Physical therapists who have already earned a bachelor's or master's degree may choose a distance learning program for their doctorate degree. Online Doctor of Physical Therapy programs are available through two routes. Transitional programs are designed for students who are already credentialed, practicing physical therapists. These programs offer courses and sometimes hands-on lab practice leading to the DPT degree (Doctor of Physical Therapy).
Alternatively, several universities offer 'blended' (both distance and on-campus) physical therapy doctoral programs for students without physical therapist credentials. To be eligible, participants must hold a bachelor's degree that includes certain prerequisite courses. This program takes about three years to complete.
|Online Availability||Blended with on-campus and distance learning|
|Degree Levels Available||Doctoral|
|Important Prerequisites||Bachelor's or master's degree, some required courses|
|In-Person Requirements||On-campus courses, clinical practicum training|
Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree
Clinical practicum training, any professional seminars or orientations, and the presentation of research must be done either on campus or at cooperatively-arranged internship sites. Practicum work is usually required for two clinical courses on current musculoskeletal therapeutic practices. Other residencies are usually planned for weekends.
Expect 8-12 courses, depending on previous degree level and experience. Courses cover the following topics:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Examination skills
- Therapeutic exercise
- Health care systems
- Health care economics
- Differential diagnosis
- Research skills
Also, advanced classes may look at physical therapy techniques such as the following:
Continuing Education Information
Physical therapists must complete continuing education units to maintain their licenses. Therapists may choose to complete these classes partly or completely online. Course options vary widely. Look for 'The Obesity Challenge in Public Health' in four online modules. Also, a 30-hour certificate program in assistive technology is available, which consists of ten weeks of online courses and three 5-hour Saturday classes on campus.