Best Physical Therapy Schools

The physical therapy profession is a growing field, with more opportunities for students to enter the profession than ever before. As a result, many schools offer programs in physical therapy. These schools can help students gain the skills necessary to succeed as physical therapists. They offer accredited programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The Commission is an independent body that conducts periodic evaluations of certified programs to maintain excellence and quality standards.

The schools that provide physical therapy programs are usually done on-site, and in-person and can last from three to five years, depending on the type of program that you decide to follow. Students who attend physical therapy school have many career options after graduation. They can work as therapists in private practice or take on more administrative roles within hospitals or clinics.

Online Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.  

Ranking Criteria

We gathered the most recent data from the NCES College Navigator database [2022] to narrow down to colleges that fit these criteria:

  • 4-year public or private school
  • Starting Salary After Graduation $25,000K+
  • Schools are ranked by Average Net Cost

This ranking is created and updated bi-yearly to help online students find affordable online colleges that will give them the best chance to earn a college degree at a price they can afford.

Top 10 Best Physical Therapy Schools

1. CUNY Hunter College

Average Net Price: $2,490
Private or Public: Public
Highest Salary After Attending: $94,255

Hunter College at the City University of New York is a distinguished public university that places great importance on individual development through liberal arts and science education as essential for an inclusive society. Hunter College undergraduate and graduate curricula challenge students to think critically—the professional curricula require students to recognize different perspectives and work together with a diverse team to solve complex problems. Niche.com gave CUNY Hunter College an overall grade rating of B, as well as being ranked #9 in Most Liberal Colleges in America.

Hunter College graduates can choose to pursue health professions such as physical therapy and nursing through the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. The school provides information sessions about the course throughout the year. The DPT program at Hunter Cuny College is a full-time three-year post-baccalaureate degree. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) of the American Physical Therapy Association. After graduation, graduates will focus on preparing for the National Licensing Examination in Physical Therapy.

2. CUNY College of Staten Island

Average Net Price: $5,118
Private or Public: Public
Highest Salary After Attending: $94,579

The College of Staten Island is grounded in centuries-old traditions of learning, teaching, research, and service. It is committed to the highest standards in the field of academic excellence. The college has competitive and rigorous programs across its undergraduate, graduate, and professional divisions. Programs are designed to allow students to fulfill their creative & educational aspirations. It offers affordable tuition rates, flexible time-frames for completion, access to a variety of scholarships, and a warm community of motivated peers.

The entry-level degree required for physical therapists is a Clinical Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT). CSI CUNY has offered this degree since 1995. The program promises an excellent clinical foundation with a CUNY tuition and the opportunity of a rewarding career as a physical therapist after graduating from this program. There are many reasons to choose CUNY CSI for your physical therapy education including low tuition, small individualized class sizes, world-class faculty, and so much more. Students will have the opportunity to work with researchers renowned for their work and who add richness to this rigorous curriculum. As you begin your clinical work to gain hands-on experience, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from over 230 clinical sites to ensure you find one that fits your needs and specializations.

3. California State University – Fresno

Average Net Price: $5,464
Private or Public: Public
Highest Salary After Attending: $85,159

The California State University in Fresno has a mission to educate students for success by providing them with the opportunity to explore and reflect on what it means to be successful as individuals. They offer undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs from which students can select from a variety of majors, minors, certificates, and graduate degrees. The U.S. News and World Report ranked California State University-Fresno #213 in National Universities, #21 in Top Performers on Social Mobility, and #107 in Top Public Schools.

CSU Fresno has a Doctoral program in physical therapy. It is an interprofessional program and has successfully created community-based teams with which students can work. Other opportunities to participate in service-learning programs may include adaptive sports, attending the amputee clinic, or developing wellness programs. There is a strong emphasis on an evidence-based approach to patient care throughout the curriculum. Students will learn to critically analyze research and improve their patients’ health outcomes. Learning and clinical experiences will center on active student involvement through clinical coursework, case studies, clinical investigations, literature critiques, and patient interaction and care.

4. Snow College

Average Net Price: $8,592
Private or Public: Public
Highest Salary After Attending: $47,260

Snow College is an independent institution of higher education, and as such, it has a mission to educate students, inspire them to love learning, and lead them to serve. This mission couldn’t be achieved without expert faculty who give individualized attention to each student. Niche.com gave Snow College an overall grade rating of B- for diversity, value, and campus life.

The path to a DPT gains a more substantial foundation when preceded by a pre-physical therapy program. Snow College in Utah is an excellent choice for those hoping to pursue this degree path with lower tuition and cost of living than many other options in this field. SCU offers a pre-physical therapy program for students who wish to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy. This program provides the foundation students need for this doctorate-level degree.

5. Chicago State University

Average Net Price: $11,733
Private or Public: Public
Highest Salary After Attending: $61,814

Chicago State University is a public university that has a long history of prioritizing diversity in its student body and providing them with a quality higher education. The goal of the institution is to provide access to higher education to students who may not have been able to attend college without financial support, whether that be because of their socioeconomic status, location, or background. Niche.com gave Chicago State University an overall grade rating of C+ but received high rankings in academics and diversity.

Chicago State University offers an outstanding Bachelor of Science in Pre-Physical Therapy. This degree will not give you the professional qualifications needed to begin your physical therapy degree but it will give you the necessary education needed to get into the master’s or doctoral degree of your choice. The program includes access to resources such as clinical experience, job fairs, and professional development opportunities all prepared to assist you in standing out as you apply to a more professional program. Once you’ve completed all the necessary professional criteria and become certified as a physical therapist you can work in a variety of settings including nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, the armed forces, or in your own private practice.

6. Louisiana Christian University

Average Net Price: $12,684
Private or Public: Private
Highest Salary After Attending: $62,211

Louisiana Christian University, founded in 1906, is a Christ-centered community that is committed to academic excellence. Through its various degree programs, students are trained for leading and serving lives of learning and service. Louisiana Christian University provides a number of undergraduate and graduate programs focused on liberal arts, professional, and graduate education that emphasizes a focus on Christ.

Louisiana Christian University offers a Physical Therapy Assistant program which will earn you an Associate of Applied Science degree at the end of the program. Louisiana Christian University is one of the top-ranked schools for physical therapy assistant programs in the country. The program is designed to meet your needs as an individual and provide you with all of the skills necessary to become a successful physical therapy assistant or give you the needed experience to move into more advanced education as you work to become a physical therapist. In this program, you’ll be taking courses in clinical kinesiology, physical therapy procedures, principles of physical agents/massage, clinical neurorehabilitation/motor control, and so much more including clinical work with professionals.

7. University of Washington

Average Net Price: $13,297
Private or Public: Public
Highest Salary After Attending: $121,294

The University of Washington is one of the premier schools in the nation, for its challenging learning environment, diverse student body, and educating future leaders with cutting-edge scholarship and freedom to explore. The University of Washington is a leader in discovery, with a history of breakthroughs in the fields of science, engineering, and human health. UW was ranked by U.S. News and World Report as #59 in National Universities, #29 in Best Colleges for Veterans, #40 in Most Innovative Schools,  and#20 in Top Public Schools. Niche.com gave the university an overall grade rating of A for academics, diversity, value, and campus life.

The University of Washington has an outstanding and highly recognized Doctor of Physical Therapy program that can be completed in 3-years. The University of Washington Doctor of Physical Therapy program is one of the best physical therapy programs in the country according to the U.S. News and World Report. The program is very competitive, and only the best applicants will be accepted. Clinical education is an integral part of your physical therapy training and is an important component in the process of becoming a physical therapist. This type of teaching allows you to put what you learn in the classroom, and apply it to real-world patient care experiences. Your clinical work will begin in the first year with 4 weeks of clinical education in the setting of your choice, and by your third and final year, you’ll be doing clinical work for 11 weeks. The advanced level of experience and practice that is gained with professionals in this program is what sets it apart from other physical therapy programs. This distinct feature will help you stand out upon graduation.

8. Georgia Southern University

Average Net Price: $15,536
Private or Public: Public
Highest Salary After Attending: $65,506

Georgia Southern University is a learner-centered institution that, in conjunction with its culture of respect, prepares its students to think critically in order to lead in the workplace and teach effectively. It values academic excellence, discovery and innovation, integrity, openness and inclusion, sustainability, and collaboration. Niche.com has given Georgia Southern University a grade rating of B+ for academics, diversity, and athletics. Niche.com ranked GSU #3 in Top Public Universities in Georgia.

Georgia Southern University offers a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Sciences program, this degree is meant to prepare you for their advanced Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The Rehabilitation Sciences program at Georgia Southern is great for those looking to add a strong understanding of neuroscience, pathophysiology, and psychology. This practical knowledge is applied to rehabilitation and will assist as you move into your doctoral physical therapy program. The Doctor of Physical Therapy program offered at Georgia Southern University takes 3-years to complete at a full-time pace. Coursework includes anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, neurology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and kinesiology. Beginning in your first-year students will begin to complete clinical experience that includes rotations at various hospitals and clinics. As of 2021, Georgia Southern University’s physical therapy program has a 100% graduation rate and 100% of graduates are employed as physical therapists within one year of being licensed.

9. University of Missouri

Average Net Price: $16,001
Private or Public: Public
Highest Salary After Attending: $69,897

The university’s mission is to educate students for worldwide leadership and service by providing an academic program that prepares students as scholars, citizens, and professionals. The university strives to create a welcoming environment for all members of the community, regardless of background or identity. The U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Missouri #122 in National Universities #73 in Best Colleges for Veterans, #72 in Best Value Schools, and #58 in Top Public Schools.

The University of Missouri Doctor of Physical Therapy program is a full-time professional degree program. The curriculum includes courses in clinical science, physical therapy theory and practice, research methods, and physical therapy administration. The University of Missouri Doctor of Physical Therapy Program offers the following: a professional doctorate degree in physical therapy that prepares graduates to become licensed as a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) in the United States. A practical curriculum that includes didactic coursework and clinical experiences is designed to provide students with the skills necessary for successful careers as practicing clinicians. And a focus on developing skills in evidence-based practice, leadership development, health care policy and advocacy, and multicultural competence. Something unique about their physical therapy program is the service opportunities open to students including working in a pro-bono clinic and working with individuals with disabilities in a specialized gymnastics program.

10. Tarleton State University

Average Net Price: $18,979
Private or Public: Public
Highest Salary After Attending: $63,005

Tarleton State University believes that educational excellence is the foundation for transforming generations by inspiring discovery, leadership, and inclusion. Through wide-ranging academic opportunities, Tarleton State University strives to provide students with the tools they need to succeed in an ever-changing world. Tarleton State University keeps a low student-to-faculty ratio of 22:1 and has over 120 student organizations for students to be a part of. The U.S. News and World Report ranked TSU #77 in Regional Universities West, #70 in Top Performers on Social Mobility, #39 in Top Public Schools.

Tarleton State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in exercise and allied health professions. This degree program has a focus on physical therapy and will launch you further into your physical therapy education as you work towards becoming a licensed therapist. The curriculum is focused on providing students with the opportunity to gain hands-on applied learning, real-world experiences, and theoretical coursework to best prepare them for the demands of the modern workplace. The exercise physiologist program prepares students for careers in fields including occupational therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic medicine, and cardiac rehabilitation. This is a great program for individuals seeking to gain knowledge and experience before applying to a Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Online Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.