Doctor of Physical Therapy: Degree Overview

Read detailed information about doctoral degree studies in physical therapy. Learn about enrollment requirements, curricula details, outcomes, career prospects and professional licensing information. Find statistics pertaining to projected job growth and salary figures for those in the physical therapy field.

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Essential Information

Physical therapists assess and treat patients with functional limitations, impairments, injuries and disabilities, such as musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. Within a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree program, aspiring physical therapists learn to work with patients to increase strength and eliminate pain as well as improve the normal functions of body systems, such as the respiratory, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems. Students also complete required clinical experiences, which generally include patient observation and examination, through campus clinics or at affiliated physical therapy facilities. Upon successful completion of a DPT degree program, graduates are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination for state licensure.

Education Prerequisites

In general, a student seeking admission into this type of degree program require a baccalaureate degree. Some academic institutions require students to complete prerequisite courses in biology, statistics, chemistry, physics, social science and psychology. Additionally, programs could require letters of recommendation and GRE scores.

Course Topics

Studies in a DPT program focus on advanced topics relating to human movement, physical therapy methods and physical sciences. Students learn to use problem-solving activities and case studies in order to enhance the learning experience. Common physical therapy course topics include:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Pharmacology
  • Neuroscience
  • Injuries of the musculoskeletal system
  • Research methods
  • Community health
  • Pediatric physical therapy

Popular Career Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists could see an employment growth of 39% from 2010-2020 due to increases in elderly populations and survival rates of infants with birth defects (www.bls.gov). The median wage for physical therapists was $79,860 in May 2012, according to the same agency. Graduates can provide community service, conduct research and practice in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including:

  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Private physical therapy offices
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Sports facilities

Licensure and Continuing Education Information

All states require practicing physical therapists to obtain a license. To renew a license, physical therapists usually need to participate in continuing education, and some states require specific courses or activities.

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Salary and Career Info for a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 21 years of age or older and have completed some college or 24 years of age or older and a high school graduate for a Bachelor's degree
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    Do you prefer online or campus based learning?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
        • Physical Therapy
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Miami include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
        • Music Therapist
        • Physical Therapy
  • School locations:
    • Wisconsin (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Marquette University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Nursing Professions
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
        • Physical Therapy
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Temple University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
      • Podiatry - DPM
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
        • Music Therapist
        • Occupational Therapy
        • Physical Therapy
        • Therapeutic Recreation
  • School locations:
    • Delaware (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Delaware include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Nursing Professions
      • Nutrition Services
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
        • Physical Therapy
  • School locations:
    • Texas (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Baylor University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Nursing Professions
      • Nutrition Services
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
        • Physical Therapy
  • School locations:
    • Alabama (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of South Alabama include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Diploma
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
        • Occupational Therapy
        • Physical Therapy

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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