High School Early Assurance Pathway

An Early Assurance Pathway into the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program 

The High School Early Assurance Pathway (HEAP) is for high school students interested in studying health sciences and physical therapy at the University of Cincinnati. Acceptance to the pathway is limited to highly qualified incoming first year students only, and students are admitted to the pathway in the fall semester only.

High School Early Assurance Pathway students must enroll in the undergraduate Health Sciences - Pre-Physical Therapy program in the College of Allied Health Sciences. Upon completion of this degree, students will have completed all prerequisite courses required for enrollment in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduate program.

Deadline: March 15

Application Requirements

Applicants to the High School Early Assurance Pathway must first be admitted to the health sciences program then complete and submit the supplemental High School Early Assurance Pathway application. Applicants are required to meet requirements beyond those required for admission to the health sciences program.

Admissibility into the pathway is based on the following:

  • Minimum GPA in high school 3.5 out of 4.
  • Minimum standardized test scores: ACT - 27 composite or SAT - 1260
    • At this time, the program will still require test scores, even if the university has a test-optional admissions process. 

Three online references 

  • At least one recommendation must be from a high school math/science teacher
  • References cannot be friends or relatives
  • Evaluations must be sent to CAHS.Admissions@uc.edu by March 20 
  • 250 words essay addressing why you want to be a physical therapist.
  • 250 words essay addressing the following prompt: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Your resume should provide details on the following items:

  • Extracurricular activities
  • Work experience
  • Volunteer work
  • Honors and awards

Accepted Student Expectations

Following acceptance into the High School Early Assurance Pathway program, students will be directed by the program to submit the following information.

Students must meet the following GPA minimums:

  1. Cumulative GPA of 3.5 at the end of their 1st, 2nd and 3rd years in the Health Science program. (A student who fails to maintain the specified GPA forfeits High School Early Assurance Pathway status)
  2. Prerequisite coursework GPA of 3.5 with no less than a B- received in any of the prerequisite coursework. The Doctor of Physical Therapy graduate program prerequisite courses are:
  • Core science prerequisites
    • Anatomy & physiology (one year sequence)
    • Biology with lab (one year sequence)
    • General chemistry with lab (one year sequence)
    • General physics with lab (one year sequence)
  • Non-science prerequisites
    • English composition (one year sequence)
    • Introduction to psychology and one of the following: abnormal, developmental, or lifespan psychology
    • Statistics, exercise physiology, and medical terminology (one course each)

Students are required to pay the UC Graduate School supplemental fee, $65 as of Fall 2018, students will be prompted to pay by the program coordinator.

After High School Early Assurance Pathway students accept their offer in November or December, they will be asked to put down their $500 admissions deposit. This will be done through the graduate school application portal.

Half of work/volunteer hours must be completed by the application deadline and the rest by October 1st of your UC senior or 4th year of college, though rare exceptions have been granted on a case by case basis.

A total of 50 hours of observation/volunteer work is required in a physical therapy setting.

  • 25 hours are required to be completed in an inpatient care setting. Completing hours in an acute care setting is not required but highly encouraged. Acute care is defined as: "physical therapy is provided to individuals that are admitted to a hospital for short term patient care for reasons such as illness, surgery, accident, or recovery from a trauma. The goal in this setting is to discharge the person as soon as they are medically stable and have a safe place to go. Retrieved from PTCAS. 
  • The remaining 25 hours can be completed in any other physical therapy practice setting.
  • The observation hours must occur in a clinical physical therapy setting. NO research observation hours will be considered in the required 50 hours. However, any research hours may serve to enrich your overall physical therapy experience.

Applicants are reminded that a recommendation from someone in a supervisory role in the physical therapy clinic setting must also be submitted.

Professional behavior and attire is expected of all applicants during their observation hours. The department and physical therapy program faculty and staff will not provide suggestions on facilities. To obtain volunteer experience, students can contact a physical therapy facility in their geographical area by mail, in person or by phone and inquire about opportunities for paid or volunteer work experience.

If applicants are accepted into UC's Doctor of Physical Therapy program, they cannot perform clinical rotations at a facility where they have a conflict of interest. This includes, but is not limited to facilities where:

  • They previously volunteered or worked (in the physical therapy department or rehabilitation area).
  • They have a relative working in the physical therapy department or rehabilitation area.
  • They have already secured a post-graduation position.
  • They or a relative have ownership.
  • They know a person or persons with whom they have previously volunteered or worked will supervise them.

Students will be contacted via email by an outside agency, Certiphi, asking them to submit their information.

Applicants are advised that they will be required to undergo a full criminal background check upon admission to the UC Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Included in the acceptance letter will be information pertaining to how to complete the check. The background check will be due 60 days from the date of the acceptance letter. If offered a seat in the program less than 60 days from the start of the program, then the background check will be due prior to the start of class. Matriculation into the program is contingent on the results of the background check. If a criminal history is revealed in the background check, the nature of the offense and other factors will be considered in making the final decision regarding matriculation. If it is determined that the offense will prevent the student from completing the clinical education requirements of the program or from obtaining a license to practice physical therapy, the student will not be permitted to matriculate into the program. Additional background checks may be needed for certain clinical placement sites. Also, admission into the program does not guarantee the ability to practice since the Ohio occupational therapy/physical therapy/athletic training board and places of employment will make independent decisions regarding criminal background checks.


To submit your application to the High School Early Assurance Pathway, you will log in using your application status portal login credentials. 

Deadline: March 15th
References Deadline: March 20th