An advanced education in Physical Therapy is not only a shrewd career move but also might be a necessity—The American Physical Therapy Association has stated a goal that “by 2020, all physical therapists will hold a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, advancing the discipline to a higher status.” And at the current population rate, by the same year, the number of American citizens over 65 will be more than double! In light of these facts, this is an incredibly pertinent time to earn a Doctorate of Physical Therapy.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the job outlook for physical therapists at 28% over the next 7 years, which is hugely above average. PTs find work in a number of settings including nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, and in athletic environments. Doctors in this discipline are respected healthcare professionals that offer peerless health services. Individuals in this field report very gratifying and rewarding careers, that contribute to the aid of a growing need. Not only does the challenging nature of their position keep them active and educated, the job security essentially guarantees a respected position of employment!
Need other options? See 20 Best Online Schools for Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD),4 Best Online Schools for Doctor of Applied Behavior Analysis (A.B.A.) Degree Programs 2018 or Top 20 Online Schools for Doctoral Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree Programs for 2020
Physical Therapist Salaries:
In the United States, salaries vary for Physical Therapist, depending on concentration and job location; however, the average salary, according to the BLS as of May 2018, was $87,930 annually. The highest 10% earned upwards of $123,350 per year.
States that pay the most:
Nevada’s average annual salary is $115,670, followed by,
Alaska – $94,950,
New Jersey – $94,830,
Texas – $94,790,
California – $94,370.
Industries that provide the highest salaries:
Residential Care and Nursing Facilities – $94,010
Home Health Services – $92,660
Hospitals – $89,950
PT Clinics; Occupational Therapy, Audiology & Speech Therapy – $83,280
Most popular Physical Therapy specializations:
Cardiovascular & Pulmonary
METHODOLOGY FOR CHOOSING THE TOP 5 ONLINE DPT DEGREE PROGRAMS:
Research for this list included cross-referencing many of the most respected journalistic and education resources and student review sites. The methodology included numerous required factors: accreditation, tuition, financial aid availability, program and coursework options, and degree outcomes. In developing this list, OnlineSchoolsCenter.com chose to list the schools in random order, therefore, highlighting five of the very best programs, all of which have their own unique strengths based on the following attributes:
- Offers 100% Online or Hybrid learning formats for DPT Transition (tDPT) students, offering convenience and flexibility for those working full-time,
- Designed to assist working professionals in the field of Physical Therapy to meet the requirements of today, specifically by earning the required Doctoral degree by the year 2020,
- Includes various applications, such as pharmacology, diagnosis and injury prevention, radiology, nutrition, motor control, and other evidence-based practices,
- Financial Aid options; ready to assist you with tuition costs,
- Properly Accredited for a quality DPT online program,
- Unique concentrations may be offered through your DPT program, depending on the school, such as orthopedics, geriatrics, or pediatrics,
- Trains in the delivery of the most up-to-date and innovative technology used today in the field of Physical Therapy,
- Depending on your program requirements, residencies may be required to graduate.
For a deeper look, please see our Methodology page.
A.T. STILL UNIVERSITY
ONLINE TRANSITIONAL/POST-PROFESSIONAL DOCTOR OF PHYSICAL THERAPY DEGREE PROGRAM
According to the APTA, “as the healthcare environment evolves into a more direct-access model of physical therapy,” future therapists need to display highly competent levels of individual leadership and critical thinking. With the demands of today’s physical therapist becoming more acute, A.T. Still University offers its doctorate students a glowingly reviewed DPT program that is designed to meet individual students’ needs, and to enhance current and future careers.
Campus Location: Kirksville, MO
Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools; Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
Tuition and Fees:
- $9,989 per academic year—tuition
- $2,497 per quarter—installment option tuition
- $70 one time—application fee
- $175 one time—student services fee
Types of Aid: Private loans, employer tuition reimbursement, Veterans’ and military benefits, and tuition refund policies.
Acceptance Rate: 9%
Applicants to this program must hold a bachelor’s and master’s degree in physical therapy from accredited institutions, or in an applicable discipline to this program. Required documentation includes official transcripts representing a 2.7 GPA or higher, licensure in physical therapy in one of the fifty states, three professional letters of recommendation, an expanded portfolio, and international students must submit TOEFL scores.
Sampling of Coursework:
- Neuromuscular Physical Therapy
- Radiology and Imaging
- Health and Wellness
Graduates “join a prestigious group of alumni and earn the respect that comes from an ATSU degree.” Having gained a preeminent education in physical therapy, students go on, as doctors in their discipline, to provide the most excellent services in many different, and much needed, fields.
LEARN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT A.T. STILL UNIVERSITY’S ONLINE TRANSITIONAL/POST-PROFESSIONAL DOCTOR OF PHYSICAL THERAPY (DPT-P) (TDPT) DEGREE PROGRAM
ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY
ONLINE CLINICAL DOCTOR OF PHYSICAL THERAPY (DPT)
Alabama State University has designed a Doctorate of Physical Therapy distance education program that conforms to high ethical standards and strong degrees of professionalism. Immersing individuals in online environments with experienced healthcare professionals, students learn a vast array of skills in physical therapy, as well as in administration and management.
Campus Location: Montgomery, AL
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
Tuition and Fees:
- $5,000 one time—tuition
- $175 one time—portfolio review fee
- $100 one time—graduation fee
- $25 one time—graduate studies application fee
Types of Aid: Institutional and private scholarships, state and federal grants and loans, work-study programs, and private loans.
Acceptance Rate: 51%
Applicants must hold a master’s degree from an accredited institution and are to submit official transcripts from all educational institutions attended. Other necessary documentation includes GMAT and GRE scores and a portfolio.
Sampling of Coursework:
- Clinical Pharmacology
- Health Disparities
- Applied Clinical Research in PT Practice
Graduates from this program demonstrate strong capabilities in the practice of ethical, legal, and safe healthcare and physical therapy. Doctors of this program recognize the influence of social, economic, legislative, and demographic factors on the delivery of healthcare and apply relevant research and current techniques.
LEARN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY’S ONLINE CLINICAL DOCTORATE IN PHYSICAL THERAPY (DPT)
UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND
DOCTOR OF PHYSICAL THERAPY ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAM
The University of New England offers an intensive Doctor of Physical Therapy program that focuses on the most recent advancements made within the field. It is the perfect program for busy clinicians with the desire to advance their careers and learn to work more closely with patients, as it is a challenging, yet rewarding, curriculum.
Campus Location: Biddeford, ME
Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges; Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
Tuition and Fees:
- $320 per credit hour—tuition
- $25 per class—registration fee
Types of Aid: Financial loans and grants, federal, state, private, and institutional scholarships, and payment plans.
Acceptance Rate: 82%
Applicants must hold a baccalaureate or master degree in physical therapy from accredited institutions as well as a current license to practice and employment in the United States. Other documentation includes official transcripts and proof of English proficiency from international students.
Sampling of Coursework:
- Management Sciences
- Prevention, Health Promotion, and Wellness
Including six challenging courses that must be completed within three years, students will gain skill in areas such as evidence-based practice, clinical decision-making, management sciences, prevention and wellness, and health care policy. In an immersive online experience, students expand their knowledge to conform to the highest standards of healthcare delivery.
LEARN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND’S DOCTOR OF PHYSICAL THERAPY
ONLINE DPT DEGREE PROGRAM
Northeastern offers a huge range of areas of study within their Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs, including orthopedics, pediatrics, geriatrics, advanced nutrition, women’s health, and many others! Students also have the option to focus their curriculum in a topic of their choice.
Campus Location: Boston, MA
Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges; Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education
Tuition and Fees:
- $1,335 per credit hour—tuition
- $14 per term—student activities fee
Types of Aid: Institutional and private scholarships, assistantships, federal loans, and work-study programs.
Acceptance Rate: 32%
Applicants are to submit a completed online application, along with official transcripts from accredited institutions. Other documentation includes a statement of purpose, a professional resume, two letters of recommendation, and international students must additionally submit proof of English proficiency.
- Clinical Nutrition
- Health Aging: Nutrition Strategies for Optimal Longevity
- Sports and Fitness Nutrition
Graduates from this Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program will have the skill to diagnose a huge number of ailments and issues in their patients, as well as apply critical and creative thinking skills in high-pressure clinic environments. Students gain specialized knowledge in an area of their choosing that will successfully advance their career goals!
LEARN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY’S ONLINE TRANSITIONAL DOCTOR OF PHYSICAL THERAPY DEGREE PROGRAM
ONLINE TRANSITIONAL DOCTOR OF PHYSICAL THERAPY DEGREE
This nationally recognized online Doctor of Physical Therapy program establishes strong connections with renowned faculty members and peers from a variety of physical therapy backgrounds. Students learn in a “highly interactive” learning environment which nurtures keen research and critical thinking skills in the most relevant areas of the practice.
Campus Location: Glenside, PA
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
Tuition and Fees:
- $800 per credit hour—tuition
Types of Aid: Numerous federal and alternative loans and grants, institutional scholarships and assistantships, and military benefits.
Acceptance Rate: 54%
Applicants to this program must submit official transcripts from accredited undergraduate and graduate institutions representing a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or better, a current state professional license, three letters of recommendation, and a goals statement. Applicants must also have basic computer skills and a system capable of supporting educational technologies.
- Diagnostic Imaging
- Health Promotion and Wellness
Graduates from Arcadia University’s Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program will have the ability to solve complex clinical problems based on evidence and strong researching skills; to communicate professionally through scientific writing, and to effectively lead others in various challenging environments.
LEARN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ARCADIA UNIVERSITY’S ONLINE TRANSITIONAL DOCTOR OF PHYSICAL THERAPY DEGREE
If currently working as a Physical Therapy professional, do I need an online doctorate degree in the field?
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), those currently working in the field as a practicing Physical Therapist has been encouraged to earn their doctoral degree in PT before the year 2020. If you are a beginner and have just recently received your bachelor’s degree, then a doctoral degree program will be next for you. Upon graduation, you will be eligible to take your licensure exam, the National Physical Therapy Examination, as required by your state.
However, a “grandfather clause” will allow presently Physical Therapist the opportunity to continue with their clinical duties without interruption, if they so choose. Transitional DPT (tDPT) programs are designed to fill in the gaps for those who have previously earned bachelor or master’s degrees but would like to own a doctoral degree, the preferred degree for a Physical Therapist.
What will I learn in a DPT or tDPT program?
Advanced subjects are covered in an online Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) or Transitional DPT (tDPT) program. As new and innovative technology is used today in the field, additional skills and knowledge are also needed to learn how to diagnose properly and implement a plan of treatment.
Coursework may include relevant topics such as diagnostic imaging, clinical research techniques, pharmacology, business-related economics, and management techniques, promotion of good health and wellness, injury prevention, along with, studies specific to heart health, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. You can also expect advanced classes in human anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics.
How long will a Transitional Doctorate of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program take to complete?
Generally, a tDPT program will take you approximately three years to complete. Of course, there are many factors to consider, such as your dedication to a part-time or full-time program, your work schedule, and family responsibilities. Any of the previously mentioned factors can lengthen or shorten your program length if you so choose. You should enroll in a plan that will fit your career aspirations, as well as your busy schedule. Although completing your education to be a Physical Therapist is a lengthy process, it will be worth it, without a doubt.
Are reputable school programs available for Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees through an online learning format?
Doctor of Physical Therapy degree or Transitional degree programs may be hard to locate through a 100% online format; however, a few are available that will allow working students the opportunity to do most of the coursework online. Depending on your school choice, you may be expected to meet some on-campus requirements, as well as, locate a residency in your local community clinic or hospital. Please do careful research before signing onto a degree program if in-person attendance is a deciding factor for you.
Will additional education be required for license renewal?
Typically, a Physical Therapist must renew their license every two years. Often, depending on your state’s regulations, you will need to enroll in continuing education coursework to fulfill the requirements needed to renew your license. License renewals often vary from state to state, but generally ranges between 24-30 hours of continued education and a specified amount of work experience under your belt.