The best physical therapy schools provide you with all of the training needed to pursue a career in health sciences. With the ability to study various aspects of the human body, it’s a fast-paced career with impressive longevity. The top programs you’ll find focus on topics including cellular histology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and kinesiology.
When choosing the ideal physical therapy school, you must find a program that offers hands-on and academic learning. We’ve selected ten of the top schools you can enroll in for your future career in this guide. We’ve also ranked them based on particular criteria, including:
- An average annual cost of under $20,000
- A median annual salary of more than $35,000 after graduation
- Accredited programs from authorized organizations
10 Best Physical Therapy Schools
1. CUNY Brooklyn College
4 Year; Brooklyn, NY
Average Annual Cost: $2,683
CUNY Brooklyn College is a fabulous choice for students looking to pursue a career in physical therapy. Through their Allied Health program, you can specialize in three main areas: occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. During your studies, you’ll explore a variety of technical, therapeutic, and diagnostic care to support your community.
Upon graduation, you’ll have all of the necessary skills to assist patients with physical, psychological, sensory, and social deficits. There’s no doubt this program is one of the most well-rounded, especially as it offers complete clinical experience. When enrolled, physical therapy students will study restoring a patient’s optimal function through rehabilitation and bodily movements.
To get a better grasp of real-world experience, CUNY Brooklyn College helps students work alongside nurse practitioners, physicians, and physician assistants. Together, you will complete your training as well as achieve your state exam and gather clinical experience. At the end of the program, you could be a licensed physical therapist in New York State.
With a 55% graduation rate, students can earn up to $56,776 after graduating in their respective careers. The school also boasts an 81% retention rate, meaning most students return to their studies after their first year.
2. Foothill College
4 Year; Los Altos Hills, CA
Average Annual Cost: $3,859
Students interested in pursuing a career in sports medicine are bound to love the physical therapy program from Foothill College. Unlike other PT programs, this school focuses primarily on sports injuries and sports medicine. You can pursue a career as a physical therapist, emergency medical care professional, or athletic trainer with a degree.
During your studies, you will work through different kinesiology, biology, and chemistry courses. Students will learn the fundamentals of human anatomy and physiology and gather clinical experience in sports medicine. As you enter your later years of study, you’ll focus on fitness assessments, basic nutrition, and emergency injury care.
Foothill College has an average graduation rate of 24%, but your potential salary after graduating is the most impressive. Many students earn an average of $113,107 annually with their degree in hand. Whether you want to work with high school, college, or professional sports teams, this physical therapy program comes highly recommended.
3. Texas A&M International University
4 Year; Laredo, TX
Average Annual Cost: $7,348
Studying in the Department of Biology and Chemistry at Texas A&M International University is a fantastic experience. Their entire program is developed based on the requirements needed to obtain a Texas Athletic Training License. Students will receive specialized education and training to ensure they’re fully certified to begin their careers.
This program has multiple avenues of study, including health, disease, wellness, emergency care, human anatomy, prevention of injuries, and more. Like Foothill College, this program focuses primarily on sports medicine, although your degree can assist you elsewhere. It’s important first to review the requirements of every student to ensure you’re able to receive your PT license.
For example, Texas A&M International University provides students with 1800 clock-hours of training to give them ample experience. You’ll also be required to get a current CPR certification or EMS certification to acquire your license. Regarding licensure examinations, students will take the Texas Athletic Trainer Practical and the Texas Athletic Trainer Written Examination.
Undoubtedly, there are several engaging topics you’ll explore during your time enrolled in the school. Students must take college algebra, general chemistry, psychology, physics, anatomy and physiology, and biology courses for a physical therapy degree. There’s no doubt you’ll have a full schedule of insightful classes to help you better prepare for your future.
4. Texas Woman’s University
4 Year; Denton, TX
Average Annual Cost: $9,617
Texas Woman’s University has a 55% graduation rate, with 73% of students returning to their studies after the first year. The vast majority of students stay at the school rather than transfer, speaking to the quality of their physical therapy program. As a part of the physical therapy program at the school, you’ll explore many fundamental tenets of your future career.
Texas Woman’s University is one of the top nationally recognized programs for professional and post-professional physical therapists. In fact, the program has been highly ranked by World Report and US News. You can guarantee you’ll be participating in an accredited program, helping you become the best-trained physical therapist possible.
There are a few different avenues for study, depending on the degree you’re interested in obtaining. Students can either work towards their Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Therapy (Ph.D.), or take post-professional certificate programs. There are also fast-track options, allowing you to obtain your graduate degree in less time.
What makes this program unique is that it offers a combination of practical and research-based opportunities. Students will push modern boundaries to focus on research about strokes, orthopedics, falls, underserved populations, geriatric physical therapy, and more. As a graduate-specific degree program, it’s a great next step for students.
Before enrolling at Texas Woman’s University, you must get an undergraduate degree from an accredited program. Most students will embark on their graduate journey after earning a kinesiology or pre-physical therapy degree from Texas Woman’s University.
5. Northwestern Health Sciences University
4 Year; Bloomington, MN
Average Annual Cost: $11,484
When applying for physical therapy school, you must have a competitive academic history to compete with the nation’s best. At Northwestern Health Sciences University, the school’s programs assist students with gathering an ample amount of experience. First, you will be required to obtain an undergraduate degree and then a graduate degree to pursue your future career.
Most students at Northwestern Health Sciences University opt to get a health sciences degree, which focuses on the fundamentals of human health. With this degree, you can then continue onto a graduate degree with a focus on physical therapy. There are multiple benefits to the health sciences undergrad program, including:
- Improving professional, written, and oral skills
- Strengthening your understanding of scientific research
- Expanding your career options beyond standard degree programs
- Access to accelerated and non-accelerated courses
Once you’ve obtained your undergraduate degree, you can enroll in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. With this program, you’ll get the experience needed to help you adapt to the world of being a professional physical therapist. The courses are designed to help you learn how to work in people’s homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and even sports facilities.
You’ll focus on neuroscience, kinesiology, biomechanics, behavioral sciences, finance, pathology, biology, cellular histology, and more during your studies. It’s also important to note there are several prerequisites you must complete before applying to graduate school. A few examples include:
- Biology 1 and 2
- General Chemistry 1 and 2
- General Physics 1 and 2
6. Pennsylvania State University – Penn State Wilkes-Barre
4 Year; Lehman, PA
Average Annual Cost: $12,718
The physical therapy program at Pennsylvania State University – Penn State Wilkes-Barre is slightly different than others. Instead of focusing primarily on physical therapy, it’s an all-encompassing rehabilitation degree. Students will have the opportunity to explore an assortment of entry-level careers to assist patients in human service settings.
You can then decide to continue onto a physical therapy school to obtain your graduate degree with this degree. Upon completion of the rehabilitation and human sciences degree, you’ll receive a Bachelor of Science. There are many interesting courses that you’ll explore during your studies that can assist you with your career.
Students will get a solid foundation in interviewing family members, managing caseloads, assessing client needs, and more. You’ll also get academic experience in hospital and medical settings, preparing you for your graduate degree program. There is a multitude of courses in this program, including:
- Introduction to Disability Culture
- Medical Aspects of Disability
- Introductory Psychology
- Community Mental Health Practice and Services
- Introductory Sociology
7. Pennsylvania State University – Penn State Lehigh Valley
4 Year; Center Valley, PA
Average Annual Cost: $14,476
The Pennsylvania State University – Penn State Lehigh Valley offers a comprehensive physical therapy program for prospective students. With the ample number of courses within the undergraduate degree program, you’ll have multiple avenues of study. Not only will this program help you better prepare for graduate school but your future career as well.
You’ll primarily take introductory courses revolving around a physical therapy career during your first year of study. One of the more unique course options is Introduction to Computer Schools for the PTA. As a physical therapy assistant, you must know the most modern practices most practitioners use.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a licensed independent physical therapist, this program is bound to help. A few examples of exceptional courses you can enroll in are:
- Human Musculature and Functional Anatomy
- Therapeutic Exercise
- Licensure Preparation
- Pediatric Physical Therapy
- Applied Kinesiology
- Professional Issues in Clinical Practice
With such a diverse course catalog, all graduates are guaranteed the fundamental skills to pursue their future careers. Also, attending a school as reputable as Pennsylvania State University – Penn State Lehigh Valley can significantly help your graduate school application.
8. Brigham Young University – Provo
4 Year; Provo, UT
Average Annual Cost: $13,322
The Brigham Young University – Provo features an excellent graduation rate of 82%, which graduates make up to $87,604 upon graduation. Their programs retain approximately 89% of students, which proves their course offerings are superb. As a physical therapy student, there are plenty of aspects you’ll explore during your studies.
If you’re looking to explore a career assisting patients with preventing injuries, relieving pain, and improving mobility, this program is ideal. With the help of the school’s Pre-Professional Advisement Center, you can begin planning your studies for your future career. Alternatively, the school also offers a physical therapist assistant degree option.
After completing your program, you’ll receive an Applied Associate Degree as a physical therapist assistant. In this career, you’ll work alongside licensed physical therapists to help patients with their health concerns. There are many different courses you’ll have to enroll in during your time in school, including:
- Exercise Physiology
- Principles of Statistics
- General Biology
- Science of Biology
- General Physics
- General Psychology
9. University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
4 Year; La Crosse, WI
Average Annual Cost: $14,580
The physical therapy program at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse is uniquely dedicated to all students. It’s often referred to as an entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program, helping you enter your dream profession. Throughout your studies, you’ll experience evaluating patients, solving patient problems, and developing life-long skills.
With the help of the school’s renowned faculty, students explore physical therapy practices in the Health Science Center. You’ll be able to get your hands on some of the country’s best research facilities and labs. In total, you can expect your program to take 34 months of study.
You’ll spend your first two years at the Health Science Center, and the remaining ten months will be clinical internships. Once you’ve completed the program, you’ll receive a Doctor of Physical Therapy. This program is so competitive that all students must have a “C” average or higher.
Like many other PT degree programs, there are multiple courses you’ll be expected to take during your studies, including:
- Human Gross Anatomy
- Medical Physiology
- Motor Control, Learning, and Development
- Introduction to Physical Therapy Practice and Evaluation Techniques
- Applied Physical Agents
10. Bryan University
4 Year; Tempe, AZ
Average Annual Cost: $17,472
Students interested in earning a physical therapy degree from Bryan University will participate in the Exercise & Health Science program. Upon completion, you’ll have a Bachelor of Science that you can use to pursue a career in occupational therapy, physical therapy, athletic training, and more. All your studies will revolve around maintaining, caring for, and teaching others how the human body works.
The Bryan University curriculum is relatively diverse, as it explores a multitude of fundamentals for your future career. As a freshman, you can expect to take Biology, Physical Fitness, Math, Safety Education, and First Aid. Sophomore and Junior students will dive deeper into health sciences through Human Anatomy, Activity, Care and Prevention of Injuries, and more.
During your final years of study, you’ll explore even more in-depth concepts such as Physiology of Exercise, Supervision of Sport Programs, and more advanced courses. Overall, it’s a well-rounded, transparent program that’s a fantastic starting point for your future career.