Physical Therapy Major: Classes and Courses Overview

Since a graduate degree is required for employment as a physical therapist, undergraduate students interested in physical therapy typically enroll in health science bachelor's degree programs or combined bachelor's and doctoral programs in physical therapy.

Essential Information

Graduate-level programs in physical therapy, which result in a Doctor of Physical Therapy, generally require students to earn a bachelor's degree prior to enrollment. Some programs offer a combined program that allows students to earn a bachelor's and doctoral degree concurrently. These programs take about six years to complete. Licensure is required of physical therapists in all states; students must pass an exam in order to become licensed.

Here is a list of concepts commonly covered in physical therapy major courses:

  • Therapeutic interventions
  • Diagnostic procedures
  • Health care systems
  • Muskuloskeletal system
  • Cardiovascular system

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List of Common Courses

Anatomy Course

Students interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy must complete an anatomy and phyisology class. Coursework concentrates on major body systems, including viscera, with extra attention paid to bones and muscles. Students in this class attend lectures and labs that are based on classroom demonstrations.

Physiology Course

Major body systems are the focus of this core class. Students are usually required to participate in labs that build on classroom lessons and course discussions. Students learn about the nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems plus other common body systems, especially as they may relate to the practice of physical therapy.

Biomechanics Course

Another course that's commonly required in pre-physical therapy programs, a biomechanics course is dedicated to the scientific study of the human body and how it moves. Students are introduced to typical uses of the body and its limitations. Participation in lectures, classroom demonstrations and labs is typical. This is a required class and usually taken toward the end of an undergraduate degree program.

Psychology Course

A commonly required class, this foundation course in psychology lays groundwork for students that they are likely to use in later physical therapy learning opportunities. Students become familiar with human behavior in general, as well as how and why people act the way they do. Classroom discussions can include motivation, memory and perception as well as normal and abnormal psychological development.

Statistics Course

This required class introduces students to mathematically sound data collection methods and analysis. Students work with variables, standard deviations, probabilities, linear regressions and correlations. Students learn how to collect, examine and analyze data. This course is usually completed halfway through an undergraduate degree program or later. It provides pre-physical therapy majors with the background needed to carry out graduate-level academic research.

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