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How to Become a Physical Therapist, Plus Accredited Online Schools

4 minute read

By Clarissa Mitton

Are you interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy? The path to becoming a physical therapist is a rewarding journey filled with opportunities to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Fortunately, getting a degree in physical therapy is now more accessible than ever thanks to online courses. Start a search today to find the best online physical therapy programs.

How to Become a Physical Therapist

Becoming a physical therapist is an admirable goal that requires dedication and specific educational steps. Here’s a brief overview of how to embark on this journey:

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Before you can pursue a career in physical therapy, you must complete a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as biology, kinesiology, or exercise science. This undergraduate education provides the foundation for your future studies.

Pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree

To become a licensed physical therapist, you’ll need to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This graduate-level program typically takes three years to complete and includes both classroom instruction and clinical rotations to gain hands-on experience.

Obtain State Licensure

After completing your DPT program, you must obtain a state license to practice as a physical therapist. Each state has its own licensing requirements, which may include passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).

How to Find the Best Online Physical Therapy Programs

When it comes to finding the best online physical therapy programs and pursuing physical therapy degrees, it’s essential to consider several factors. Here’s a list of valuable tips to help you make an informed choice:

  • Accreditation Matters: It’s important to look for the right physical therapy accreditation. Ensure that the program you choose is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Accreditation ensures that the program meets rigorous educational standards and will be recognized by licensing bodies.
  • Research Program Reputation: Investigate the reputation of the online physical therapy program. Look for reviews, testimonials, and rankings from current and former students. A well-regarded program often indicates high-quality education.
  • Curriculum Alignment: Review the program’s curriculum to ensure it aligns with your career goals and interests. Check for a balanced blend of theoretical knowledge and practical skills development.
  • Clinical Placement Opportunities: Determine if the program offers opportunities for clinical placements or internships. Practical experience is essential for becoming a proficient physical therapist.
  • Cost and Financial Aid: Evaluate the program’s tuition costs and investigate available financial aid options, such as scholarships, grants, or student loans.
  • Graduation Rates and Employment Outcomes: Research the program’s graduation rates and employment outcomes for graduates. A higher graduation rate and a track record of graduates finding employment can be indicative of program quality.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can make a well-informed decision when selecting the best online physical therapy program that aligns with your career aspirations and educational needs.

Best Online Physical Therapy Programs

There are numerous accredited online physical therapy schools and online continuing education courses in physical therapy to choose from, so conducting thorough research is essential. Here are a few of the best schools to consider:

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers a comprehensive DPT program. USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission, ensuring high program quality standards. With an impressive graduation rate of 92% and a student-to-faculty ratio of 9-to-1, USC provides a supportive learning environment.

Northeastern University Lifelong Learning Network

Northeastern University’s online transitional DPT program caters to practicing physical therapists seeking career advancement. Accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education, this program offers high-quality education and various financial aid options to assist with educational expenses.

Andrews University

Andrews University offers a distance learning DScPT program, preparing students to become certified orthopedic manual therapists. The Higher Learning Commission accredits Andrews, ensuring program excellence. The university provides a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and offers financial aid options to support students.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center provides an online Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy program for practicing physical therapists. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the school offers a diverse array of healthcare-focused programs and financial aid options.

Shenandoah University

Shenandoah University’s online post-professional doctorate in physical therapy program is designed for practicing physical therapists. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Shenandoah boasts a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and provides financial aid options for students.

These accredited online programs offer flexibility and convenience, allowing you to pursue your physical therapy degree while balancing other commitments. But remember, these are just a few schools to consider and there are many others. Finding the right one for you simply requires a bit of research.

Start Your Search Today

Embarking on a career in physical therapy begins with finding the right educational program. By exploring accredited online physical therapy schools and considering your goals and preferences, you can take the first step towards a fulfilling and impactful profession. Start your search today to find the best online physical therapy program that suits your needs and aspirations.

Clarissa Mitton


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