What Degree Do You Need To Be A Physical Therapist?

What degree do you need to be a physical therapist? What undergraduate degree do you need to be a physical therapist? What’s the professional degree required to become a physical therapist?

These are three of the most common questions that people ask when they think about becoming an occupational therapy assistant.

There are many different types of therapists, and all require different levels of education. The good news is that this article will answer these questions for you!

Need a Degree To Be a Physical Therapist

A physical therapist is a professional who deals with multiple patients and helps patients to recover from sickness and injuries.

They help people with injuries and illnesses, such as those recovering from strokes and heart attacks. Earning the right degree can help you become a therapist after graduation!

Undergraduate Degree:

A degree is needed to become a physical therapist. What undergraduate degree do you need to be a physical therapist? A vast majority of colleges in the country do not offer undergraduate programs, but you may still find a few that train future therapists.

Some of those working in PT have an undergrad nursing or pre-med path. The college provides knowledge on physiology, biology, and anatomy for understanding the body’s reactions and healing.

Graduate School:

After you’ve graduated college, it’ll be at least two years before you can start your graduate program.

Apply with a copy of your undergraduate transcript showing the required science courses and take the national physical therapy exam.

Some programs also have internship requirements that ask applicants to spend six months or more working in practice settings as part of their training process.

Doctoral Degree:

Physical therapists need a doctoral degree, which is more time-consuming and difficult to obtain than other degrees. In addition to classes, students spend lots of time with patients under supervision.

Doctoral programs often have some type of research component as well; rather than writing an extended paper on it (with the skills learned in class), you might get the chance to demonstrate how they apply when working directly with your patients

The Different Determinations of Physical Therapist Degrees

Regardless of your desired career path, you’ll need a four-year degree from an accredited college. However, there are different types of physical therapy degrees available that allow you to choose the right course for yourself, depending on how focused or broad in scope you want your education to be.

Before committing time and money to any program, it’s important to understand what each type offers so students can make informed decisions about their future careers as soon as they enroll in school.

Here’re some of the different degrees you can earn to be a physical therapist:

Associate’s Degree:

What associate’s degree do you need to be a physical therapist? In order to practice as a physical therapy assistant, you must earn your 2-year associate’s degree in the field.

Along with learning about the theory and practice of physical therapy, this coursework also covers medical science basics and general education courses that prepare you for clinical internships.


For students who want to make the most of their educational experience, you can earn two bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just five years through these accelerated joint-degree programs.

Direct Entry Masters (MPT):

Many universities offer courses in the liberal arts as part of their physical therapy program. In direct entry programs, you take general education requirements in the first year and then complete your clinical practice in your final year.

Direct Entry Doctorate (DPT):

Aspiring physical therapists can earn their bachelor’s degrees in other fields and then enroll in DPT programs. Most of these 3-year long courses are offered at universities, with the goal of getting a new graduate ready to work as an entry-level PT.

Transitional DPT:

The University of St. Augustine offers a Doctorate in Physical Therapy program for physical therapists who want to go back and finish their doctorates without having to quit working or moving anywhere during the process, which typically takes three years after finishing an advanced degree or certificate from another school before you can start DPT school if your goal is to get licensed by both PT boards (the APTA’s exam curriculum includes only certain topics).

Physical Therapist Programs Related To Required Degrees

Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy:

Earning a postgraduate professional degree is not an easy task. It takes 4 years of studies and dedication to complete the undergraduate program which has many prerequisites like science or health-based classes.

What classes do you need to take to become a physical therapist during the program of Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy:

  • Cellular Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • General Psychology
  • Pre-calculus or calculus
  • Comparative Anatomy and Biology
  • Statistics
  • General Physics
  • Human Anatomy
  • Medical Terminology
  • Principles of Sociology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physiology

Master of Science in Physical Therapy:

The coursework in a master’s program prepares students for the national licensing exam. The first year is focused on courses and then finalizing clinical practice as part of their degree completion requirements.

Doctor of Physical Therapy:

In order to become a physical therapist, you have two options: 1) A DPT program is designed for students who want to be prepared and make the most of their time in school.

Your coursework will focus on giving you all the knowledge and skills necessary before being matched with your clinical practicum team; or 2) a doctorate degree (Ph.D.), which focuses more on theory than hands-on experience during schooling.

What classes do you need to take to become a physical therapist during the program of Doctor of Physical Therapy :

  • Lifespan Development.
  • Wound Care Management.
  • Patient/Client Management.
  • Pharmacology.
  • Physiology of Activity.
  • Gross Anatomy.
  • Kinesiology.
  • Administration.
  • Public Policy and Physical Therapy.
  • Pathology and Medical Management.
  • Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Let’s find out what accreditation your program has, if any. Otherwise, we can talk about financing options.

As a student, attending an unaccredited school can hinder your future education plans.

Many accredited schools may reject your credits or coursework if you get a bachelor’s degree from a non-accredited institution. This means that your degree may not be recognized and you may not be able to pursue further education at these schools.


What degree do you need to be a physical therapist? It can obviously be weighed in the form of a quick list of options. Most people, let’s just say, need a basic degree through college or university. Yoga may be a field of interest though, which may require training or completing certifications.