When looking to earn a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) in Pennsylvania, there are a variety of choices to consider. Between the many campuses located in the state and the several online DPT programs accessible to students, there is some narrowing down to be done once you settle on the Keystone State as the location where you will complete  your degree. Here are some factors to weigh as you make this important decision!

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Should I Choose an On Campus or Online DPT Program in Pennsylvania?

Choosing between on campus and online DPT programs requires you to ask yourself a couple of questions about how you want to complete your physical therapy degree as well as the level of flexibility that you need.

If you are concerned about the level of hands-on experience you will gain through an online DPT program, have no fear. All online DPT programs are technically hybrid programs (a blend of online and in person learning) specifically because there are things that aspiring PTs do need to learn in person. So, a typical online program will offer traditional coursework online, and then require students to come to campus every so often for lab and clinical requirements. Some hands-on learning is also often completed locally through clinical experience requirements completed right in your community. Be sure to check where the online programs you apply to can place you geographically, if you are looking to do your clinical experiences somewhere local.

The benefit of this hybrid approach is that students are able to complete much of their degrees online while still getting to network with their peers in real life and get crucial hands-on learning experience.

Another thing to know about online DPT programs as you narrow down your list is that not all online programs follow the same format. Some will provide you with a live classroom where you can tune in at specific times to hear lectures and have discussions with students, while others will be mostly asynchronous, where you complete coursework on your own time. If you are able to commit to weekly lectures at certain times, a live option may be a particularly engaging means of completing a program. If your schedule does not allow for this, an asynchronous option may be more feasible.

If you are looking for an on campus experience, there are several options for that in Texas as well. On campus programs follow the traditional model – both coursework and lab requirements are completed on campus, and then clinical experiences are often completed somewhere in the community outside of campus, though this may vary from school to school.

How Long do Pennsylvania DPT Programs Take to Complete?

DPT programs commonly take two and a half to three years to finish, though specific length may be more or less depending on the program. Many hybrid programs fall in this range as well, but vary from accelerated options to four year programs. Your program will typically utilize a cohort format, where everyone you start with takes the same groups of courses together.

You can see the specific program lengths for all Pennsylvania on campus and online DPT programs in the tables below.

Typical Hybrid DPT Programs Available to Pennsylvania Students

The following are examples of hybrid Doctor of Physical Therapy programs. Be sure to check with the school to see if they are authorized to operate in your state.

School NameTypeLive ClassesOn-Campus RequirementsTime to Complete
Allen CollegeHybridSomeTwice per term3 years
Arcadia University (Sponsored)HybridYesUnspecified2 years
Baylor University HybridSomeTwice per semester2 years
Nova Southeastern University HybridSomeEvery 4th week4 years
South College HybridNoQuarterly2 years
Tufts UniversityHybridSomeEight visits2 years
University of Southern California (Sponsored)HybridYesUp to twice per semester3 years
University of St. Augustine HybridSomeTwice per month4 years

On Campus DPT Programs in Pennsylvania

The following DPT programs have Pennsylvania campuses. There are campuses all over the state – from University of Pittsburgh in the West to Temple in Philadelphia on the eastern side of the state.

ProgramCityTime to CompleteGPA Requirement
Alvernia UniversityReading3 years3.3
Arcadia University (Sponsored)Glenside2 years3.0
Chatham UniversityPittsburgh2.5 years3.0
DeSales UniversityCenter Valley3 years3.0
Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia3 years3.0
Duquesne UniversityPittsburgh3 years3.0
Gannon University ErieErie3 years3.0
Lebanon Valley CollegeAnnville3 yearsUnknown
Messiah UniversityMechanicsburg3 years3.0
Misericordia UniversityDallas3 years3.2
Saint Francis UniversityLoretto3 years3.2
Temple UniversityPhiladelphia3 years3.0
Thomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphia3 years3.0
University of PittsburghPittsburgh2.5 years3.0
University of ScrantonScranton3 years3.2
University of the Sciences in PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia3 years3.0
Widener UniversityChester3 years3.0

Tips on How to Become a Physical Therapist in Pennsylvania

To become a physical therapist in Pennsylvania, here are some common steps:

  1. Earn your Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree – This will typically take you about 3-4 years, if not doing a 3 and 3 bachelors/DPT program. Look for physical therapy programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) to ensure you meet certification requirements in the future.
  2. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) – To do this, you will need to get approval from both the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) and the state of Pennsylvania.
  3. Get Licensed – Make sure your NPTE score is set up to be transferred to the Pennsylvania Board of Physical Therapy so that the state can issue your certification once you pass and check with the board to make sure you meet any additional requirements for licensure.

Last Updated July 2020