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Requirements to Obtain a Physical Therapy Degree

Deepa Kartha
The job of a physical therapist has gained a lot of demand in recent years. If you aspire to become the one, it is important for you to know the prerequisites of a physiotherapy degree. Read ahead for more information.
A physical therapist is a medical professional who treats people suffering from physical health problems like arthritis, head injuries, knee problems, sports injuries, back pain, and stroke. 
Once the patient is given the basic treatment by the doctor, a physical therapist helps the patient recover to normal health with help of exercises and other techniques.
As physical therapy is very important for a patient to recover fully, physical therapy jobs are on the rise. They can be found in medical centers like hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, special education schools, outpatient clinics, physical therapist clinics, etc.

Physical Therapy Education Requirements

Earlier, physical therapist requirements consisted of only a graduation degree in physical therapy. However, in the late 1990s, a master's degree and a PhD were also added. Basically, there are four physical therapist degree courses that a person can choose from to become a physical therapist.

Transitional Master's Degree in Physical Therapy

A person who wants to do this degree should first have a graduation degree in physical therapy. Transitional master's degree is a two-year long program.
During the program, students have to learn about subjects like neurology, pediatrics, pulmonary testing and management, orthopedics, geriatrics, orthotics, and prosthetics. They may also have to do a research project during their course period.

Direct Entry Master's Degree in Physical Therapy

Direct entry master's degree is for people who have graduated in some other field and have a keen interest in taking up physical therapy. Like the transitional master's degree, even this course spans two years; however, the curriculum is a little different.
During the first year of the course, students are exposed to the basic concepts of physical therapy, while the second year is an internship in a hospital or clinic where they will get practical experience of being a physical therapist.

Transitional Doctorate in Physical Therapy

As in all the other fields, even in the field of physical therapy, the higher the degree, the higher is the position, as well as the pay. The qualification after a master's degree is the doctor's degree.
Physical therapy school requirements for students who want to do a transitional doctor's degree, is a bachelor's and master's degree in physical therapy. Here, the students are given advanced education in physical therapy.

Direct Entry Doctorate in Physical Therapy

People who have completed their graduation in some other subject and are interested in becoming a physical therapist can take up this course and earn the title of doctor in three years time.
People who are not interested in becoming physical therapists, but would like to attain related jobs in this field can opt for a two-year associate degree to become a physical therapist assistant.
This course gives the student knowledge about physical therapy principles and practice, neurological and orthopedic disabilities and treatments, functional kinesiology, basic patient care, anatomy, developmental disabilities, clinical practice, and physiology.

Specialty Areas in Physical Therapy

The field of physical therapy has various sections, and students can opt for one that they are interested in.


A geriatric physical therapist focuses on treating and caring for senior citizens. They will have to work with aged people who suffer from diseases like cancer, hip and joint replacement, arthritis, Alzheimer's diseases, and the like.


Pediatric physiotherapists, as the name suggests, work with children who suffer from physical problems. Children who suffer from developmental disabilities, spina bifida, skeletal, congenital, and neuromuscular problems are treated by them.


Orthopedic physiotherapists work with people who have disabilities in the spine and joint, musculoskeletal injuries and those who have undergone acute sports injuries, amputations, orthopedic surgery, etc.
Fulfilling the aforementioned prerequisites of a physiotherapy degree is the first step towards becoming a physical therapist.
Apart from these educational requirements to become a physical therapist, a physiotherapist should have good interpersonal skills, as he will have to deal with patients who may be highly emotional and sensitive because of the condition they are suffering from.
Another thing that one must remember is that being a physical therapist is also a physically demanding job where you will have to work for long hours. However, you will also get the satisfaction of helping people who are in need.