Best Physical Therapy Programs in Pennsylvania

Updated on February 7, 2024

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the world of Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs in the state of Pennsylvania. We provide detailed profiles of top DPT programs, including ratings, tuition costs, acceptance rates, and average post-graduation salaries. This is your one-stop resource for making an informed decision about your future in physical therapy.

University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh, located in Pittsburgh, PA, is ranked as one of the top physical therapy schools in the country. Its doctoral program in physical therapy (DPT) is extremely competitive, with only about 50 students admitted per year out of 800+ applicants.

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Tuition: $32,742 per year for PA residents

Avg Salary After Graduation: $86,850

Website: www.shrs.pitt.edu

The DPT program at Pitt takes 28 months to complete. Students get early clinical experience and learn in state-of-the-art laboratories and simulation centers. The curriculum focuses on evidence-based practice and hands-on learning. Pitt DPT graduates have an excellent reputation and are highly recruited in the region and throughout the U.S.

Temple University

Temple University, located in Philadelphia, PA, offers an excellent DPT program focusing on patient-centered care and social responsibility. The program takes 3 years to complete and admits 72 students per year.

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 13%

Tuition: $32,994 per year for PA residents

Avg Salary After Graduation: $83,500

Website: www.temple.edu

Temple’s DPT curriculum includes early clinical practicums and has students complete three 12-week clinical rotations. Small class sizes and accessible faculty allow for personalized instruction and mentoring. Graduates praise the program’s hands-on approach and strong clinical focus.

Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University offers a top DPT program at its Center City Philadelphia campus. The 3-year program admits 72 students annually and focuses on clinical reasoning, patient care skills, and evidence-based practice.

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Tuition: $32,790 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $83,200

Website: www.jefferson.edu

Jefferson’s DPT curriculum provides early patient experiences and includes three full-time clinical rotations. Students benefit from the program’s strong reputation and extensive clinical partnerships throughout the region. Graduates have excellent job placement rates.

Widener University

Widener University, located in Chester, PA, offers a DPT program focused on clinical excellence and community service. The program admits 60 students per year and takes 3 years to complete.

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Tuition: $31,920 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $82,300

Website: www.widener.edu

Widener’s DPT program provides early patient care experience through pro bono clinics serving the local community. The curriculum focuses on evidence-based practice and includes three full-time clinical rotations. Graduates are known for their strong clinical skills.

Misericordia University

Misericordia University, located in Dallas, PA, offers a 3-year DPT program focused on interprofessional education. Sixty students are admitted annually.

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 24%

Tuition: $31,034 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $80,500

Website: www.misericordia.edu

Misericordia’s DPT students learn alongside other health profession students for an interdisciplinary perspective. The curriculum blends classroom instruction with clinical lab work and three clinical field experiences. Graduates are valued for their ability to collaborate across disciplines.

Arcadia University

Arcadia University, located in Glenside, PA, offers a top-ranked DPT program focused on clinical excellence, research, and personalized attention. Sixty students are admitted annually to the 3-year program.

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 36%

Tuition: $31,500 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $79,800

Website: www.arcadia.edu

Arcadia’s low student-faculty ratio allows for individual mentoring and attention. The DPT curriculum includes three clinical fieldwork rotations and fosters skills in critical inquiry and evidence-based practice. Graduates consistently score above national averages on licensure exams.

Shenandoah University

Shenandoah University’s Division of Physical Therapy offers an excellent DPT program at campuses located statewide, including one in Allentown, PA. Sixty full-time students are admitted per year.

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: Not publicly released

Tuition: $32,070 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $81,500

Website: www.su.edu

Shenandoah’s 36-month DPT curriculum blends classroom and lab instruction with clinical training opportunities across diverse settings. Students complete three full-time clinical rotations prior to graduation. Shenandoah produces highly capable entry-level physical therapists.

Franklin Pierce University

Franklin Pierce University offers a DPT program at its Goodyear, AZ campus with satellite locations nationwide, including one in Media, PA. The program admits 60 students per cohort.

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Tuition: $31,792 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $79,300

Website: www.franklinpierce.edu

Franklin Pierce combines online coursework with on-campus immersions to provide flexibility for students. The hybrid DPT program includes live video instruction and three clinical rotations. Graduates are prepared for entry-level PT practice across settings.

Duquesne University

Duquesne University’s School of Physical Therapy located in Pittsburgh, PA offers an excellent 3-year DPT program focused on patient care and practice management. Fifty students are admitted annually.

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Tuition: $32,996 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $80,700

Website: www.duq.edu

Duquesne’s DPT program provides early clinical exposure and business courses to equip students for today’s healthcare environment. With small class sizes and knowledgeable faculty, students receive individualized instruction and mentoring. Graduates are well-prepared for ethical, compassionate practice.

Regis University

Regis University offers a hybrid DPT program in Pennsylvania with a campus location in Reading. Sixty professional-level students are admitted per cohort.

Rating: 6.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Tuition: $23,800 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $78,600

Website: www.regis.edu

Regis combines online coursework with on-campus labs and intensive sessions. The 3-year hybrid DPT program has a focus on serving rural and underserved populations. Extensive clinical opportunities prepare graduates for client-centered practice in various settings.

See Other Best Physical Therapy Schools in the Northeast

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the process for applying to DPT programs?

The DPT application process typically includes submitting transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, a resume or CV summarizing relevant experience, and a written essay. Some programs also require an onsite interview. The application timeline usually begins a year prior to enrollment.

How competitive are DPT programs in Pennsylvania?

DPT programs in Pennsylvania are very competitive, with even top-ranked schools having acceptance rates under 25%. Applicants should aim for outstanding grades, test scores, experience, and essays to have the best chance of admission.

Which schools offer the best DPT programs in Pennsylvania?

Some of the top-ranked DPT schools in PA include the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, Widener University, and Arcadia University. These schools are known nationally for excellence in physical therapy education.

Successful DPT applicants typically have an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or higher. Competitive GRE scores range from 150-160 on verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning, with a 4.0 or higher for the analytical writing section.

How much does DPT tuition cost in Pennsylvania?

DPT tuition at private schools in Pennsylvania averages around $32,000 per year for PA residents. Rates are generally lower for public universities for in-state students. Many students pursue scholarships, grants, and loans to fund their DPT degree.

What is the job outlook for physical therapists?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21% growth in PT jobs between 2020 and 2030, much faster than average. Excellent job opportunities are expected due to increased demand for PT services and an aging population staying active later in life.

Can I practice physical therapy with a DPT degree from any state?

Graduating from an accredited DPT program allows you to sit for the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). Passing this exam is required along with state licensure to legally practice physical therapy in a given state.

How long does it take to become a physical therapist?

The typical educational path starts with a 4-year bachelor’s degree with prerequisite courses, followed by completing a 3-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduate degree program and passing the national exam. Total time is usually 7-8 years.

What undergraduate degree is best for physical therapy school?

While any major is acceptable for DPT programs, bachelor’s degrees in exercise science, biology, kinesiology, anatomy and physiology are considered useful. These majors cover course prerequisites and prepare students well for the rigors of physical therapy school.

Can I specialize within physical therapy?

Yes, physical therapists can pursue board certifications for specialization in areas like orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, geriatrics, sports, women’s health, and clinical electrophysiology. Specialties require 1-2 years of focused clinical practice post-licensure.

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