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Individuals interested in physical therapy in Illinois have a good range of schools from which to choose, regardless of their career intentions. There are two primary education paths in the field of physical therapy: becoming a physical therapy assistant or a physical therapist. The former may be completed much faster than the latter, which demands a doctoral degree in most cases. All physical therapy programs in Illinois include practicum or clinical requirements, although how many rotations or internships are required and for what duration will vary by school and degree level.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at Bradley University, in Peoria, typically takes three years to complete. Offered through the physical therapy and health science department, this program requires students to complete 105 credit hours and 35 weeks of clinical rotations. The curriculum includes coursework in anatomy, clinical science, human development, exercise principles and physical therapy administration. Applicants to this program are generally expected to have some experience working in health care and physical therapy and have a proven record of leadership and responsibility. Graduates of this program are positioned to take the PT licensure exam.
College of DuPage
The College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn is a two-year school that offers an associate's degree for physical therapy assistants and pre-physical therapy students. Within the physical therapy assistant program, students complete coursework in kinesiology, patient care, therapeutic exercise and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. In addition to coursework, students complete four clinical practicum experiences. Upon graduation of the PTA program, students can apply for PTA licensure.
Elgin Community College
Located in Elgin, Illinois, Elgin Community College offers an associate's degree program for individuals who wish to become a licensed PTA. Students are required to pass a background check and drug test upon acceptance. Within the program, students complete lecture and lab courses, as well as clinical practicum experiences at multiple sites. Additionally, aspiring physical therapists may pursue an Associate of Science to transfer to a four-year college and work towards a higher degree.
Governors State University
Located in University Park, Governors State University offers a CAPTE-accredited Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program through the Department of Physical Therapy. Students have access to 12 faculty members dedicated to physical therapy, as well as hands-on clinical training. The DPT program, which required 119 credit hours, includes coursework in movement analysis, integrative physical therapy, pharmacology, patient care and physical therapy management, as well as clinical internships. Students that complete this doctorate program can take the state licensure exam.
Illinois Central College
In East Peoria, Illinois Central College offers an Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assistant. The 68-credit-hour program is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Students complete coursework in physical therapy fundamentals, anatomy and diseases, as well as three clinical experiences. Graduation from this program qualifies students for PTA licensure exams.
Northern Illinois University
Located in DeKalb, Illinois, Northern Illinois University (NIU) offers both undergraduate and graduate physical therapy schooling options at its College of Health and Human Sciences. The Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences offers an emphasis in pre-physical therapy, which prepares students either for graduate studies in health occupations or health-related entry-level employment. Students looking for a professional degree that will lead to licensure can complete a DPT. The DPT program includes coursework in physical therapy foundations, human movement, pathology and pharmacology. In addition to coursework, students are required to complete several clinical experiences. A transitional doctoral program is also available.
The Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences in the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Evanston provides graduate degrees in physical therapy. Students interested in physical therapist licensure can pursue a three-year DPT. In addition to clinical experience, students examine coursework in medical terminology, anatomy, kinesiology, evaluation and professional development. The school also offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy/PhD in Engineering.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
This four-year college in Carbondale has two options for those who wish to study physical therapy. The school offers a PTA associate's degree that includes coursework and clinical rotations, which prepares students for PTA licensure. Additionally, students may pursue a pre-physical therapy program to prepare them for a graduate degree program in physical therapy.
Southwestern Illinois College
Southwestern Illinois College is a two-year school in Belleville that offers an associate's degree for those who wish to become a licensed physical therapy assistant through the health sciences and homeland security division. This program requires 71 credit hours, which are completed over five semesters. These credit hours are comprised of both general education courses and physical therapist assistant courses. In addition to coursework, students complete four weeks of clinical education experiences in off-campus settings.
University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Illinois in Chicago is a four-year public college that offers a bachelor option and doctoral degree options in physical therapy through the College of Applied Health Sciences' Department of Physical Therapy. Bachelor's degree students pursue a major of their choosing while completing a pre-physical therapy program track. The 122-credit-hour professional clinical doctorate program includes coursework in anatomy, physiology, applied kinesiology, motor control and neuroanatomy, in addition to clinical experiences through four clinical internships. This program qualified students for the Illinois licensure exam. Additionally, the Chicago campus hosts an on-site physical therapy lab and provides clinical internships through the University of Illinois Medical Center.
According to the Illinois Physical Therapy Association, to become a physical therapist (PT), individuals typically must have an accredited graduate degree and pass a licensure examination. Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) must complete an accredited associate's degree and pass a licensure exam.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Physical Therapy Degree Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Bradley University||Four-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city||DPT||$15,190 (graduate)*|
|College of DuPage||Two-year, public; large suburb|| Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assistant,
Associate in Science in Pre-Physical Therapy
|Elgin Community College||Two-year, public; midsize city|| Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assistant,
Associate in Science
|Governors State University||Four-year, public; rural fringe|| DPT,
| $9,052 (graduate, in-state),
$16,420 (graduate, out-of-state)*
|Illinois Central College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assistant||$4,050 (in-district),
|Northern Illinois University||Four-year, public; small suburb|| Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences: Pre-Physical Therapy,
|Northwestern University||Four-year, private not-for-profit; small city|| DPT,
DPT-PhD in Engineering
|Southern Illinois University Carbondale||Four-year, public; small city||Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$13,137 (in-state),
|Southwestern Illinois College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$3,420 (in-district),
|University of Illinois at Chicago||Four-year, public; large city||DPT||$16,527 (graduate, in-state),
$25,386 (graduate, out-of-state)*
Source: *NCES College Navigator