Physical Therapy Degree and Certificate Programs

Physical therapists help patients regain physical skills after illness or injury. Find out what degrees or certificates you'll need to pursue this career, learn about online study options, and see what's required for professional certification. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Physical Therapy Degree and Certificate Programs Are Available?

Physical therapy programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. If you want to begin a career in physical therapy assisting, consider enrolling in an associate's degree program.

If you're planning on becoming a licensed physical therapist, pre-physical therapy bachelor's degree programs in kinesiology or natural science are available to help you prepare for graduate school. You may also be able to find accelerated programs that allow you to complete bachelor's degree and Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) program requirements in as little as six years. Stand-alone D.P.T. programs are also offered.

Once you complete graduate school, post-professional certificate programs are also available. Some may prepare you for certification through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).

Degree ProgramsBachelor's degrees in kinesiology or natural sciences will prepare you for a D.P.T. program; accelerated bachelor's to doctorate programs are also available
Online AvailabilityOnline programs are not available due to hands-on requirements
Undergraduate CoursesMusculoskeletal system, exercise physiology, rehabilitation techniques, pathophysiology, biomechanics
Graduate CoursesMedical ethics, therapeutic techniques, injury treatment, cardiopulmonary techniques, patient management
Certificate ProgramsCertificates in specialized areas are available as continuing education

Will I Be Able to Complete Any Training Online?

Because physical therapy degree programs rely on clinical work and hands-on training, online programs aren't available. However, if you intend on enrolling in a certificate program, you may find that some schools offer coursework online to accommodate the scheduling needs of licensed physical therapists.

What Undergraduate Courses Can I Take?

In an associate's degree program, you can learn how to follow a physical therapist's treatment plan, massage patients, assist with exercises and bandage wounds. You could also learn how to provide basic first aid and work with different age groups. Typical program coursework can include topics in rehabilitation techniques, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and pathophysiology. You could also complete clinical requirements.

A bachelor's degree program in pre-physical therapy often covers advanced topics on the musculoskeletal system, motor development and exercise physiology. You can take courses in pharmacology, biomechanics, aging, movement science, motor control and functional anatomy. Your program might also require you to participate in internships or clinical work.

What About Graduate Degree Programs?

Doctoral degree programs can qualify you to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination and become a licensed physical therapist. In a D.P.T. program, you can hone your skills in the areas of pathokinesiology, therapeutic techniques, injury treatment and cardiopulmonary therapy. You can also study medical ethics, patient management, law and research techniques. These programs may also require you to enroll in courses that discuss spine disorders, nerve biology, movement science and professional development. Extensive clinical training is required.

What Can I Study in a Certificate Program?

Certificate programs are available in areas such as geriatrics, neurology, pediatrics and orthopedics. Some programs are for graduates of physical therapy degree programs who want to continue their education. These programs generally require you to complete 12-18 hours of coursework. Other certificate programs are only available to licensed physical therapists. These programs include extensive clinical practicums or residencies to prepare graduates for the ABPTS' specialist certification exam.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • George Mason University

    George Mason University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at George Mason University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

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  • Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Johns Hopkins University:

    • Master

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  • Widener University

    Widener University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Widener University:

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  • Colorado State University Global

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    Popular programs at Colorado State University Global:

    • Master

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  • Penn Foster Career School

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  • University of the Southwest

    University of the Southwest responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at University of the Southwest:

    • Master

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  • University of Saint Mary

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    Popular programs at University of Saint Mary:

    • Master

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  • American InterContinental University

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  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Saint Mary's University of Minnesota responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota:

    • Master

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