The field of Physical Therapy in this fast changing world is ever-growing. Physical Therapy is a cost effective treatment and can significantly reduce the long term effects of injury and improve one’s functionality. In the United States, Physical Therapy is becoming a fast adopting profession and that is why now many of the colleges and Universities offer a range of programs that can help a person in getting a professional degree in this field. If you’re looking to do major in Physical Therapy in the United States, you will come across several colleges that offer different programs for this course. The requirements for this course may vary from state to state but most of these colleges have courses that lead to a Master’s degree and then a state license. All of these schools offer a multi-dimensional pathway for students to have a blend of educational training and clinical experience. Therefore, we’ve compiled this list of best Physical Therapy schools for you to carefully select and pursue your career in this fast growing field.
1. University of Southern California
Established in 1880, University of Southern California offers a wide variety of graduate programs in different fields like Business, Social Sciences, Arts, Medicine etc. As far as the field of Physical Therapy is concerned, the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at USC offers a DPT program in both online and on campus modes. This graduate program is consisted of 6 semesters including 2 Summer semesters as well. The program is a 115-unit program and it is also mandatory for the students to acquire clinical experience during this time. The minimum requirement to complete this program is 2.75 GPA. Besides this, students are also required to meet other professional requirements of the course which include some clinical internships. Owing to its such requirements, this DPT program is considered as one of the Top Physical Therapy program in the US.
2. University of Pittsburgh
Second on the list is the prestigious University of Pittsburgh whose graduate program is one of the best DPT programs in the country. Students who wish to get into this degree will need to apply through the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Students must have an overall 3.0 GPA to get into this program. This department is known for its commitment to education, research and clinical expertise in the field of Physical Therapy. Students are required to complete the 3 years of coursework in total of 9 semesters. Along with that, clinical experience through internships is also mandatory for completing the degree. The University offers this programs in both on-campus and hybrid mode. Students who take the online course are required to do remote clinical work and submit their scores in the school on regular basis. Moreover, University of Pittsburgh also offers a dual program of DPT/PHD in bioengineering for students who are looking for advanced studies in the field. The school is renowned for maintaining 100% employment rate within the first 6 months of graduation.
3. Washington University St. Louis
The School of Medicine’s Physical Therapy program was founded in 1942 at Washington University and continues to be one of the best among the lot. The institution is known for its leading departments in medicine and health. The three-year program equips the students with in-depth knowledge about neuromuscular and movement impairment classification. To enhance the practical knowledge of students, the faculty holds regular clinical sessions which increase the command of students in physical therapy techniques. The DPT program at this school gives students a flexible and tangible environment to grow and succeed. Students are encouraged to take part in research studies and enhance their learning experience. The school also conducts an NIH funded Research training under the supervision of qualified faculty which helps students in identifying their professional outlook. The alumni of the school are well known to acquire the practicing license across the United States.
4. University of Delaware
The College of Health Sciences at University of Delaware offers DPT program at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Known as one of the largest program at the college, the DPT program is well-known across the country for its learning centred approach and instil practical skills into its students for their careers in Physical Therapy. The faculty team at College of Health Sciences is a blend of professionals and experts who actively engage in creating world class physical therapists. Students at this school undergo Integrated Clinical Education courses which gives them a real life experience of their learning during their degree. In addition to that, students are also required to complete some additional clinical courses which are primary to their learning experience. The Research facilities at the school are also well-funded and well-equipped. There are also two outpatient physical therapy clinics at the school namely the Sports and Orthopaedic Clinic and Neurologic and Older Adult Clinic.
5. University of Iowa
The Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University offers a versatile DPT program including MA and Ph.D. Unlike other Physical Therapy schools, the duration of the DPT program at this school is 2.5 years which also includes 35 weeks of full time clinical experience. The program is an excellent combination of coursework, research and clinical experience. Due to its shorter duration, the program is highly competitive and every year only 40-45 students are enrolled into it. Throughout the degree, students are exposed to distinctive experiences along with the education. The initial coursework during the degree in general in nature. However, students have ample opportunities to focus on specialities and pursue a specific line of work. The University also grants several scholarships opportunities to students during the degree based on their educational performance.
6. Emory University
The Division of Physical Therapy has historically been a foremost choice for students to pursue their careers in Physical Therapy. Students at this school are embedded with the nature and scope of Physical Therapy so that they can acquire inquiry-based knowledge throughout the curriculum. Students are encouraged to explore the scientific aspects of Physical Therapy and apply their knowledge in their clinical practice. The school offers a variety of DPT programs at all levels. The environment at school is very diverse with students from all across the country. The degree duration is almost 3 years with mixed experiences of class room learning and clinical exposure. Research is deemed as an important factor as students take a final year research project under the supervision of the faculty. The University also offers Dual Degree programs with the DPT program. After the completion of their degree, students are also offered graduate assistantship which is pivotal to start a successful career.
7. Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine at the North-western University is the oldest Physical Therapy school in the US with a global reputation. The school has continuously produced the best Physical therapists who have spread across the world to pursue their careers. Students at the school are trained in group learning situations and faculty is based on the mentorship module. The schools offer comprehensive professional degrees with emphasis on research, clinical care and public service. The 2.5-year program is built around Motor Control Framework which helps students in identifying and diagnose movement issues. The degree is composed of 4 clinical experiences which continue throughout the degree. The University also offers Dual degree programs with DPT in Public Health and engineering. The University has exempted students from submitting GRE scores, although, other educational requirements must be met to enrol in the program. The University also offers a Pre-Physical Therapy Scholars Program for the undergraduate students who can apply during their junior year.
8. MGH Institute of Health Professions
Innovation, Excellence and Leadership are the three traits that explain the academic and clinical activities at this school. The DPT program at the school prepares the future physical therapists with critical thinking skills, lifelong learning and clinical skills. The school offers an accredited simulation curriculum which embeds the students with specialized skills of physical therapy. The DPT program is 32-months long with 3 clinical experiences which are carried out each year. Students are required to complete the final clinical training to earn their degree. MGH also offers a paid internship to students who complete their clinical training. Students looking to enrol in the DPT program are required to complete their bachelor degree and submit their GRE scores along with completing observation hours. The process has slightly changed since the onset of Covid-19 but these are the pre-requisite requirements for enrolment in the program.
9. Duke University
The School of Medicine at Duke University offers an innovative curriculum in the 3-year DPT program which enables students to have a team-based learning experience. The faculty at the school guides students on research though clinical practices in order to improve their diagnostic accuracy. The STEPS program at the school of medicine is a unique option for students to gain practical clinical experience under the guidance of a skilled physical therapist. The Big Sib Program is yet another initiative at the school which enables the fresh students to pair with senior students and enhance their learning experience. Students at the Duke Physical Therapy program also have the opportunity to visit the Trent Semans Centre for Health Education which is at a walking distance from the University. The Duke Medical Centre is also close-by where students can do their research projects. The school also offers a Global Studies program in which students who aspire to travel abroad can take this opportunity and volunteer in a clinic to help people
10. University of North Carolina
The DPT program at UNC’s School of Medicine an interdisciplinary program of 3 years with 114 hours of didactic and clinical courses and 36 weeks of clinical rotations. The school has one of the leading physical therapy program with an integrated system of education and research. The 36 weeks of clinical experience gives students the chance to explore musculoskeletal, neuromuscular and acute care. The University partners with more than 200 facilities for these trainings and students must need to do their clinical work in a deserving area. UNC has eased the application process by eliminating the need of GRE scores from the students. The success rate of school’s DPT program is evident from the rate of employment of its alumni which is 93% for the last 4 years.
Applying to a Physical Therapy school is not as same as applying to a medical school. In the end, all that matter is the fact that whether you can pass the National Physical Therapy Examination for license.
It’s about you becoming the best possible clinician you can be, and to do that, you have to be in a program that will provide you with the tools and opportunities to thrive as a student.
Therefore, all these schools offer top physical therapy programs across the entire county. We hope this list helps you in deciding your final choice for becoming a top-notch physical therapist and help those in need!