NHS Careers > Explore by career > Allied health professions > Careers in the allied health professions > Physiotherapist > Entry and training

Entry requirements and training for physiotherapy

To practice as a physiotherapist, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

In order to register, you must first successfully complete an HCPC-approved programme in physiotherapy, which is offered by a number of universities.

These are offered as three or four year undergraduate degrees and two year postgraduate levels. There are also part-time courses available.

The training involves both periods of theory and clinical experience gained by meeting and working with patients. During training you may also get the chance to work with students from other disciplines. This is a beneficial foundation for the team building which will become an essential part of your working life. The theory part of the course covers anatomy, physiology, physics and pathology.

You will also develop communication skills, study psychology and gain experience off practical treatment.

A list of all HCPC-approved programmes in physiotherapy is on our coursefinder. You can also get a list of approved courses by visiting the HCPC website

Students who successfully complete programmes which are approved by the HCPC, are then eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC. Once registered, practitioners are required to retain their names on the register, by paying an annual retention fee.

Degree programmes

Students on full-time undergraduate programmes often share part of their study with students on other clinical courses, such as occupational therapy or nursing.

The two-year courses are for people who have graduated in another relevant discipline and wish to train as a physiotherapist. These courses will lead to a master's degree.

Part-time course are primarily for physiotherapy assistants already employed in a healthcare setting and/or staff sponsored by the Professional Footballers' Association.

You can get a list of all HCPC-approved programmes in physiotherapy by using our coursefinder. You can also get a list of approved courses by visiting the HCPC website.

Entry requirements

For full-time undergraduate programmes, the minimum entry requirements are the same as those for all degree courses, but due to competition for places, it means that conditional offers for places are set higher than the minimum.

A variety of qualifications may be accepted:

  • In England and Wales school leavers are normally required to have three A levels at grade A-C (one should be a biological science) and a minimum of five GCSEs at grade A-C. These GCSEs should include maths, English language and a selection of science subjects.
  • Graduates with a relevant discipline may be considered for entry onto the two year masters programme in physiotherapy.

Each course has its own individual entry requirements. Applicants should contact to the course(s) of their choice for specific details of entry requirements.

Alternative qualifications

There are a number of alternatives to the above qualifications, but prospective students are advised to contact the institution they intend to apply to for their specific requirements.

These alternative qualifications include:

  • BTEC National Diploma in Health Studies (Science) with distinctions/merits in all units.
  • Advanced GNVQ/GSVQ in Health and Social Care or Science (Additionally most institutions require a biological science A level).
  • HND International Baccalaureate
  • Certain Access Courses (contact individual institutions for the access courses they recognise)
  • Appropriate Foundation course

Along with academic qualifications, admissions tutors will be looking for the following skills and qualities in potential students:

  • Communication skills, helping and caring
  • Sensitivity and tolerance
  • Ability to use initiative
  • Ability to work as a team member
  • Reliability, honesty and trustworthiness
  • Enthusiasm, dedication and determination

Applications are welcomed from applicants who left full time study some time ago, but they will usually need to provide evidence of recent academic study at an appropriate level.

Advice for interviews

Applicants should carefully research the course of training, the scope of physiotherapy practice, career opportunities and the role of other healthcare professionals. If possible, it would be an advantage to observe a physiotherapist at work by attending open days arranged by hospital physiotherapy departments.

Criminal records

Applicants with a criminal record are advised to discuss the matter with admissions tutors before applying.

Because physiotherapists work with children and other vulnerable people, any criminal record should be disclosed. Certain criminal convictions may debar successful students from gaining registration to practice as a physiotherapist.

Financial support for students on physiotherapy courses

Further information on the financial support offered to physiotherapy sutudents.

Applicants with disabilities/visual impairments

Any applicants with a physical disability are advised to contact the admissions tutor at the relevant university. Sympathetic consideration will be given, with careful assessment of the disability to ensure that they can meet the demands of the course.

Students with a visual impairment can now train as a physiotherapist with support from the Royal National Institute for the Blind. For information on this, you can contact: Royal National Institute for the Blind on 0207 388 1266.