What Are the Best Physiotherapy Schools in America?

The U.S. is going through a period of rapid change in terms of a shift in demographics. Much like other countries around the world, America’s baby boomers are now senior citizens and the nation must deal with a healthcare crunch.

Although it has been several years since the financial collapse of 2007, the U.S. is still trying to crawl out from the devastating impacts of an economic recession. Jobs remain scarce, but careers in physiotherapy are expected to soar over the next several years. As the country’s baby boomers continue to age, medical services are desperately needed to help maintain the health of the country’s senior citizens. And under U.S. President Barack Obama’s public health care initiative, some physiotherapy services will be covered under the new legislation. This will most certainly trigger an even higher demand for physiotherapists in hospitals and clinics across the country.

According to 2010 industry data, physiotherapists in the United States earn an average salary of $77,990 USD. Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston are hot areas of employment — with each city boasting more than 5,000 physiotherapists. Younger workers are more likely to make the long-distance move across the country for work, and it seems many of them end up in Chicago. The city has the youngest average age of physiotherapists and the highest percentage of workers under age 35. That’s why many graduates of America’s physiotherapy schools flock to Chicago for entry-level employment.

Before we take a look at some of the best physiotherapy schools in America, it’s important to know exactly what a physiotherapist does. A physiotherapist works with clients of all ages to maximize their ability to move. If you’re considering a career in this rewarding field, take note of the valuable services this industry provides.

Physiotherapists enrich the lives of Americans by:

  • Offering pain management and rehabilitation services to those suffering from acute injury
  • Creating customized exercise programs to improve a patient’s overall strength
  • Managing the body’s limitations in physical activity
  • Promoting exercise and healthy lifestyles

A good education is key to a successful career in this industry. Many entry-level physiotherapy programs only offer courses at the Master’s level. So you must have an undergraduate degree before applying. Students must also complete a series of prerequisite courses, mainly in the sciences — such as physiology, bio mechanics and anatomy.

Below are America’s top physiotherapy schools and why they’re considered favorites amongst aspiring health care professionals.

University of Southern California

This school’s physical therapy programs are consistently ranked among the top in the United States. USC offers an entry-level Doctor degree program that prepares students for a practical career in the field. Upon graduation, some may wish to pursue their studies in Residency programs. Post-grads can continue their education by choosing from a variety of disciplines, including sports or orthopedic physical therapy.

The faculty continues to be the standard for physiotherapy education and research in the United States. So be prepared for tough competition when applying to the school’s prestigious programs.

Website: University of Southern California – Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy

University of Delaware

US News and World Report has ranked UD’s physical therapy program #2 after the University of Southern California. An impressive 96% of its admitted students graduate from the program, which is considered rare in education circles. What’s more impressive is that all those students have passed the licensing examination on their first try.

During UD’s Doctor degree program, students are required to take part in four full-time clinical experiences and three part-time integrated clinical experiences. There are about 36 students per class, creating a more intimate and meaningful learning experience.

Website: University of Delaware – Department of Physical Therapy

University of Pittsburgh

The school’s practical and straight-forward approach to education is what makes the University of Pittsburgh so popular amongst aspiring physiotherapists in the United States. The three-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is extremely popular. That’s because the program combines intensive theoretical classroom study and a clinical portion that includes more than 90 weeks of internships. Admissions requirements include a Bachelor’s degree.

The university also offers a Masters program for practicing physiotherapist. This comprehensive curriculum is perfect for healthcare professionals looking to enhance their clinical skills with the latest industry practices. Those interested in research and teaching can then push forward with a PhD in Rehabilitation Science.

Website: University of Pittsburgh – Department of Physical Therapy