Quite a few North Carolina schools offer physical therapy programs. This article addresses the largest schools in the state offering programs for prospective physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs). Some programs are transitional, designed for PTs who wish earn doctorate degrees. Individuals seeking to work as assistants may earn an associate's degree, while a doctoral degree is required to be licensed a therapist. Both types of programs include clinical or practicum requirements.
Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute
Located in Hudson, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute enrolls about 5,000 students. The college offers an Associate in Science degree in physical therapy assisting that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) of the American Physical Therapy Association. This program requires completion of 76 credit hours of study in courses such as anatomy, physics, pathology and therapeutic exercise. The program's curriculum also includes three clinical experiences.
Central Piedmont Community College
Located in Charlotte, Central Piedmont Community College offers an Associate in Applied Science degree in physical therapy assisting that is accredited by the CAPTE. This program provides instruction in human anatomy, the treatment of patients suffering from various conditions and the consequences of diseases. Classes cover topics like therapeutic procedures and exercises, neurological rehabilitation and pathology. The program also includes clinical experiences.
Duke University is located in Durham and offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy program that takes three years to complete. The third year of this program consists solely of internships. Courses offered during the first two years of the program cover topics like movement science, applied physiology, patient management and managing health care delivery.
East Carolina University
Situated in Greenville, this university offers a 3-year Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The curriculum consists of 106 semester hours of study that includes 32 weeks of clinical experiences. The program provides instruction in subjects like gross anatomy, neuroscience, clinical biomechanics and pediatric therapeutic intervention. The program has several graduate assistantship positions.
Elon University is located in the city of its name, Elon, and enrolls about 6,000 students. The university offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program through its Department of Physical Therapy. Coursework in the 161-credit-hour program covers topics like the psychosocial aspects of health care, human motor development, and clinical imaging. In addition to coursework, students complete 48 weeks of clinical education. The program culminates with an internship and directed research project.
Fayetteville Technical Community College
Fayetteville Technical Community College is located in Fayetteville. The college, which enrolls approximately 12,000 students, offers a physical therapy assisting program that culminates in an Associate in Applied Science. This 5-semester program includes coursework in developmental psychology, pathophysiology and physical therapy procedures. The program also includes a clinical education experience.
Guilford Technical Community College
Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown offers an Associate in Applied Science degree program for aspiring physical therapist assistants that requires completion of 72 credit hours of study. Classes in this program focus on subjects such as neurological rehabilitation, functional anatomy, and physics. Four clinical experiences are required.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Located in Chapel Hill, this university offers both an Entry to Profession Doctor of Physical Therapy (eDPT) program and a Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program. The former is designed for individuals seeking to work as physical therapists, while the latter is intended for licensed physical therapists seeking to expand their knowledge of the field by earning a doctoral degree.
The entry doctoral degree program includes 114 credit hours of lectures and 36 weeks of clinical experiences. Classes cover topics like functional neuroanatomy, organ systems and physical therapy for older adults. Prior to graduation, students must also complete mock clinical casework, pass a comprehensive exam and complete a capstone project. This program is accredited by CAPTE. The transitional program is a part-time program that is offered online. Classes in this 30-credit-hour curriculum focus on areas such as advanced geriatric intervention, patient management, and family assessment and intervention.
Western Carolina University
Western Carolina University in Cullowhee offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program that requires 33 months to complete. Classes in this 113-credit-hour program cover topics like exercise physiology, biomechanics, and human pathophysiology. Students also complete four clinical rotations for a total of 34 weeks and a service-learning or research project.
Winston-Salem State University
Situated in Winston-Salem, this university offers a 122-credit-hour Doctor of Physical Therapy program that includes 36 weeks of clinical experiences. Program coursework covers topics like clinical biomechanics, anatomy, pathology, physical agents and life span motor control. A research project is required in order to graduate from the program.
According to the North Carolina Physical Therapy Practice Act, practitioners in both fields are required to obtain licensure through the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Practitioners in order to practice. To become licensed, an individual must graduate from an accredited physical therapy or physical therapy assistant program and pass an exam.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Physical Therapy Programs Offered||Undergraduate or Graduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)*|
|Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute||2-year, public; midsize suburb*||Associate in Science - Physical Therapist Assistant|| Undergraduate:
|Central Piedmont Community College||2-year, public; large city*||Associate in Applied Science - Physical Therapist Assistant|| Undergraduate:
$8,936 for out-of-state
|Duke University||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city*||Doctor of Physical Therapy|| Graduate:
|East Carolina University||4-year, public; small city*||Doctor of Physical Therapy|| Graduate:
|Elon University||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize suburb*||Doctor of Physical Therapy|| Graduate:
|Fayetteville Technical Community College||2-year, public; midsize city*||Associate in Applied Science - Physical Therapist Assistant|| Undergraduate:
|Guilford Technical Community College||2-year, public; midsize suburb*||Associate in Applied Science - Physical Therapist Assistant|| Undergraduate:
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||4-year, public; small city*|| Doctor of Physical Therapy,
Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy
|Western Carolina University||4-year, public; distant town*||Doctor of Physical Therapy|| Graduate:
|Winston-Salem State University||4-year, public; midsize city*||Doctor of Physical Therapy|| Graduate:
Source: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics.