:
- PT programs in Canada
- General PT school requirements in Canada
Let’s get right into it.
PT Programs in Canada
Before diving into the general PT school requirements, it’s important to know a little bit about the various PT programs in Canada.
There are 15 total physiotherapy schools in Canada. Of these 15 schools, 11 of them are English-speaking (or bilingual) and 4 of them are entirely French-speaking. Given the differences of the educational model in Quebec from the rest of Canada, PhysioSchool.ca will only include information that is applicable to the 11 English-speaking (or bilingual) PT programs.
That being said, the 11 English-speaking (or bilingual) Canadian PT programs are as follows:
- Queen’s University
- Western University
- McMaster University
- University of Toronto
- University of Ottawa (bilingual)
- McGill University (bilingual)
- Dalhousie University
- University of Manitoba
- University of Saskatchewan
- University of Alberta
- University of British Columbia
Each of these programs offer a Master’s-level degree in physiotherapy. Depending on the program, completion of this degree takes 2-2.5 years.
General PT School Requirements in Canada
Now that we know the duration of PT school and the number of programs there are in Canada, let’s talk about the general requirements to get admitted into a Canadian PT school.
For starters, we use the term “general” as all PT schools have slightly different requirements. However, we understand that most applicants apply to multiple programs across the country, so it’s likely that you’ll have to fulfill all of these requirements once you begin your applications.
Generally, there are 6 major requirements for physiotherapy school in Canada. Let’s break them down.
1 – Undergraduate Degree
The first thing you’ll definitely need to have in order to receive successful admissions into physiotherapy school is an undergraduate degree. Given that PT school is a professional Master’s-level degree program, you cannot skip the first step of obtaining an undergraduate degree. It’s important to note that this degree can be in any field of study. Contrary to what many applicants believe, your undergraduate degree does not need to be in kinesiology; again, any degree is sufficient.
2 – Grade Point Average
The study of physiotherapy is a rigorous academic endeavour. Therefore, one must have a competitive grade point average (GPA) in order to receive successful admissions.
GPA is a number that represents the average value of the accumulated final grades earned in courses over time. GPA can be subdivided into 2 categories:
- The calculated GPA value that corresponds to your final 20 half-courses
- In most cases, this number is calculated based on the grades you received during your final 2 years of study during your undergraduate degree (i.e., 3rd and 4th year)
- Your sub-GPA is the primary number that PT schools take into consideration when making admissions decisions
- Each school will have a specific sub-GPA cut-off value
- If you meet or exceed this cut-off value, your application will be considered
- If you do not meet or exceed this cut-off value, your application will not be considered
- Sub-GPA cut-off values change from year-to-year, as they are entirely dependent on the application pool
- The calculated GPA value that corresponds to all of the courses you took during your undergraduate degree
- This number is calculated based on all of your grades from 1st year to 4th year of your undergraduate degree
- A small number of PT schools take your cumulative-GPA into consideration when making admissions decisions
- Like sub-GPA, schools that consider cumulative-GPA will have specific cut-off values that change from year-to-year
As mentioned earlier, sub-GPA is the number you should be most concerned about when it comes to your physiotherapy school applications. The highest recently published sub-GPA cut-off value for all schools in Canada was 3.83/4.0. It’s important to note that some schools have sub-GPA cut-offs that range between 3.7-3.8/4.0 as well. That being said, in order to make yourself a competitive candidate for any school you apply to, we recommend striving for a sub-GPA value of 3.83-3.86/4.0.
To learn how to calculate your GPA, watch this video.
3 – Prerequisite Courses
A prerequisite course is a course that must be completed prior to beginning physiotherapy school in Canada in order to ensure your readiness and fit for the study of physiotherapy.
Prerequisite courses vary considerably between PT schools, so it’s crucial to make sure that you’re taking the appropriate courses during your undergraduate degree to fulfill prerequisite requirements for your PT school(s) of choice. That being said, in general, the majority of PT schools require you to have completed courses in anatomy and physiology, statistics and research methods, and psychology.
To learn more about this topic, check out our blog post called What Courses Should I Take in Undergrad to Get into Physiotherapy School?
4 – Reference Letters
A reference letter is essentially a letter of recommendation that includes an assessment of your personal qualities, characteristics, skills, and capabilities. Just over half of the physiotherapy schools in Canada require reference letters.
Typically, these programs require 1 academic reference letter and 1 professional reference letter.
What is an academic reference?
- An individual who holds academic professorship at a post-secondary institution (i.e., university) who is in a position to judge and speak on behalf of your academic ability
- The individual who writes this reference letter for you must be a professor or faculty member who has taught you before in the past
What is a professional reference?
- A professional who is in a position to judge your performance and personal characteristics from a non-academic perspective
- Example: A healthcare professional you volunteered with during your undergraduate degree
These letters of recommendation provide admissions committees with an objective evaluation of your potential to become a good physiotherapist one day.
5 – Personal Statement
A personal statement is essentially a personal essay that aims to provide PT school admissions committees with a brief description of who you are, what you have to offer, your intentions and motivations for becoming a physiotherapist, and your life and extracurricular experiences.
More than half of the PT schools in Canada require a personal statement. The writing of your personal statement is usually guided by specific questions about your reasonings for choosing physiotherapy, work and volunteer experience you’ve undertaken, and awards you’ve won in the past.
The personal statement is your chance to sell yourself to the committees who will be reviewing your application.
For tips on how to write a great personal statement, check out our blog called Personal Statement Tips for Physiotherapy School Admissions.
6 – Interview
All physiotherapy schools in Canada require some type of interview at one point during the application cycle. Interview methods will differ between institutions.
The various interview methods are as follows:
- CASPer = Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics
- The CASPer test is an online situational judgment test that screens for people skills
- The CASPer test is required by the majority of Canadian physiotherapy programs
- To learn more about the CASPer Test, click here
- For some tips on how to do well on the CASPer Test, check out our blog post called Tips To Crush The CASPer
Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)
- The MMI is a series of short, multi-station interviews based on predefined scenarios designed to evaluate the interviewee’s critical thinking skills, ethical decision-making ability, communication skills, and the non-cognitive/humanistic skills required for success in a clinical environment
- The MMI is only required for admissions into the University of Manitoba, the University of Alberta, and the University of British Columbia
- To learn more about the MMI at the University of Manitoba, click here
- To learn more about the MMI at the University of Alberta, click here
- To learn more about the MMI at the University of British Columbia, click here
Computer Administered Profile (CAP)
- The CAP is a written exam that assesses personal characteristics, experiences, knowledge of the physiotherapy profession, and critical thinking/problem solving skills
- The CAP is only required for the University of Toronto
- To learn more about the CAP, click here
Kira Talent Interview
- The Kira Talent interview is an online interview that contains a combination of written and video recorded questions
- The Kira Talent Interview is only required for McMaster University
- To learn more about the Kira Talent Interview, click here
Interviews are a great way for physiotherapy schools to learn more about your personal characteristics, experiences, communication skills, and critical thinking and reasoning skills.
Applying to physiotherapy school in Canada is a tall task. There are a number of components to the application that must be considered in order to make yourself a viable candidate. Nonetheless, if you stay informed, create a plan, and pay attention to the fine print, you will make life a lot easier for yourself come application season.
We hope this blog post helped you understand what is required of you to receive successful admissions into PT school in Canada.
If you’re looking for assistance with any of the application components we talked about in this blog post, check out our PT Application Booster course today! We’re happy to help you on your journey.
Thank you for reading.