Why This Matters

  • 47% OF PHYSICAL THERAPISTS HAVE DOCTORATE DEGREES

    According to a study conducted by O*NET, almost half of those working as physical therapists have doctorate degrees, and another 38% have master’s degrees.

  • 20% JOB GROWTH BY 2029

    Over the next few years, the demand for physical therapists is projected to grow by nearly 20%, particularly in rural areas. This significantly outpaces projected growth among other careers.

  • MEDIAN WAGE OF $62,120

    In May 2019, the median wage among physical therapists was $89,440. Bottom earners made approximately $62,120 per year, and the highest 10% had annual salaries exceeding $124,120.

Our Research

The universities on this list have doctorate programs in physical therapy. Over a dozen of these schools offer the program in an online format while others are on-campus only. A handful have hybrid programs with online and in-person learning.

All of the universities on this list are accredited, meaning that they abide by certain standards of academic quality. Regional accreditations that we looked at include the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  • 55 hours to write this article
  • 54 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 80 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Doctorate in Physical Therapy Programs

Best Online Doctorate in Physical Therapy Programs Badge
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What You Should Know About This Degree

Physical therapists and occupational therapists have similar roles in that they both help those with injuries, illnesses, or chronic conditions. However, occupational therapists’ roles differ in that they incorporate therapeutic use of everyday activities to optimize clients’ quality of life. This career also requires only a master’s degree versus a doctorate for physical therapy.

The demand for physical therapists is expected to rise by 18% between 2019 and 2029 due to factors such as people staying active later in life and the increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes. Rural areas are expected to see the greatest demand for physical therapists over the coming years.

To become a licensed physical therapist, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. The NPTE is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, which provides tips on preparing for the exam, scheduling the test, and what to do if you don’t pass.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online doctorate in physical therapy programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Qualifications for enrolling in a doctorate program in physical therapy vary by school. In some cases, you may need to have a master’s degree in a related field with minimum GPA requirements or have a certain number of physical therapy volunteer hours. Contact your school’s admissions department to find out more about program-specific requirements.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? If you’re enrolled in an online degree program, there are two possible course formats. If the course is synchronous, there are scheduled class sessions that you attend remotely. If it’s asynchronous, the work is self-paced with no designated meeting times. Find a program that fits your schedule and learning preferences.

As you’re taking steps to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy, it’s important to consider factors that affect the time and financial commitment of earning your degree. In some cases, as few as 24 credits are required to earn a degree, while other programs require over 100 credits to graduate. The cost per credit hour also varies, with fees as low as $186 and as high as $2,300. To find out your financial aid options, begin by filling out a FAFSA application.

It’s also necessary to pay attention to application, course selection, and financial aid deadlines. Forgetting to note these dates, which may vary from school to school, can delay your ability to earn your degree.