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Physical Therapy Degree Programs

Article Sources
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed September 2017, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • School pages, accessed October 30, 2017: Learning Outcomes, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), West Coast University, https://westcoastuniversity.edu/programs/doctor-physical-therapy/learning-outcomes.html; Physical Therapy, University of Findlay, https://www.findlay.edu/health-professions/physical-therapy/#; Traditional DPT Admission Standards, University of Findlay, https://www.findlay.edu/health-professions/physical-therapy/traditional-program; Health Science-Pre-Physical Therapy Emphasis Traditional Program BS, University of Findlay, http://catalog.findlay.edu/en/current/Undergraduate-Catalog/Major-Requirements/College-of-Health-Professions/Department-of-Physical-Therapy/Health-Science-Pre-Physical-Therapy-Emphasis-Traditional-Program-BS; Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, University of Mary, http://www.umary.edu/academics/programs/doctorate-physical-therapy.php; DPT Curriculum, Idaho State University, https://www.isu.edu/pt/future-students/dpt-curriculum/; About Us, St. Francis University, https://www.francis.edu/about-us/; Physical Therapy, St. Francis University, https://www.francis.edu/physical-therapy/; PT Graduate Admissions, St. Francis University, https://www.francis.edu/pt-graduate-admissions/; Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Dominican College, https://www.dc.edu/physical-therapy/doctor-physical-therapy-program/; t-DPT Program, Dominican College, https://www.dc.edu/physical-therapy/doctor-physical-therapy-program/; Physical Therapy Department, D'Youville College, http://www.dyc.edu/academics/schools-and-departments/health-professions/departments/physical-therapy/; Doctor of Physical Therapy, Carroll University, https://www.carrollu.edu/academics/health-sciences/graduate/physical-therapy/about; Pre-Physical Therapy, Carroll University, https://www.carrollu.edu/academics/health-sciences/pre-professional/physical-therapy; Admission Process, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Carroll University, https://www.carrollu.edu/academics/health-sciences/graduate/physical-therapy/admission; Physical Therapy, Ithaca College, https://www.ithaca.edu/hshp/depts/pt/; Physical Therapy, Long Island University Brooklyn, http://liu.edu/Brooklyn/Academics/School-of-Health-Professions/Academic-Programs/Physical-therapy; Physical Therapy, Springfield College, https://springfield.edu/programs/physical-therapy;
  • Physical Therapists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed October 17, 2017, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm
  • Professional organization pages, accessed October 26, 2017: About Us, American Physical Therapy Association, http://www.apta.org/AboutUs/; Benefits, American Physical Therapy Association, http://www.apta.org/Benefits/; IAHP Medallion Membership, International Alliance of Healthcare Educators, http://shop.iahe.com/IAHP/IAHP-Medallion-Membership; About Us, Foundation for Physical Therapy, https://foundation4pt.org/about-us/;
  • Mary McMillan Scholarship Award, American Physical Therapy Association, accessed October 26, 2017, http://www.apta.org/HonorsAwards/Scholarships/McMillanScholarship/;
  • Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
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It's fairly common knowledge that a job in the health care field can be a rewarding way to earn a living, and physical therapy careers have some of the brightest employment outlooks in the industry. Physical rehabilitation is a vital part of the wellness journey after an illness or injury, and only licensed physical therapists can guide patients through the right steps for optimal recovery.

The road to a physical therapy career typically starts with a pre-physical therapy (pre-PT) degree at the undergraduate level, although other bachelor's degrees may be acceptable if the right course prerequisites are met. The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is a professional degree, not an academic doctorate, so you don't need to earn a master's before applying.

Online degrees for physical therapy students may also be available, particularly at the doctoral level. Many pre-PT programs have clinical experience sections that are difficult to translate to the virtual classroom, but online physical therapy degrees can be found once you're finished with your undergraduate work.

Best Colleges for Physical Therapy Programs 2017-18

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) publishes robust data on colleges and universities around the U.S., so we put together a big set of data to find out which ones could be called the top physical therapy schools in the country. Click the button for more info on our methodology and read on for a list of the ten best colleges for physical therapy degree programs.

Methodology
1The University of Findlay+
ADMISSION RATE
73%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
N/A
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
7

Located in Findlay, Ohio, our No. 1 school features options for physical therapy students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The pre-PT program has three paths to admission: early assurance, which is available only to qualifying high school students; junior admit, available to third-year University of Findlay undergraduates; and transfer admit, available to senior-level undergraduates transferring to UF from another institution.

Doctoral candidates can choose from two distinct programs, each designed with a different type of student in mind. The traditional DPT Program is the most common option for pre-PT students, while the weekend physical therapist assistant (PTA) to DPT bridge program can help working PTAs fit the terminal degree plan into their busy schedule.

Additional Info
2University of Mary+
ADMISSION RATE
77%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$30
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
12

Just three schools on our list put up better numbers in the graduation rate category than the University of Mary, and that's not the only category of our analysis where it stood out. The North Dakota school also ranked No. 3 for distance enrollment percentage among schools on our list and charged the second-lowest average cost for tuition and fees in 2015.

The DPT program at this Benedictine Catholic institution comes with several hard science prerequisites, primarily in biology, chemistry, physics and anatomy, and requires at least forty hours of clinical experience in a licensed physical therapy setting. What's more, the school reports that 100 percent of its DPT graduates between 2014 and 2016 passed the National Physical Therapist Exam (NPTE) and found work in the field.

Additional Info
3Idaho State University+
ADMISSION RATE
Open
TEST REQUIREMENTS
N/A
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
15

Idaho State University took the crown for most affordable average tuition and fees in our top ten by a wide margin. Undergraduates at our No. 3 school paid just shy of $6,800 per year on average in 2015 -- nearly $10,000 less than the average enrollment expense at the second-place school in that category. ISU also features an open admission policy, so no qualified student is turned away based on prior academic performance.

The DPT program at ISU takes 8 semesters to complete, splitting program hours between classroom courses and clinical sections in a variety of practice settings. Classroom courses include professional communication, research methodologies, resource management and manual evaluation and treatment.

Additional Info
4Saint Francis University+
ADMISSION RATE
67%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
N/A
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
3

The hands-on approach to anatomy instruction at this Franciscan Catholic university includes time spent in the cadaver lab, observing the human muscular and skeletal systems as they appear in the body itself. In addition to the standard DPT program, Saint Francis University offers a dual degree option that confers both a DPT and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

SFU ranked No. 3 among schools that made our list for the prominence of its physical therapy program in relation to the rest of its degree catalog. More than 17 percent of students who graduated from SFU in 2015 were awarded DPT degrees, and only one other school in our top ten had a higher graduation rate.

Additional Info
5Dominican College+
ADMISSION RATE
75%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$35
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
6

This Catholic institution in the Hudson River Valley is the smallest of our top physical therapy schools, having awarded just 505 total degrees in 2015, but it's home to the largest percentage of physical therapy students of any school on our list. Nearly one in three graduates from Dominican College during that academic year earned a physical therapy degree.

Dominican College offers a special type of program for practicing PTs whose licenses were earned before a DPT was required to practice. The Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (t-DPT) program is offered fully online, takes between 18 and 36 months to complete and requires a prior master's-level degree in physical therapy.

Additional Info
6D'Youville College+
ADMISSION RATE
81%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
N/A
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
1

Multiple pathways to a DPT degree are available at D'Youville College. Applicants who already hold a bachelor's degree that meets the program prerequisites will enroll in a standard three-year DPT program, but undergraduates who have yet to earn their first college degree have three different trajectories to choose from.

The list of six-year sequential degree plans at this Buffalo, New York, school earns you one of three Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees as well as a DPT degree. Bachelor's degree options for sequential DPT students include biology, health services management and exercise and sports studies. D'Youville college also reported a student-faculty ratio of 9:1, which suggests that professors will have enough available time and energy to help each student personally if needed.

Additional Info
7Carroll University+
ADMISSION RATE
72%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
N/A
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
0

The numbers seem to show that Carroll University understands the value of academic support for students who need it. Only one other institution among our top ten physical therapy schools earmarked a larger percentage of its budget for academic support services such as academic advising, career counseling and other helpful programs.

The pre-PT program at Carroll has no fewer than 10 approved majors for undergraduates to pursue on their way to the professional graduate program. Mainstays like biology and exercise science are on the list, naturally, but so are history, sociology, public health, Spanish and other less common pre-PT bachelor's degrees. Incoming undergraduates can choose a 3+3 or 4+3 format for their early admission DPT track.

Additional Info
8Ithaca College+
ADMISSION RATE
70%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
N/A
APPLICATION FEE
$60
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
1

The six-year DPT program at Ithaca College is designed for first-year undergraduate entry and features opportunities for students to pursue undergraduate minors and concentrations in other fields of study en route to their DPT. All full-time physical therapy faculty at the New York institution hold doctoral degrees, and no other school in our top ten had a higher graduation rate.

Ithaca College prides itself on the clinical aspects of its DPT program, which include screening clinics for performing arts injuries, electives in aquatics and electrodiagnostics and a "Center for Life Skills" course that focuses on helping people with longstanding neurological conditions.

Additional Info
9Long Island University Brooklyn+
ADMISSION RATE
88%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Recommended
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
10

Aspiring physical therapists at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus spend 11 academic terms of full-time enrollment to earn their degree, which requires 118 credit hours of study and 35 weeks of clinical experience. LIU Brooklyn is also one of the larger schools in our top 10, so it might be right for you if you're looking for a physical therapy school with a bustling atmosphere.

The curriculum you'll study on the way to finishing those 118 hours includes a good mix of classroom instruction and clinical sections, including such subjects as movement analysis, therapeutic exercise, clinical reasoning, neuroscience, cardiac and pulmonary pathology and health promotion and wellness.

Additional Info
10 Springfield College+
ADMISSION RATE
66%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
0

Our No. 10 school doesn't offer options for online physical therapy degrees, but it provides flexibility measures for its students in other ways. Select courses are available on weekends and in evenings for those with daytime responsibilities during the week, and alternative tuition payment plans exist for students whose budgets require some flexibility as well.

Undergraduate students in the pre-PT program at Springfield College are required to complete a minor as well as their primary health science/pre-PT coursework. The final year of the six-year program contains specialty courses that can help you enhance your skillset, such as clinical electrophysiology, adult neurology and pediatric physical therapy.

Additional Info

Physical Therapy Degree Programs and Common Career Paths

A few entry-level careers exist for physical therapy graduates, but it's uncommon that someone starts a pre-PT program and doesn't follow all the way through to the terminal degree. Here's some info about the top degree for physical therapy students and the career that requires it.

Doctor of Physical Therapy
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is essential if you plan to become a practicing physical therapist. Coursework in this degree plan teaches vital skills of communication, consultation and collaboration alongside the techniques and technology of physical rehabilitation. Physical therapists also must be licensed in the state where they plan to practice.
Physical Therapists
help people improve their movement, manage pain and regain control of their bodies after a physically traumatic event or extended period of serious illness

Career Outlook for Physical Therapy Majors

You may not be able to know everything about your chances to land a solid job in physical therapy, but keeping an eye on employment projections can help you stay on top of things and avoid surprises. Here are a few quick data points about the physical therapy career market.

JOB TITLE
AVERAGE SALARY($)
EMPLOYMENT
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
Physical Therapist Assistants$56,85085,58030.8%
Physical Therapist Aides$27,89050,03029.1%
Physical Therapists$87,220216,92025%
Source: 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.
NOT WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR?

Financial aid and scholarships in physical therapy

Scholarships and grants for physical therapy students may be offered through federal, state, institutional or private sources. One aid program open to all PT students in the final year of their programs is the Mary McMillan Scholarship Award administrated by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Check out these other financial aid opportunities and see if any apply to you.

Paul Beeson Career Development Award
Applicant must have a clinical doctoral degree (M.D., D.O., D.D.S.) or its equivalent (this may include individuals holding both a M.D. and Ph.D. degrees as well as individuals with a Ph.D. in clinical fields such as clinical psychology, nursing, or physical therapy). Selection is based upon academic merit, the quality and originality of the research project, a well-developed mentorship plan, and the commitment of the sponsoring institution. More

AWARD AMOUNT

$800,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

November 23

 

 

Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program
Applicant must graduate from a college in Maryland or from a law school and be employed full-time in state or local government or in a nonprofit organization in Maryland. Applicant's employer must help low income, underserved residents or underserved areas in the state. Applicant must have loans from a university, government, or commercial source used to pay for college expenses. Applicant may not be in default on a loan. Gross salary cannot exceed $50,000 and, if married, combined salaries cannot exceed $110,000. More

AWARD AMOUNT

$30,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

November 1

RENEWAL CRITERIA

Reapplication required for renewal.

Health Professions Scholarship
Applicant must rank in the top half of class and have a minimum combined SAT I score of 1140. More

AWARD AMOUNT

$12,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

February 1

RENEWAL CRITERIA

Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA, full-time enrollment, and satisfactory academic progress.

Marion A. Lindeman Scholarship
Applicant must be an employee of Willamette View Health Care Center or Willamette View Terrace who will pursue a degree or certificate in nursing, occupational or physical therapy, or another health-related field at a public or nonprofit college or university. FAFSA required. More

AWARD AMOUNT

$10,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

March 1

 

 

Professional Organizations

(APTA) has over 100,000 members, publishes a monthly print magazine and puts on three signature conferences each year
(IAHP) offers professional development resources, administrative support and monthly articles on emerging techniques and technologies
more of a charitable organization than a traditional professional association, seeks to fund scholarships and cutting-edge physical therapy research
Article Sources
Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.

  1. Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.

Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.

  1. In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  3. Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  4. Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
    • Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
    • Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
  5. Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  6. Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
    • Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
    • Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
    • Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
    • Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
    • Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
  7. Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  8. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
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Idaho State University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
921 S 8th Ave
City
Pocatello
State
ID
Zip Code
83209
Website
www.isu.edu/
Test Scores
N/A
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Small
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
10,966
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$50
Admission Rate
Open
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$6,956
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
14
Number of Online Programs Offered
15
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
45%
Springfield College
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
263 Alden St
City
Springfield
State
MA
Zip Code
01109
Website
www.springfield.edu/
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
450-550
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
450-570
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
24-28
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
City: Midsize
School Type
Private not-for-profit
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
2,114
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$50
Admission Rate
66%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$35,475
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
12
Number of Online Programs Offered
0
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
N/A
D'Youville College
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
320 Porter Ave
City
Buffalo
State
NY
Zip Code
14201
Website
www.dyc.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
440-540
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
460-550
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
16-23
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
City: Large
School Type
Private not-for-profit
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
1,716
UnderGraduate Application Fee
N/A
Admission Rate
81%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$25,210
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
11
Number of Online Programs Offered
1
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
38%
Dominican College of Blauvelt
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
470 Western Highway
City
Orangeburg
State
NY
Zip Code
10962
Website
www.dc.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
400-480
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
400-490
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
17-21
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Suburb: Large
School Type
Private not-for-profit
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
1,478
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$35
Admission Rate
75%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$27,438
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
13
Number of Online Programs Offered
6
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
14%
Ithaca College
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
953 Danby Rd
City
Ithaca
State
NY
Zip Code
14850
Website
www.ithaca.edu
Test Scores
N/A
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Suburb: Small
School Type
Private not-for-profit
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
6,221
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$60
Admission Rate
70%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$41,776
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
10
Number of Online Programs Offered
1
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
7%
LIU Brooklyn
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
1 University Plaza
City
Brooklyn
State
NY
Zip Code
11201
Website
liu.edu/Brooklyn
Test Scores
Recommended
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
City: Large
School Type
Private not-for-profit
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
4,275
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$50
Admission Rate
88%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$36,256
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
13
Number of Online Programs Offered
10
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
7%
University of Mary
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
7500 University Dr
City
Bismarck
State
ND
Zip Code
58504
Website
www.umary.edu/
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
475-590
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
455-580
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
20-26
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Rural: Fringe
School Type
Private not-for-profit
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
2,218
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$30
Admission Rate
77%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$17,445
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
15
Number of Online Programs Offered
12
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
61%
The University of Findlay
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
1000 North Main Street
City
Findlay
State
OH
Zip Code
45840
Website
www.findlay.edu/
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
470-560
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
470-480
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
20-25
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Town: Distant
School Type
Private not-for-profit
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
3,661
UnderGraduate Application Fee
N/A
Admission Rate
73%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$32,402
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
16
Number of Online Programs Offered
7
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
31%
Saint Francis University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
117 Evergreen Dr
City
Loretto
State
PA
Zip Code
15940
Website
www.francis.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
480-570
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
480-590
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
20-27
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Town: Fringe
School Type
Private not-for-profit
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
2,120
UnderGraduate Application Fee
N/A
Admission Rate
67%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$33,344
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
14
Number of Online Programs Offered
3
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
28%
Carroll University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
100 N East Ave
City
Waukesha
State
WI
Zip Code
53186
Website
www.carrollu.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
485-593
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
455-565
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
21-26
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Small
School Type
Private not-for-profit
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
3,001
UnderGraduate Application Fee
N/A
Admission Rate
72%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$30,388
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
15
Number of Online Programs Offered
0
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
6%
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Explore Schools Offering Physical Therapy Programs