Best Physical Therapy Programs in Arkansas

Updated on February 7, 2024

Physical therapy is a growing field in healthcare, providing important rehabilitation services to help people regain mobility and manage pain and disabilities. Arkansas offers excellent physical therapy programs across the state. This article profiles the top 10 physical therapy schools in Arkansas based on factors like admissions selectivity, tuition costs, career outcomes, and more. Whether you hope to help athletes recover from injuries or work with elderly populations regaining strength, these top Arkansas PT programs offer quality education for future physical therapists.

University of Central Arkansas

Location: Conway, AR

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 75%

Tuition: $8,858 per year (in-state), $17,678 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $77,430

Website: https://uca.edu/pt

The University of Central Arkansas offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program focusing on evidence-based practice. With full-time internships integrated into the curriculum, students gain valuable clinical experience. Graduates have a strong reputation and often find jobs in the state after completing clinical rotations here.

Arkansas State University

Location: Jonesboro, AR

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 60%

Avg SAT Score: 1050-1250

Tuition: $8,077 per year (in-state), $15,327 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $79,000

Website: https://www.astate.edu

Arkansas State University’s DPT program emphasizes developing culturally competent physical therapists to serve diverse populations. With clinical experience across the state, graduates gain skills adaptable to various practice settings. The program focuses both on direct patient care techniques and healthcare administration.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Location: Little Rock, AR

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 35%

Tuition: $12,354 per year (in-state), $29,046 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $85,700

Website: https://healthprofessions.uams.edu

As Arkansas’ only academic health center, UAMS offers prestigious medical programs, including doctoral studies in physical therapy. Hands-on clinical experience starts early on, with students treating patients under supervision. With a selective admission process and excellent reputation regionally, this PT program sets graduates up for success.

Harding University

Location: Searcy, AR

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 65%

Avg SAT Score: 1140-1310

Tuition: $22,800 per year

Avg Salary: $75,500

Website: https://www.harding.edu

Harding University takes a whole-person approach to physical therapy education, emphasizing patient relationships and ethical practice. Students gain interprofessional education experiences working alongside future physicians, nurses, and more. Graduates often pursue careers in outpatient clinics, sports medicine, and other specialty areas locally.

Baptist Health College Little Rock

Location: Little Rock, AR

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Tuition: $11,070 per year

Avg Salary: $79,500

Website: https://www.bhclr.edu

With Baptist Health’s strong reputation in Arkansas healthcare, Baptist Health College Little Rock offers a coveted spot in its Physical Therapist Assistant program. Students complete clinical rotations across Baptist Health’s PT network statewide. The curriculum incorporates research projects, ensuring graduates contribute to evidence-based best practices.

South Arkansas Community College

Location: El Dorado, AR

Rating: 6/10

Acceptance Rate: 81%

Tuition: $3,570 per year

Avg Salary: $59,400

Website: https://www.southark.edu

South Arkansas Community College provides an affordable pathway to start a physical therapy career. Their Physical Therapist Assistant program includes coursework in kinesiology, therapeutic exercise, and more alongside clinical education. Graduates qualify to work under licensed PTs, including in skilled nursing and outpatient facilities.

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith

Location: Fort Smith, AR

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 72%

Tuition: $7,722 per year (in-state), $16,692 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $71,000

Website: https://www.uafs.edu/academics/school-of-health-sciences/physical-therapy-assistant/b-s-physical-therapy-assistant

Serving Western Arkansas students, the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith offers an affordable pathway to PT licensure. Their Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy combines core sciences like anatomy and physiology with rehabilitation techniques courses. Students benefit from the program’s strong reputation across regional healthcare employers.

Arkansas Colleges of Health Education

Location: Fort Smith, AR

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 35%

Tuition: $40,850 per year

Avg Salary: $85,000

Website: https://acheedu.org/physical-therapy/

This newer program focuses exclusively on training PTs and other healthcare professionals through an innovative model. The project-based curriculum emphasizes practical experience and fosters students ready to enter the local workforce. Clinical rotations structured across the full 3 years offer particularly deep preparation.

Arkansas Tech University

Location: Russellville, AR

Rating: 6/10

Acceptance Rate: 64%

Tuition: $8,964 per year (in-state), $20,352 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $69,300

Website: https://www.atu.edu/physicaltherapy

Arkansas Tech prioritizes clinical skills and practical experience throughout their Physical Therapist Assistant program. With faculty guiding students from novice level up to practicing assistant-level over 4 semesters, graduates gain confidence to pass licensure exams and thrive in the field. The program maintains strong relationships with clinics for clinical placements.

University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College

Location: Little Rock, AR

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Tuition: $5,175 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary: $69,700

Website: https://www.uaptc.edu/academics/health-and-science/physical-therapist-assistant

Pulaski Technical College offers an Associate of Science preparing students for assistant-level physical therapy positions. The 5-semester program emphasizes hands-on learning and practical experience supervised by licensed PTs. Clinicals take place across a variety of regional facilities. Students have consistently high pass rates on licensing exams.

See Other Best Physical Therapy Schools in the South

Frequently Asked Questions

What degree do I need to become a physical therapist?

Most physical therapists hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) requiring around 3 years of graduate study after a bachelor’s degree. PT assistant roles require an associate degree.

How competitive is physical therapy school admission in Arkansas?

Admissions can be competitive with limited program spots statewide. Acceptance rates range from around 35-81% depending on the school. Strong grades, healthcare exposure, test scores, essays and references help applications stand out.

Can I complete clinical rotations close to home in Arkansas?

Most schools partner with clinics across Arkansas to provide in-state clinical rotation options. However, completing some rotations rurally or out-of-state expands experience too.

What physical therapy specialties are most in demand in Arkansas?

Arkansas projects strong demand for PTs in both outpatient and skilled nursing facilities to serve the growing elderly population regaining mobility. Pediatric and sports PTs are also needed.

What does the job outlook look like for physical therapists in Arkansas?

Physical therapy jobs are expected to grow 27% in Arkansas through 2026, much faster than average. An aging population and expanded PT roles in preventative care drive demand.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.