Students throwing graduation caps

Online programs allow you to earn your doctorate in physical therapy with added flexibility. Through an online doctorate in physical therapy (DPT), you can complete coursework without having to physically be on campus. Due to the nature of skills needed to become a physical therapist, online DPT programs are often hybrid- combing online coursework with several on campus hands on and clinical experience as well as clinical placements near your home. Currently, there are a few accredited online DPT programs you can choose from.

Sponsored Program

Online DPT Programs

When looking at online DPT programs, it is important to find a program that fits your professional needs. Many online options are for transitional doctor of physical therapy (TDPT) programs, which are designed for students who already have a background in physical therapy (many of them became PTs before a doctorate was required and complete a TDPT to increase their knowledge). There are also a couple of PhD options, which are not designed to prepare entry level physical therapy students for clinical practice. Neither TDPTs or PhDs in physical therapy are accredited by CAPTE.

Those who are looking to start their physical therapy careers should always look for regular doctor of physical therapy programs (sometimes clinical DPT programs). These programs prepare students for first time certification as physical therapists.

Below, we have compiled online physical therapy program options for both aspiring PTs and current PTs looking to enhance their knowledge base.

Accredited Online Entry Level DPT Programs

Below is a table of online DPT programs accredited by Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). These programs are for students who do not have a prior PT degree. (Last verified 6/28/2020)

School NameTypeLive ClassesOn-Campus RequirementsTime to Complete
Arcadia University HybridYesUnspecified2 years
Baylor University HybridSomeTwice per semester2 years
Nova Southeastern University HybridSomeEvery 4th week4 years
South College HybridNoQuarterly2 years
Tufts UniversityHybridYesTen visits2 years
University of Southern California (Sponsored)HybridYesUp to twice per semester3 years
University of St. Augustine HybridSomeTwice per month4 years

1Live classes are defined as classes where there are specific class times each week where students are able to log on and communicate with each other and the professor as the professor delivers a live video lecture.

Online Physical Therapy Degrees for Current PTs

School NameTypeLive ClassesOn-Campus RequirementsTime to Complete
A.T. Still University of Health Sciences Transitional DPTOnlineNoNoneNot Specified
Arcadia University Transitional DPTOnlineSomeNone1-3 years
Northeastern University Transitional DPTOnlineNoNone1-2 years
Nova Southeastern University PhD in Physical TherapyOnlineSomeTwice per year3 semesters
Shenandoah University Transitional DPTOnlineNoTwice1-3 years
Texas Woman’s University PhD in Physical TherapyHybridNo1-3 weekends per semester60 credits beyond master’s
University of Michigan – Flint Transitional DPTOnlineNoNone2 years
University of Montana Transitional DPTOnlineNoOnce1-3 years
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Transitional DPTOnlineNoNone2 years
University of St. Augustine Transitional DPTOnlineSomeOnceVaries
Utica College Transitional DPTOnlineNoNone1.5 years

Online Physical Therapy Program Information

This list of online physical therapy programs includes programs designed for current physical therapists who are looking to gain additional education as well as programs for aspiring PTs.

Entry Level DPT Program Information

Arcadia University

College of Health Sciences, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program

Arcadia University Logo

Length: 2 years

GPA Requirement: 3.0

Structure: Combines online coursework with on campus immersions each semester. Clinical experiences are also required and can be completed away from campus.


Baylor University

Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program

Baylor University Logo

Length: 2 years

GPA Requirement: 3.0

Structure: Blends online education with clinical education experiences and on-campus labs. The program is accelerated with six total semesters completed over 2 years.


Nova Southeastern University

Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences, Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program – Tampa

Nova Southeastern University Logo

Length: 4 years

GPA Requirement: 3.0

Structure: Blends synchronous and asynchronous online coursework with in-person on-campus instruction from Thursday to Sunday every 4th week. Clinical rotations and experiences are also required.


South College

School of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program

South College Logo

Length: 2 years

GPA Requirement: 3.0

Structure: Blends online coursework with quarterly on-campus immersion requirements and clinical education experiences. Accelerated curriculum can be completed in 2 years.


Tufts University

School of Medicine, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program

Tufts University Logo

Length: 2 years

GPA Requirement: 3.0

Structure: Blends online coursework in a virtual classroom with a total of 10 on-campus immersion requirements, plus additional clinical education experiences. Accelerated curriculum can be completed in 2 years.


University of Southern California

Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy

USC Logo

Length: 3 years

GPA Requirement: 3.0 (cumulative and in science courses)

Structure: Combines online coursework with on campus immersions each semester. Clinical experiences are also required and can be completed away from campus.

Sponsored


University of St. Augustine

College of Rehabilitative Sciences, Flex Doctor of Physical Therapy

University of St. Augustine Logo

Length: 4 years

GPA Requirement: 3.0 for prerequisite coursework

Structure: Combines online and face to face instruction. Online portion is both synchronous and asynchronous and is typically completed during the week, while on-campus learning occurs several times per month. Clinical internships are also required.

Transitional DPT and PhD in Physical Therapy Program Information

A.T. Still University of Health Sciences

College of Graduate Health Studies, Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

Length: Not Specified

GPA Requirement: 2.7

Structure: This transitional DPT program is a fully online program with no campus requirements. The program is customized to meet the needs of each individual student.


Arcadia University

College of Health Sciences, Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

Arcadia University Logo

Length: 1-3 years

GPA Requirement: 2.75

Structure: This transitional DPT program is a fully online program with no campus requirements. The program has both synchronous and asynchronous components.

Northeastern University

College of Professional Studies, Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

Northeastern University Logo

Length: 1-2 years

GPA Requirement: Not Specified

Structure: This transitional DPT program can be completed in 1-2 years and requires a comprehensive case analysis as a capstone course. This program can be completed entirely online.


Nova Southeastern University

Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences, Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

Nova Southeastern University Logo

Length: Varies

GPA Requirement: 2.0 from entry level PT coursework, if lower must take GRE

Structure: This program is designed for physical therapists who do not have a DPT degree but who want to enhance their credentials. Combines online learning with on-campus requirements. Program requirements will vary depending on the individual’s previous education.


Shenandoah University

Division of Physical Therapy, Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

Length: 1-3 years

GPA Requirement: Not Specified

Structure: This online program allows physical therapists without DPT degrees expand their knowledge. There are 2 on campus requirements during the program, everything else is complete online.


Texas Woman‘s University

School of Physical Therapy, Transitional Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Therapy

Texas Woman's University logo

Length: 60 credits beyond master’s

GPA Requirement: 3.0

Structure: This hybrid program requires a blend of online and on-campus coursework. On-campus coursework is typically completed on the weekends. A dissertation is required.


University of Michigan – Flint

Department of Physical Therapy, Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

Length: 2 years

GPA Requirement: Not Specified

Structure: this program is for PTs who were licensed before a DPT was required but who want to increase their knowledge. While there is not a “virtual classroom”, there are live audio discussions. There are no on-campus requirements


University of Montana

Rehab Essentials, Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

Length: 1-3 years

GPA Requirement: Not Specified

Structure: this program is for PTs who were licensed before a DPT was required but who want to increase their knowledge. This program can be completed entirely online with just one campus visit. Access to coursework is 24/7.


University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

School of Medicine, Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

UNC Logo

Length: 2 years

GPA Requirement: Not Specified

Structure: This program is for PTs who are licensed but do not have a doctorate degree. This program can be completed online without ever visiting campus.


University of St. Augustine

College of Rehabilitative Sciences, Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

University of St. Augustine Logo

Length: Varies based on prior education

GPA Requirement: Unknown

Structure: this program is for PTs who were licensed before a DPT was required but who want to increase their knowledge. This program can be completed entirely online.


Utica College

Online Study, Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

Length: 1.5 years

GPA Requirement: Not Specified

Structure: This is a transitional DPT program that can be completed without visiting campus. Coursework is asynchronous and a capstone course is required.

Online Doctor of Physical Therapy Application Requirements

Most programs require that applications are submitted through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). The following are common application requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree (unless the program combines bachelors and graduate education)
  • Transcripts
  • Observation hours supervised by licensed PT
  • References- see specific reference requirements by school
  • Application fee
  • Supplemental materials
  • GRE scores
  • Prerequisite coursework

Sponsored Program

Accreditation for Online Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs

In order to be licensed as a physical therapist in any state you must have a DPT from a CAPTE accredited program or a foreign equivalent. Accreditation ensures that the quality of education given by the university is high enough to prepare you to be a quality physical therapist. Accreditation requirements also protect students- schools cannot maintain accreditation if their schools do not generate good career outcomes for their students. Here is a full list of CAPTE accredited programs.

For current DPTs expanding their knowledge through transitional DPT degrees or PhDs in PT, CAPTE does not accredit these types of programs.

Evaluating Online Physical Therapy Programs

The way that online physical therapy programs are set up can differ greatly in terms of how courses are delivered, how many classes you can take at one time, clinical placement opportunities, and more. When choosing between programs, be sure to evaluate the following:

Live vs Non-Live DPT Classes

Just because you are completing classwork in your living room doesn’t mean you have to forgo an interactive classroom experience. Some online DPT programs offer live online classes where you can ask professors questions and interact with your fellow students. If you are looking to stay engaged through alive class format, look for programs that offer “synchronous” or live coursework 

On Campus Physical Therapy Program Requirements

With the requirements needed to become a physical therapist, there are currently no accredited online physical therapy programs that don’t have some form of on-campus learning requirement for hands on instruction. But specific on campus requirements will vary by program. Some programs are online to facilitate learning from wherever you live, while others still serve specific communities, but use online as a way to offer flexibility for working students. The latter may still require you to be on campus as often as weekly. Make sure you find a program that fits your needs.

Physical Therapy Program Clinical Experience

In addition to hands on learning on campus, you will need to complete internships where you gain clinical experience in order to prepare for your career in physical therapy. If you are away from campus, make sure that the program you are interested offers the level of support you need when it comes time to find a clinical placement site.

Check out this list of physical therapy scholarships that you can use to help pay for your degree.

Why Choose an Online Physical Therapy Program?

Online Physical Therapy Programs Offer Flexibility

No matter what sort of online DPT you choose, you are gaining added flexibility when compared to on campus programs. The ability to complete coursework from wherever you are makes it easier to balance other commitments that you have and stay close to home.

Physical Therapists are in High Demand

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 job forecast, the physical therapy field is expected to grow 28% between 2016 and 2026. You will also be able to choose to work in a variety of settings- from hospitals, to nursing homes, to private practice. Additionally, physical therapy is a high paying field.

Physical Therapy is a Rewarding Field

Through physical therapy, you help people gain strength, restore mobility, and even reduce or eliminate pain. The conditions and injuries that physical therapy helps can dramatically affect patient well being in ways big and small, and you can help them progress and heal. Increased function and decreased pain expands what people are able to do and improves quality of life.

Physical Therapists Need a Doctorate Degree

New students are required to earn a DPT degree in order to become licensed in any state.