How Long Does It Take to Become a Physical Therapist?


Quick Answer

Despite some variance, the typical educational path to become a physical therapist takes about seven years. A physical therapist (PT) must complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, which takes three years. Admission to a DPT program usually includes a required bachelor's degree, which takes four years in most cases.

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Full Answer

During undergraduate education, aspiring PTs must take a mix of science courses, such as physics, anatomy and chemistry, to gain admission to a DPT program. During the physical therapy degree program, students complete more advanced courses in science as well as classes in areas such as neuroscience and pharmacology. It is typical to complete an internship or hands-on supervised work experience during an advanced degree program.

Though it may not be required in many states to gain a license, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that many PTs also complete a one-year residency program after finishing their DPT degree. This additional year makes a total of eight years of education and practical training for an aspiring PT.

After finishing a particular state's education requirements, a potential PT must also pass the National Physical Therapy Examination and complete any additional licensing steps. Background checks are also common steps prior to gaining a PT license.

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