Physical Therapy Schools
Which school is right for me? Once you have completed your bachelor’s degree, find the right school to complete your master’s or doctorate degree in physical therapy. Search schools by state.
Physical Therapy Schools
Physical therapy is a career that rewards people with the satisfaction of helping others move past pain and other afflictions to enjoy more comfortable, functional lifestyles. Physical therapists are becoming more and more sought-after as the baby-boomer generation grows older and needs more treatment. With the addition of improved medical care, better insurance reimbursement and healthier lifestyles, physical therapy is a field poised to continue growing and providing many new jobs for several years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the physical therapy field is growing much faster than other occupations, at a projected 30 percent per year through 2018.
How Far Do You Want to Go?
The field of physical therapy has something for everyone. Whether you want to work part-time, learning on the job as a physical therapy aide, spend a few years in school to become a physical therapy assistant, or dedicate yourself to earning a master’s or doctorate degree, the programs and jobs are available. Physical therapy continues to evolve like other medical fields and plenty of opportunities exist for specialization, research and even teaching, along with working to help patients receive benefits from their treatment.
The most important feature of any physical therapy school program is accreditation, which you should verify before committing any money to an educational program. Every state requires degrees from accredited physical therapy schools if you want to work as a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. The Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education is the accrediting body of the American Physical Therapy Association. Schools must prove that their programs provide students with certain “quality characteristics” before they can receive accreditation. If in doubt when speaking with a school, ask them for the name, address and phone number of their accrediting body.
Criteria for Choosing Your Program
How do you choose the school that fits your unique needs? The process starts with understanding your needs first. This could include the availability of financial aid programs, the school’s location and class times and availability. As you narrow down your school choices, request course catalogs, brochures and applications from each. Find out each school’s application requirements, available student services and extracurricular activities.
Go in-depth and investigate each school or program’s graduation rate. This telling statistic helps you understand whether the school is investing enough resources to provide an education that keeps students engaged and challenged. Research has revealed that when students attend a school that does not challenge them academically, they are less likely to make it to graduation. Don’t settle for a school until you investigate whether it’s worth your while. Ask the school’s financial aid department about the average grants and overall financial aid awards made each year to students. U.S. News publishes college rankings online and in print each year, and provides these rankings based on several criteria for the best physical therapy programs in the nation and by geographic region.
Visit the campus of schools in which you have a serious interest. Sometimes this is the make-it-or-break-it part of choosing a school; sometimes a school just feels right.
Your ability to find a rewarding job when finishing your degree program is important. Many jobs also require some type of volunteer experience at a physical therapy clinic as a prerequisite. Contact the career center of the short-list of schools you are considering to see what services it offers for internships or volunteer placement. Even though job prospects are very strong, a career center could also lead you to jobs you never knew existed, such as those requiring certain specializations.
Getting to Know the Schools
Choosing the right school is easy for some, especially when the number of schools meeting their criteria is very short. If you are stuck between a few different schools or physical therapy programs, arrange a school visit and possibly set up a meeting with one or more of the professors. If you can get permission to sit in on a class, even better. Make it a point to speak with a few of the students to get a feel for their experience so far. It is always helpful to get a professional opinion, and a practicing physical therapist may be able to give you important advice and insight into narrowing down your school program list or making your final choice.
Finding the Right Program
A post-secondary education is one of the best investments you can make in yourself and your career development. The physical therapy field provides many opportunities for rewarding, challenging careers. Check our site for more information to help you choose the right program — we have all the latest information on physical therapy programs, schools and degrees. If you’re not sure yet about whether you want to invest the time and effort, check out the detailed information in our salaries section or the jobs information to see how they measure up to your goals and dreams of a career in physical therapy.