17 Best Physical Therapy Schools in 2023 | Full Guide

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists will see a 22% increase by 2028. This is over four times the typical increase rate for all other jobs. As one of the fastest growing jobs, we have compiled a list of the best physical therapy schools in 2023 that offer the essential DPT programs to give you a great start.

Besides the satisfaction of having a rewarding career, being a physical specialist also guarantees stable job security, with an estimated increase of 27% in the following decade.

The estimation is due to the staggering excess of 72 million Baby Boomers – the second largest generation – in America. So, as this generation ages, the demand for physical therapists also steadily increases.

Becoming a physical therapist puts you in a position to help relieve people of their pain and help them live healthier lives. This article will look at the 17 best therapy schools that offer the best DPT programs.  

What do Physical Therapists Do?

Physical therapists basically aid patients in pain management and mobility improvement. They start by conducting an observational and screening diagnosis on a patient. Then they create a recovery strategy that may include using special equipment for stretching or exercise.

Physical therapists enjoy happy careers as they work in a field that is in great demand. To enjoy these perks, you must enroll in the best DPT programs at physical therapy schools.

What are the Physical Therapist Requirements?

To work as a physical therapist, you should get a doctorate in physical therapy from a recognized program and then pass a licensing test.

Certified DPT programs last three years on average. The main subject areas covered in the curriculum include anatomy, exercise physiology, evidence-based practice, cardiovascular and pulmonary, endocrine and metabolic, musculoskeletal, etc.

While 20% of the DPT programs are devoted to clinical education, the remaining 80% are for classroom and lab instruction.

How Long does it take to become a Physical Therapist?

Generally, a career in physical therapy would take four years to complete and at least 150 hours of volunteer work in a hospital or physical therapy facility.

You will spend around three years in the best DPT programs, and in the four years, you will earn your bachelor’s degree. Consequently, it takes seven years of schooling to become a physical therapist.

Also, some DPT programs have a six-year structure where the first three years are for pre-professional coursework. The second half of the curriculum will subsequently begin with the DPT courses.

Even though it may take a while to become a physical therapist, you can be sure that the effort will be worthwhile when you pass your licensing tests.

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17 Best Physical Therapy Schools

These are the best physical therapy schools with some of the best DPT programs:

  • 1. CUNY Brooklyn College
  • 2. Foothill College
  • 3. Texas A&M International University
  • 4. Texas Woman’s University
  • 5. Northwestern Health Sciences University
  • 6. Pennsylvania State University – Penn State Wilkes-Barre
  • 7. University of Southern California
  • 8. Brigham Young University – Provo
  • 9. University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
  • 10. Bryan University
  • 11. University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
  • 12. Emory University Division of Physical Therapy
  • 13. Duke University School of Medicine
  • 14. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • 15. Washington University in St. Louis
  • 16. University of Delaware School of Health Sciences.
  • 17. University of Pittsburgh

1. CUNY Brooklyn College

CUNY Brooklyn College is a fantastic option for those interested in a physical therapy career. After four years, you will graduate with the knowledge to help patients with physical, psychological, and social problems in New York State.

Physical therapy students that enroll will learn about restoring a patient’s optimal function through treatment and physical activity.

CUNY Brooklyn College ensures its physical therapy students work alongside nurse practitioners, doctors, and physician assistants to have a deeper understanding of real-world experience. With this strategy, you will complete your education, pass your state exam, and gain clinical experience.

There is a 55% graduation rate, and graduates can expect to make up to $56,776 in their chosen fields.

With a 55% graduation rate, students can earn up to $56,776 after graduating in their respective fields. The school also boasts an 81% retention rate, meaning most students return to their studies after their first year.

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2. Foothill College

This institution strongly emphasizes sports injuries and sports medicine, unlike other 4-year PT schools.

Throughout your study, you will take various kinesiology, biology, and chemistry classes and gain practical experience in sports medicine while learning the principles of human anatomy and physiology.

As you move into your later academic years, you will also concentrate on fitness evaluations, fundamental nutrition, and emergency injury care.

Although Foothill College has an average 24% graduation rate, the most impressive statistic is your expected pay after graduation.

Students can make an average of $113,107 each year with the degree. This physical therapy program is ideal for working with high school, college, or professional sports teams.

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3. Texas A&M International University

This program offers a variety of study options, including courses on human anatomy, health, disease, wellness, emergency treatment, and more. This program primarily focuses on sports medicine, though your degree may be helpful elsewhere.

To ensure you’re eligible to earn your PT license, it’s crucial to review the requirements for each student.

For instance, Texas A&M International University offers 1800 clock hours of training to students with sufficient expertise. And to get your license, you must also obtain a valid CPR or EMS certification. Additionally, students will take the Texas Athletic Trainer Written Examination and the Texas Athletic Trainer Practical Examination for licensure.

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4. Texas Woman’s University

The graduation rate of Texas Woman’s University is 55%, with 73% of students continuing their education after the first year. Most students who choose to remain rather than transfer speak highly of the school’s physical therapy department.

You’ll study many of the foundational principles of your future profession as part of the physical therapy curriculum at the university. Plus, depending on the degree you want to pursue, there are a few different study options.

Students can pursue post-professional certificate programs, doctoral degrees in physical therapy (DPT), or doctoral degrees in philosophy in physical therapy (Ph.D.). Fast-track alternatives are also available to finish your graduate degree sooner.

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5. Northwestern Health Sciences University

The programs at Northwestern Health Sciences University help students gain a significant amount of experience. To pursue your future career, you must first earn an undergraduate degree and then graduate.

You can apply for the DPT programs after earning your undergraduate degree. You will gain the experience you need through this program to help you acclimate to the world of a working physical therapist.

With these courses, you can learn how to work in people’s homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and even sporting venues.

During your 4-year studies, you’ll concentrate on various topics, including pathology, biology, cellular histology, finance, behavioral sciences, kinesiology, and biomechanics.

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6. Pennsylvania State University – Penn State Wilkes-Barre

Other physical therapy programs differ somewhat from the one offered at Pennsylvania State University – Penn State Wilkes-Barre. It is an all-encompassing rehabilitation degree rather than one that focuses primarily on physical therapy.

Students will have the chance to investigate a range of entry-level jobs that involve helping patients in human service environments.

After earning your undergraduate degree, you can choose to continue to a physical therapy program to earn your graduate degree or even proceed to take DPT programs. So, a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation and Human Sciences when you graduate.

In addition to learning how to interview family members and manage caseloads, students will also learn how to evaluate client needs. You will also gain academic experience in hospital and medical settings to better prepare you for your graduate degree program.

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7. University of Southern California

According to a recent ranking, the University of Southern California has an acceptance rate of 13% and a graduation rate of 92%. Graduates can select from one of their three-degree programs to help them attain their objectives and establish themselves as industry leaders.

Most students are in the ground-breaking, three-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, which they offer in both residential and hybrid settings. The university also provides one of the best master’s and Ph.D. programs in kinesiology to study the biological foundations of movement.

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8. Brigham Young University – Provo

At Brigham Young University – Provo, alums earn up to $87,604 after graduation. They boast an impressive graduation rate of 82%, and about 89% of the students in their programs stay on, demonstrating the excellence of their educational offerings.

This program is perfect if you want to learn more about a career helping people avoid injuries, manage pain, and improve mobility.

The Pre-Professional Advisement Center at the school can assist you in starting to design your academic program for your future job. The school additionally provides a physical therapist assistant degree option.

You’ll get an Applied Associate Degree to work as a physical therapist assistant once you’ve finished your program. So, you will collaborate with qualified physical therapists to assist patients with their health issues.

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9. University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

The PT program here is sometimes referred to as a Doctor of Physical Therapy entry-level program, assisting you in starting your ideal career. You will gain experience in patient evaluation, problem-solving, and developing lifelong skills during your studies.

Students investigate physical therapy procedures in the Health Science Center with the assistance of the school’s esteemed staff. Some of the nation’s top research facilities and labs will be available until you complete your program in 34 months of study overall.

The first two years of your time will be at the Health Science Center, and the latter ten months will be in clinical internships. After finishing the course of study, you’ll receive a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

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10. Bryan University

With a Bachelor of Science, you can work in occupational therapy, physical therapy, athletic training, and other fields after graduation. Your entire academic career will be devoted to understanding, caring, and imparting to others the workings of the human body.

The Bryan University curriculum is rather varied because it covers various career-related basics

In-depth topics, including the physiology of exercise, the supervision of sports programs, and other advanced courses, will be covered during your final years of study. Overall, it’s a comprehensive, open program that’s a great place to start for your future profession.

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11. University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

This is a college where you can complete the DPT program in 2.5 years, which is shorter than other programs. Students can concentrate on specialty throughout their clinical practice, although the curriculum gives students a comprehensive understanding of physical therapy.

From the start, students will gain experience in the actual world. You will conduct five full-time clinical affairs for 35 weeks as they advance through the curriculum, including clinical work in a hospital.

Both the graduation and licensure exam pass rates are 100%. However, only 45 students are accepted each year, making admission to this program competitive.

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12. Emory University Division of Physical Therapy

As one of the best physical therapy schools in 2023, Emory University is a much-esteemed university with an 11-year alumnus employment rate of 100%. This program, which starts in June and lasts 35 months, has an acceptance rate of 19%, drawing students from all over the nation.

The university places a strong emphasis on research, and students in its DPT programs perform their senior research projects in collaboration with a faculty mentor. Prospective students are encouraged by this university to see certified physical therapists working in various areas.

These are the top physical therapy colleges, where you may find outstanding programs to get you ready for a career in the field. It would be advisable to choose one of these institutions if you are considering a profession in physical therapy because it will surely be more affordable with a 91% graduation rate.

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13. Duke University School of Medicine

It is a university that gives hands-on training so they can gain knowledge by using actual patients in their practice. Through a program called the Big Bb program, students are partnered with second or third-year students once they start the program.

In the first half of the three-year curriculum, students work in the classroom and lab, and in the second half, they complete clinical work.

An anatomy lab and the Trent Semans Health Education Center are also accessible on foot from this program. Additionally, students will be able to benefit from the global studies program, which enables learning abroad by going to volunteer in a hospital.

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14. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

As one of the best and biggest schools for physical therapy in the US, it has a 94% graduation rate, a two-year DPT program, and a faculty-developed methodology. Through four full-time clinical experiences, the curriculum instructs students to diagnose and treat movement disorders.

This university enrolls between 90 and 95 DPT students each year and has two dual degree programs, with a competitive acceptance rate of 8%.

Students must achieve academic standards and complete physical therapy observation hours, though this university does not require GRE results.

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15. Washington University in St. Louis

Students at this university enjoy a student-centered approach to education and go through four developmental periods. It allows students to get flexible, tailored instruction, mentorship, and evaluations to support their growth and success.

You will gain information through case studies, in-class instruction, and part- and full-time clinical experiences during the program’s approximately three-year duration. Additionally, students will be able to benefit from research opportunities to expand their knowledge.

The program accepts applications until February 1 of the enrolling year, and there is rolling admission. The GRE is not necessary. However, applicants must have finished all prerequisites and their undergraduate science and math requirements.

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16. University of Delaware School of Health Sciences.

This university has two full-service physical therapy clinics on campus and provides a unique hands-on learning environment.

Clinics under the supervision of university academic members and clinical experts allow students enrolled in integrated clinical education courses to apply their learning with actual patients.

It boasts one of the highest acceptance rates (66%), a graduation rate of 94.34%, and one of the best DPT programs. Students can participate in faculty-led research projects at this university, which offers a well-regarded research program.

It’s crucial to understand that this university only accepts the best candidates, and the most recent graduating class had a GPA of 3.8.

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17. University of Pittsburgh

One of the best accredited physical therapy schools globally is the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS). The university is renowned for its high-impact, disciplinary research and academic and clinical teaching proficiency.

The school has been a pioneer by aiding people of all ages and stages of life to overcome movement, function, and mobility issues. Their graduation rate is 82%, while their acceptance rate is 59%.

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FAQs on the best physical therapy schools in 2023

Can I get a physical therapy degree online?

Yes! There are physical therapy degree programs offered entirely online. Programs like these usually lead to a transitional doctor of physical therapy. These are intended to assist licensed physical therapists in meeting the industry’s current educational requirements.

How much do physical therapists make yearly?

Physical therapists earned an average of $87,930 per year in 2018, according to the BLS. The highest earnings were by physical therapists employed in nursing homes or residential care institutions. The states that pay physical therapists the most are New Jersey, Nevada, and Alaska.

Are there scholarships for physical therapy students?

There are financial assistance and scholarship options for physical therapy programs, like institutional scholarships specific to each university. Departmental scholarships solely available to students studying physical therapy are available for some online physical therapy schools.
Additionally, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) provides prospective physical therapists with many financial rewards. This includes the physical therapist minority scholarship and the Mary McMillan Scholarship Award.


To become a licensed physical therapist, you must undergo several demanding processes, just like with many other medical vocations.

But the work is worthwhile despite these challenges. You may be sure that you will have a great time in your job by receiving DPT programs from any of these best physical therapy schools.



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