The Top 100 Best Physical Therapy Schools in the U.S. (2024)

Updated on June 8, 2024
At a Glance:
  • The top 5 physical therapy schools in the U.S. are the University of Southern California, the University of Pittsburgh, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Delaware, and the University of Iowa.

  • These schools offer comprehensive programs and clinical experiences to prepare students for a career in physical therapy.

  • However, there are many other notable schools across the country, as reflected in the top 100 ranking of physical therapy schools.
  • You are planning to major in physical therapy and you want to study in the United States. You might have heard that the US has the best physical therapy schools worldwide, so of course, the US crossed your mind when deciding to choose your PT school.

    We want to help you pursue your dreams and choose the best school for you so in this article you will find a ranking of the top 100 physical therapy schools in the United States.

    The trophy for the best physical therapy school goes to the University of Southern California. The second best school for you to consider is the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

    We give an overview of both schools below and wrap up the article with the top 100 list you have been waiting for.

    5 Best Physical Therapy Schools in the U.S.

    Topping our list of the best Physical Therapy schools in the U.S. are:

    1. University of Southern California
    2. University of Pittsburgh
    3. Washington University in St. Louis
    4. University of Delaware
    5. University of Iowa

    Read on to learn what makes these schools the best of the best for a Physical Therapy education!

    1. University of Southern California

    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Estimated Annual Tuition (including living expenses): $26,021

    The University of Southern California offers a complete 115-unit program in physical therapy. In order to be able to achieve 115 units, the program is made up of six semesters and two summer courses.

    In addition, the university has made it obligatory as part of their curriculum during all 3 years to gain clinical experience during your studies.

    Once you have finished your three years with success, the USC graduate school will award you with a D.P.T., the degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy.

    In order to complete your studies with success, you need to have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 in all of your courses. Aside from excelling academically, USC requires recipients of the award to meet all professional standards and to pass all clinical clerkships.

    2. University of Pittsburgh

    Location: Cambridge, MA
    Estimated Annual Tuition (including living expenses): $22,996

    The childhood jingle “second is the best” rings true when you consider the accolades and prestige of the University of Pittsburgh PT program.

    The University of Pittsburgh offers a full-time program that will lead you down the path to getting your D.P.T. degree in three years or an equivalent of nine semesters.

    During the last year, all students have to do a one-year internship in a clinic to complete their degree.

    3. Washington University in St. Louis

    Location: St. Louis, MO
    Estimated Annual Tuition (including living expenses): $30,096

    The Washington University Program in Physical Therapy is a full-time, three-year program.

    The program combines the classroom and clinical learning to prepare the students for professional leadership. The esteemed faculty of the program is recognized for its extensive command of neuromuscular and orthopedic conditions as well as in-depth knowledge of movement impairment classification.

    Founded in 1942, the Program in Physical Therapy will make the students fully prepared to treat as well as diagnose the patients’ movement impairments.

    4. University of Delaware

    Location: Newark, DE
    Estimated Annual Tuition (including living expenses): $85,960

    One of the largest programs in the College of Health Sciences, The University of Delaware DPT Program is a university-based extensive physical therapist educational program.

    The curriculum is designed to develop lifelong learning skills amongst the students and enables them to become pioneers in their respective careers.

    The program regularly utilizes instructors who are well-known experts to help students establish relationships between clinical research and practice. The faculty members of the DPT program are of the belief that the university is a suitable environment to educate and prepare future physical therapists.

    World Report and The US News ranked the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program as the best in the country

    5. University of Iowa

    Location: Iowa City, IA
    Estimated Annual Tuition (including living expenses): $17,599

    The Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science offers a distinctive learning experience to its students. The program provides proper resources to the students to harmonize the mission of excellence in research, clinical service, and teaching.

    The department is situated in the Carver College of Medicine. The Department of Rehabilitation Therapies is a unique department in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. The Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences offers degrees like DPT, MA, and Ph.D.

    As a professional clinical entry-level program, the Doctor of Physical Therapy or DPT admits about 40 students in the month of July every year. The program is 2½ year curriculum and includes 35 weeks of clinical education experience (full time).

    If the candidates complete the curriculum satisfactorily, they shall be allowed to partake in a state-administered national licensing examination.

    Now we get to our top 100 Physical Therapy Schools in the United States!

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    Top 100 Ranking US Physical Therapy Schools

    RankSchool
    1University of Southern California

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    2University of Pittsburgh

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    3Washington University in St. Louis

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    4University of Delaware

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    5University of Iowa

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    6US Army-Baylor University

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    7Arcadia University

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    8MGH Institute of Health Professions

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    9Northwestern University

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    10University of Miami

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    11Emory University

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    12University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

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    13Duke University

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    14University of California–San Francisco

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    15New York University

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    16University of Florida

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    17University of Illinois–Chicago

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    18University of Maryland–Baltimore

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    19Creighton University

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    20Marquette University

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    21Ohio State University

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    22University of Minnesota–Twin Cities

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    23University of Utah

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    24Boston University

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    25Texas Woman’s University

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    26University of Kansas Medical Center

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    27University of Texas Medical Branch–Galveston

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    28Virginia Commonwealth University

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    29Northern Arizona University

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    30Regis University

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    31University of Alabama–Birmingham

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    32University of Washington

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    33Columbia University

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    34Mayo School of Health Related Sciences

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    35University of Colorado–Denver

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    36University of Nebraska Medical Center

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    37University of Wisconsin–Madison

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    38University of Kentucky

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    39University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

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    40University of Wisconsin–La Crosse

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    41Ithaca College

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    42Ohio University

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    43Simmons College

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    44St. Louis University

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    45Temple University

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    46University of Central Arkansas

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    47University of Indianapolis

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    48University of Montana–Missoula

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    49University of Tennessee Health Science Center

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    50University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center–Dallas

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    51University of Vermont

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    52Belmont University

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    53Indiana University–Indianapolis

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    54Sacred Heart University

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    55University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–Newark

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    56University of Missouri

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    57Drexel University

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    58Eastern Washington University

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    59Old Dominion University

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    60Pacific University

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    61Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

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    62Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey–Camden/UMDNJ

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    63St. Ambrose University

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    64Stony Brook University–SUNY

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    65Texas State University–San Marcos

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    66University at Buffalo–SUNY

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    67University of Connecticut

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    68University of Michigan–Flint

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    69Bradley University

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    70Chapman University

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    71College of St. Scholastica

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    72East Carolina University

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    73Medical College of Georgia

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    74Medical University of South Carolina

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    75Northeastern University

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    76Samuel Merritt University

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    77SUNY Upstate Medical Center

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    78Thomas Jefferson University

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    79University of North Dakota

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    80University of Puget Sound

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    81University of South Carolina

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    82University of South Florida

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    83University of Tennessee–Chattanooga

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    84West Virginia University

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    85Armstrong Atlantic State University

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    86Elon University

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    87St. Catherine University

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    88SUNY Downstate Medical Center

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    89Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

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    90University of Evansville

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    91University of Rhode Island

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    92University of Texas Health Science Center–San Antonio

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    93University of the Pacific

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    94University of the Pacific

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    95California State University–Fresno

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    96California State University–Northridge

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    97Concordia University Wisconsin

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    98CUNY–Hunter College

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    99George Washington University

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    100Georgia State University

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    5 Best Personal Loans

    The pursuit of a career in physical therapy promises both personal fulfillment and professional growth. However, the costs associated with acquiring the necessary education can be a hurdle. Below, we spotlight lenders ideal for various credit situations to aid aspiring physical therapists in financing their dreams.

    AmOne (Best for Okay to Good Credit)

    For students pursuing a future in physical therapy and who have maintained okay to good credit standings, AmOne stands as a supportive financial partner. Physical therapy is a vital domain in healthcare, and as such, requires specialized training and education. Recognizing the dedication of these future therapists, AmOne offers a range of student loan options tailored to match their specific credit situations. Their extensive network ensures that students with a decent credit history find the right loan solution to fuel their aspirations.

    AmOne Personal Loans

    4.5
    Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
    Min. credit score

    600

    Fixed APR

    3.99%-35.99%

    Variable APR

    N/A

    Overview

    • Minimum credit score: 600.
    • Fixed APR: 3.99%-35.99%.
    • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000.
    • Repayment: 1 to 7 years.

    Qualifications

    • Must be at least 18 years old.
    • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
    • While there’s no specific income requirement, a consistent source of income is essential for the applicant.

    Pros

    • Suitable for individuals with lower credit scores.
    • No cost for the matching service.
    • Attractive loan rates.

    Cons

    • Acts as an intermediary, not a direct lender.
    • Risk of multiple contacts from prospective lenders.
    • Lack of clarity on lender details.

    Spring Loans (Best for Bad and No Credit)

    Embarking on a journey in physical therapy is an admirable choice, and Spring Loans believes that past financial mistakes or lack of credit history shouldn’t hinder such ambitions. Catering to students who might have faced credit challenges, Spring Loans evaluates more than just credit scores. By adopting a comprehensive approach, this lender provides financial pathways for those eager to heal and rehabilitate, ensuring they are not left behind due to prior financial hurdles.

    Spring Loans Personal Loans

    4.2
    Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
    Min. credit score

    None

    Fixed APR

    27.00%

    Variable APR

    N/A

    Overview

    • Minimum credit score: None.
    • Fixed APR: 27.00%
    • Loan amounts: $3,000.
    • Repayment: 48 months.

    Qualifications

    • Demonstrate a recurrent income.
    • Minimum age prerequisite: 18 years.
    • Validate U.S. citizenship status with an SSN.
    • Provide a legitimate U.S. driver’s license or a state identity card.
    • Establish a functional bank account for incoming deposits.
    • Adhere to any specific demands by the loan provider.

    Pros

    • Open to applicants with any credit background.
    • Four-year loan period aids in structured financial management.
    • The $3,000 offer addresses several short-term financial challenges.
    • Wide-reaching eligibility criteria invite a broad spectrum of applicants.
    • The focus on dependable income over job title benefits varied income sources.

    Cons

    • The set 27% APR is higher than many alternatives.
    • Restriction to a $3,000 loan might not cover all financial outlays.
    • Possessing specific IDs is mandatory, sidelining some applicants.
    • A prerequisite for an ongoing bank account may limit certain users.

    First Premier Lending (Best for Bad Credit)

    Future physical therapists who have encountered past credit setbacks can find solace with First Premier Lending. Emphasizing the importance of second chances, this lender looks beyond mere credit scores, understanding that the dedication to heal is of paramount importance. By providing loan options tailored for those with imperfect credit histories, First Premier Lending supports the dreams of many aspiring therapists, ensuring they can focus on their studies and their eventual patients.

    First Premier Lending Personal Loans

    4.2
    Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
    Min. credit score

    None

    Fixed APR

    27.00%

    Variable APR

    N/A

    Overview

    • Minimum credit score: None.
    • Fixed APR: 27.00%.
    • Loan amounts: $3,000.
    • Repayment: 48 months.

    Qualifications

    • Maintain a consistent source of income.
    • Must be at least 18 years of age.
    • Possess valid U.S. citizenship and a legitimate social security number.
    • Hold a current U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID.
    • Keep an active bank account for direct deposit.
    • Satisfy any lender-specific criteria, such as credit rating, borrowing history, or place of residence.

    Pros

    • No minimum credit score requirement allows accessibility for those with varied credit histories.
    • 48-month term provides clarity and allows for long-term financial planning.
    • Specific loan amount of $3,000 can meet many short-term financial needs.
    • Broad set of qualifications make the loan accessible to a wide range of people.
    • Emphasis on consistent income, not necessarily employment type, allows flexibility for borrowers.

    Cons

    • A fixed APR of 27% is relatively high.
    • Loan amount is capped at $3,000, which might not cater to larger financial requirements.
    • Requirement of a U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID could exclude some individuals.
    • Mandatory active bank account could be limiting for those who are unbanked.

    Best Student Loans for Physical Therapy School

    College Ave (Best for Good Credit)

    With its sterling reputation in the student loan space, College Ave serves as an excellent choice for physical therapy students who have been diligent in maintaining good credit. The rigorous curriculum and demands of physical therapy education come with significant costs, and College Ave addresses these needs by offering competitive interest rates and flexible repayment options. Their tailored loan solutions reward the efforts of those students who have shown financial responsibility in their past.

    College Ave Undergraduate Private Student Loans

    4.8
    Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
    Min. credit score

    600 or better

    Fixed APR

    4.07% - 15.48%

    Variable APR

    5.59% - 16.69%

    Overview

    • Minimum credit score: 600 or better.
    • Fixed APR: 4.07% – 15.48%.
    • Loan amounts: $1,000 – $150,000.
    • Repayment: 5, 8, 10, 15, and 20 years.

    Qualifications

    • U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
    • For undergraduate loans: Part-time enrollment at an accredited college/university.
    • International students: Need a Social Security number and a co-signer.
    • For refinance loans: Must be 18 years or older.
    • For refinance loans: Graduation from an eligible school is required.

    Pros

    • Prequalify with a soft credit check
    • Flexible repayment options
    • Offers co-signer release for private loans

    Cons

    • Charges late fees
    • Must have graduated to be eligible to refinance
    • Half of repayment term must have passed to release co-signer

    Sallie Mae (Best for Very Good Credit)

    Sallie Mae, a distinguished name in the student loan industry, is the top-tier choice for those with exemplary credit histories. Recognizing the long-term commitment and potential of a physical therapy career, Sallie Mae offers premium loan solutions catered to the financial needs of these dedicated students. Combining low-interest rates, transparent terms, and impeccable service, Sallie Mae ensures that the brightest in the physical therapy field have the financial resources they need to excel.

    Sallie Mae Undergraduate Private Student Loans

    4.5
    Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
    Min. credit score

    Mid-600's

    Fixed APR

    4.50-15.49%

    Variable APR

    6.37-16.70%

    Overview

    • Minimum credit score: Mid-600’s.
    • Fixed APR: 4.50-15.49%
    • Variable APR: 6.37-16.70%
    • Loan amounts: Minimum of $1,000 per year.
    • Repayment: 10 to 15 years.

    Qualifications

    • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Does not disclose.
    • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
    • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified expenses.

    Pros

    • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.
    • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, can apply with a U.S. co-signer.

    Cons

    • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

    What Criteria Define the Best Physical Therapy Schools in the U.S.?

    The top physical therapy schools are often ranked based on criteria like accreditation status, graduation rates, licensure exam pass rates, faculty qualifications, research opportunities, and student feedback. These factors ensure that the schools provide high-quality education and prepare students effectively for their careers.

    Can Rankings for Physical Therapy Schools Vary?

    Yes, rankings for physical therapy schools can vary depending on the source. Different publications or organizations might emphasize various aspects such as research, student support, or clinical training, leading to different rankings. Always consider the criteria used for ranking when evaluating schools.

    What Should I Consider When Choosing a Physical Therapy School?

    When choosing a physical therapy school, consider factors such as the program’s curriculum, clinical rotation opportunities, location, cost, accreditation status, and the school’s overall reputation. Also, consider how well the program aligns with your career goals and interests.

    Are There Online Physical Therapy Programs Available in the U.S.?

    While most physical therapy programs require in-person clinical training, some schools may offer hybrid programs that combine online coursework with on-campus clinical experiences. However, fully online programs are rare due to the hands-on nature of the field.

    How Important is Accreditation for Physical Therapy Schools?

    Accreditation is crucial for physical therapy schools. Graduating from an accredited program is often a requirement for licensure. Accreditation ensures that the program meets national standards for education in physical therapy and provides a level of assurance about the quality of education.

    Read More

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    Frank Gogol

    I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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