Individuals interested in studying physical therapy in Texas may choose between two primary educational paths: earn an associate's degree toward becoming a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or, after earning a bachelor's degree in a health-related field, pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy to become a physical therapist (PT). While an associate's degree may usually be earned in about two years, doctoral programs may take three to four years to complete, beyond an undergraduate education. All physical therapy programs include clinical or practicum experiences and many are limited admission.
The following colleges and universities are the 10 largest schools to offer CAPTE-accredited programs that help students become eligible for licensure exams. The majority of them offer PTA programs, but 2 universities offer PT programs.
Austin Community College District
Located in Austin, this college offers a 71-credit PTA associate's degree program. The 2-year program requires students to take prerequisites like anatomy and medical terminology. Major courses include topics in human physiology, healthcare communication and rehabilitation techniques. Students must also complete several clinical experiences near the end of the program.
Brenham's Blinn College offers a PTA associate's degree program. The college accepts roughly 20 qualifying students. This program integrates lectures, labs, and several practical experiences to provide students with a well-balanced education. Students take approximately 70 credits of coursework like pathophysiology and therapeutic exercise. Field experiences are also required. For the years 2012-2014, 100% of the graduates passed their licensure exams.
El Paso Community College
Located in El Paso, this school offers a 5-semester PTA program that integrates practical experiences, general education courses, and physical therapy coursework. Courses cover topics in therapeutic exercise and physical agents. Students must also complete 3 field experiences that will provide them with hands-on training.
Houston Community College
This college in Houston has a 2-year PTA associate's degree program that is offered through the Coleman College for Health Sciences. About 40 applicants are accepted annually. The curriculum includes several practical experiences. Students also take courses in patient care, therapeutic exercise and healthcare communications.
Lone Star College System
The Montgomery campus of this college in Conroe has a 2-year PTA program that consists of 67 credits. This program provides lectures, labs, and clinical experiences. Prerequisites in anatomy and physiology are required. Other classes cover topics in rehabilitation techniques and functional anatomy. Students are also required to participate in several clinical experiences. The school has a selective admissions process.
San Jacinto Community College
This college's South Campus in Houston has a 72-credit PTA program. The college admits only 24 qualifying students. This program provides general education courses, major courses and practical experiences. Specific courses teach students about therapeutic exercise and neurological disorders.
South Texas College
McAllen's South Texas College offers a PTA associate's degree program. Students complete 70 credits of courses, and topics cover physical agents and neurological disorders. A capstone course and clinical experiences are also mandatory. For the years 2013-2015, 100% of the graduates passed the licensure exams.
Tarrant County College
Fort Worth's Tarrant County College has a 5-semester PTA program. Students take classes in healthcare communications, patient care and therapeutic exercise. In order to successfully complete this program, students must also participate in 4 clinical experiences. Admission to the program is competitive.
Texas State University - San Marcos
This university in San Marcos offers a 3-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. The entire program takes 3 years to complete, and only 40 applicants are accepted annually. Applicants need to have bachelor's degrees. DPT students complete clinical training, research and major courses. Courses cover topics in neuroscience, anatomy and therapeutic interventions.
University of Texas at El Paso
Located in El Paso, this university has a 99-credit DPT program. Students complete courses in motor control, neuroscience and neuromuscular rehabilitation. They also participate in clinical experiences. Application requirements include a bachelor's degree, and only 32 students are accepted each year.
Both PT and PTA career choices have extensive educational and licensure requirements. Aspiring PTAs need to complete an associate's degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Those who plan on becoming PTs need to earn a master's degree or doctoral degree in the field from a CAPTE-accredited school.
After completing their programs, PTs and PTAs must pass examinations for licensure. Continuing education and other approved activities are necessary for license maintenance.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Physical Therapy Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*|
|Austin Community College District||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant|| $2,550 in-district;
|Blinn College||2-year, public; distant town||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant|| $2,256 in-district;
|El Paso Community College||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant|| $2,386 in-state;
|Houston Community College||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant|| $1,632 in-district;
|Lone Star College System||2-year, public; small city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant|| $1,504 in-district;
|San Jacinto Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant|| $1,408 in-district;
|South Texas College||4-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant|| $3,486 in-district;
|Tarrant County College District||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant|| $1,320 in-district;
|Texas State University - San Marcos||4-year, public; small suburb||Doctor of Physical Therapy|| $7,786 in-state;
|University of Texas at El Paso||4-year, public; large city||Doctor of Physical Therapy|| $5,381 in-state;
Source: *NCES College Navigator.