Sports Physical Therapy Degree Programs and Schools

Sports physical therapy is a specialty within the physical therapy field that involves providing therapeutic care to sports professionals, athletes and trainers. Find out the education requirements for a career as a sports physical therapist as well as certification and licensure information. Schools offering Kinesiology & Sport Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

All sports physical therapists are classified as physical therapists (PT). However, working in this specialty requires completion of additional clinical training beyond that of general physical therapy.

Degrees Master of Physical Therapy, Master of Science in Physical Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy
Courses Applied exercise physiology, kinesiology, physical therapy in orthopedics, physical therapy in neurological disorders, therapeutic exercise, applied pathology
Licensing Licensure required in all states; completion of an additional competency exam in sports physical therapy required

What Are the Duties of a Sports Physical Therapist?

Sports physical therapists examine, diagnose and treat muscular, nervous and bone complications for athletes. For example, a patient with a torn hamstring or a broken bone might need a physical therapist if his or her movements or lifestyle is hindered from pain or weak body tissue.

What Are the Prerequisites?

Physical therapist programs are usually found at the graduate level and are certified by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (www.capteonline.org). To enter these programs, a minimum level of undergraduate work is needed. Undergraduate degrees that are complimentary to future graduate work include those in sports management or physiological fields. Some graduate programs only require three years of an undergraduate education, as long as you also enroll in three years of pre-physical therapy courses.

What Degree Programs Are Available?

After completing an undergraduate degree program, you have two options: going for a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) or going for a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT) degree. These are the graduate programs that are the intermediate step to becoming a sports physical therapist. Both degree levels are sufficient professionally. However, with only nine schools in the country offering master's programs compared to more than 200 offering doctoral programs, your best bet is likely getting a doctorate degree. Also, by December 31, 2015, the APTA will require all physical therapy programs to provide a doctoral degree (www.apta.org).

Are There Further Requirements?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you must become licensed to work as a physical therapist in your state (www.bls.gov). Each state varies, but the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) is needed to enroll in licensure programs in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (www.fsbpt.org). Successfully passing this exam allows you to work as a physical therapist in your state.

Once certified as a general physical therapist, you have two options for becoming a sports therapist. According to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS), you can complete 2,000 hours of professional work in a sports-related field with 25% of those hours occurring over the last three years or attend a sports residency program accredited by the ABPTS (www.abpts.org). Finally, you must take a written exam that demonstrates your knowledge specifically within sports therapy.

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

  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

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  • Georgetown University

    Georgetown University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Georgetown University:

    • Master

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  • George Mason University

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

    Popular programs at George Mason University:

    • Master

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  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
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  • University of Saint Mary

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

    Popular programs at University of Saint Mary:

    • Master

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  • Kaplan University

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  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
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  • Herzing University

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