Top Schools for Physical Therapy

Find out which top schools offer training in physical therapy, including the graduate program necessary to work as a physical therapist. Read about the program options at four universities, and use the table at the end of the resource to find other schools in the U.S. that provide training for physical therapists.

School Information

Formal education programs in physical therapy typically lead to a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and combine academic coursework with clinical training. Three of the top schools for physical therapists include Creighton University, home to the first DPT program in the U.S., as well as the University of Pittsburgh and New York University. All three schools have received high rankings from U.S. News & World Report for the quality of their physical therapy programs or schools.

Top U.S. Schools with Physical Therapy Programs

1. University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA

In 2008, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Pittsburgh's DPT program second in the country. One of the oldest universities in the country, the school also placed among the best value public colleges in the nation in 2011, according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine.

Students in the 3-year DPT program learn about pediatric, geriatric, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular physical therapy. Clinical placements are available in rehabilitation clinics, sports medicine facilities and orthopedic departments. The school also offers a master's degree in health and rehabilitation sciences for licensed physical therapists.

2. New York University in New York, NY

New York University (NYU) is a private institution that U.S. News & World Report ranked 15th among physical therapy schools in 2008. The university's Department of Physical Therapy offers a DPT program that includes supervised clinical practice experiences. As the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) recommends that all practicing physical therapists have a DPT by 2020, the department also offers a DPT for practicing physical therapists who want to upgrade their skills (www.apta.org). Additional courses of study include a post-professional Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with a focus on pathokinesiology research, which may help individuals with physical disabilities improve their motor controls.

3. Creighton University in Omaha, NE

Creighton University is a private Jesuit institution that offered the nation's first DPT program, a course of study that U.S. News & World Report ranked 19th in the country for 2008. The entry-level DPT program, available through the university's Department of Physical Therapy, takes eight semesters to complete. Program focus is on motor control, exercise physiology and physical therapy interventions; students also learn about medical imaging and musculoskeletal physical therapy. Aspiring physical therapists can also pursue general and specialized clinical practice experiences in a variety of settings and geographic areas.

Ten Good Schools with Physical Therapy Programs

School Name Distinction Location
Arcadia University Offers a fully online transitional DPT program Glenside, PA
Columbia University Has 560 national and international practice sites New York, NY
Creighton University Dean of the Graduate School received APTA's Lucy Blair Service Award Omaha, NE
MGH Institute of Health Professions Provides post-professional options for licensed physical therapists Boston, MA
New York University Offers a clinical residency and weekend-intensive training in orthopedic physical therapy New York, NY
Northwestern University Physical therapy students participate in the Synthesis Project, which allows them to work in groups and focus their studies on a special topic of interest Evanston, IL
Ohio State University Division of Physical Therapy offers five clinical residency programs Columbus, OH
University of Delaware University out-patient clinic allows students to gain hands-on practice Newark, DE
University of Iowa Students have a 100% first-time pass rate on the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) required for licensure Iowa City, IA
University of Pittsburgh Clinical education offered in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Centers for Rehab Services. Pittsburgh, PA

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