Best Physical Therapy Schools in Illinois

Updated on February 7, 2024

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to physical therapy programs in Illinois. This article will provide you with detailed information on the top schools offering Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs in the state. We will cover everything from program details, acceptance rates, tuition costs, and average salaries, to help you make an informed decision about your future in physical therapy.

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Location: Chicago, IL

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 3.2%

Tuition: $62,251 per year

Avg Salary: $86,850

Website: www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/sites/physical-therapy

The Department of Physical Therapy at Northwestern University is considered one of the best in the nation. They offer a top-ranked DPT program that focuses on developing clinicians to provide compassionate, ethical, and evidence-based care. The program takes 34 months to complete and includes 38 weeks of clinical education. Graduates have a 100% ultimate pass rate on the National Physical Therapy Examination.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 3.8%

Tuition: $32,868 per year (in-state), $41,368 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $83,950

Website: www.ahs.uic.edu/pt

The Department of Physical Therapy at UIC offers an excellent DPT program that focuses on developing culturally competent clinicians. The program uses a hybrid model with online and in-person learning. Extensive clinical affiliations allow students to gain experience in diverse settings. Graduates consistently demonstrate high pass rates on licensure exams.

Midwestern University

Location: Downers Grove, IL

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 3.9%

Tuition: $39,225 per year

Avg Salary: $82,060

Website: www.midwestern.edu/programs_and_admission/il_physical_therapy.html

Midwestern offers an accredited DPT program focused on evidence-based practice. The curriculum provides training across patient lifespans and practice settings. Clinical opportunities allow students to apply skills learned in class. Graduates have excellent licensure exam pass rates and are prepared to enter the field as qualified physical therapists.

Bradley University

Location: Peoria, IL

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Avg SAT Score: 1120

Tuition: $34,000 per year

Avg Salary: $80,750

Website: www.bradley.edu/academic/departments/physical

Bradley University offers a DPT program focused on developing skilled and compassionate physical therapists. The curriculum provides training in examination, evaluation, diagnosis, interventions, and more across diverse settings. Six full-time clinical experiences allow students to apply classroom learning. Licensure exam pass rates for graduates exceed state and national averages.

Rush University

Location: Chicago, IL

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 2.9%

Tuition: $44,784 per year

Avg Salary: $79,650

Website: www.rushu.rush.edu/college-health-sciences/academics/doctor-physical-therapy-program

The Department of Physical Therapy at Rush University offers a DPT program focused on developing movement experts. The curriculum provides training across practice settings and the lifespan. Students complete clinical rotations at affiliated sites to build skills. Graduates have high licensure exam pass rates and are prepared for physical therapy practice.

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

Location: North Chicago, IL

Rating: 6.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 3.8%

Tuition: $40,350 per year

Avg Salary: $78,150

Website: www.rosalindfranklin.edu/academics/physical-therapy-doctorate

Rosalind Franklin offers an accredited DPT program with training in patient management and rehabilitation. The hybrid curriculum allows for online and in-person learning. Clinical affiliations provide opportunities for students to develop skills in patient evaluation, diagnosis, treatment planning, interventions, and more. Graduates demonstrate high licensure exam pass rates.

Northern Illinois University

Location: DeKalb, IL

Rating: 6/10

Acceptance Rate: 5.9%

Tuition: $16,032 per year (in-state), $26,882 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $77,250

Website: www.chhs.niu.edu/physical-therapy

NIU’s accredited DPT program focuses on developing skilled and ethical physical therapy practitioners. The curriculum provides classroom, lab, and clinical education across diverse settings and populations. Students gain hands-on experience in examination, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment planning, interventions, and more. Graduates consistently demonstrate high licensure exam pass rates.

Governors State University

Location: University Park, IL

Rating: 5.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 58.9%

Tuition: $7,806 per year (in-state), $15,115 (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $76,450

Website: www.govst.edu/dpt

Governors State offers an accredited, hybrid DPT program focused on developing culturally competent physical therapists. Coursework covers foundations, management of pathology, motor control, biomechanics, interventions, and more. Students complete clinical rotations to build hands-on skills in patient care. Graduates are prepared for entry-level practice as ethical practitioners.

Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing

Location: Peoria, IL

Rating: 5/10

Acceptance Rate: 7.7%

Tuition: $28,490 per year

Avg Salary: $75,850

Website: www.sfmccon.edu/pt

The College of Nursing at Saint Francis Medical Center offers a DPT program focused on developing skilled clinicians in outpatient orthopedics. The curriculum emphasizes critical inquiry, clinical decision making, and more. Students complete clinical rotations across the continuum of care to build hands-on skills in patient management. Graduates demonstrate high licensure exam pass rates.

University of St. Francis

Location: Joliet, IL

Rating: 4.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 68.4%

Tuition: $34,370 per year

Avg Salary: $73,950

Website: www.stfrancis.edu/academics/school-of-health-sciences/doctor-of-physical-therapy

The DPT program at the University of St. Francis focuses on developing skilled and compassionate physical therapists. The curriculum emphasizes patient-centered care, evidence-based practice, clinical reasoning, and ethics. Students complete clinical education experiences across settings. Graduates consistently demonstrate high licensure exam pass rates.

See Other Best Physical Therapy Schools in the Midwest

Frequently Asked Questions

What degree do I 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 a DPT program as well.

How competitive are physical therapy programs in Illinois?

Physical therapy programs in Illinois are very competitive, with acceptance rates ranging from around 3-8% at top schools. Applicants need high GPAs (usually 3.5+), strong test scores, healthcare experience, and more.

What is the job outlook for physical therapists?

The job outlook for physical therapists is excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of PTs is projected to grow 18% from 2020-2030, much faster than average across all occupations.

How much do physical therapists earn in Illinois?

The average salary for physical therapists in Illinois is over $80,000 per year. Those working in hospitals, physician’s offices, and outpatient care centers tend to have the highest salaries.

What school has the best physical therapy program in Illinois?

Northwestern University is considered the top physical therapy program in the state. The Department of Physical Therapy at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine offers an elite DPT program with cutting-edge curriculum, outstanding faculty, extensive clinical opportunities, and more.

Do I have to attend a physical therapy residency after PT school?

Completing a residency after your DPT degree is optional, but it can help provide specialized clinical training. Many students choose to enter practice directly after graduation rather than complete an additional residency program.

What does the licensure exam for physical therapists cover?

The National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) covers topics like cardiovascular & pulmonary systems, musculoskeletal system, neuromuscular & nervous systems, clinical sciences, and more. Exam content outlines are available through the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

Can I become a physical therapist’s assistant instead of a physical therapist?

Yes, physical therapist assistants (PTAs) provide many PT services under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist. PTA programs are shorter, usually taking 2 years to complete, and have different educational requirements than DPT programs.

Is a PT doctorate degree a PhD?

No, a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) is a clinical doctorate, not a PhD. DPT programs focus on developing skills needed for physical therapy practice rather than research. Some therapists do go on to earn PhDs after their DPT to work in academia or research.

Are there online physical therapy programs?

While there are no 100% online physical therapy programs, some DPT programs utilize a hybrid model with a mix of online and in-person learning. Even in hybrid programs, students need to complete extensive in-person clinical rotations to gain hands-on experience.

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