Becoming a Physical Therapist: Degree Programs Overview

Becoming a physical therapist involves a fair number of years spent studying. The work itself is rewarding both in personal and professional terms, but in order to have the knowledge and technique necessary to practice as a physical therapist you’re looking at a considerable amount of time spent in the educational system.

Below, we provide a degree programs overview, touching on the kinds of degrees and courses of study that pertain to your goal of becoming a physical therapist.

Undergraduate Degree


Before you can take your Graduate Degree you’ll need to complete an Undergraduate Degree program. We recommend you take your Undergraduate Degree as a BSc, or Bachelor of Sciences, as this degree type will cover courses like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and the Physical Sciences, which you will need to study in order to take a Graduate Degree in physical therapy.

Graduate Degree

Once you have completed your Undergraduate studies you can seek out a physical therapy school to take your Graduate Degree. But, before you enrol in a Graduate program take some time to consider whether you want to work in general practice or work in a specialized area of physical therapy. That choice will affect both what programs are open to you, as well as influencing your school selection.

Doctoral Qualification

You don’t currently need a PhD to practice physical therapy, but according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is the possibility that a Doctorate may in future be a requirement before you can seek your State licensing. This may not be so far in the future either, since it wasn’t that long ago that an Undergraduate Degree was enough to qualify you for taking the State licensing exams.

Additional Experience

Before you begin studying, while you’re studying, and after you graduate are all excellent times to gain additional experience that will benefit you when trying to find work as a physical therapist once you’re licensed. Generally, this means getting volunteer experience, but it is possible once you’ve had some kind of training – usually your Undergraduate Degree – to get some experience working alongside, or under the tutelage of licensed practitioners. If you can find someone who is willing and able to mentor you, all the better.

Now that you’ve had a chance to get an overview of the degree programs involved in becoming a physical therapist, put some time into checking out the schools available to you. Start with physical therapist schools in your area, then expand out to find the degree programs that meet your individual requirements. Good luck!