Online Physical Therapy Programs 2022

Obtaining a degree in physical therapy can lead to new and exciting career opportunities. Here, we list the best online physical therapy programs.

February 8, 2022 , Modified on March 24, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Physical Therapy Programs 2022

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Physical Therapy Degrees Online

Physical therapists help people with movement challenges reduce pain. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for these professionals to increase 21% from 2020-2030. This is much faster than the average growth projection of 8% for all occupations.

Online physical therapy programs provide a flexible option for busy learners. Online students complete coursework virtually. However, most programs still require in-person clinical hours.

This guide highlights the benefits and costs of earning a physical therapy degree. The following sections also explore graduates' career options and earning potential.

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Questions About Physical Therapy

How long does it take to become a physical therapist?

Physical therapists typically need 6-7 years of higher education. Learners in accelerated programs may finish their studies faster.

Do physical therapists need a license to practice?

Yes. Every state requires physical therapists to hold a license. Licensure candidates must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination.

Can I get a physical therapy degree online?

Yes. Many schools offer online programs in the field. Learners view lectures and take tests online but complete clinical experiences in person.

Why Get a Degree in Physical Therapy?

An advanced physical therapy degree can lead to higher pay and more autonomy. Associate degree-holders may work as physical therapist assistants. According to BLS data, these professionals earn a median salary of $49,970 per year.

Doctorate-holders can become practicing physical therapists. These professionals make important care decisions and earn a median salary of $91,010 per year.

Learners in asynchronous online physical therapy programs can complete coursework at convenient times. Students in these programs often work while earning their degree.

How Much Does a Physical Therapy Degree Cost?

According to data from the Education Data Initiative, a master's degree cost an average of $66,340 in 2021. Factors including school type impact the total cost of earning a master's, which typically ranges from $30,000-$120,000.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of graduate tuition and fees at public schools was $12,410 for the 2019-2020 academic year. The average cost at private institutions was $26,597 for the same year.

Online physical therapy programs often cost less than in-person programs. However, online students should still budget for clinical tools, such as scrubs and exercise bands.

Additional Online Student Fees

In addition to tuition, learners should budget for fees. Many schools charge technology fees that cover troubleshooting support and virtual database subscriptions. Online learners may also need to pay for subscriptions to video conferencing services. Other potential fees for physical therapy students may cover graduation ceremonies or official transcripts.

Before enrolling in a virtual program, students should research on-campus requirements. Online programs may require annual campus visits, which involve travel costs. Graduates who pursue physical therapy licensure must pay a licensing fee.

How Much Do Physical Therapy Graduates Make?

According to Jan. 2022 Payscale data, physical therapists earn an average of $72,380 per year. However, factors including experience impact earning potential. Entry-level physical therapists earn an average annual salary of $67,750. Those with more than 20 years of experience earn an average of $88,200 per year.

Geographic location also influences salary potential. According to BLS data, California boasts the highest employment level for physical therapists. Physical therapists in California earn an average salary of $104,500 per year. While Florida also features high employment levels for physical therapists, professionals in the state earn an average annual salary of $85,410.

Courses in Physical Therapy

Physical therapy students learn to communicate with patients and doctors. Degree-seekers hone teamwork skills through group projects and practice therapy exercises.

Online physical therapy programs prepare learners to review patients' medical histories. Learners expand their medical vocabulary and explore how medications impact mobility and pain levels.

Most doctoral programs in this field require more than 100 credits, which learners often complete in eight semesters. The following list highlights three courses common to physical therapy programs.

How to Become a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists need several years of focused study. An associate or bachelor's in physical therapy qualifies holders to become physical therapist assistants. However, all states require a doctorate for physical therapy licensure.

After earning a master's degree, learners can apply to doctoral programs. Some programs require applicants to hold a master's degree in a related subject. Others accept applicants with an unrelated master's degree. Doctoral programs in the field require coursework and clinical training.

Licensure for Physical Therapists

The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) administers The National Physical Therapy Examination. This test includes 250 questions and takes up to five hours. The exam costs $485.

The exam covers the musculoskeletal system, therapeutic modalities, and safety measures. Additional exam topics include professional responsibilities and how human body systems interact. FSBPT offers a practice exam and publishes a list of sample questions online.

Most states require professionals to complete continuing education to qualify for licensure renewal. Learners should check with their state's licensing board for specific requirements. Professional organizations, such as the American Physical Therapy Association, often provide continuing education courses. These organizations also host networking events to help members advance their physical therapy careers.

Online Physical Therapy Programs 2022

  1. Andrews University
    Location

    Berrien Springs, MI

    Andrews in Berrien Springs, Michigan, offers a transitional doctor of physical therapy degree on campus and online. Applicants need a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from an accredited institution and at least two years of work experience in the field. Applicants must submit transcripts from every school attended and three recommendation letters. Applicants with a master's degree must submit a portfolio with their resume, postgraduate continuing education coursework, and any relevant certifications.

    The on-campus program welcomes applications from physical therapists with a bachelor's or master's degree from their country of origin. The online interactive program includes 1-2 onsite intensives.

    On-campus students pursue a full-time 38-credit program that takes 18-24 months to complete. Online learners can enroll full time or part time in a 35-credit program that takes 2-3 years to complete.

  2. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    USC's Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy offers a hybrid doctor of physical therapy degree that prepares graduates for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). Although specific licensure requirements vary between states, most states require learners to pass the NPTE to secure a physical therapy license.

    The program combines online learning with immersive on-campus experiences. USC schedules the onsite requirements in advance to give enrollees ample opportunity to make travel and accommodation arrangements. All students complete a mentored, full-time, 44-week clinical experience. Online enrollees can complete this requirement locally or at any other acceptable site across the country.

    Applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree with a 3.0 cumulative GPA and 150 hours of clinical experience in the physical therapy field. The program typically takes three years to complete. USC's doctor of physical therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

  3. Arcadia University
    Location

    Glenside, PA

    Arcadia in Glenside, Pennsylvania, offers a doctor of physical therapy degree through the College of Health Sciences. Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, the program follows a hybrid delivery format. Students participate in live synchronous online classes and eight immersive experiences. Enrollees must complete the 110-credit program in six semesters, including a 32-week clinical rotation experience.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and must complete prerequisite coursework in biology, statistics, and physical and behavioral sciences. Applicants must submit GRE scores. The program favors applicants with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

    The curriculum includes coursework in differential diagnosis and intervention, integrated patient management, and leadership and management principles in a physical therapy setting. The program follows a cohort model of education with new cohorts beginning every fall semester.

  4. University of Michigan-Flint
    Location

    Flint, MI

    Tuition

    $12519

    UM-Flint offers a transitional doctor of physical therapy program designed specifically for physical therapists with a bachelor's or master's degree. The 24-credit online program typically takes two years to complete.

    Applicants need an accredited bachelor's or master's degree in physical therapy with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Since the program does not lead to licensure, applicants must already hold a current physical therapy license or registration.

    Students can enroll full time or part time. Although courses run asynchronously, learners must comply with deadlines for assignments, projects, exams, and other course requirements. Online enrollees can meet clinical experience requirements locally with the program director's approval.

    Foreign-educated physical therapists must submit a copy of their transcript and other educational documents to the Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy for evaluation and assessment.

  5. Shenandoah University
    Location

    Winchester, VA

    SU's 30-credit transitional doctor of physical therapy program offers three completion tracks. Master's-trained physical therapists (PTs) or professionals with a postgraduate degree in another health field can follow either Track I or Track II. Students can complete Track I in one year while Track II takes two years to complete. Both tracks require students to complete at least 16 credits as an SU enrollee. Learners can transfer the remaining credits from another institution.

    PTs with a bachelor's degree in the field can follow the Track III program. Under this plan, students can transfer up to 10 credits from another school or program and complete 20 credits at SU. Track III learners complete the program over seven consecutive semesters.

    The curriculum includes coursework in advanced human anatomy, differential examination and diagnosis in PT practice, pharmacology in physical medicine, and vestibular rehabilitation. The program follows a cohort model of education. Cohorts for Track I and II students begin in the fall semester, while Track III cohorts begin in the summer term.

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