Students seeking physical therapy or physical therapist assistant programs in Arizona have a few school options within the state. Programs include associate's degrees for physical therapy assistants and doctoral degrees for physical therapists. Many programs, especially those leading to doctorates, are limited enrollment and competition for admission can be stiff. Clinical experiences are required by both levels of degrees.
A.T. Still University of Health Science
The A.T. Still University of Health Science offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program at the Arizona School of Health Sciences in Mesa, which has 12 core faculty members. As an entry-level graduate program, applicants do not need a physical therapy degree to qualify and less than 65 students are allowed to enroll per class. The curriculum requires 173 credit hours, and students can expect to study kinesiology, pathology, data analysis, neuroanatomy, rehabilitation and pain management. A clinical practicum and project are necessary, as are four clinical internships.
Eastern Arizona College
Located in Thatcher, Eastern Arizona College (EAC) offers an Associate of Arts (AA) in Pre-Physical Therapy program that can be completed in two years. The curriculum requires at least 64 credit hours, and students complete a variety of general education requirements, as well as courses in human anatomy and physiology. This program does not qualify students for PT or PTA licensure, but it does include coursework that prepares students to enter a DPT program.
Franklin Pierce University
While the main campus of Franklin Pierce University is located in New Hampshire, a satellite campus offering a DPT degree program is based in Goodyear, Arizona. Offered at the West Valley Learning Center, DPT students have access to state-of-the-art labs and a modern computer lab, as well as an off-campus anatomy lab. The curriculum includes 113 credit hours, including elective credits. Students study physiology, clinical pharmacology and health care systems. Four levels of clinical experience are required to earn the degree.
GateWay Community College
GateWay Community College is a two-year public school located in Phoenix. It offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) program that prepares students to work as physical therapist assistants. The AAS program is offered through the health care division, which provides students with access to three PTA faculty members.
Within this five-semester program, students take classes in kinesiology, physical therapy modalities and patient assessment, as well as complete three clinical practicum experiences. Upon successfully completing the program, graduates are qualified to take Arizona's physical therapy assistant certification examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.
Mohave Community College
Located in Kingman, Mohave Community College offers an associate's degree program in physical therapist assisting that requires 72 credit hours and two years of study. Students examine patient mobility techniques, kinesiology, clinical pathology, electromodalities and clinical neurology. The second half of the curriculum includes courses in orthopedic physical therapy, psychology and rehabilitation. In addition, students must complete several practicum experiences to gain hands-on experience. Graduates of this program are prepared for to take the certification exam for the state of Arizona.
Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University is a four-year, public school that offers a CAPTE-accredited DPT program through its Flagstaff and Phoenix campuses. The College of Health and Human Services offers the DPT program and features 16 staff members for physical therapy students. The DPT program is a 33-month course of study that has approval from the Arizona Board of Regents. Students take classes in human gait, therapeutic exercise, neuroscience, medical therapeutics and prosthetics. Students also become knowledgeable in cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal and neurophysiological therapeutics. In addition to courses, students gain hands-on experience and complete a capstone project. Upon graduating from the DPT program, students are qualified to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to become licensed physical therapists.
In order to become a physical therapist (PT), a student must complete an accredited physical therapy education program and pass an exam. Those interested in a career as a physical therapist assistant must complete an accredited physical therapist assistant program and pass an exam. The national accrediting agency for physical therapy programs is the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Physical Therapy Programs||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|A.T. Still University of Health Science||Four-year; private not-for-profit; remote town||DPT||$31,493 (graduate)*|
|Eastern Arizona College||Two-year, public; remote town||AA in Pre-Physical Therapy|| $2,080 in-state;
|Franklin Pierce University||Four-year, private not-for-profit; rural fringe||DPT||$16,605 (graduate)*|
|GateWay Community College||Two-year, public; large city||AAS in Physical Therapist Assisting|| $2,046 in-state;
|Mohave Community College||Two-year, public; fringe rural||AAS in Physical Therapist Assisting|| $2,112 in-state;
|Northern Arizona University||Four-year, public; small city||DPT|| $9,071 in-state (graduate);
$18,182 out-of-state (graduate)*
Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics.