Top Physical Therapy Schools

Individual interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy must obtain a Master’s of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree from an accredited institution. Most physical therapist schools in the United States offer Master’s and Doctorate programs.

Physical therapists in the United States cannot enter the profession with solely a Bachelor’s degree. Some Master’s of Physical Therapy will require that students complete a Bachelor’s degree, including the completion of pre-requisite courses, before applying to the program. All MPT programs in the United States have pre-requisite courses that students must fulfill in order to qualify for admission. Click here for a list of the undergraduate pre-requisite courses required for American physical therapy programs (Source: PTCAS).

As undergraduates, students must complete a number of pre-requisites related to anatomy, biology, physiology, and other knowledge that may be relevant to the pursuit of a Master’s relatedcan study a wide variety of disciplines, though most aspiring physical therapists pursue a bachelor’s degree in science, due to the scientific orientation of the pre-requisite courses required for admission to an MPT program.

1. University of Southern California

USC division of biokinesiology and physical therapy
USC division of biokinesiology and physical therapy (Photo credit:

University of Southern California’s Physical Therapy program is among the top physical therapy schools in the United States as USC have been leaders in the transition to doctoral level education in the field.

Entrance requirements to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program include all of the requirements for Graduate School admission at USC, including passing scores for the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). Other requirements for the program include courses in Biological Science, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Statistics and Mathematics and a minimum 200 hours of work or volunteer experience in clinical physical therapy settings.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is intended to prepare students for a professional physical therapy career. Graduates will be self-sufficient and able to evaluate and treat patients independently or in collaboration with other professionals.

At USC, Residency programs are also available in Neurologic, Orthopedic, Pediatric and Sports physical therapy. Each Residency is intended to prepare graduates for the practice of their clinical skills and to expand the knowledge of their specialty with clinical research.

USC’s Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy also features a Continuing Education program to fulfill the state requirements for license renewal, and is recognized as both an approval agency and provider of continuing education by the Physical Therapy Board of California.

2. University of Delaware

University of Delaware
University of Delaware green (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

University of Delaware is among the best physical therapy schools in the United States for its Doctor of Physical Therapy program, ranked at 2nd in the nation for Graduate physical therapy programs.

For admissions, there is a minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree and passing scores on the Graduate Record Examination. General required courses for admissions include Psychology (3 credits), Statistics (3 credits), Chemistry (8 credits), Physics (8 credits), Biology (8 credits), Physiology (4 credits) and Anatomy (4 credits).

Admission is not necessarily guaranteed by meeting the minimum requirements. Because admission is as competitive as it is limited, acceptance will be based on past academic excellence, clinical physical therapy experience, an interview, a required essay and some letters of recommendation. According to student outcomes records, graduation rate is 86% and both the employment and licensure exam pass rate are 100%.

University of Delaware’s Clinical Residency programs will prepare graduate students of Physical Therapy to successfully complete the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties exam in their chosen field. The Residency programs include Orthopedics, Sports and Geriatrics, allowing students to apply their knowledge and observe experienced researchers and therapists who will implement and deliver the latest developments in Physical Therapy treatment to actual patients of the University of Delaware Physical Therapy Clinic.

3. University of Pittsburgh

cathedral of learning
Cathedral of Learning at Pitt

University of Pittsburgh’s Physical Therapy program is ranked at second in the nation for Physical Therapist schools by the U.S. News and World Report. Their School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences offers both the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and an MS in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences with concentrations in Neuromuscular and Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy.

University of Pittsburgh’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program boasts 100% employment rates after graduation and Physical Therapy Licensure Examination pass rates in excess of 90%. Admissions requirements for the program include 8 credit hours each of Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and 3 credit hours each of Anatomy, Physiology, Statistics and English Writing courses. 1 year of Psychology is also required, with 6 credit hours.

The Admissions Committee requires a review of the applicant’s attitude toward physical therapy as well as the applicant’s communication skills as determined by written essays and statements made in letters of reference, as well as the applicant’s academic performance based on college transcripts and standardized test scores.

The MS in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences program is designed for practicing health professionals who have already earned a physical therapy degree. Applicants will need transcripts proving academic excellence with GPAs above 3.0 or equivalent as well as evidence of their potential for success in the graduate program as determined by past work experience, letters of recommendation and continuing education.

List Of The Top Physical Therapy Schools in the U.S.

Rnk School Address Phone
1 University of Southern California – Department of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy 1540 Alcazar Street, CHP 155, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9006 (323) 442-2900
2 University of Delaware – Department of Physical Therapy 301 McKinly Laboratory, Newark, DE 19716 (302) 831-8910
3 University of Pittsburgh – School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences 4020 Forbes Tower, Pittsburgh , PA 15260 (412) 383-6558
3 Washington University in St. Louis – Program in Physical Therapy 4444 Forest Park Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108 (314) 286-1400
5 University of Iowa – Graduate Program in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science 1-252 Medical Education Building, Iowa City, IA 52242-1190 (319) 335-9791
5 US Army-Baylor University – Doctoral Physical Therapy Program 3151 Scott Road, Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234 (210) 221-8410
7 Emory University – Division of Physical Therapy 1462 Clifton Rd N.E. Suite 312, Atlanta, GA 30322 (404) 727-4002
7 MGH Institute of Health Professions – Graduate Program in Physical Therapy 36 First Avenue , Boston, MA 02129-4557 (617) 726-8009
9 Northwestern University – Department of Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences 645 North Michigan Avenue Suite 1100, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 908-8160
9 University of Miami – Department of Physical Therapy 5915 Ponce De Leon Boulevard, Coral Gables, FL 33146 (305) 284-4535
9 University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill – Division of Physical Therapy 321 S. Columbia St, CB #7135, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7135 (919) 966-4708

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