Physical Therapist PhD Program Information
Physical therapist Ph.D. programs typically take about three years to complete. Graduates can pursue physical therapy roles in a variety of settings, including hospitals, fitness centers and rehabilitation facilities. The American Physical Therapy Association recommends that practicing physical therapists hold a doctorate degree.
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Physical therapists work with patients of varying conditions, including spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, cancer, neurological impairments and cardiac complications. Through physical therapy Ph.D. programs, students learn to test and evaluate factors such as a patient's motor function, muscle performance and range of motion. Through a mix of classes and clinical experiences, Ph.D. candidates also learn treatment techniques, including joint and soft tissue mobilization and cardiovascular endurance training, that can result in improved mobility, pain reduction and prevention of permanent disability. They also may choose to specialize in an area such as pediatrics, sports medicine or geriatric care. Ph.D. graduates are eligible to sit for national and state licensure exams in physical therapy.
Applicants to doctorate programs in physical therapy must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited 4-year university. Other prerequisites include courses in anatomy and physiology, physics, psychology and biological sciences. Other recommended classes include exercise physiology and kinesiology. Most programs require students to have supervised physical therapy experience and a respectable grade-point average and GRE scores.
With a heavy emphasis on movement sciences, common courses in a physical therapist Ph.D. program include:
- Human anatomy
- Health care management
- Therapeutic exercise
- Cardiopulmonary therapeutics
- Health care economics
- Musculoskeletal therapeutics
- Intervention skills
- Clinical orthopedics
Popular Career Options
A physical therapy Ph.D. prepares students to work as physical therapists in a variety of settings, including:
- Outpatient facilities
- Home health care
- Sports medicine facilities
- Fitness centers
- Nursing homes
- Rehabilitation centers
- Pediatric facilities
- Children's hospitals
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