To become a physical therapist you are required to complete a post graduate Doctor of Physical Therapy, or less common a Masters of Physical Therapy degree. It is a prerequisite for most of these courses that you have completed a relevant undergraduate degree. This usually takes 4 years and ensures you have taken the prerequisite subjects required to advance into the physical therapy program. A small amount of schools offer admission into their physical therapy programs without a bachelor’s degree, however you must have completed at least 3 years of prerequisite studies before being eligible to apply.
So how long does your undergraduate Degree take?
You can choose to complete a science based undergraduate degree and this will generally take you four years or you could finish three years of specific undergraduate courses and then apply for college admission at a university that does not require you to hold a bachelor’s degree. Regardless of which path you take, you will still need to complete the physical therapy prerequisite subjects. Each university or college have different prerequisite subjects that you must complete to be eligible for admission. To find what subjects you need to take for your chosen university, browse the PT schools list on the right side of the page to follow the links to the schools web site.
How long does a post graduate physical therapy degree take?
Post graduate physical therapy programs are typically three years in duration. This usually consists of 8-9 semesters and includes coursework and clinical education however some universities offer a 7 semester (2.5 years) program. Depending on the univeristy you attend, you will complete between 30-45 weeks of clinical education as part of your 3 years of study. This might be spread out across your degree or lumped at the end allowing you to familiarise yourself with the workforce. There is also an option at a few universities to complete a part time post graduate physical therapy degree. This usually consists of 12 semesters over 4-5 years, remember this is after you have completed your undergraduate studies.
So how long does it take to become a physical therapist?
At best 6 years, but typically seven years (four years undergraduate and three years postgraduate program.) Some programs, however, will offer a 3+3 format where you must complete three years of specific undergraduate courses prior to advancing into the three year postgraduate program, some programs offer a part time program and some postgraduate programs take only 2.5 years to complete.