Physical Therapist Education – Overview
See Curriculum and Continuing Education for more information.
The first step in any Physical Therapist’s career is the completion of the proper education needed to apply for licensure according the requirements of each state. Generally speaking, all prospective Physical Therapists must complete a undergraduate degree in a field of their choice, and a graduate degree from an accredited Physical Therapist program before taking the national licensure examination required to become a Physical Therapist in their state of choice. It is important to note that, up until the 1990′s, many Physical Therapists were required only to complete a Bachelor of Science of Physical Therapy. However, as a result of the rapidly changing role and demand of qualified Physical Therapists, most can expect to complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy program in order to practice in the United States. These programs are designed to provide future Physical Therapists with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for an individual to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist.
There are currently 212 Physical Therapist programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Education (CAPTE). Of these programs, 203 offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, and 9 offer a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT) degree. For acceptance into a Physical Therapy program of education, an applicant must typically have a Bachelors degree (many majors are acceptable) and prerequisite coursework in biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, physics, psychology, and statistics. There are many 4-year undergraduate programs that offer a Bachelor of Science program with emphases in exercise sciences, kinesiology, anatomy, or a pre-physical therapy option that will offer all or much of the prequisite coursework required for entry into an accredited Physical Therapy graduate program required for licensure as a Physical Therapist.
Currently, either a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Education (CAPTE) will prepare a potential Physical Therapist for licensure in all 50 states. However, CAPTE will require that all programs offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) effective by the end of 2015. Should you currently be looking at how to become a Physical Therapist, you can probably expect that you will need to complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in order to practice Physical Therapy in the future.