COVID-19 Update: To help students through this crisis, The Princeton Review will continue our "Enroll with Confidence" refund policies. For full details, please click here.

We are experiencing sporadically slow performance in our online tools, which you may notice when working in your dashboard. Our team is fully engaged and actively working to improve your online experience. If you are experiencing a connectivity issue, we recommend you try again in 10-15 minutes. We will update this space when the issue is resolved.


Physical therapists are trained specialists in movement and movement dysfunction who help patients strengthen physical abilities and relieve pain through the use of therapeutic exercise, heat, cold, and electric stimulation. Physical therapists also provide expertise in human mobility, analyzing gait patterns, prescribing treatment, and recommending devices (such as braces or crutches) to enable clients to move independently. By increasing coordination, strength and endurance, physical therapist can help their patients to recover from physical injuries and impairments.

Graduate programs in physical therapy are designed to help qualified physical therapists assume leadership roles in research, clinical practice, and education. In most programs, students are trained as generalists, learning about all aspects of physical therapy. Students are usually introduced to the profession through class work in anatomy, neurology, and physiology, followed by clinical rotations in an affiliated teaching facility. Through the course of their studies, students acquire a general foundation of knowledge in the areas of clinical practice, management, and research and learn how to prevent, evaluate, and treat a variety of injuries and disabilities.

Some schools offer specializations but most require students to target their interests through fieldwork. Some of physical therapies specialties include cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal, and neuromuscular therapy.

Degree Information

Entry-level graduate students typically earn a Master of Physical Therapy (M.P.T.) or a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) after which they sit for the national board examination and apply for state licensure. Applicants to these entry-level programs do not need previous experience in health care as long as they have completed the pre-requisites and have spent some time learning about or volunteering in the physical therapy field.

Post-professional students usually earn a Master of Science in Physical Therapy (M.S.) or a Ph.D. or Ed.D. in Physical Therapy focusing on clinical, classroom, and research activities related to the science of physical therapy. Admission to a post-professional program is for applicants who are already practicing physical therapists. The master’s degree takes roughly two years to complete. Students who pursue a traditional doctorate typically enter into academia or research.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program

  • Where is the school located?
  • What degrees are offered? How long is the program?
  • What is the clinical component of the program?
  • What are the affiliated clinical facilities? Will you learn in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, sport center, or other facility?
  • What are the licensure pass rates for graduates of the program?
  • What is the average class size?

Career Overview

Physical therapists are health care providers who specialize in the assessment and treatment of problems related to movement. They work in a variety of inpatient and outpatient health care facilities including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, sports and fitness centers, corporate health centers, athletic facilities, and even in schools. In addition, some physical therapists are in private practice.

While some physical therapists specialize in a certain field, most physical therapists are generalists, assessing and treating a wide range of patients and problems. In addition to treating injuries, physical therapists try to prevent injury by teaching the importance of exercise and nutrition, as well as providing information by how people can avoid injury in repetitive movements or heavy lifting.

Career/Licensing Requirements

To be licensed as a physical therapist, you must meet the minimum education requirements and pass the state exam.

Salary Information

Beginning physical therapists with a graduate degree can expect to earn between $50,000 and $60,000. Depending on the practice setting, salaries can vary substantially.

Related Links

American Physical Therapy Association
The American Physical Therapy Association has scholarship listings, seminar information, and related resources.

Physical has job postings, a list of schools, message boards, and a physical therapy electronic library.


  • Gross Human Anatomy

  • Cardiopulmonary Therapeutics

  • Clinical Research In Physical Therapy

  • Electrotherapy

  • Human Pathology

  • Integrated Rehabilitation

  • Kinesiology

  • Musculoskeletal Therapeutics

  • Neurological Rehabilitation

  • Neuromuscular Therapeutics

  • Neurophysiology

  • Orthopedic Rehabilitation

  • Pathophysiology

  • Pharmacology In Physical Therapy

  • Physical Agents

  • Principals In Physical Therapy

  • Prosthetics And Orthotics

  • Therapeutic Exercise