Top Physical Therapy Programs in South Carolina

Updated on February 7, 2024

South Carolina is home to several highly-ranked physical therapy programs that produce skilled and licensed PTs ready to enter the workforce. When researching the top PT schools in the state, important factors to consider include cost, curriculum, specialties, location, acceptance rates, average salaries after graduation, and more. The following schools stand out as 10 of the best for earning a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in South Carolina.

University of South Carolina

Location: Columbia, SC

The University of South Carolina offers an excellent physical therapy program through its School of Medicine that combines classroom learning with clinical rotations across diverse settings.

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: competitive

Tuition: $38,000 per year (in-state), $47,000 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $83,000

Website: http://medicine.usc.edu/

USC’s rigorous DPT curriculum provides training in areas like neuroscience, biomechanics, patient assessment, rehabilitation techniques, and practice management. Students benefit from small class sizes and opportunities to work with world-class researchers.

Medical University of South Carolina

Location: Charleston, SC

MUSC has offered physical therapy education for over 20 years through its top-ranked College of Health Professions.

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: competitive

Tuition: $45,000 per year

Avg Salary: $85,000

Website: http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/chp/

The program emphasizes evidence-based practice and critical thinking skills. Students get early clinical experience and can specialize in areas like neurology, pediatrics, orthopedics, and sports medicine. MUSC also offers a transitional DPT program and PhD in PT.

Lander University

Location: Greenwood, SC

Nestled in the Lakelands region of SC, Lander provides personalized instruction and hands-on practice at its School of Physical Therapy.

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: moderately competitive

Tuition: $9,100 per semester (in-state), $16,500 per semester (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $75,000

Website: https://www.lander.edu/academics/colleges-departments/physical-therapy

Students get early clinical assignments paired with classroom study of anatomy, kinesiology, neurorehabilitation, and more. The program emphasizes developing teamwork and communication techniques.

Presbyterian College

Location: Clinton, SC

Presbyterian’s DPT program is located at the School of Pharmacy on the college’s beautiful 300-acre campus.

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: moderately competitive

Tuition: $40,000 per year

Avg Salary: $80,000

Website: https://www.presby.edu/admissions/graduate/doctor-physical-therapy/

Key features include research opportunities, interprofessional training for healthcare teams, and a faith-based mission focused on leadership and service. Students gain clinical experience across hospital, outpatient, and specialized settings.

Newberry College

Location: Newberry, SC

This small Lutheran college provides graduate health sciences education centered on community and individualized attention.

Rating: 6/10

Acceptance Rate: less competitive

Tuition: $8,970 per semester

Avg Salary: $70,000

Website: https://www.newberry.edu/academics/areasofstudy/physicaltherapy-dpt.aspx

The DPT curriculum includes training in areas like orthopedic physical therapy, neurology, pediatrics, anatomy, therapeutic exercise, and prosthetics/orthotics. Students benefit from Newberry’s faith-based service outlook.

South University

Location: Columbia, SC

South University’s College of Health Professions offers a DPT program focused on evidence-based practice across diverse healthcare settings.

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: moderately competitive

Tuition: $31,495 per year

Avg Salary: $75,000

Website: https://www.southuniversity.edu/programs/doctorate/physical-therapy-dpt

The curriculum provides classroom and lab instruction combined with clinical experiences centered on patient communication, examination, diagnosis, treatment planning, interventions, cultural competence, practice management, and more.

Charleston Southern University

Location: Charleston, SC

Charleston Southern’s DPT program emphasizes faith, scholarship, and service across a range of physical therapy practice areas.

Rating: 6/10

Acceptance Rate: moderately competitive

Tuition: $9,900 per semester (in-state), $20,700 (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $70,000

Website: https://www.charlestonsouthern.edu/apply/graduate/physical-therapy-dpt/

Students gain clinical experience through local partnerships focused on prevention, examination, diagnosis, rehabilitation, health promotion, and performance improvement.

Francis Marion University

Location: Florence, SC

Located near the Pee Dee region, FMU’s DPT program provides clinical experience across a range of settings including hospitals, private practices, and sports medicine clinics.

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: moderately competitive

Tuition: $600 per credit hour (in-state), $1,224 per credit (out-of-state)

Avg Salary: $75,000

Website: https://www.fmarion.edu/academics/collegesanddepartments/healthsciences/ptprogram/

Backed by knowledgeable faculty, the program aims to graduate knowledgeable, service-focused physical therapists engaged with their local communities.

North Greenville University

Location: Tigerville, SC

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, NGU offers a faith-based DPT program focused on medical ethics, research, and service.

Rating: 6/10

Acceptance Rate: moderately competitive

Tuition: $620 per credit hour

Avg Salary: $70,000

Website: https://ngu.edu/graduate/dpt-physical-therapy/

Students gain clinical experience across outpatient clinics, hospitals, and specialized settings to build skills in areas like orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation, pediatrics, geriatrics, and sports medicine.

Sherman College

Location: Spartanburg, SC

Sherman specializes in chiropractic medicine and integrates cutting-edge research across its DPT curriculum and clinical partnerships.

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: moderately competitive

Tuition: $9,327 per trimester

Avg Salary: $75,000

Website: https://www.sherman.edu/academics/doctor-of-physical-therapy/

Backed by expert faculty, students gain skills in manual therapy, neurodynamics, rehabilitation techniques, radiology, pharmacology, and chiropractic approaches tailored to individual patient needs.

See Other Best Physical Therapy Schools in the South

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a DPT and PTA degree?

DPT programs provide 3 years of graduate education to become a licensed physical therapist, while PTA programs take 2 years to become a physical therapist assistant working under a supervising PT. DPTs can evaluate and diagnose patients, design treatment plans, and practice independently while PTAs implement existing plans.

Which SC DPT schools are cheapest?

The most affordable options for in-state SC residents include Lander University, Newberry College, Charleston Southern University, and North Greenville University based on annual tuition rates under $20,000 on average. These smaller colleges provide quality education for lower costs.

Is getting a DPT degree worth it?

Yes, earning a DPT opens up high-paying career opportunities in hospitals, private practices, schools, sports clinics, rehabilitation centers, and other settings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 23% growth for physical therapy jobs over the next decade, much faster than average. DPT degrees also convey professional authority.

What GPA do I need to get into PT school?

You will need excellent grades for most DPT programs, with average accepted GPA around 3.5 for prerequisite science courses. The most competitive schools like MUSC only admit around 5-10% of applicants so having additional quality experience like research, publications, medical fieldwork, and volunteering can further strengthen your application.

How much studying is required in a DPT program?

DPT programs are very intensive and challenging. You can expect long days filled with lectures, labs, clinical work, assignments, projects, studying, and preparation. Typically 10 hours per week or more outside class are needed for reading materials, memorizing anatomy or diagnoses, writing reports, and practicing clinical skills to excel in the rigorous courseloads. Time management and resilience are key.

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