According to the American
Physical Therapy Association, there were 209 accredited U.S. Physical Therapy Programs and U.S. Physical Therapy Schools in 2007. Of the accredited programs, 43 offered masterís
degrees and 166 offered doctoral degrees. Only masterís degree and doctoral degree programs at U.S. Physical Therapy Schools are accredited, in accordance with the Commission on
Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. In the future, a doctoral degree from a U.S. Physical Therapy Program might be the required entry-level degree for the Physical Therapist profession. Masterís degree programs
typically last 2 years, and doctoral degree programs last 3 years.
U.S. Physical Therapy Schools and U.S. Physical Therapy Programs start with basic science courses such as biology, chemistry, and physics and then introduce specialized courses, including biomechanics, neuroanatomy, human growth and development, manifestations of disease, examination techniques, and therapeutic procedures. Besides getting classroom and laboratory instruction, students at U.S. Physical Therapy Programs and U.S. Physical Therapy Schools receive extensive supervised clinical experience.
Among the undergraduate courses that are useful when one applies to a physical therapist education program are anatomy, biology, chemistry, social science, mathematics, and physics. Before granting admission, many programs require volunteer experience in the physical therapy department of a hospital or clinic. For high school students, volunteering with the school athletic trainer is a good way to gain experience.
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