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Best Physical Therapy Schools in the US

Are you a prospective student who desires to study physical therapy, and you are yet to select the best physical therapy schools to apply to? Don’t worry because we get you covered.

In this article, we will be looking at the best therapy schools in the United States to make your selection easier for you.


Physical therapists work to help people live healthy and active lives. Using prescribed exercise and hands-on care, they improve the quality of life for many people with injuries or disabilities.

These medical professionals educate patients about exercises best suited to their individual situations. The benefits of physical therapy are helpful in many environments such as hospitals, clinics, and sports facilities.

To practice, students must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from an accredited program and pass the licensure exam.

These programs tend to last three years and include courses like biology, physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, pharmacology, and behavioral sciences.

Physical therapy students also study non-technical topics from communication to ethics. After classroom and laboratory study, students utilize their knowledge in clinical rotations.

The need for physical therapy professionals is expected to remain strong as the population ages, and the demand for services grows. See Best Optometry Schools in the US.

As a result, many comprehensive programs educate students on how to succeed as physical therapists.

With nearly 20,000 active physical therapists and 30 accredited programs, the United States is no exception to the growing demand for PT services.

According to rankings compiled by U.S. News & World Report and published in 2021, prospective students can also find top Doctorate of physical therapy programs in nearly every part of the United States.

With so many top-tier programs, it can be challenging to pick the right one.

Here are the ten best physical therapy schools in the United States based on the US News ranking of physical therapy programs.

  • University of Delaware College of Health Sciences
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
  • University of Southern California Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy
  • Duke University School of Medicine
  • Emory University Division of Physical Therapy
  • MGH Institute of Health Professions
  • Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
  • Ohio State University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • UNC School of Medicine

1). University of Delaware College of Health Sciences

University of Delaware DPT students gain one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience on campus.

The university is home to two full-service outpatient physical therapy clinics, the Sports & Orthopedic Clinic, and the Neurologic & Older Adult Clinic.

Faculty members and clinical specialists oversee the clinics, where students get to put their knowledge into practice with actual patients during their Integrated Clinical Education (ICE) courses.

Students also can work with children through a pediatric ICE, located at a local children’s hospital. In addition to the ICE opportunities, students later undergo three 10-week, full-time clinical educational experiences.

University of Delaware has a well-respected research program with such illustrious organizations as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation providing funding, and students can take part in faculty-led research projects.

When it comes to admission, UD accepts the best of the best. Its most recently admitted class had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.8 and average GRE scores in the 74th percentile for verbal and the 63rd percentile for math.

Prospective students also need to do several observation hours and interviews with the admissions committee, an opportunity extended by invitation only.

2. University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Students can attend this top-rated program in person or partially online.

The University of Pittsburgh offers both a traditional residential DPT program as well as a recently begun hybrid option, both of which are full-time. Much about the programs is the same.

Both start in August, require about 50 to 60 hours of work per week, require 42 weeks of full-time clinical education, and take seven consecutive terms to complete.

Hybrid students will complete some lab activities remotely and have to visit campus twice per semester during their first five terms for some lab work. Each on-campus “immersion experience” runs six to nine days.

Additionally, Doctorate of physical therapy students in both versions of the program complete four clinical experiences (two six-week sessions and two 15-week sessions).

For students who want to add even more to their career prospects, Pitt offers a dual DPT/Ph.D. in bioengineering.

That program is geared toward students who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related discipline.

3. Washington University in St. Louis

Doctorate of physical therapy students moves through four phases of development as they learn at top-rated Washington University.

The midwestern university offers what it describes as “a learner-centered approach to education,” which gives students flexible, personalized learning opportunities along with mentoring and assessments to help them grow and succeed.

The Doctorate of physical therapy program lasts almost three years, and students build their knowledge through case studies, classroom learning, and both part-time and full-time clinical experiences.

The university encourages them to travel outside the St. Louis area for part of that clinical education.

Students also can take advantage of research opportunities to add to their experience. These can involve applying for an assistantship or participating in a research study. See the University of Washington Acceptance Rate.

The School of Medicine also has received an NIH-funded pre-doctoral research training grant that makes it possible for some students to get involved with faculty-guided research projects.

The program has rolling admission and accepts applications until Feb. 1 of the enrollment year. Prospective students are not required to take the GRE but do need to have successfully completed prerequisites and undergraduate science and math courses.

Washington’s Doctorate of physical therapy program has received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), which shows that its curriculum meets the necessary requirements for its alumni to pursue PT licensure throughout the United States and its territories.

4. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

One of the largest physical therapy schools in the nation, Northwestern University offers a 2.5-year Doctorate of physical therapy program whose curriculum is based on an approach developed by university faculty.

Students enter the program in September 2022, taking courses built around the Motor Control Framework, which teaches them how to diagnose and treat movement issues.

Students have four full-time clinical experiences, starting in their first year and continuing through the rest of the program. They also begin part-time integrated clinical education experiences in the fall of their first year.

The university enrolls 90 to 95 Doctorate of physical therapy students each year and also offers two dual-degree programs, the Doctorate of physical therapy/Master of Public Health and DPT/PhD in Engineering.

Its most recently admitted group, the class of 2023, was a diverse bunch, too, with 43% identifying as people of color.

Northwestern has joined several other schools in eliminating the requirement for prospective students to submit GRE scores, although applicants must meet other academic requirements and complete physical therapy observation hours.

The university also has a special option for its undergraduate students: the Northwestern Undergraduate Pre-Physical Therapy Scholars Program.

 Undergrads can apply to the Doctorate of physical therapy program in their junior year, and those selected then start the program after earning their bachelor’s degrees. The program admits up to five students annually.


This is the end of this article, which laid emphasis on the best physical therapy program in the United States. Was it useful to you?

Last Updated on June 26, 2023 by Admin

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