Physical Therapy Education: School Admission & Courses

Learn about the educational steps you’ll need to take to succeed in a physical therapy career.

Considering Your Degree

All physical therapy careers require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4-year college or university. For students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree and have taken the appropriate prerequisites in chemistry, biology, and physics, a doctoral-level physical therapy program (which is a common end goal) can take as few as 2 1/2 years.

Physical Therapy School Admission

Admission to physical therapy programs is competitive; to get into your school of choice, you’ll need to accomplish the following:

  • Earn a high overall grade point average (GPA) in college
  • Volunteer or have work experience as a physical therapy assistant
  • Some schools require up to 150 hours of clinical experience before admission
  • Have strong letters of recommendation
  • Have earned a satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

What You’ll Study

Curriculum varies from program to program, but in addition to the theory and practice of physical therapy, your physical therapy courses will likely cover:

  • Basic medical sciences
  • Biomechanics
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Pathology
  • Rehabilitative procedures

You’ll also gain plenty of hands-on experience in a clinical internship.

Getting Your License

After graduating from an accredited physical therapy program, you must then pass the National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE). Some people choose to seek advanced certification in a clinical specialty, while others become certified in electrophysiological testing and measurement.

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