Let us help you in the selection procedure of DPT, PTA and Ph.D. level programs and their requirements.  What are the criteria of schools relates to DPT, PTA and Ph.D. admission?

Physical therapy refers to a kind of treatment of disabilities that hinder a person’s occupational roles. There is a strong expected growth for physical therapists in the next decade to come. Given the high work prospects, it is a very lucrative field to get into. A natural question one may ask is regarding the requirements of a physical therapy school.

Physical therapy school requirements vary for the degree you are willing to pursue. Therefore, before you dive into school requirements and pre-requisites, it is important to know which degree you want to pursue.

10 Quick Facts:

  1. DPT degree required to become a physical therapist
  2. Associate degree of science required to become PTA
  3. Campus base learning prefer VS online learning especially for DPT degree
  4. On average $84,000 to $92,000 annually salary physical therapist can make, on the other hand, PTA can make around $45,000
  5. 37% jobs growth rate expected till the 2026 year
  6. Accreditation school, Interview, GRE score, and GPA in major is the mandatory requirements for every school in the US
  7. Found top ranking institute in California, Florida, Georgia, and NY for both DPT and PTA degree
  8. Many schools offering scholarship or financial AID, Depends on your interview and previous grades
  9. Make sure your schools prepare you to relate to national exam conduct by NPTE
  10. APTA is another regulatory authority for schools offering DPT and PTA degree programs

What Accredited Physical Therapy degrees are available?

Physical therapy as a profession can be undertaken through a route of three different degrees. First, understand how many types of Physical therapy degrees are available? The route through the professional degree.


  1. Associate Degree in Physical Therapy

An associate degree in physical therapy lasts 2 years and it allows professional to enter the work field as a physical therapy assistant.

The degree content is comprised of an adequate balance between practical knowledge and theory. The degree also usually includes a part where students gain hands-on clinical work experience.

The theory is normally comprised of medical sciences and education courses. It teaches students all the basics of physical therapy and the essential knowledge of working in a physical therapy setting.

  1. Direct Entry Doctorate (DPT)

A direct entry doctorate program is for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than physiotherapy. The program is normally 3 years long when taken for a full time.

It covers all basic coursework that allows students to be eligible for entry-level work in the field of physiotherapy.

  1. Ph.D. Degree

A Ph.D. in physiotherapy focuses on the theory of physiotherapy, which prepares professionals for research and development. They innovate in the professional work field and may become education professionals as well.

The program normally lasts three to five years for those students who have already taken a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in physiotherapy.

However, the exact prior education needed for the program varies depending on the university and the student’s academic records.

The program coursework focuses on research and clinical techniques and is normally a huge academic investment.

Pre-Requisites Requirements for Schools Admission

Foremost requirement relates to direct entry admission in DPT degree and PTA degree. Every school display prerequisites requirement, so general requirement display here.

Pre-requisites for Associate Degree in PTA

The first thing students need to make sure is that they have completed advanced high school education. As an alternative, they should have taken basic college-level courses such as chemistry, biology, and physics.

Furthermore, the exact requirements of high school GPA and pre-requisites can also be specific to a school. It is therefore advised to check the exact requirements of a school.

Pre-requisites DPT 

Pre-requisites of a DPT firstly include that a student must have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than physical therapy.

Moreover, there are a number of pre-requisite courses that these students need to take before the program. These courses may also have been covered during the bachelor’s degree but if not, you will have to complete them at a community college.

  1. Anatomy / A&P 1 with lab
  2. Physiology / A&P 2 with lab
  3. Biology 1 (not botany or zoology)
  4. Biology 2 (not botany or zoology)
  5. General Chemistry 1 with lab
  6. General Chemistry 2 with lab
  7. General Physics 1 with lab
  8. General Physics 2 with lab
  9. Psychology
  10. Statistics

Pre-requisites PhD

Applicants must be graduates in Physical Therapy from an accredited school. They must possess a master’s degree or a DPT with a minimum of 60 credit hours.

Furthermore, many Ph.D. programs require applicants to have completed at least 3 years in clinical experience with a Physical Therapist.

What Certification Will I Need? / Accreditation and Licensing

See, what are different types of certification offered by ABPTS.

Physical therapy Assistant

All states of the US require physical therapy assistants to have a license before they can start working. The license is obtained through successfully taking the National Physical Therapy Exam.

Before students can be eligible for the licensing exam, it is important that they have completed their associate degree at an accredited school. Accreditation of the school is absolutely necessary because you only obtained a license by receiving education at verified school.

Although physical therapy assistants cannot become physical therapists unless they take a master’s degree, they can enter the field of teaching.

This can be achieved through entering the field of education from a lower level and working your way up.


In order to work as a DPT in the US, you will need a license for practicing. This license is obtained by taking the certification exam by the state government.

The exam is administrated by the federal board and in order to be eligible for the exam, you must have completed your DPT at a school. Furthermore, it is mandatory to have attended a school that is accredited by the government.


A Ph.D. in physical therapy is valid for professional practice when taken from a school accredited by the state government. Furthermore, in order to practice, students need to take the Physical Therapy License Exam. This exam can also be taken at the master’s level.

Some Ph.D. graduates may also take up education as a career for which there are certain requirements for education courses, which need to be met.

How Long Does It Take?

Schedule of programs relates to physical therapy degrees, according to 2020 calendar years. Some schools are offering end of 2019 years.

Associate Degree

An associate degree in physical therapy can itself take around 2 years in completion but it can take longer because of things before and after it.

After graduating from high school, you will need to take pre-requisite courses if you haven’t already. For this, you may enroll in a community college to take those courses. This can take a couple of months. Furthermore, you also have to take the license exam right after completing the associate degree. Although it is advised to take it earliest possible, the time taken by some people can get longer. But if done rightly, you should be done in just a little more than 2 years.


A DPT program normally lasts 3 years and it includes lectures inside classrooms that cover the theory, clinical experience, and practical lab teachings.


A Ph.D. in physical therapy is a highly demanding program which can take roughly 3 years in completion. Some programs may also be 5 years long.

Are Online Programs Available?

Compare to campus-based education, online education is also very popular nowadays. Especially students who have work in some hospitals and rehabilitation center does not have time to attending class regularly.


Online Associate Degree in Physiotherapy

Associate degrees in Physiotherapy are available online but they aren’t 100% online. This is because of the practical nature of the coursework. Physical Therapy Assistants learn to assists physiotherapists while performing therapy.

For this, they need a proper practical education. It is therefore essential that they gain some amount of on-campus education with professional teaching staff. Therefore, hybrid programs are available for students who prefer to work while they study, or they are at a distance.

Online DPT

Online DPT programs are hybrid ones that cover most of the syllabus online whereas the lab work and practical teachings require the student to be on campus. Online part usually covers the following topics.

  • Musculoskeletal Anatomy
  • Clinical Management of Musculoskeletal Dysfunction
  • Life Span Motor Control
  • Fundamentals of Neuroscience
  • Differential Diagnosis in Physical Therapy
  • Clinical Exercise Physiology
  • Mechanics of Human Gait

Online PhD

Online Ph.D. programs are offered by many universities but in the field of physical therapy, this may make the individual appear less competent. It is recommended to take on-campus programs in this regard.

Tuition Fee

General stats of tuition fee about every physical therapy programs display below. Every school has own criteria of tuition fee depends on their locality, ranking ETC.


Associate Degree Tuition Fee

The average tuition fee of an associate degree in Physiotherapy is normally around $315 per semester hour. However, this can be subject to large deviation for different schools in different areas throughout the US.

DPT Tuition Fee

The average tuition fee for a DPT that lasts three years is around $12,500 for residents of the state. On the other hand, for non-residents, the cost can go up to $32,000 for the program.

Room and boarding charges are added accordingly, and the average tuition fee can vary depending on the school and the place.

Ph.D. Tuition Fee

The tuition fee alone can cost around $10,500 per semester on average.

GPA and GRE Score Requirements

Associate Degree

An associate degree does not require students to have taken the GRE, however, a minimum high school GPA is needed. The minimum high school GPA depends on which school you are applying to. Moreover, you can check with your school to see if you meet their minimum GPA requirements.



Most average GPA requirements for a DPT program are 3.52 but this can change according to the requirements of the school. Alongside, you will need a GRE for a DPT as well. Although you need a reasonable score in each component, the exact requirement depends on the school.


A GRE is needed for admission into Ph.D. programs and for international students, a TOEFL is also needed.

A minimum GPA of 3.5 is recommended whereas minimum GRE score depends on the school.

Interviews for Admissions

One of the most important factors in schools admission and especially scholarship. Make sure you are fully prepared for it.


Associate Degree in Physiotherapy

Normally, associate degrees do not require an interview, rather they simply depend on your pre-requisites. However, some schools may interview students before accepting, it is therefore advised to check the admission process of a school before applying.


Although all schools do not need an interview, there are some schools that require one. There are multiple ways to prepare for it. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you stay relaxed and focused. Furthermore, you will have to practice common questions and some school-specific questions.


A Ph.D. interview is quite rigorous and can require students to have prepared well for it in advance. It includes questions regarding the thesis topic, reasons for pursuing etc.

What is the Fast Track Programs (Combined Degree) in Physical Therapy?

Some questions relate to combined degree programs PTA + DPT. Is it beneficial for students or not?

I think if you just pass high school and want to enter in this field, and then go for the accelerated program. Multiple benefits you can get after this relates to tuition fee, Schedule, and jobs after completion of the degree.

  1. 6 years required, (Save 1 year)
  2. 90% of schools are offering such programs for students

What are the Best Schools for Physical Therapy in the US?

Another question comes in every student’s mind (Local + International) relates to the best college or schools. In every state like Georgia, Mississippi, Kansas, California, Florida and other states of the US, you can found Top ranking schools. Check the Home page of PTCAREER about how to select PT schools.


  1. Accreditation
  2. Faculty
  3. Tuition Fee (Scholarship offering)
  4. Graduation and National Exam passing rate
  5. Prepare of Licensing
  6. Environment

For more information about a particular school, you can request PTCAREER consultancy firm.

Types of Physical Therapy Specialties

After Completion of DPT degree, students confuse about the selection of specialization. Check out some typical specialization by ABPTS site.

1.       Cardiovascular & Pulmonary

2.       Clinical Electrophysiology

3.       Oncology

4.       Women’s Health

5.       Geriatrics

6.       Neurology

7.       Orthopedics

8.       Pediatrics

9.       Sports

Sports, Pediatric, Geriatrics and Orthopaedics specialization demand is increasing in many states. IN some states, Sports physical therapist can make around $250,000 annually plus many other benefits.


Ask more about Physical Therapy Programs

Still confuse relates to Physical therapy admission? Ask anything about physical therapy programs from our expert.


Dr Kiran
Dr. Kiran Wills working as Licensed Physical Therapist PT, DPT in Brooklyn New York. Also providing consultancy to many private fitness centers and career counseling institute.
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