Physical Therapy Programs - Everything You Need to Know

Various physical therapy programs are available for those who wish to pursue a career in the medical field as a licensed physical therapist. The first step toward working in this profession is acquiring the appropriate education, therefore it is wise for students to review all their options before making a final decision.

Physical therapists are professionals who evaluate patients with affected mobility and determine how best they can benefit from the various therapies available.

In all 50 states, such professionals must complete a physical therapy Master's degree program or obtain a doctor of physical therapy degree. Each option must be pursued at an accredited school. Otherwise, the student will not qualify to take the national licensing exam, which is also a requirement in all 50 states for those who wish to practice in the field.

Physical Therapy Programs

Educational Requirements

To enroll in a doctorate or Master's degree program, one must first acquire an undergraduate degree that includes basic coursework in anatomy, physiology and biology. However, some schools will allow students to enroll in a program without much coursework having been completed, although this will vary greatly depending on the educational institution one has selected. For this reason, it is important for prospective students to inquire about such aspects when reviewing various physical therapy programs. All employees require that one's initial education be obtained at an accredited school.

Over 250 colleges and universities throughout the country offer accredited programs. Therefore, finding an appropriate school should not a difficult task. The majority of programs split the learning time between classroom participation and hands-on clinical experience.


As previously mentioned, one's options include a master's or doctorate program; however, the emphasis on doctorate programs has grown significantly over the past five years. Additionally, the American Physical Therapy Association's goal is to push for mandatory doctorate degrees for all physical therapists by the year 2020. Of course, this does not mean that the Association's objective will be realized, but it is certainly something that prospective students should consider when reviewing the various programs available.

Time Frame

Due to the fact that the requirements of each program vary somewhat, the time it takes one to complete his or her education will also vary. Factors that influence this time frame include the type of program in which one enrolls in, and the number of general education courses he or she has acquired prior to enrollment. Once an individual has obtained a bachelor's degree in one of the required sciences, a Master's degree will typically take an additional two years. Those who plan to pursue a doctor of physical therapy can anticipate an additional three years of formal education.


The cost of physical therapy programs will vary based on the type of program one selects and which school he or she attends. However, Master's degrees can typically be acquired for approximately $50,000, while a doctorate program usually costs approximately $65,000. However, it is recommended that prospective students inquire about the average cost in the state where they will be attending school, as these figures may be significantly higher or lower.

Click here if you are thinking about becoming a physical therapist. Find out everything you need to know about the profession, including education and training, programs, schools and jobs.


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