Best Physical Therapy Programs in Virginia

Updated on February 7, 2024

Virginia is home to several highly ranked physical therapy programs that produce skilled and licensed physical therapists ready to enter the workforce. The top schools offer rigorous curriculums centered around evidence-based practice, clinical rotations, and hands-on learning. Graduates boast competitive job placement rates and average starting salaries. This list highlights 10 of the top physical therapy programs in Virginia based on factors like admissions selectivity, affordability, and career outcomes.

Old Dominion University

Location: Norfolk, VA

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 64%

Tuition: $10,878 per year (in-state), $24,414 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $83,940

Website: https://www.odu.edu/healthsciences/departments/school-of-physical-therapy

Old Dominion University offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy program that can be completed in 8 semesters. The program has a focus on developing culturally competent physical therapists to serve diverse communities. Students complete 38 weeks of clinical rotations and have the opportunity to participate in specialty tracks like pediatrics, sports medicine, and women’s health.

University of Lynchburg

Location: Lynchburg, VA

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Tuition: $37,296 per year

Avg Salary: $76,769

Website: https://www.lynchburg.edu/academics/graduate-programs/doctor-physical-therapy-dpt/

The University of Lynchburg offers a 3-year Doctor of Physical Therapy program that incorporates classroom learning, hands-on labs, and clinical rotations. Students gain experience in areas like orthopedics, neurorehabilitation, pediatrics, geriatrics, and sports medicine. The program emphasizes evidence-based practice and graduating highly competent entry-level physical therapists.

Marymount University

Location: Arlington, VA

Rating: 6/10

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Tuition: $32,970 per year

Avg Salary: $76,450

Website: https://www.marymount.edu/Academics/Schools-Departments/Physical-Therapy

The hybrid DPT program at Marymount University prepares students for physical therapist roles through online coursework, on-campus intensives, and clinical rotations. Students develop skills in examination, evaluation, diagnosis, interventions, patient education, research, and healthcare management. The program emphasizes developing culturally competent therapists to serve diverse communities.

Shenandoah University

Location: Winchester, VA

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Tuition: $32,130 per year

Avg Salary: $76,450

Website: https://www.su.edu/health-sciences/pt/dpt/

Shenandoah University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy is an innovative curriculum focused on developing evidence-based clinicians. Students complete clinical rotations each semester to apply classroom knowledge in real-world settings. The program emphasizes developing culturally sensitive physical therapists equipped to serve diverse patient populations across the lifespan.

Hampton University

Location: Hampton, VA

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 59%

Tuition: $23,727 per year

Avg Salary: $76,450

Website: https://www.hamptonu.edu/university-college/school-science/physical-therapy/

Hampton University offers a 3-year Doctor of Physical Therapy grounded in evidence-based practice and cultural competence training. Students focus on patient-centered care, community health advocacy, and developing leadership abilities. Extensive clinical affiliations prepare students for entry-level practice across settings like hospitals, clinics, and schools.

Radford University

Location: Radford, VA

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 92%

Tuition: $11,104 per year (in-state), $21,584 (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $83,940

Website: https://www.radford.edu/content/chbs/home/physical-therapy.html

Radford University offers an affordable DPT program focused on developing skilled physical therapy practitioners equipped for interprofessional practice. Students complete clinical rotations each semester across settings like outpatient clinics, hospitals, and pediatric facilities. The curriculum emphasizes evidence-based practice, cultural competence, and leadership development.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Location: Richmond, VA

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 12%

Tuition: $21,817 per year (in-state), $40,139 (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $76,450

Website: https://sahp.vcu.edu/departments/pt/prospective-students/dpt-first-professional/

Virginia Commonwealth University’s highly competitive DPT program exposes students to diverse patient populations through clinical rotations at major medical centers. The curriculum emphasizes developing cultural competence, communication abilities, critical thinking skills, and leadership qualities needed in today’s complex healthcare environment.

Liberty University

Location: Lynchburg, VA

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 72%

Tuition: $30,110 per year

Avg Salary: $76,450

Website: https://www.liberty.edu/health-sciences/doctoral/dpt/

Liberty University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program can be completed in 8 semesters blending online coursework, on-campus sessions, and clinical rotations. Students develop skills needed for entry-level practice across settings like hospitals, private practices, and pediatric centers. The faith-based curriculum emphasizes compassionate, patient-centered care grounded in evidence-based practice.

Emory & Henry College

Location: Emory, VA

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 74%

Tuition: $32,000 per year

Avg Salary: $76,450

Website: https://www.ehc.edu/academics/programs/doctor-physical-therapy

Emory & Henry College offers an affordable Doctor of Physical Therapy centered around small classes, hands-on learning, and clinical experience across the lifespan. Students develop skills needed for generalist entry-level practice with optional specialty concentrations in areas like sports medicine, pediatrics, and orthopedics.

James Madison University

Location: Harrisonburg, VA

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 75%

Tuition: $27,002 per year (in-state), $47,904 (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $83,940

Website: https://www.jmu.edu/healthsciences/dpt/index.shtml

James Madison University’s DPT program emphasizes developing competent and caring physical therapy practitioners ready for collaborative, patient-centered practice. Students complete clinical rotations across outpatient, acute, chronic, and specialty settings to gain real-world experience across diverse populations and conditions.

See Other Best Physical Therapy Schools in the South

Frequently Asked Questions

What degree do you need to become a physical therapist?

You need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree to become a licensed physical therapist. DPT programs typically last 3 years. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree to apply to DPT programs.

How competitive is physical therapy school in Virginia?

Physical therapy programs in Virginia are very competitive, with some programs like Virginia Commonwealth University having a 12% acceptance rate. Applicants generally need high GPAs (3.5+ minimum) and GRE scores to have the best chances.

What is the average cost for physical therapy school in Virginia?

For in-state students, tuition for DPT programs averages around $25,000 per year at public schools and $32,000 at private schools. Out-of-state tuition is more expensive. Programs take 3 years to complete.

What is the average starting salary for physical therapists in Virginia?

The average starting salary for physical therapists in Virginia is approximately $76,450 per year, which is above the national median salary. Those working in hospitals or skilled nursing facilities may earn higher starting wages.

How long does it take to become a physical therapist in Virginia?

The typical path takes 7-8 years: a 4-year bachelor’s degree, then 3 years in an accredited DPT program including clinical rotations. After graduating, you must get licensed which involves passing the NPTE exam.

What are common physical therapist specialties?

Common physical therapy specialties include orthopedics, neurology, geriatrics, pediatrics, women’s health, sports medicine, and cardiopulmonary physical therapy. Students often complete clinical rotations in specialty areas they are interested in.

What is the job outlook for physical therapists in Virginia?

Employment for physical therapists in Virginia is projected to grow 17% from 2020-2030, adding over 1,800 new jobs. Virginia has over 5,200 licensed physical therapists across diverse settings.

Where do physical therapists work?

Physical therapists in Virginia work in settings like hospitals, private outpatient clinics, skilled nursing facilities, school systems, fitness centers, home health agencies, and more.

What professional organizations should physical therapists join?

Key professional organizations for physical therapists include the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and specialty sections like the Orthopaedic Section and Pediatric Section. The Virginia Physical Therapy Association (VPTA) is also beneficial.

What types of patients do physical therapists treat?

Physical therapists can treat patients across the lifespan with conditions such as back and neck injuries, sports injuries, arthritis, fractures, neurological disorders, pediatric developmental delays, issues from aging, and much more that limit mobility and physical function.

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