Top Picks for the Best DPT Programs by Region

As recently as 1999, only 8 accredited entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy programs existed in the United States. Back then nobody struggled to pick a top quality program from a pile of options; they were more likely to struggle trying to find one at all.

Fast-forward to today. APTA, the American Physical Therapy Association, now requires all PT programs designed to prepare students for professional practice to be doctorates, with a 2020 deadline for converting the last of the PT master’s programs. Not only that, existing practitioners licensed under the old master’s degree standard also need to head back to school to earn a DPT. Nearly every clinical PT master’s program has already made the conversion, and state licensing requirements have followed suit.

A doctorate in physical therapy can cost you over six figures and take three years to complete. So you want to be pretty sure you’re going to get everything you need from your program… that’s a lot of loans to pay back.

That’s why we put together this list of the top DPTs in each of the major regions of the country, only including those with a proven track record of exceptional graduate outcomes as evidenced by a 100% pass rate on the NPTE exam for recent cohorts.

Accreditation is the Baseline Standard for Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs

All of the programs on the list are fully accredited by CAPTE, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

CAPTE sets high standards for PT educational programs, including graduation and licensure rates, and looks hard at the clinical and academic performance levels that students are held to. Self-improvement and constant review are part of that process, so that the schools have to adapt to the ever-evolving state of the art in PT in order to remain accredited.

That means that no program that holds accreditation achieves their high marks with low standards: they set a high bar and clear it.

Pass Rates Aren’t The Whole Story

Although we used the 100% NPTE exam pass rate as our bottom-line criteria, pass rates alone won’t tell you everything you need to know about a program, and it’s not nearly enough for us to feel confident including it on our list of the very best, let alone recommending it to our readers. That’s why we went deeper than data points in making our selections.

Graduate Outcomes

Beyond pass rates, these particular schools also have another bare minimum qualification in common: they also have track records for producing graduates that go on to accept positions within six-months of completing the program – 100% of the time.

Needless to say, a 100% employment rate is the single best indicator of how well a program will prepare you for a successful career, because just passing the license exam doesn’t mean much unless you make the transition to professional practice soon after you pass it.

High-Quality Instruction Lays The Groundwork

Your instructors and mentors are key to your educational experience. You can’t, by definition, learn anything that they don’t know. So you need well-educated, highly experienced professors who are willing to take the time to convey the key scientific concepts and practices of the profession in ways you can understand. Each of these programs has shown their commitment to putting together quality faculty teams that bring their professional experience, contributions to research and literature, and commitment to excellence in practice to the lecture halls and labs of the institutions they serve.

State of the Art Facilities Provide the Best Preparation

These schools have also invested in high-quality learning environments. That means labs with advanced 3-D motion tracking analysis, community clinics or outreach programs where students can get immediate hands-on experience, and research libraries with the latest information and access to deep academic databases.

Learning the Ropes of Working on Cross-Functional Care Teams

Many of the schools are also part of or co-located with teaching hospitals. That offers you a golden opportunity to learn together with other budding professionals. This means the communication and coordination standards of the cross-functional care team is built right into your curriculum. With a growing emphasis on a team approach to patient care, this kind of exposure is a vital aspect of preparing for professional practice.

Clinical Experience Is Formative For New PTs

Since clinical experience is formative for newly-minted PTs we looked hard at the clinical internship programs offered by each of these schools. Programs with diverse and numerous placement options were weighted more heavily than those with relatively few choices. We also preferred schools with multiple, rotating placements to give you a variety of experiences, as well as those that include some on-campus clinical exposure apart from the internship placements. Schools with community clinics or regional assistance programs where you can volunteer to help with patient treatment met this criteria.

Research Programs Build The Background For Evidence-Based Treatment

Research can be a matter of preference for PTs, many of whom will go on to work in clinical settings where they never conduct another study in their lives. However, learning to value the evidence-based practice paradigms that are coming into prevalence in the profession as well as understanding how that evidence is collected and reported can be a vital component in life-long learning for every PT.

So schools with strong research programs got an extra look from us since it provides students with the possibility of some first-hand exposure to groundbreaking studies, and because it contributes to the school serving as an indicator for high-level faculty expertise.

Major Rankings Show Community Respect

We also considered other perspectives, such as rankings by major review agencies like U.S. News & World Report (if you see several schools listed as #1 on their list, it’s not a typo… they allow ties!). Many of these rankings have been awarded year-after-year, demonstrating a consistency in quality education that is the hallmark of a strong, systemic educational program.

Best of the Best: Top DPT Programs with 100% NPTE Exam Pass Rates by Region

Because there are just over 200 DPT programs in the United States, there’s a good chance you’ll be hitting the road to get your degree. It makes sense that you will want to stay in the region where you plan to practice, both for professional and practical reasons. That’s why we organized the list according to region.

Wherever you are in the United States or wherever you plan to practice, you’ll find a strong, regional option for your DPT here that will set you up for a long, successful career in physical therapy. We stand behind our recommendation for every one of these programs, and provide all the details you need for a clear understanding of why they are counted among the very best.


This list features programs that our editorial staff hand selected to present as top recommendations. We believe the many aspects of a program that come together to create an exceptional student experience can’t be reduced to numbers alone, so no formula was used to attempt to score or rank these programs. Instead, they represent our top picks based on a thoughtful review of the things we know mean the most to students. Each one of these programs offers something unique, and all come equally highly recommended. We stand behind the principal of editorial integrity and make these recommendations independently and without compensation.


The Northeast

University of Maryland
Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
Baltimore, Maryland
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $667
Semester Credits: 120

Graduation Rate: 100%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Unique block design curriculum integrates foundational and clinical science content throughout the program
  • Dual-degree options such as DPT/MPH and DPT/PhD offer specialization across traditional career boundaries
  • A strong science focus includes full cadaver dissection as well as lab sessions and a classroom systems approach as part of your training

As one of the Northeast’s premier programs for physical therapists you’ll face some pretty high expectations at the University of Maryland, but meeting them will be well worth the effort. Hitting 100 percent for both NPTE exam pass rate and post-graduate employment rate, if you show up and put in the work, you know you’ll be coming out the other side successful. And success here means a lot. With both real and simulated patient sessions and opportunities to learn both on and off-site, you’ll be challenged to learn and grow as a practitioner early on in the program at UM. The school believes in educating students as professionals as well as clinicians, so the curriculum gives attention to both ethical and administrative considerations before your first year is out. Before progressing to the third year, every student has to pass the clinical qualifying measures (CQM), which cover every professional and medical competency you will have to master. Lab sessions are a heavy part of the course load at UM. Few schools graduate DPTs with as strong a scientific background as this program does.

University of Pittsburgh
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,044
Semester Credits: 120

Graduation Rate: 98.2%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Ranked as the #1 DPT program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report
  • Program includes more than 90 weeks of clinical internships for in-depth clinical experience before graduation
  • School is ranked among the top five NIH-funded research institutions in the country
  • Faculty include leaders in the field with many years of professional experience and strong publishing records
  • Excellent Clinical Education opportunities are available to students throughout the program across the entire health care continuum to give you exposure to the most up-to-date science in every aspect of the field

Pitt makes a strong promise to students entering the DPT program: you’ll be able to evaluate and treat a wide variety of patients with confidence and integrity from Day One of the program. That’s the kind of statement you can make when you are the number one ranked DPT program in the nation, and Pitt backs it up with strong program outcomes like an over 98 percent graduation rate. It shows in the employment rate of graduates, too. Like every other school on this list, Pitt has a 6-month employment rate of 100 percent. But how are they looking five years later, after the bumps and hiccups of a professional career hit? At Pitt, that number is still a rock-solid 100 percent. You get the skills and confidence to find PT jobs you enjoy through active integration with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services. With more than 50 outpatient facilities in 10 counties throughout Western Pennsylvania, it’s one of the most expansive operations in the Northeast, and offers you internship opportunities among diverse patient populations. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to participate in Pitt’s superlative research programs, which recently developed and published newer and better methods for treating older adults with knee injuries.

Drexel University
College of Nursing and Health Professions
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $857
Quarter Credits: 128

Graduation Rate: 98.1%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Offers an experiential learning curriculum that puts you into the real-world practices of clinical partners during 4 part-time Integrated Clinical Experience modules
  • State of the art healthcare technology in integrated clinical and research facility including 9000 square feet labs
  • Anatomically accurate simulation manikins in the Human Simulation Lab eliminate roadblocks to hands-on practice and demonstrations
  • Standardized Patient Lab allows students to interact with actor patients while being remotely monitored by instructors to get an accurate perspective and feedback

Drexel hits the top marks in every category we looked at for evaluating the DPT program: over 98 percent program completion rate, a 100 percent state board licensing exam pass rate, and 100 percent of graduates in professional practice within six-months of leaving the program. That’s enough to earn a spot on this list alone, but a top-rated faculty, amazing research facilities, and deep-seated relationships with local clinical partners seal the deal. There’s also the fact that, although all schools here have a 100 percent pass rate, many of them have student bodies that require several rounds of retesting to get there. At Drexel, the first-time pass rate is over 98 percent. That means that not only are students absorbing all the detailed information they need, they’re remembering it and getting it right on the first try… a fact that speaks volumes about the quality of the program. The ICE outside placements occur at intervals during the program to allow you the opportunity to practice your training in bite-sized chunks out in the real world before coming back to refine your technique.

Long Island University – Brooklyn
School of Health Professions
New York, New York
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,629
Semester Credits: 118

Graduation Rate: 97.7%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Unique location allows students to learn the urban health care environment and become familiar with the NYC medical system
  • Nationally recognized faculty who offer both professional and academic leadership in the field
  • Students get observation time and hands-on experience in the LIU Center for Physical Rehabilitation, serving the local Brooklyn community

One of the best schools to learn the trade of physical therapy in New York also happens to be one of the best schools in the Northeast: LIU Brooklyn is helmed by expert practitioners who are also skilled researchers and academics, offering students both the theoretical and practical basis they will need to succeed in the field. The on-site Physical Therapy Research Lab offers 1,200 square feet of space that is used for cutting-edge research into motor control, alternative therapies, and clinical instrumentation. While you take part in faculty projects at the vanguard of PT research, you’ll also get the core education in anatomy and medical practices that you’ll need to build your assessment and treatment skills. Thirty-five weeks of clinical education ensures that you will get the face time you need to become proficient with clients before you graduate. It’s the complete package, located on the doorstep of one of the largest cities in the country with plenty of career opportunities just waiting for graduates.

Arcadia University
College of Health Sciences
Glenside, Pennsylvania
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $999
Semester Credits: 111

Graduation Rate: 96.7%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Ranked in the top 20 for accredited graduate PT programs by U.S. News & World Report
  • Immediate clinical experience puts you on the front line with patients in the first year of the program
  • More than 250 clinical relationships with local, national, and international facilities offer a wide selection of clinical placement opportunities
  • Second year students have the option to spend the first 8 weeks of the final clinical experience practicing in London
  • Required participation in the Dan Aaron Stay Fit Program gives every student hands-on time working with Parkinson’s and MS patients

Arcadia offers an innovative patient-centered curriculum to prospective physical therapists that is nonetheless closely aligned with APTA standards. You’ll be thrown right into a part-time clinical experience in the first year, and accumulate 34 weeks in practical, hands-on training through the course of the program. And it’s not just local experience—the program has extensive international relationships and an overseas placement experience to give you some perspective on how other countries approach physical therapy. But the program is far from elitist. During your clinical rotations, you’ll also serve at Mercy Clinic in West Philly, treating impaired clients from some of the most disadvantaged populations pro-bono. You’ll graduate with a broader understanding of health, wellness, fitness, and the practice of physical therapy than you will find in most other programs in the region.

Temple University
College of Public Health
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $954
Semester Credits: 117

Graduation Rate: 96%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Learn in a brand-new, state-of-the-art instructional space on the Temple main campus
  • Optional 3+3 Baccalaureate/Doctor of Physical Therapy program allows you to attend a streamlined course that will confer a DPT in 6 years instead of 7
  • Third year students participate in a capstone project on a selected clinical topic
  • Your Integrated Clinical Education will begin in your first year, giving you hands-on experience with live patients almost immediately
  • Smart classrooms make use of the most current educational technologies to provide on-demand reference to resources and research

Recently redesigned to provide the same great learning experience at a lower cost, you’ll find Temple both affordable and comprehensive in academic and clinical instruction. You can expect to receive a strong background in the foundational sciences behind physical therapy combined with a strong, in-depth investigation of the human movement system. You’ll be trained to become a critical consumer of both clinical and scientific literature to ensure that you keep your skills up to date over a lifetime of working in the profession. Your training in diagnostics, radiology, pharmacology, health policy, and wellness promotion will allow you to view therapy in a holistic way and forge strong connections with providers in related fields as part of a multi-functional team. With a large number of faculty participating in cutting-edge research projects in PT, you’ll also have the opportunity to polish your research skills as a student at Temple. Whether you are investigating inflammatory biomarkers or pediatric cerebral palsy, your exposure as a student to this groundbreaking research can help shape your career as a respected and accomplished physical therapist.

Seton Hall University
School of Health and Medical Sciences
Nutley, New Jersey
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,279
Semester Credits: 110

Graduation Rate: 93.4%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Emphasis on interprofessional education prepares you to participate on patient-centric care teams
  • High level of engagement with accessible doctoral-level faculty for informed instruction from some of the best in the business
  • Strong relationships with diverse clinical sites around the NYC area offer opportunities for placement for your three clinical internships

Seton Hall is a big name in medicine generally, and their doctor of physical therapy program lives up to the reputation. It’s not the cheapest program in the Northeast, but it is among the best. The art and science of caring are the top educational priorities at the school, and all the technical detail you’ll learn never obscures the ethical and safety aspects of patient care. Small class sizes and an engaged, encouraging faculty help deliver that philosophy on a personal level. You’ll learn in laboratories with completely up-to-date equipment and measurement tools and have the opportunity to experience up to three different placements during your clinical internship rotations. A nearly perfect graduation rate shows the enthusiasm that Seton Hall students bring to their studies, and you will be surrounded by critical thinkers and dedicated learners that will help you every step of the way.

Sacred Heart University
College of Health Professions
Fairfield, Connecticut
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,392
Semester Credits: 108

Graduation Rate: 93%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Motion-analysis lab uses state-of-the-art technologies to break down diagnostic and treatment modalities
  • A problem-based learning curriculum is designed to deliver complex lessons and skills in-demand in today’s most advanced clinics
  • Integrated Clinical Experience program pairs you with expert local PTs for in-depth, hands-on training
  • A 3+3 integrated baccalaureate/DPT track allows you to earn your professional degree in as few as 6 years
  • Two different capstone projects help solidify and polish your skills during your studies

Sacred Heart adopts a two-prong philosophy in their DPT program that will serve you well after graduation. In the belief that the art of clinical problem solving is paramount for physical therapists, they seek to give you not only the technical knowledge and skillset to draw on, but also teach you the subtler art of coming to know and understand your patients in order to apply those skills appropriately. To that end, the program actively works to expose you to a diverse base of patients through an expansive Community Outreach program and teaches you to absorb and analyze knowledge so that your information and skills will remain current throughout your career. The unique problem-based learning curriculum will challenge you even as it teaches you diagnostic and problem-solving skills.

Rutgers University
School of Health Professions
Newark, New Jersey
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $715
Semester Credits: 110

Graduation Rate: 92.3%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Courses available at either the Newark or Blackwood campuses
  • Enjoys relationships with clinical facilities both in the U.S. and internationally for a wealth of diverse internship opportunities
  • Strong research program ensures that faculty are regularly published in top journals and present at national and international conferences
  • Ranked nationally by U.S. News & World Report and holds both #1 and#2 spots for programs in the Tri-state area

Rutgers is a name that speaks for itself in the academic world. A 100 percent pass rate on the licensure exam is validation enough for the school’s quality on that front, but if you needed extra assurance you might also note that U.S. News & World Report ranks its two campuses as #1 and #2 for DPT programs in the Tri-state area. Among the ranks of great schools in the region, that’s really saying something. When you dive into the details of the program, you will immediately see why: students regularly assist faculty with groundbreaking research projects, and you have multiple service learning opportunities that put you face-to-face with diverse patient populations at a student-run pro-bono clinic in Newark, or as a screener for migrant workers and children in Blackwood. The organization also supports events such as the New Jersey Special Olympics. During those events students and faculty provide voluntary screening of athletes. Of course, it’s not all charity work; you’ll get a strong academic foundation for the four full-time clinical experiences you’ll participate in during the program. It’s an education that does the Rutgers name proud.

Simmons University
Department of Physical Therapy
Boston, Massachusetts
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,280
Semester Credits: 99

Graduation Rate: 92.1%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Location near some of the top teaching hospitals in the country gives Simmons students an advantage in interacting with first-rate practitioners in every field
  • A capstone research course results in developing a presentation for Physical Therapy Research day at the end of your course
  • The Simmons research laboratory features trakSTAR electromagnetic motion analysis, a Vicon-Optical system, and Supersonic Imagine Aixplorer Ultrasound unit to make sure you are trained on state-of-the-art equipment

Simmons delivers an education in physical therapy designed to produce graduates ready to meet all the various challenges presented by practice in the field today. From academic to administrative to clinical subjects, you’ll get a comprehensive schooling in issues facing today’s PTs out in the real world. Active, life-long learning is the objective for Simmons graduates. The program builds you up into an advocate and leader in the field, one who has the experience and capability to deliver effective treatment across diverse cultural and socio-economic patient populations. Research programs that you will participate in help prepare you for a lifetime of evidence-based practice in the field, including projects to determine the effects of infraspinatus muscle fatigue on range of motion and to quantify muscle stiffness changes pre- and post-exercise. The Boston location ensures that you are learning in the center of one of the major medical research and technology hubs of the country.

The South

University of North Georgia
Physical Therapy Department
Dahlonega, Georgia
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $356
Semester Credits: 130

Graduation Rate: 100%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • A diverse array of internship opportunities at more than 350 clinical sites ranging across 30 states
  • A unique focus on rural practice offers training and education working with an underserved population
  • The STAR Clinic is a student-lead therapy and rehabilitation clinic serving low-income residents of Lumpkin County and surrounding areas, offering both training and charity work simultaneously
  • The school hosts the annual cREATe conference pairing PTs with industrial designers to build technologies for clients with physical disabilities

The DPT degree is the first doctoral degree ever offered by the University of North Georgia and, and as you’d expect to be the case with the firstborn, it’s been doted over and spoiled with attention to detail and access to resources that have made it one of the finest DPT programs in the South. A 100 percent graduation rate tells the story of how that attention spills over into supporting and engaging enrolled students. With a highly experienced faculty from both academic and practical backgrounds, you’ll learn both scientific and clinical matters important to physical therapy work from some of the best in the business. Unique ties to rural practice areas and recruiting gives UNG an angle you won’t find elsewhere in PT education. The school brings high levels of innovation to this and other practice areas, pairing students with industrial design students to brainstorm new and effective technologies to assist clients with disabilities. It’s an amazing education at a very low price that anyone considering PT in the South should take a look at.

Virginia Commonwealth University
College of Health Professions
Richmond, Virginia
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $732
Semester Credits: 123

Graduation Rate: 100%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Four clinical internships throughout the program keep you in contact with patients and current on real-world practices
  • Located at VCU Medical Center in Richmond, the program offers easy access to state-of-the-art clinical and research facilities
  • School offers residency in Neurological, Sports, and Pediatric PT
  • Ranked in the top 8 percent of U.S. DPT programs by U.S. News & World Report
  • Has clinical internship contracts with more than 230 facilities across the United States
  • School has been awarded $4 million in federal research grant funding

VCU offers one of the premier Doctor of Physical Therapy degree programs in the United States, let alone the South. With 132 combined years of teaching experience and 141 years of combined clinical experience between their 13 devoted full-time faculty, which also includes several board certified specialists, you never have to worry about the authority behind the information you are learning. In fact, with more than 300 peer-reviewed publications between them, there’s a good chance you’re going to be learning from the material of the VCU faculty whether you go to VCU or not! You’ll take part in some of the research leading up to those publications as a student here, enjoying more than 12,000 square feet of classroom, teaching, and state-of-the-art research lab space. And it’s not all time spent in the lab or classroom: you will also take part in a total of 34 weeks of full-time clinical experience at a wide variety of outside internships, not to mention part-time clinical experience during academic periods.

Duke University
Department of Orthopedic Surgery
Durham, North Carolina
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $888
Semester Credits: 129

Graduation Rate: 98%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Ranked #10 in the country among DPT programs by U.S. News & World Report
  • Innovative Team-Based Learning curriculum keeps you close to other students and ensures you always have support throughout the program
  • Global health experience component offers overseas exchange opportunities in Norway and Kuwait
  • Clinical internships available in 203 locations across 32 different states

Duke is a name that speaks for itself in academic circles, and you don’t have to dig far into their innovative DPT program to see why. With a faculty that is active in cutting-edge research in PT, students here participate in the latest investigations in the field to earn an inside-out understanding of therapy. Up to 36 weeks of on-the-ground clinical internship work ensures that you understand how to put that knowledge to work in practice, at placement locations across the United States or even overseas. Back on campus, you enjoy access to the high-tech facilities available at Duke’s highly-respected Medical School, including the Human Soft Tissue Laboratory. And, as of fall 2019, the DPT program will move into new quarters in a brand new 5-story building outfitted with the latest in academic and clinical technologies. It’s a bright future for a top-ranked program, and just one more reason for you to give Duke a second look.

Medical University of South Carolina
College of Health Professions
Charleston, South Carolina
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $559
Semester Credits: 131

Graduation Rate: 98%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • School offers both Neurologic and Orthopedic PT residency programs
  • Students may work with nationally-acclaimed research teams, including at the renowned Center for Rehabilitation Research in Neurological Conditions
  • Interprofessional pro-bono clinic offers students experience treating underserved populations while learning
  • The student-create COAST initiative promotes awareness of the profession to underrepresented students and provides mentoring and career exploration opportunities

You have to expect that attending a school shown reverence with the name Medical University is a good choice for any kind of healthcare-related degree, and you’d be right: since 1973, this has been one of the most respected PT education programs in the South, keeping up with and advancing the state of the art as the field has evolved. You will experience the strong foundational learning approach that MUSC employs before moving into community-based clinical service for on-the-ground experience. Better yet, you will get a big-picture, systems perspective on physical therapy work at MUSC, one that is focused on collaborative patient care with a larger, cross-functional treatment team. MUSC expects students to become leaders in their field, and with a 98 percent graduation rate, you can see that they have been wildly successful in meeting that goal.

University of Miami
Department of Physical Therapy
Miami, Florida
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $967
Semester Credits: 107

Graduation Rate: 97.2%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Offers a generalist education incorporating the patient/client management model
  • Faculty include specialists board-certified in six different areas including Geriatric, Pediatric, and Cardiopulmonary
  • Enjoy 24-hour availability to the Student Floor in the department with computer and reference resources on demand

There are few cities like Miami in the world, and none at all elsewhere in the Southern United States: a multicultural nexus with modern, advanced medical services, but a low-key, international vibe. That makes the University of Miami DPT program a great place to go to become a globally educated physical therapist. Faculty have a diversity of interests that keep them engaged on all fronts, including in charitable and research work, but they are always available to their students. You’ll go through 32 weeks of clinical internships, seeing a diverse array of patients from different cultural backgrounds and with different care requirements and conditions. By the end of the program, you’ll find yourself with expert skills in the evidence-based practice system taught at UM, and capable of becoming a leader in the field of physical therapy.

University of Tennessee
Department of Physical Therapy
Memphis, Tennessee
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $897
Semester Credits: 125

Graduation Rate: 96.3%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Clinical internship sites available in Memphis, the state of Tennessee, and surrounding states for flexible placements and broad-based experience
  • The Movement Science Laboratory offers state of the art computer-assisted motion analysis for clinical, research, and educational purposes

Memphis is a great city to live and learn in, which is an important consideration for the three years it will take you to earn your Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. With 5 clinical experiences, you’ll get out of town from time to time, experiencing the diverse placement opportunities available, but the UT Health Science Center will be the focus for your studies. As the flagship statewide academic health system for Tennessee, UTHSC delivers a premier cross-functional education opportunity for PT students. It also puts you right at the forefront of PT research work, with more than $100 million in research funding coming in from both NIH and various private foundations.

University of South Florida
School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences
Tampa, Florida
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $548
Semester Credits: 119

Graduation Rate: 95.3%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Nationally recognized faculty propel this program with a deep and diverse range of experience
  • Center for Neuromusculoskeletal Research offers students the opportunity to take part in critical, groundbreaking research with leaders in the field
  • A research partnership with World Spine Care offers students access to the most recent theoretical and evidence-based data in targeted communities

USF has a deep bench in expert faculty. They include ABPTS-certified content experts, the national director of the VA’s clinical orthotist and prosthesis service, and presenters at national symposiums; even the director was recently interviewed for The Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation. That kind of recognition doesn’t come for nothing. For a school that styles itself as the future of academic medicine, it’s powerful validation, and for students in the DPT program, it’s a guarantee that you’ll be learning your trade from experts. It also means that well-funded research projects are readily available for student participation, giving you the opportunity to get an unprecedented look at the core data that is shaping your new profession before you even graduate.

University of Central Arkansas
Department of Physical Therapy
Conway, Arkansas
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $332
Semester Credits: 124

Graduation Rate: 95%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • The UCA Physical Therapy Center has more than 40,000 square feet of teaching, laboratory, and research space accessible to students
  • Residency in pediatric physical therapy develops advanced training in an in-demand PT specialty area

As the first PT program in the state of Arkansas, UCA has been graduating PTs for a long time… you’re sure to run into their graduates throughout the South, and the majority of the more than 1,700 licensed PTs in Arkansas have an old purple and gray Bears sweatshirt hanging somewhere around the office. With the cumulative institutional experience the school has built up since that early start in 1972, they have a great deal of expertise and knowledge to offer students even today. That informs both curriculum and the clinical experience sequence you will follow as part of the program. Internships are set in a variety of settings such as acute care, inpatient rehab, and various specialty areas both in Arkansas and outside the state. Five different clinical practica totaling 43 weeks of hands-on experience offer you a lot more genuine patient interaction than most PT programs. The 100 percent licensure and post-graduation employment rates are a good sign that employers appreciate that extra attention.

Belmont University
School of Physical Therapy
Nashville, Tennessee
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $876
Semester Credits: 133

Graduation Rate: 94%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Department is housed in a state-of-the-art health science complex which offer cutting edge classrooms, laboratory space, and equipment
  • Student research groups offer the opportunity to drive innovation and explore questions and uncover answers important to the field
  • Clinical residencies in neurology, pediatric, and sports develop outstanding expertise in in-demand specialty areas

If you’re looking at attending a DPT program anywhere in the South, then you certainly need to pay attention to schools in Nashville, the Health Care Capital of the United States. The health industry there is driven by nearly 1000 national and regional health care companies and health care services firms, generating a cycle of investment, innovation, and revenue that leaves them hungry for top talent… and along the way offers a concentration of expertise and opportunity that few other metro areas can match. The student-centric, Christian Belmont University has a PT program that taps into all that to deliver a challenging, but supportive environment for DPT students driven to work for the top of their potential and the profession. You’ll learn from experienced faculty who deliver lessons learned from their time in the trenches, and you’ll get your own direct experience as well through 38 weeks of clinical placement time in one of more than 300 potential placements worldwide.

University of Texas – El Paso
College of Health Sciences
El Paso, Texas
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $333
Semester Credits: 99

Graduation Rate: 91.9%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Recently opened state-of-the-art $1.3 million Human Anatomy Teaching Laboratory offers cutting edge equipment and lab space to students and faculty
  • Offers integrated Spanish-language training with the program
  • Fast-paced, cohort-model program will get you out the door in 9 straight semesters

UTEP may be way off in the corner of the big state of Texas, but it’s front and center when it comes to physical therapy education in the state. While offering a strong generalist DPT program, the school also prides itself on keeping up with the dynamic state of specialization in the field, which means it offers opportunities to practice in geriatrics, sports rehabilitation, pediatrics, women’s health, and neuro-rehabilitation among other hot practice areas. They’re all backed up by training in the university’s top-rated medical facilities, including at the state-of-the-art hospital simulation lab at the main Health Sciences and Nursing Building. Learning alongside other future healthcare professionals, including OTs and rehab counselors, you’ll get an early exposure to the kind of interdisciplinary care team that most professional PTs work with every day. It all comes with a notably low price tag, the second least expensive program in our roundup of Southern DPT programs.

The Midwest

Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
College of Medicine and Science
Rochester, Minnesota
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $696
Semester Credits: 133

Graduation Rate: 100%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Faculty publish in an average of 13 journals each year, a research pace that ensures you will be at the cutting edge of the PT profession in scientific investigation
  • The Clinic holds direct contracts with approximately 150 organizations for seamless clinical placements at more than 1,000 sites nationwide
  • A strong didactic training program offers many out-of-class opportunities to participate in lectures, workshops, and in-service training from some of the foremost researchers and experts in the world
  • Ranked as the #1 most innovative hospital in a recent national survey and as the #6 best medical school for research by U.S. News & World Report

Look, it’s the Mayo Clinic… do we really need to say anything more? There really isn’t any question that the premier academic medical center in the United States (ranked as the number 1 hospital in the country by U.S. News & World Report) is going to offer a superlative physical therapy program. But beyond the scientific and research-backed training you will receive there from some of the best PTs in the world, you’ll also find the high ethical and professional standards that come with the Clinic rubbing off on you. The Mayo Clinic School expects graduates to assume responsibility for independent judgment in diagnosis and treatment, and to prepare for the multifaceted roles required of an active professional in the field. The education here goes beyond textbooks and lectures and incorporates simulation 3-D modeling, and interdisciplinary team training to prepare you for physical therapy as it should be practiced in the real world.

Creighton University
School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
Omaha, Nebraska
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,023
Semester Credits: 135

Graduation Rate: 95.1%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Nationally-acclaimed faculty committed to leadership in the profession hold you to high standards throughout the program
  • Curriculum emphasizes mastering a hybrid systems-based model and embracing lifelong learning skills
  • Behavioral and social sciences are integrated with your learning experiences for a complete exposure to the cultural and psycho-social aspects of patient care
  • Overseas options for study include the Dominican Republic and China for a global perspective on physical therapy practices

As the first Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the nation, Creighton has set the standard that everyone else now follows. The university’s strong Jesuit tradition puts ethical and professional standards on equal footing with academic excellence. It also ensures that the PT program takes on a meaningful role in the local community, with students volunteering hundreds of hours of community service each year. Through those efforts, you’ll come away from the Creighton program with a much stronger exposure to, and appreciation of, the cultural and social aspects of patient care. That focus is extended through possible clinical placements around the United States, as well as two international study options: the four-week ILAC option in the Dominican Republic, and the one-week China Honors Immersion Program. Finally, the Professionally Directed Practice experience is a unique clinical education endeavor that is individually tailored to your personal goals, and can include a specialized practice area or other options like teaching, administration, or advanced study in other focus areas.

Washington University in St. Louis
School of Medicine
St. Louis, Missouri
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,036
Semester Credits: 108

Graduation Rate: 98.8%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Ranked as the #1 Physical Therapy Program in the country by U.S. News & World Report
  • Faculty have received recognition for their extensive knowledge of movement impairment classification, an approach the school pioneered in the physical therapy field
  • NIH-funded research grant allows a select number of students to participate in faculty-guided research projects

As the program that pioneered the Human Movement System approach to physical therapy, Washington University remains among the premier institutions in the country to study this system of identifying and correcting the underlying causes of patient injury and impairment. By studying at a renowned academic medical center that is conducting groundbreaking research, you’ll get both the educational and clinical exposure to strong, evidence-based practices that are coming to dominate the PT profession. That clinical exposure comes through the formal Clinical Education Program, a structured element of your instruction that encourages students to think critically and integrate concepts and practices from classroom instruction into real-world patient engagements, starting almost immediately—in the first two semesters of study. Five full-time clinical experiences ranging between eight and twelve weeks at sites located across the country give you the opportunity to drill down on skills ranging from systems screening to sensation testing to range of motion exercises. You’ll graduate equipped to handle everything from diagnostics to treatment in a movement-centric system valued by clinics worldwide.

The Ohio State University
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Columbus, Ohio
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $501
Semester Credits: 117

Graduation Rate: 98%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Offers degree specialization in pediatrics, research, and global health
  • Experienced faculty have published clinically-relevant research in more than 31 different publications and journals
  • Offers a combined PhD/DPT program for a joint clinical/academic teaching focus
  • Has five different clinical residency programs for advanced post-graduate training, including in sports, orthopaedic, pediatric, and geriatric physical therapy
  • Ranked in the Top 10 of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools in the United States
  • PT students with TOSU rack up more than 1,500 hours of community service on various local projects each year to combine voluntary service with real-world learning

Buckeye pride extends beyond the football field and into the labs and clinics at The Ohio State University at this well-grounded DPT program that fully adopts the university motto of “Do Something Great.” Being a great physical therapist all starts with developing strong foundations in anatomy and the physical sciences, which is exactly how the 9-semester program here starts out. But the real standout feature of the TOSU program is when it goes beyond the basics and delivers focused instruction in the many sub-specialties available in PT. With five different clinical resident programs operating as part of the school, you get the advantage of having not just regular faculty available for mentoring and instruction, but also highly experienced and specialized residents in subjects such as sports PT, pediatric PT, and neurologic PT. Going beyond specialization in the clinical aspects of PT, the unique terminal clinical experience of your final practicum also prepares you for other common PT functions such as management, program development, advocacy, or community service. It’s a well-rounded PT education that also provides a deep dive into the details of the profession, a winning combination for graduates.

University of Evansville
Department of Physical Therapy
Evansville, Indiana
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,110
Semester Credits: 99

Graduation Rate: 97%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Offers 3+3 and 4+3 tracks to completion which include an overseas study option at Harlaxton College in England
  • A Sports PT residency is offered with ProRehab designed to develop world-class sports specialists
  • Get practical clinical and management experience through the student-run, pro bono Ace Care clinic for uninsured or underinsured patients

With high completion and post-graduation employment rates, not to mention high first-time pass rates on the NPTE exam, it’s clear that the University of Evansville DPT program is doing something right. There’s a reason for that: a dedicated Outcomes Committee constantly assesses the curriculum, training, and experiential learning delivered to students in the program and recommends adjustments in either the entire system or individual components as necessary to stay on top of the rapid changes in the healthcare system. It’s a proven method to ensure you’re developing the kind of academic and clinical expertise you need to succeed as a PT. But UE goes beyond those metrics to ensure you come away with the cultural sensitivity required to provide exceptional healthcare. You’ll have opportunities to work pro bono at the school’s student-run Ace Care clinic and get clinical placements that will make you more attuned to clients of any background. More than 300 local, regional, national, and international sites are affiliated with the school, offering placements in almost any conceivable type of practice.

Central Michigan University
School of Rehabilitation and Medical Sciences
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $679
Semester Credits: 118

Graduation Rate: 97.8%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Learn in top-line facilities such as the school’s Human Performance and Motion Analysis Laboratories
  • Students have the opportunity to conduct research alongside faculty members

The vision statement for the CMU DPT program makes clear its commitment to being nationally recognized for its work in developing knowledgeable and skillful PTs for the benefit of society… and here they are! With facilities employing the latest in diagnostic and analytical equipment, and using a case-oriented educational model, the program teaches students to place the multiple dimensions of patient care at the top of their list of considerations. Although it’s easy to be wowed by the Dell Virtual Reality Laboratory or impressed at the groundbreaking research performed in the Field Neurosciences Institute Laboratories, instructors make sure that students are always grounded in the realities of individual care. This is achieved through the constant use of actual clinical cases throughout the curriculum, offering a contextual backdrop for all the scientific and theoretical concepts being taught. Students also participate in work at the Carls Center for Clinical Care and Education Physical Therapy Clinic, working with real patients and treating real injuries. CMU delivers a first-rate program with successful graduates that deserve that national recognition!

St. Catherine University
Henrietta Schmoll School of Health
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $825
Semester Credits: 118

Graduation Rate: 97.1%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Collaborative partnership with the school’s PTA program trains you for real-world work practices
  • Integrated Clinical Integration program has you getting involved in patient treatment and clinical decision-making as soon as your second week in the program
  • Small class sizes and an assigned learning partner ensure you get a lot of individual attention in your studies
  • Most faculty have PhDs in the field and several have certified specialist credentials to offer an expert perspective on PT specialty areas

The outcomes at St. Catherine’s DPT program are enough to make anyone sit up and take notice—100 percent licensure pass rate, 100 percent post-graduation employment rate, and a very respectable 97.1 percent graduation rate. But it’s how they get those numbers that is the most impressive qualification for the program. A uniquely innovative curriculum puts you into one short course on a single subject at a time, each focused on a specific PT practice setting—including geriatrics, acute care, and neurological rehab—for maximum depth and retention before moving on to the next subject. At intervals through the remainder of the program, you’ll revisit those subjects in more advanced courses, building on and driving home the initial lessons. A combination of case studies, lecture, hands-on skill labs, and experiential learning make those lessons stick. Research is also integrated throughout the curriculum, emphasizing the role of evidence-based practice and setting you up to be an effective investigator and competent presenter. Student research projects have included movement issues in infants with Spina Bifida and risk factors for patellofemoral pain… not exactly a cakewalk! But the approach is effective and develops PTs with a commitment to life-long learning.

Bradley University
Department of Physical Therapy and Health Science
Peoria, Illinois
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $890
Semester Credits: 105

Graduation Rate: 97%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • A one-year orthopedic residency is available to assist students preparing for the specialist exam
  • School has the highest rate of DPT program admittance of any school in Illinois with 30+ students
  • Students develop research projects that can be showcased at conferences and shown to potential employers
  • Participate in treatment at the Clinic for Function and Fitness for patients with chronic neuromuscular issues

At Bradley, you’ll develop strong relationships with your professors, classmates, and clinical mentors as you progress through this tough, but effective DPT program. Their support and assistance will be critical in shouldering the full courseload of academic classes that you’ll take on in addition to 36 weeks of clinical placements in a variety of settings. Bradley emphasizes mentorship both in the classroom and out in the field, so you can expect those internships to be more than just drop-in rotations where you’re the new guy for three weeks and then forgotten… instead, the school focuses on placement partnerships where supervisors take a real interest in your development and career and help align your education with your career goals.

University of Kansas Medical Center
Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
Kansas City, Kansas
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $416
Semester Credits: 110

Graduation Rate: 97%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • School’s position as a premiere health sciences academic center ensures students become familiar with other specialties and caregivers, preparing you for the cross-functional patient care team
  • Ranked among the Top 50 in Best Graduate Schools for DPT by U.S. News & World Report
  • Get experience at the JaySTART Clinic, providing free physical therapy services to patients in the Kansas City community
  • International clinical experience placements are available as part of the program

As the least expensive DPT program option in our list of Midwestern schools, the KUMC program offers one of the best values in the nation for getting an advanced education in PT. It takes more than just a low tuition rate to provide a great value, it also takes exceptional quality, something that becomes apparent about KUMC the moment you apply—the application process is among the most competitive in the region. If you get in, you’ll be among the cream of the crop, and expectations will be high. Fortunately, you’ll get the kind of classroom, laboratory, research, and clinical training it takes to live up to that potential. Your clinical experience will be accumulated through 36 weeks in a few of the more than 300 placement sites that the program contracts with, or in an overseas location through enrollment in the optional international clinical experience option. It’s a first-rate education at an affordable price.

University of Toledo
College of Health and Human Services
Toledo, Ohio
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $553
Semester Credits: 94

Graduation Rate: 92.9%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • TheInterprofessional Immersive Simulation Center and the Hillebrand Clinical Skills Center offer realistic, multi-functional settings for developing clinical, communication, and diagnostic skills under instructor supervision
  • Offers a dual DPT/PhD track for students interested in pursuing a teaching career
  • Side-by-side graduate certification option available for additional training in Gerontological Practice with your DPT degree

At UT you’ll enjoy the benefits that come with earning a degree on the Health Science Campus with all the resources of a top-notch academic health center: an acute care hospital, CARF-accredited in-patient rehabilitation center, a comprehensive out-patient rehab center, and scores of clinicians and scientists around you who are regularly engaged in health-related research and the details of daily patient care. You will have the opportunity to volunteer in a Community Care Clinic to provide pro bono services to the local community. It’s a setting that is practically designed to immerse you in the realities of patient care almost from day one. And that’s in your ordinary academic courses! Beyond that, you will also get 36 weeks of full-time clinical placement experience through the program, working in a variety of settings that will offer exposure to different specialty and practice areas across the country.

The West

Midwestern University
College of Health Science
Glendale, Arizona
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $709
Quarter Credits: 170.5

Graduation Rate: 100%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Small class sizes ensure individual attention from instructors and mentors
  • As a university that specializes in healthcare education, the school’s health and wellness programs are exceptional
  • Broad range of faculty expertise means you will have an expert instructor in every field, from hand therapy to stroke rehabilitation

Don’t let the name of Midwestern University fool you: It has a campus location in Glendale, Arizona, the kind of city that defines the American West. And it’s also a place where you’ll get one of the best physical therapy doctorate degrees the region has to offer. The 100 percent NPTE exam pass rate among graduates here isn’t just the final pass rate… it’s the first-time pass rate, which means everyone completing the program in 2018 aced the test on their first try. That’s no accident. It comes from a strong emphasis on cultural competency and the evidence-based practices that are taught here. You’ll learn it all in a collaborative environment designed to cultivate a level of PT skill mastery that will leave you well-prepared not only for your licensing test, but for a long career in the PT profession.

University of California – San Francisco
Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
San Francisco, California
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $648
Semester Credits: 113.67

Graduation Rate: 100%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • As a joint program between UCSF and SFSU, you get two expert sets of faculty for the price of one
  • Study in the brand new UCSF Anatomy Learning Center
  • A strong Interprofessional Education (IPE) component ensures that you build a skill set that increases patient safety by improving communication and understanding within the care team

UCSF and San Francisco State University have teamed up to jointly offer one of the finest DPT programs in the Western United States. The core elements of the education you get here are delivered by faculty with a track record for contributing expert research to the field, and strong mentoring skills to match. On top of the basics of anatomy, observation, and problem-solving that every PT learns, you’ll also get solid preparation in the more dynamic elements of the profession here… the IPE training exposes you to other healthcare professionals and prepares you to serve on cross-functional care teams of the type that are becoming the norm out in the real world. Through your two part-time and three full-time integrated clinical experiences you’ll find all those aspects of the profession being reinforced and honed in a wide variety of care settings, including mandatory acute and musculoskeletal placements. To cap off your experience, you’ll get a formal qualifying assessment and culminating experience that will have you answering a clinical question exhaustively and systematically.

Pacific University
School of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training
Hillsboro, Oregon
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $852
Semester Credits: 125

Graduation Rate: 100%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Offers opportunities to interact with students in other healthcare programs for improved inter professional understanding
  • Accessible, clinically experienced faculty offer close mentoring to each student
  • Clinical sites in 22 states and 4 different countries offer unparalleled opportunity to see different styles and methods of PT treatment in practice
  • Students have gone on to practice as professionals with NBA teams, at nationally recognized hospitals, and in traditional clinical outpatient settings

Pacific University has a reputation for graduating well-rounded and highly competent clinicians, which is nice because that’s also their stated goal. An evidence-based curriculum with a strong focus on ethics in a program that promotes a positive learning environment doesn’t hurt the cause, and it’s a big part in the success the school has found in both getting students through to graduation and ensuring they pass the licensing exam: the program does both, hitting the 100 percent mark in both categories. Thirty-nine weeks of direct clinical experience in a wide variety of practice settings helps you get hands-on practice with actual patients so you can hone your diagnostic and treatment skills out in the real world. You’ll be surrounded by other patient students and given every resource you need to stay current and succeed in the field.

University of Washington
Division of Physical Therapy
Seattle, Washington
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $432
Quarter Credits: 167

Graduation Rate: 97.8%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Fourth-leading department for rehabilitation care in the United States according to U.S. News & World Report
  • More than 400 clinical site placement options across the U.S. as well as service learning experiences offered locally
  • Interdisciplinary environment at one of the West’s premier teaching hospitals exposes you to every aspect of the cross-competent patient care team
  • Faculty are leaders in clinical practice and research across the lifespan
  • Offers residency programs in neurologic and acute care PT

If you are looking for something a little bit beyond the experience you get at smaller schools, picking a major medical research center as the site to earn your DPT might be a good choice. And in the West, they don’t get much more major than the University of Washington Medical Center. Groundbreaking research in gait biomechanics and paralysis treatment are just two of the areas that UW is currently making waves in, and PT students directly learn from and assist the knowledgeable faculty that are forging that new ground. A diverse student and patient base helps build your cultural competency. The service learning experience opportunities include fall screening for elderly individuals in the local community, assisting clinicians in providing medical support at local marathon events, and assisting in pediatric developmental screening and fitness education. You have every opportunity to learn your trade while offering real benefits to the community. That includes the international community through the student-organized GROW (Global Rehabilitation Organization at Washington) program, which has helped students go on international service projects in places like Peru, Zimbabwe, and Guatemala. The UW program offers an exciting mix of advanced research and scientific education together with fulfilling and practical clinical experiences.

California State University – Fresno
Department of Physical Therapy
Fresno, California
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $671
Semester Credits: 110

Graduation Rate: 97%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Two on-site clinics put you in the thick of patient treatment:
    • Gait, Balance, and Mobility Research and Education Center
    • Musculoskeletal Care Clinic
  • University is a national and regional leader in the evaluation and treatment of balance disorders
  • Physical Therapy Alumni Leadership Circle offers a way to stay in touch with other successful graduates and network throughout your career

Fresno State is a strong supporter of scientific inquiry and critical thinking, two of the primary skills you’ll learn here as a DPT student. As a recognized national leader in balance and fall prevention, the Fresno State program is a solid choice for anyone hoping to specialize in this important topic. As a student, you’ll have ample opportunity there not only to observe and engage in research at the respected GAME (Gait Analysis Movement Evaluation) Lab, but also to participate in off-campus balance screenings and FallProof Exercise classes for older adults as part of the SAFE (Senior Awareness and Fall Education) Central Valley Coalition program. All of this outside-the-classroom experience not only builds your skills in interacting with patients and the public, but builds on the extensive clinical experience you’ll get during 30 weeks of clinical placements. The department believes in integrating patient care and classroom teaching early on in the program, so you can expect to get hands-on with patients in your first year.

University of Southern California
Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy
Los Angeles, California
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $940
Semester Credits: 115

Graduation Rate: 97%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Ranked #1 in the United States by U.S. News & World Report consistently since 2004 when ranking began
  • Strong research enterprise and clinical practice programs for a comprehensive PT education
  • Located near the LA County/USC Medical Center, you have the opportunity to work in innovative education hospital settings
  • A required Service Learning Experience offers you not only direct civic engagement within your professional scope but also an opportunity for reflection and personal development as a PT

USC aims to exceed student’s expectations, and so far they have been delivering: with a number 1 ranking from U.S. News & World Report and top notch post-graduation licensing and employment rates, they see 95 percent of students graduate by the end of the program. The innovative USC approach to DPT training clearly works, and is designed to keep you engaged at peak levels throughout the program. The systems-based approach focuses each semester on a different system of the body, from cardiovascular to neurological elements and everything in between. You’ll build on that fundamental classroom knowledge with hands-on experience in clinical placements that start in your first year, culminating in year three with two different extended 16-week placements that polish up all the elements of clinical reasoning, differential diagnosis, the development of care plans, and overall patient management. It’s a comprehensive approach to PT education that will pay dividends throughout your career in the field.

Chapman University
Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences
Irvine, California
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,050
Semester Credits: 129

Graduation Rate: 98%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Offers both entry-level and post-professional DPT tracks
  • Small class sizes make sure each student receives individual attention from instructors
  • Clinical sites in over 300 facilities throughout the U.S.
  • Overseas clinical experiences available in Cost Rica, Italy and South Africa
  • Participate in community outreach projects such as the Stroke Boot Camp and Community Exercise Program

Chapman strives to create a personalized academic experience in every program it offers, maximizing the individual attention students get from the world-class faculty, which has included MacArthur Fellows and Nobel Prize winners. The DPT program follows this model, offering small classes in which all of your questions are answered by experts, all your activities are supervised by masters of the craft, and every core concept is completely understood before you graduate. This program also offers you opportunities for meaningful participation in some of the ground-breaking research undertaken by professors at Chapman, including an exciting series of collaborative efforts in robotic therapy and augmentation with the Neural Repair Lab at nearby UC-Irvine. Other labs open to students at Chapman include the Gait Rehabilitation and Research Lab, the Neuromechanics of Human Movement Lab, and the Motor Control and Motor Development Research Lab. It’s a significant concentration of expertise for a school of Chapman’s size, and one well worth taking advantage of. A regular focus on Interprofessional Education (IPE) is built into the well-planned curriculum, making this a truly remarkable program.

Western University of Health Sciences
Department of Physical Therapy Education
Pomona, California
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $856
Semester Credits: 145

Graduation Rate: 91.5%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Offers both professional and post-professional DPT degrees for students at any phase of their career
  • Affiliated with over 300 clinical facilities nationwide for a breadth of clinical placement options in any conceivable setting
  • Classroom and lab equipment is modern and up-to-date, with a new library and resource center hardwired with the latest in information technology

WUHS takes a problem-solving approach to physical therapy practice. This is the program you want behind you to learn all the tricks and techniques to help you diagnose and resolve any patient issue you might encounter in professional practice. But it’s not just a practical education you’ll get at WUHS; all programs there consider research to be an integral part of your education. You’ll take evidence-based courses and complete at least one thesis-based project with heavy literature and research requirements, teaching you how to absorb and synthesize information and present conclusions formally and concisely. You’ll also learn how to conceive of and construct research projects yourself, learning the vital Institutional Review Board process along the way. Professors use a range of teaching styles to deliver information to students, ensuring that you’ll absorb the content presented no matter what your personal learning style is.

California State University – Northridge
Department of Physical Therapy
Northridge, California
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $678
Semester Credits: 114

Graduation Rate: 91%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • The department has six dedicated labs including Anatomy, Applied Physiology, and Gait/Biomechanics
  • Modern 3-D motion analysis, kinesiological EMG, and other high-tech lab equipment will prepare you to use the same technology that is being deployed in the field today
  • Volunteer opportunities exist to work with the community or with faculty at the Student Health Services on campus

There’s a strong emphasis on ethics and professionalism built into the professional DPT program at CSUN. You’ll not only graduate equipped with the technical knowledge and training to diagnose and treat issues and injuries, but also with the reflective and cultural tools to assess patients individually and with sensitivity and a personalized approach. But although preparing you for autonomous practice as a fully-developed PT is a major goal, the school also emphasizes forming partnerships and professional alliances both in the DPT program and after graduation, networks and cooperative skills that will serve you throughout your career. With more than 250 clinical placement sites available for your internship training, including hospices, sports training facilities, inpatient rehab, and schools, you’ll get a lot of exposure to how other clinicians operate and learn how to communicate and effectively participate in a cross-functional care team.

Samuel Merritt University
Department of Physical Therapy
Oakland, California
Website

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Cost Per Credit: $1,528
Semester Credits: 100

Graduation Rate: 91%
Post-Graduation Employment Rate: 100%

  • Capstone course series encompasses a 4-course sequence culminating in a manuscript suitable for publication
  • Take part in Community Participant Labs treating musculoskeletal conditions or helping to manage neurological conditions
  • With 41 weeks of full-time clinical experience, you’ll get far more hands-on treatment time than the national average

The Samuel Merritt University DPT program has some of the strongest technical standards in the West and a faculty that is current in both clinical skills and the most advanced research occurring in the field today. Instructors are engaged in cutting-edge research into balance and falls in patients with MS, Parkinson’s, or recovering from strokes, or in even more esoteric and unexplored subjects like circus arts injury prevention. They are expert in clinical reasoning and ethical skills development. You’ll get a Grade A education in scientific inquiry and evidence-based practice with a side-dish of communication and review skills. And the skills students here develop are evident in the fact that for the past 3 years student capstone projects have been suitable for presentation at international conferences and for publication in peer-reviewed journals. It’s not all research, though; the school’s commitment to hands-on training ensures that you get ten months of clinical internship time, including a 22-week final clinical education experience. That’s more than the national average and it’s well worth the cost.

All schools shown here have been contacted and informed of their inclusion on this list. Schools that do not wish to be featured are immediately removed. School names are the registered trademarks of their original owners. The use of any trade name or trademark does not imply any association with the school.

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