Physical Therapy Undergraduate Degree Programs and Training

Physical therapy's goal is to improve the mobility of people who are ill or injured. Find out about training programs that can lead to a position as a physical therapist assistant or prepare you for graduate-level study to become a physical therapist. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kinds of Physical Therapy Undergraduate Programs Are Available?

Many schools offer a 2-year Associate of Applied Science program designed for aspiring physical therapist assistants. You should look for associate's programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Some colleges offer a Bachelor of Science in Pre-Physical Therapy, but these programs are rare. Due to the need for hands-on training, undergraduate programs in this field are primarily campus-based.

Most physical therapy programs are offered at the master's and doctoral levels; you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in order to gain admission. If you're interested in a career as a physical therapist and a pre-physical therapy bachelor's program isn't an option for you, you may prepare for a master's program by pursuing a bachelor's degree in health sciences, biology or chemistry. These types of degree programs include many of the courses that are required for enrollment in a graduate-level physical therapy program.

Degree LevelsAssociate's, bachelor's, master's, doctoral
Common CoursesRehabilitative techniques, neurological disorders, nutritional science, athletic injuries and applied anatomy
Licensure RequirementsIn addition to completing an accredited degree program, students must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam
Possible CareerPhysical therapist assistant or physical therapist depending on the level of education obtained

What Courses Can I Expect?

In a physical therapist assistant associate's program, you'll study rehabilitative techniques, neurological disorders, patient treatment plans, medical terminology and therapeutic exercises. You'll complete multiple practicums in a clinical setting. Most of these programs require two years of study.

Pre-physical therapy bachelor's programs include courses in nutritional science, athletic injuries and applied anatomy, as well as statistics, physics and chemistry. Some of these programs also require completion of an internship. Both associate's and bachelor's programs include general education coursework, like English composition or college algebra.

What Can I Do With My Education?

Completing an associate's program may qualify you for a career as a physical therapist assistant. These professionals demonstrate rehabilitative exercises and provide therapeutic massage services under the direction of a licensed physical therapist. However, you'll need to earn state licensure before you can work as an assistant. While licensure requirements vary from state to state, you'll usually need to complete an accredited education program and pass the National Physical Therapy Exam for physical therapy assistants.

A master's or doctoral degree is required in order to work as a physical therapist. Earning a bachelor's degree in pre-physical therapy can prepare you for a physical therapy graduate program. Related bachelor's programs in biology or health sciences may also lead to master's or doctoral program admission, but you'll need to make sure the curriculum includes graduate program prerequisites.

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:

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