Choosing a Physical Therapy School

By Brenda on January 5th, 2012


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the career opportunities for physical therapists are expected to increase nearly triple the rate of the average occupation. Demand is expected to be driven by the increased medical needs associated with physical therapy services by an aging population. As people age, their mobility decreases and they become much more prone to injuring soft muscle tissue and musculoskeletal regions.

There are approximately 220 accredited physical therapy programs in the United States. About 10 of them confer master’s degrees with the remaining awarding doctorates. The vast majority of students seek doctoral degrees although it typically takes an additional year to complete compared to a master’s degree. The average doctoral program takes three years compared to two for the master’s degree.  So how can you find the right physical therapy program that meets your needs and goals? Let’s take a look.


The first step is to ensure the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Accreditation by this specific, third-party organization will ensure you get an education that meets stringent industry and educational requirements.

Tuition and Financial Assistance

Tuition for PT programs is not cheap. The average state school’s annual tuition runs about $15,000. The average private school tuition is up towards $30,000 per year. Out of state students can expect to pay about $25,000 per year. Don’t just shop by the tuition sticker price. Private schools have much more leeway when it comes to handing out scholarship and financial aid money. It is not uncommon for the tuition to end up being less for more expensive private schools because of much more lucrative financial aid packages.

Career Goals

If you want to study a specific type of physical therapy or work with a certain population of people, then you’ll want to talk with a program representative. Some physical therapists want to work with specific groups such as children, elderly, people with disabilities, or athletes. Make sure that the curriculum as well as the externship and clinical experiences prepare you to work with these certain populations.

Graduation and Job Placement Rate

Talk with school officials, current students, and ex-students of programs and ask them about their experiences in the program as well as what happened when they graduated. Did they secure employment right after they graduated? Did they feel fully prepared for the PT licensing exam? These questions are important to know.




Category: Campus Degrees,Careers and Employment,Degrees,Doctorate Degrees,Masters Degrees,Medical and Nursing,Online Degrees