Physical Therapy (DPT)

What is A Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree?

Physical Therapy is the practice of using various physical hands-on movements, manipulations, and exercises to help patients heal after surgery, injury, and illness.  At times, it may involve the use of electrotherapy to speed healing.  PT also involves diagnosing and teaching people how to reduce pain and improve how they move and function as they age.  Physical Therapists work with patients in lots of different settings from hospitals and clinics to nursing homes and fitness facilities.  Many professionals who are currently licensed Physical Therapists have Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees in PT.  The Doctor of Physical Therapy degree is now the standard for training.

The doctoral program will take longer to complete than the Master’s degree program did—around 3 years beyond the Bachelor’s degree—and will require a lot more clinical practice to develop advanced hands-on skills that are the focus of the field.  Physical Therapists are also encouraged to serve an internship after completing the DPT to develop skills in a specialty.  You’ll need to get a BS degree before you can begin Doctor of Physical Therapy training.  Usually schools don’t specify a particular major for the BS, but most students major in Biology, Exercise Physiology, Psychology, or Sports Medicine for their Bachelor’s degree.  Coursework in the DPT will include advanced work in anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and behavioral sciences along with courses in the use of the massage and exercise and certain devices to treat patients.  After completing the Bachelor’s and the Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees, in most places you’ll need to successfully complete an exam for licensure.

The videos below discuss “typical” programs, so they should help regardless of which school you are considering.

Faculty Advice

Student Advice

What Can I Do With A Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree?