Doctor of Physical Therapy: Degree Overview

Oct 14, 2019

Within a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree program, aspiring physical therapists learn to work with patients to increase strength and eliminate pain as well as improve the normal functions of body systems. See common courses and job outlook.

Essential Information

In general, students seeking admission into this type of degree program require a bachelor's degree. Some academic institutions require students to complete prerequisite courses in biology, statistics, chemistry, physics, social science and psychology. Additionally, programs could require letters of recommendation and GRE scores. Students in the program will complete required clinical experiences, which generally include patient observation and examination, through campus clinics or at affiliated physical therapy facilities. Upon successful completion of a DPT degree program, graduates are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination for state licensure.

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Studies in a DPT program focus on advanced topics relating to human movement, physical therapy methods and physical sciences. Students learn to use problem-solving activities and case studies in order to enhance the learning experience. Common physical therapy course topics include:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Pharmacology
  • Neuroscience
  • Injuries of the musculoskeletal system
  • Research methods

Popular Career Options

Graduates can provide community service, conduct research and practice in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including:

  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Private physical therapy offices
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Sports facilities

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists could see an employment growth of 22% from 2018 to 2028 due to increases in elderly populations and survival rates of infants with birth defects ( The average annual salary for physical therapists was $88,880 in May 2018, according to the same agency.

Continuing Education Information

All states require practicing physical therapists to obtain a license. To renew a license, physical therapists usually need to participate in continuing education, and some states require specific courses or activities.

Students that earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy can work as physical therapists in an array of healthcare settings once they have obtained their state license. Graduates have mastered concepts in movement, therapy and research.

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