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Physical Therapist School Cost

How Much Does Physical Therapist School Cost?

low costCertification Exam: $350average costMaster's Degree Program: $12,000-$32,000+high costDoctoral Degree Program: $25,000-$75,000+
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Physical therapists help patients recover from illness or injury by restoring lost function or relieving pain. Physical therapists are required to hold a master's degree, but the industry standard is moving towards requiring a doctoral degree, according to the federal government's Occupational Outlook Handbook[1] .

Typical costs:

Related articles: Medical School, Nursing School, Athletic Trainer School, Physical Therapist Assistant Training

What should be included:
  • Physical therapists can be general practitioners, or focus on one population (such as geriatric patients) or type of rehabilitation (such as cardiopulmonary). Typically physical therapists work with patients doing rehabilitative exercises or learning to use therapeutic equipment like crutches. Most physical therapists work in a clinical or hospital setting, but many also work in private practice, according to the federal government's Occupational Outlook Handbook[5] .
  • Coursework focused on anatomy and physiology is a standard component of master's and doctoral programs.
  • Both master's and doctoral programs require clinical hours, such as internships at hospitals or in other clinical settings, in addition to coursework.
  • All programs should prepare students to take required exams for certification in their home state.
Additional costs:
  • Cost of living varies by location and is typically listed on individual departments' websites along with tuition costs, such as this cost of living breakdown[6] by Columbia University.
  • Some states also expect students to take a state exam administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy for fees[7] ranging from $30-$50.
  • Students in master's and doctoral programs are eligible for up to $20,500 in Stafford Loans[8] annually, depending on their income level and other criteria as determined by the Federal Application for Student Financial Aid.
  • Graduate students are also eligible for PLUS loans[9] to assist with tuition and other education-related expenses.
  • Some doctoral programs offer merit-based financial aid to students. Columbia University, for example, offers annual merit scholarships[10] for students with an undergraduate GPA above 3.5.
  • In addition to scholarship assistance, some doctoral programs also offer low-cost loans to doctoral students. Emory University, for example, offers doctoral candidates in physical therapy a loan[11] with a low interest rate of 4.22%.
  • Teaching assistantships, graduate research fellowships and residence assistantships are available to PT doctoral students at some universities, such as Boston University[12] . These awards may come with full tuition remission and a stipend
  • The American Association for Physical Therapists keeps a list of private scholarships available to doctoral candidates in physical therapy.
Shopping for physical therapist school:
  • The American Physical Therapy Association maintains a list of accredited schools in the United States. The APTA lists factors to consider in choosing a school. The APTA requires that schools meet accreditation requirements, but does not rank schools.
  • U.S. News and World Report[13] ranks doctoral programs in physical therapy.
  • For more information about the certification exam, visit the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy[14] .
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