Top 10 Physical Therapy Schools: Start Your New Career
Physical therapy is a form of medical treatment that aims to assist patients in recovering their ability to stand, walk, and move different parts of their bodies. It can effectively treat medical conditions or injuries that cause pain, movement dysfunction, or reduced mobility. For instance, if a person experiences knee pain while running, a physical therapist can evaluate their range of motion and create a treatment plan to help them run without discomfort.
Physical therapy has both preventative and curative potential. Physical therapists can take measures to prevent injury, enhance performance, and correct functional movement abnormalities in patients with injuries or medical conditions.
Physical therapy is growing, with many universities offering physical therapy programs. The top physical therapy schools can help students acquire the skills needed to become successful physical therapists by providing courses approved by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. This independent organization regularly evaluates accredited programs to ensure high-quality education.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 21% increase in job opportunities for PT’s in the US from 2020 to 2030, resulting in over 49,000 new job openings. It is good news for students who wish to pursue a career in physical therapy as they have access to some of the world’s top physical therapy schools in the US.
Best Physical Therapy Schools
Here, we give you the best physical therapy schools in the USA. Based on our research, here are the following:
CUNY Hunter College
Hunter College, a public university in New York City, values individual growth through a liberal arts and science education as crucial for a diverse society. Its undergraduate and graduate programs challenge students to think critically, with professional curricula requiring teamwork and the consideration of diverse perspectives to solve complex issues. Niche.com has given CUNY Hunter College an overall grade rating of B, ranking #9 in the list of Most Liberal Colleges in America.
Graduates of Hunter College can pursue health professions such as physical therapy and nursing through the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. The program is a full-time, post-baccalaureate degree that spans three years and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) of the American Physical Therapy Association. Hunter College provides information sessions about the course throughout the year, and upon graduation, students will prepare for the National Licensing Examination in Physical Therapy.
CUNY – College of Staten Island
The College of Staten Island prides itself on its commitment to academic excellence, drawing on centuries-old learning, teaching, research, and service traditions. Its undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs are designed to challenge students and allow them to pursue their creative and educational aspirations while offering affordable tuition rates, flexible completion timeframes, access to scholarships, and a supportive community of peers.
The entry-level degree required for students interested in becoming physical therapists is a Clinical Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT), which the college has been offering since 1995. The program provides a strong clinical foundation, affordable CUNY tuition, and excellent career opportunities in physical therapy. CSI CUNY offers numerous advantages, such as small class sizes, distinguished faculty, access to renowned researchers, and over 230 clinical sites for hands-on experience in various specializations.
California State University – Fresno
The California State University in Fresno strives to provide students with a quality education to help them succeed as individuals. They offer a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs with different majors, minors, certificates, and graduate degrees to choose from. California State University-Fresno ranked #213 among National Universities, #21 in Top Performers on Social Mobility, and #107 in Top Public Schools by U.S. News and World Report.
CSU Fresno also offers a Doctoral program in physical therapy, which is inter professional and focuses on community-based teams for students to work with. Students may have opportunities to participate in service-learning programs, including adaptive sports, attending the amputee clinic, or developing wellness programs.
The program emphasizes an evidence-based approach to patient care throughout the curriculum, encouraging students to critically analyze research and improve their patient’s health outcomes. Clinical coursework, case studies, clinical investigations, literature critiques, and patient interaction and care are all designed to engage students actively in their learning and clinical experiences.
Snow College is an independent higher education institution with a mission to educate students, inspire their love for learning, and encourage them to serve. The faculty members provide individualized attention to each student to achieve this mission.
According to Niche.com, Snow College received an overall B- rating for diversity, value, and campus life. For those interested in pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, Snow College in Utah offers a pre-physical therapy program at a lower cost than other options in the field. This program provides students with the necessary foundation for a doctorate-level degree.
University of Washington
The University of Washington is a highly respected and renowned institution known for its rigorous academic environment, diverse student body, and focus on producing future leaders through innovative scholarship and exploration. With a rich history of scientific breakthroughs in engineering, science, and human health, the university is consistently ranked among the best in the country by organizations like U.S. News and World Report, and Niche.com.
The university’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program is particularly exceptional, ranked as one of the top physical therapy programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The program is highly competitive, accepting only the most qualified applicants, and emphasizes hands-on clinical education that allows students to apply classroom learning to real-world patient care experiences.
Throughout the three-year program, students progressively gain more clinical experience, culminating in 11 weeks of work in their final year, working alongside experienced professionals. This focus on clinical experience sets the University of Washington’s program apart from others, providing graduates with expertise that can distinguish them in the job market.
Chicago State University
Chicago State University is a public institution that strongly commits to diversity and provides high-quality higher education to students who may face financial or other barriers to attending college. Although Niche.com received an overall grade rating of C+ from Niche.com, it was recognized for its academic and diversity rankings. One of its standout programs is the Bachelor of Science in Pre-Physical Therapy, which provides students with the foundational knowledge to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in physical therapy.
The program includes opportunities for clinical experience, job fairs, and professional development, which can help students stand out when applying to more advanced programs. Upon completing the requirements and certification, graduates can work in various settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, the military, or private practices.
Louisiana Christian University was established in 1906 as a Christ-centered community that values academic excellence and prepares students for lives of learning and service through various degree programs. The university offers undergraduate and graduate programs in liberal arts and professional and graduate education focusing on Christ. One of the programs Louisiana Christian University offers is the Physical Therapy Assistant program, which leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree upon completion.
This program is highly regarded and ranked among the top physical therapy assistant programs in the United States. The curriculum is personalized to meet the individual needs of students and provides them with the skills necessary to succeed as physical therapy assistants or to continue their education toward becoming physical therapists. The program covers various topics, including clinical kinesiology, physical therapy procedures, physical agents/massage principles, clinical neurorehabilitation/motor control, and hands-on clinical experience with professionals.
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University is a student-centered institution emphasizing critical thinking, leadership, and effective teaching. The university values academic excellence, innovation, integrity, inclusivity, sustainability, and collaboration and has received a B+ rating from Niche.com for academics, diversity, and athletics. It is also ranked as the third-best public university in Georgia by Niche.com.
One of the programs Georgia Southern University offers is the Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Sciences, designed to prepare students for the advanced Doctor of Physical Therapy program. This program provides students with a solid understanding of neuroscience, pathophysiology, and psychology, which they can apply to rehabilitation. A solid understanding of neuroscience, pathophysiology, and psychology benefits students as they progress into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Georgia Southern University.
This three-year program covers various topics, including anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, neurology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and kinesiology. Students begin the clinical experience in their first year, which includes rotations at hospitals and clinics. As of 2021, the physical therapy program at Georgia Southern University has a 100% graduation rate and a 100% employment rate for graduates within one year of being licensed as physical therapists.
University of Missouri
The University of Missouri aims to educate students to become leaders and professionals who can contribute to the world. They prioritize creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone. U.S. News and World Report have recognized the university in various categories, including national universities, colleges for veterans, best-value schools, and top public schools.
At the University of Missouri, The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is a full-time professional degree program. The program includes coursework in clinical science, physical therapy theory, and practice, research methods, and physical therapy administration. The program prepares students for successful careers as practicing clinicians, focusing on evidence-based practice, leadership development, healthcare policy and advocacy, and multicultural competence. One unique aspect of the program is the service opportunities available to students, such as working in a pro-bono clinic and with individuals with disabilities in a specialized gymnastics program.
Tarleton State University
Tarleton State University is committed to providing an excellent education that promotes discovery, leadership, and inclusion. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 22:1 and over 120 student organizations, the university aims to equip students with the necessary tools to succeed in today’s constantly evolving world. Tarleton State was ranked by the U.S. News and World Report as #77 in Regional Universities West, #70 in Top Performers on Social Mobility, and #39 in Top Public Schools.
One of the degree programs offered at Tarleton State University is a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, which concentrates on exercise and allied health professions. This program focuses on physical therapy and is designed to prepare students for the demands of the modern workplace by offering theoretical coursework, hands-on applied learning, and real-world experiences.
Graduates of the program are equipped for careers in fields like physical therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic medicine, and cardiac rehabilitation. This program is an excellent option for individuals seeking knowledge and experience before applying to a Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
How Can I Enroll In The Top Physical Therapy Programs?
Start preparing early for the application process to increase your chances of getting accepted into a physical therapy program. One of the first things to do is to get acquainted with PTCAS, commonly used by most PT schools for applications. It is also important to look into ACAPT’s Admissions Traffic Rules for Applicants, followed by PT schools that use PTCAS. By researching and following specific recommendations, you can become a more competitive candidate and improve your chances of admission to top physical therapy programs.
The Process For Applying To Physical Therapy Schools
To work as a physical therapist, obtaining a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from a program that the Commission has approved on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE) and passing a licensing exam is necessary. However, one must be accepted into a physical therapy (PT) school before completing the DPT degree.
To apply to PT school, you should first finish your bachelor’s degree in a field related to physical therapy. Then, if required by the PT schools you are applying to, take the GRE several times. Additionally, you should complete physical therapy observation hours to become familiar with the profession and obtain testimonials from past employers and teachers as references. Finally, assemble supporting materials, such as transcripts, essays, and extra materials required by the PT schools you are applying to. Apply to several PT schools that fit your preferences and meet the criteria required for admission.