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If you are considering going to school to become a physical therapist, choosing the right degree program is one of the most important steps, and with so many degree programs to pick from, choosing between the best schools for physical therapy may seem daunting. While the road to becoming a licensed physical therapist is long, picking the best schools for physical therapy shouldn’t be. To help you select the program that will work best for you, we have compiled a list of the 15 best schools for physical therapy that you should be considering.

Comparison Table

Name of School

Preview

Website

Rice University

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

official website of University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Screenshot from: umich.edu

Wake Forest University

official website of wake forest university

Screenshot from: wfu.edu

University of Miami

webpage dedicated for the department of physical therapy in University of Miami health system

Screenshot from: pt.med.miami.edu

Boston University

Sargent College Building, Boston University

Image: CC BY-SA 3.0, John Phelan, via Wikimedia Commons

Brigham Young University

webpage for the BYUs Pre-Professional Advisement Center

Screenshot from: ppa.byu.edu

Northeastern University

quadrangle of Northeastern University

Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Saint Louis University

webpage for the physical therapy program of Saint Louis University

Screenshot from: catalog.slu.edu

University of Virginia

statue of Thomas Jefferson in University of Virginia

Image Source: pexels.com

University of Florida

webpage for the department of physical therapy in University of Florida

Screenshot from: pt.phhp.ufl.edu

Texas Christian University

postcard featuring the old administration building of the TCU

Image Source: wikipedia.org

University of Texas – Austin

World War I memorial monument and fountain inside the University of Texas - Austin

Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Springfield College – Massachusetts

webpage of Springfield College for the physical therapy program

Screenshot from: springfield.edu

University of Wisconsin

part of University of Wisconsin

Image Source: pixabay.com

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

webpage of University of Minnesota for the Division of Physical Therapy

Screenshot from: med.umn.edu

FAQ

1. What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Physical therapists provide essential services for individuals who have sustained severe injuries or ongoing illnesses. These therapists help patients achieve a better range of movement and manage their pain through exercises and specialized treatment plans. Physical therapists work with individuals to strengthen their muscular capabilities, help them attain greater flexibility, improve their range of motion, and reduce any discomfort. Clinics, private practices, nursing homes, or hospitals often employ professionals in the field, and while most roles are full-time, some are part-time.


Job prospects for individuals graduating from the best schools for physical therapy are excellent. In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average annual salary for physical therapists is about $84,000. Physical therapists in the top 10th percentile may bring home over $116,00 every year.

2. What Are Your Degree Options When Choosing the Best Schools for Physical Therapy?

muscular system poster and a skeleton model

Image Source: pixabay.com

To become a licensed physical therapist, you must earn a doctoral degree in physical therapy. However, you need to fulfill key educational prerequisites first. You should begin by earning your bachelor’s degree in pre-physical therapy to prepare you for the coursework ahead. Your classes will cover topics like functional anatomy, complex conditions, applied physical therapy, and pharmacotherapy.


When examining the best schools for physical therapy, look at the prerequisites your program of choice requires to make sure you meet them. Most of the time, it is not possible to earn a master’s degree in physical therapy. If you complete your bachelor’s degree in pre-physical therapy, or have worked as a physical therapy assistant, you can transition directly in your doctoral degree in physical therapy. Doctoral programs can take as long as six years to finish and you can earn one in a traditional classroom setting, online, or through a combination of the two.

Upon graduation, you will be eligible to take your state’s board licensure exam. The individual requirements vary between states, and some may allow you to go through a residency program to get your certification.

3. What Should You Look for When Selecting a Physical Therapy Program?

a young lady carrying books

Image Source: Unsplash.com

There are primary components you should look for when selecting from the best schools for physical therapy for both your undergraduate and doctoral programs. Try to choose a school near where you live as the tuition for out-of-state institutions can be double or triple that of in-state colleges. You will also have more time to get on-the-job experience while you go through your degree program if you live close to your university. If you find that an out-of-state school is still the best option for you, try to select a school that will offer you the most scholarships and flexible degree options.


If you have not started your prerequisites yet, consider a 3+3 program when looking at the best schools for physical therapy. The 3+3 option offers a faster and more affordable way to finish your physical therapy education in a hybrid bachelor’s and doctoral degree program. You go through your bachelor’s degree program for the first three years, while the latter half is the doctoral portion. A few other things to remember when looking at the best schools for physical therapy are the size of the classes, student passage rates for the national physical therapy exam, tutoring options, and the style of teaching.


Some physical therapy programs use traditional learning approaches while others use problem-based learning techniques. Traditional learning programs involve the usual method of professors lecturing to large classrooms while problem-based learning breaks students into small groups to come up with solutions to clinical environment issues. Traditional learning is the method many students are most accustomed to, but problem-based learning offers a more individualized approach.

How We Reviewed 

part of the Rice University building

Image Source: Pixabay.com

We reviewed the following physical therapy schools based on their program features, pros, and cons. We chose the best schools for physical therapy in locations throughout the country that offer different degree completion plans, including the traditional classroom setting, online learning, and hybrid programs. We also wanted to ensure that students on a wide range of budgets can find a top-notch program for their course of study, so we selected schools with varying tuition rates and scholarship options. Whether you prefer a large university or a smaller college, we have you covered.

Best Schools for Physical Therapy We Reviewed 

  • Rice University
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • Wake Forest University
  • University of Miami
  • Boston University
  • Brigham Young University
  • Northeastern University
  • Saint Louis University
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Florida
  • Texas Christian University
  • University of Texas – Austin
  • Springfield College – Massachusetts
  • University of Wisconsin
  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Rice University


One of the best schools for physical therapy is a private college in Houston, Texas. If you prefer smaller learning environments, this might be a strong contender for you. Rice University has just under 4,000 students enrolled in their undergraduate programs, and it has a competitive acceptance rate of 15%. It’s ranked number one among the best colleges for kinesiology and physical therapy in America. Successful candidates should have an SAT score in the 1410-1570 range and ACT score in the 32-35 range. Tuition is about $22,000 per year and financial aid options are plentiful.

PROS  

  • Number one ranking for kinesiology and physical therapy programs in America
  • Tuition is fairly affordable for a private college

PROS 

  CONS

  • Highly competitive
  • Not a good choice if you want a large college campus

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor


Our next choice for the best schools for physical therapy is a renowned public institution in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It has nearly 28,000 students enrolled in its undergraduate programs and has an acceptance rate of 29%. It is rated number two among the best colleges for kinesiology and physical therapy in America and number one for colleges with the best student life in America. You should have an SAT score in the 1310-1500 range and an ACT score in the 29-33 range. Tuition is affordable at about $16,000 per year.

PROS  

  • Affordable tuition
  • High rankings
  • Great student life

PROS 

  CONS

  • Larger university, so not ideal if you prefer smaller settings
  • No online programs for physical therapy

Wake Forest University 


Wake Forest University is one of the best schools for physical therapy in the Greensboro region of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This private institution has high ratings and has less than 5,000 students enrolled in its undergraduate programs. It has a slightly higher acceptance rate of 30%, but it’s still fairly competitive. The tuition comes to about $24,000 a year, and the school has a student to professor ratio of 10 to one. Wake Forest offers a beautiful campus with an engaging, dedicated faculty.

PROS  

  • Less competitive acceptance rate compared to other institutions
  • Does not require SAT or ACT scores

PROS 

  CONS

  • Slightly higher tuition rates
  • Small student body

University of Miami


Located in Coral Gables, Florida, near metropolitan Miami, this school enrolls about 10,000 undergraduate students. It has a higher acceptance rate of 38% than many other physical therapy programs, and tuition is about $37,000 annually. The university offers a variety of physical therapy degrees, including a two-year doctoral degree, a three-year clinical doctoral degree, and an academic doctoral degree.

PROS  

  • Variety of physical therapy programs to pick from
  • Higher acceptance rate

PROS 

  CONS

  • Tuition is expensive
  • Campus buildings are outdated and uncomfortable to live in

Boston University


In the heart of of Boston, Massachusetts, Boston University is one of the best schools for physical therapy in the nation, and it’s rated number five among the best colleges for kinesiology and physical therapy in America. It has an acceptance rate of 29% and tuition is about $32,000 annually. SAT scores between 1220-1420 and ACT scores of 28-32 are required for admission, and the college has a student body of about 17,000 undergraduates.

PROS  

  • Beautiful campus
  • Good choice if you prefer a medium-sized university

PROS 

  CONS

  • Not as many financial aid options
  • Competitive acceptance rate

Brigham Young University


Brigham Young University is rated number three among the best Christian colleges in America. Located in Provo, Utah, it has about 28,000 undergraduate students enrolled. They have a much higher acceptance rate than other programs at 51% and an affordable tuition of about $13,000 annually. Brigham Young University’s board passage rate for physical therapy students is 100%, which is impressive when compared with the 92.3% national average.

PROS  

  • Affordable
  • High acceptance rate
  • High board passage rate

PROS 

  CONS

  • Not the most diverse campus
  • No sororities or fraternities

Northeastern University


Also located in Boston, Massachusetts, this private institution is home to about 13,000 undergraduate students. It is ranked number seven among the best colleges for kinesiology and physical therapy in America and it has a 29% acceptance rate. Tuition is about $30,000 annually, but there are several good scholarship options. The doctoral program is ideal for anyone who earned their bachelor’s degree in a field other than pre-physical therapy, and the school also offers an online transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

PROS  

  • Good choice for undergraduate degrees in disciplines unrelated to physical therapy
  • Online options

PROS 

  CONS

  • More expensive than public institutions
  • High student to faculty ratio

Saint Louis University


This school has a relatively small student body of about 7,000 students and an acceptance rate of 65%. You must have SAT scores in the 1110-1330 range and ACT scores in the 25-31 range to be considered, and tuition is about $33,000 per year.

PROS  

  • Good choice if you want smaller student body
  • Less competitive entry than other institutions

PROS 

  CONS

  • Expensive tuition
  • Not as many scholarship options

University of Virginia


Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, the University of Virginia is one of the best schools for physical therapy in the nation, and it has an undergraduate student body of about 15,000. It has a competitive acceptance rate of 30%, but the tuition is very affordable at about $16,000 annually, and the scholarship options are excellent.

PROS  

  • Affordable tuition
  • Medium-sized student body

University of Florida


The University of Florida is one of the best schools for physical therapy in the southeast, and it boasts a large student body of about 31,000 undergraduates. The admissions rate is less competitive at 46% with affordable tuition of about $15,000 annually. Besides its Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, the institution also offers a joint Doctor of Physical Therapy and Master of Public Health program.

PROS  

  • Good program options
  • Affordable tuition

PROS 

  CONS

  • Large student body
  • Getting grants and scholarships is highly competitive 

Texas Christian University


Texas Christian University is one of the best schools for physical therapy in the nation, and it’s rated number 11 among the best Christian colleges in America. It has a 38% acceptance rate and around 9,000 undergraduate students enrolled. The school’s Bachelor of Science degree in Movement Science is a great stepping stone to pursue your career in physical therapy, and tuition is about $33,000 annually.

PROS  

  • Fair acceptance rate
  • Excellent bachelor’s program for upcoming physical therapy students

PROS 

  CONS

  • High tuition
  • Not as many scholarship options

University of Texas – Austin 


A large university in Austin, Texas, this is is one of the best schools for physical therapy in the state, and it enrolls about 37,000 undergraduate students. It has an acceptance rate of around 40% an affordable tuition of around $16,000 annually. It offers both pre-physical therapy undergraduate programs and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs.

PROS  

  • Pre-physical therapy and doctoral degree programs
  • Good acceptance rate

PROS 

  CONS

  • Few scholarship options
  • Competitive student culture

Springfield College – Massachusetts


Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, this is one of the best schools for physical therapy in the country, and it has a very small student body of only about 2,000 individuals. The acceptance rate is around 66% and tuition is around $28,000 per year. It also offers the hybrid 3+3 physical therapy program that allows you to earn your bachelor’s and a doctoral degree in just six years.

PROS  

  • Offers 3+3 degree program
  • Good acceptance rate

PROS 

  CONS

  • Small institution
  • Neighborhood surrounding the college can be dangerous

University of Wisconsin


The University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, is a large public university with about 30,000 students. It has an acceptance rate of 53% and an affordable annual tuition of around $16,000. The university has excellent scholarships options and an outstanding Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

PROS  

  • Mid-sized institution 
  • Affordable tuition
  • Good scholarship options

PROS 

  CONS

  • No pre-physical therapy undergraduate degree
  • Fewer physical therapy students than other institutions 

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities


One of the best schools for physical therapy is in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The University of Minnesota has a student body of about 30,000 and a 44% acceptance rate. It’s ranked number 15 among the best colleges for kinesiology and physical therapy in America, and the tuition is affordable at about $16,000 a year.

PROS  

  • Affordable
  • Great campus
  • Great professors

PROS 

  CONS

  • No online options for their doctoral program
  • Complicated financial aid application process

The Verdict 

If affordable tuition is your primary concern when selecting the best schools for physical therapy, we recommend University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Brigham Young University, University of Virginia, University of Florida, and University of Texas – Austin as excellent choices. You might also want to look at the University of Wisconsin and University of Minnesota – Twin Cities for affordable degree programs and high-quality course offerings.

Featured Image Source: Pixabay.com

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