When you are interested in training to become a physical therapist, you will need to complete a physical therapy degree program or physical therapy assistant program to fulfill all of your education requirements. Physical therapist degree programs are available at both the bachelor's and master's level, but you will need at least a master's degree in order to take the national examination and become a licensed physical therapist. Physical therapy assistant programs are typically two-year degree programs that lead to an associate's degree, and provide adequate training for the student to serve as a physical therapy aide or assistant.

Reviewing all of your options and considering the benefits on an online physical therapy degree program can help you make the most informed decisions about your educational career.

Types of Physical Therapy Programs

You'll find several different types of programs at accredited colleges and universities around the country, but whether you are enrolling in a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree program, it's important to seek out only those that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and/or approved by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

You can choose from the following types of programs:

  • Physical Therapy Assistant Programs
  • Bachelor's Degree in Physical Therapy
  • Master's Degree in Physical Therapy
  • Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy

Some schools also offer online programs that allow the student to complete a portion of their classroom instruction requirements over the web. However, students enrolled in an online program will still need to attend a campus or training center to fulfill their hands-on training. If they are enrolled in a master's physical therapy degree program, they will still need to fulfill their clinical training and residency requirements offline.

Variations of a Master's Physical Therapy Degree

If you are pursuing a master's physical therapy degree, you have a few options for completing your program. Some students pursue the direct entry master's degree program if they already have a bachelor's degree in the field. This is usually a two-year program and includes one year of field work and clinicals. The transitional master's degree program is designed for those who are already working as a physical therapist assistant or obtaining work experience after completing a bachelor's degree. Talk to your admissions counselor about your options for enrollment in a master's degree program so that you can use any work experience or educational experience to fulfill your educational requirements.

Online Physical Therapy Degree Programs

Both transitional and direct-entry physical therapy degree programs are available in an online format or distance-learning format from accredited colleges and universities around the country. You'll also find both master's degree and doctorate degree programs available online. Online programs provide more flexibility for students who don't live near a campus that offers the degree program they want, and most can be completed within one or two years. The online learning model typically includes web-based lectures, discussion group participation, online simulations and videos. Students are then required to complete their hands-on training, clinicals or research projects at an approved training center or medical facility in their area.