One requirement for a physical therapy degree is the completion of a bachelor's degree in a health-related field. To enroll in a doctoral program in physical therapy, a student must first have completed certain prerequisite undergraduate courses, including anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry and physics. Prerequisite requirements differ from school to school, so a prospective student must thoroughly research physical therapy programs.
To work as a physical therapist in the United States, an individual must have graduated from a doctoral program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Most doctor of physical therapy programs, also known as DPT programs, are three years in length. A DPT student must usually take classes in applied physical therapy, functional anatomy, complex conditions, life span development and pharmacotherapy. A student must also have a certain number of hours of internship experience in a clinical setting with a supervisor.
All states require physical therapists to become licensed to practice. They also must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination, which is a computerized multiple-choice exam. Depending on the state, a physical therapist may have to complete a criminal background check and a law exam. A physical therapist also has the option of becoming board certified in a particular speciality after completing 2,000 hours of clinical work.