What Are the Top Physical Therapy Colleges and Schools?

Whether you have a targeted objective or want broad exposure to the field, read on to learn more about programs at the top physical therapy schools. Get information about schools' accreditation and the clinical training they offer. See what degree programs are offered and what they entail. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top Physical Therapy College?

Look for a school that's accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education. These schools can provide the academic and clinical experience required to pass professional licensing exams. Additionally, search for programs that have specialized centers or unique clinical placement opportunities. You can apply to multiple schools at once through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service.

What Are Three Good Schools for Physical Therapists (PT)?

Boston University in MA

BU tied for 41st in U.S. News & World Report's national university ranking for 2016. Additionally, it had the 16th-ranked graduate physical therapy program, according to U.S. News & World Report's most recent evaluation in 2012. Eight affiliated clinical facilities include centers for athletic enhancement, neurorehabilitation and physical therapy. You could also pursue clinical training at 700 sites in the U.S. and abroad. A neurological PT residency program is available.

Through BU's Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, you can major in athletic training or health studies in a 6-year dual Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. Students starting in athletic training have an 8-week senior year clinical experience, with 36 clinical weeks and a 6-month internship in the DPT program. Those earning a bachelor's degree in health studies complete 44 weeks of full-time clinical experience in 3-4 locations in the DPT program. These degrees are offered:

  • B.S. in Athletic Training
  • B.S. in Health Studies
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy

University of Delaware in Newark

UD, a public university, was ranked 2nd for graduate physical therapy programs in 2012 according to U.S. News & World Report. Available clinics include sports and orthopedics; neurology and older adults; and pediatric rehabilitation. You could also work with patients suffering from sports injuries or multiple sclerosis. Laboratories for motional analysis, motor behavior and human muscle performance may address your research interests.

The Department of Physical Therapy admits approximately 36 students per year to the 2.5-year DPT program. You'll need a bachelor's degree and 100 hours of volunteer or paid clinical experience supervised by a licensed PT before beginning the program. You could also earn an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Biomechanics and Movement Sciences on a full- or part-time schedule. Clinical fellowships are available for practitioners. The following degrees can be earned:

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biomechanics and Movement Sciences

University of Southern California in Los Angeles

According to U.S. News & World Report in 2012, USC ranked 1st among schools with graduate physical therapy programs. Approximately 10% of nearly 1,000 applicants are admitted annually to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. USC reported a 100% licensing examination pass rate for 2005-2010 graduates. Practicing PTs can apply to 1-year clinical residency programs in sports, neurologic or orthopedic therapy.

USC's 115-unit DPT curriculum requires completion of six semesters and two summer courses. Laboratories include facilities for musculoskeletal biomechanics, exercise science and muscle research, motor behavior, development and control. The ACL Project Prevent Program is a collaborative athletic injury research effort with the Santa Monica Orthopaedic Group, the University of North Carolina and the Competitive Athlete Training Zone. The following degrees can be earned:

  • Master of Science (MS) in Biokinesiology
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biokinesiology

Ten Other Top Physical Therapy Program

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocation
University of Pittsburg4-year, PublicPittsburg, PA
Washington University in St. Louis4-year, PrivateSt. Louis, MO
University of Iowa4-year, PublicIowa City, IA
Emory University4-year, PrivateAtlanta, GA
Northwestern University4-year, PrivateChicago, IL
University of Miami4-year, PrivateCoral Gables, FL
University of North Carolina4-year, PublicChapel Hill, NC
University of Florida4-year, PublicGainesville, FL
Marquette University4-year, PrivateMilwaukee, WI
Arcadia University4-year, PrivateGlenside, PA

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

  • Utica College

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    Popular programs at Utica College:

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  • The George Washington University

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