Undergraduate Majors for a Physical Therapy Career in 2024

Undergraduate Majors for a Physical Therapy Career
Undergraduate Majors for a Physical Therapy Career

The major in physical therapy teaches a student how to help a patient with an injury or chronic illness to be rehabilitated. Undoubtedly, this is a gratifying and much sought-after career, and earning an undergraduate degree in any major for physical therapy may also be extra advantageous to you.

As a physical therapy major, you will learn human anatomy and kinesiology, rehabilitation technologies and techniques and acquire vital skills such as empathy and critical thinking. The physical therapy primary aims to assist the patient to return to the state of well-being lost to disease or accident.

Those who successfully graduate with a physical therapy degree are certified physical therapists who have the skills to help patients of any age by reducing pain, increasing mobility, and preventing injuries.

In this writing, we will focus on providing you with comprehensive information about the physical therapy major, including coursework, clinical prerequisites, occupational paths, and challenges. We`ll also give you tips for success and projections about physical therapy professionals in the future.

Table of Contents

Who is Physical Therapy Major?

Physical therapists assist patients with injury recovery, function restoration, and long-term health promotion. These are professionals in movement and rehabilitation who support their patients with all aspects of human function.

Physical therapists use a care paradigm that respects biological, psychological, and sociological variables to assist in resolving impairments, alleviating activity restrictions, and restoring involvement in society.

If you have a strong aptitude for science, a desire to work in healthcare, and a passion for helping others, consider pursuing a physical therapist (PT) career.

Physical Therapy Major Requirements for Clinical Practicum and Fieldwork

The physical therapy major’s requirements for clinical practicums and field experience are crucial. These opportunities give students practical experience dealing with patients and let them put the knowledge and abilities they have learned in the classroom into practice.

Critical Role of Clinical Experience

For students to flourish as physical therapists, they must have the practical skills and confidence from clinical practice. Students acquire practical experience treating various patient populations and diseases by working with certified physical therapists in various clinical settings.

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Clinical Conditions for Graduation

To graduate from these programs, students must complete a predetermined number of clinical hours. These specifications often change depending on the program but could also involve practical experience.

Different Clinical Settings and Opportunities

Students may be able to perform clinical rotations in various facilities, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, and nursing homes. Clinical rotations may concentrate on particular facets of physical therapy practice, such pediatrics or sports medicine.

Educational Requirements

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degrees, necessary for physical therapists, require a bachelor’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 200 programs approved by the Commission on Accreditation in this Education offered DPT degrees as of 2017.

Physical therapists must undergo a one-year clinical residency program after obtaining their DPT degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 350 recognized therapist assistant programs in the United States and individuals who wish to work as assistants must hold an associate’s degree in this field.

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for physical therapy assistants.

Opportunities and Career Paths for Physical Therapy Majors

Students can choose from various employment settings and physical therapy career opportunities. Others work in settings related to sports and fitness or in educational institutions, while some physical therapists work in hospitals, clinics, or private practices.

A few of the most popular career options are listed below:

Career Options for Physical Therapists

Physical therapists specialising in treating bones, muscles, and joint injuries are known as orthopaedic physical therapists.

Physical therapists who specialize in treating neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, help their patients move more freely and perform better.

Children and adolescents with developmental delays or injuries might receive support from pediatric physical therapists.

Physical therapy major is for those who focus on mobility, balance, and fall prevention.

Sports physical therapists assist athletes with injury recovery and performance enhancement.

Outlook for Pay and Employment: Physical Therapy Major

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in May 2020, physical therapists earned an average yearly pay of $89,440. Physical therapists also have a promising employment prognosis, with an expected 18% growth rate between 2019 and 2029.

An ageing population that will need more significant services is one factor contributing to this growth.

Advice for Physical Therapy Major

The following advice will assist physical therapy majors in their academic endeavours and professional development:

Good Studying Techniques

Take precise notes, use flashcards, or collaborate with classmates to develop study habits that are effective for you.

Materials for Success

Make use of study groups and other forms of academic support. You could also look for mentors or professional organizations that can help you and offer advice.

Opportunities for Networking and Career Advancement

Consider volunteering or shadowing in a physical therapy setting to obtain experience and attend conferences and networking events.

Physical Therapy Professional Opportunities and Challenges

Although a career in physical therapy can be gratifying, there are obstacles to overcome. Before deciding to pursue a profession in physical therapy, you should think about the following:

Demands of the Job—Physical and Emotional

Physical therapists may be required to lift or move patients with mobility impairments while standing for extended periods. Additionally, they could deal with distressed or in pain patients, which can be emotionally taxing.

Managing the Challenges and Expectations of Patients

Physical therapists must be able to control patients’ expectations and assist them in creating practical treatment objectives. Patients may struggle with treatment because of their limited movement, pain, or other issues.

Issues Regarding Law and Ethics in Physical Therapy

Physical therapists must manage legal and ethical difficulties regarding patient confidentiality, informed consent, and proper billing procedures.

Bachelor’s Degree Pre-Physical Therapy Programs

A solid college education is crucial if physical therapy is the career you want to pursue. Pre-physical therapy is a popular primary choice since it offers the courses and prerequisites for graduate-level physical therapy programs.

A Solid Undergraduate Foundation Is Crucial

Success in a physical therapy job depends on having a solid college background. This foundation includes anatomy, physiology, biology, and other relevant courses. It also incorporates a solid liberal arts education, which aids in developing students’ communication and critical thinking abilities.

Fundamental Conditions for Pre-Physical Therapy Programs

Most pre-physical therapy programs demand a foundational understanding of biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy, and physiology. Students could also be mandated to take psychology, statistics, and exercise science courses.

Additionally, many pre-physical therapy courses require students to complete a certain number of hours of physical therapy-related volunteer work or clinical shadowing.

Undergraduate major for a Physical Therapy

There are several suitable undergraduate degrees for a career in physical therapy. These majors offer the required courses and prerequisites for graduate-level physical therapy programs.

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Health Sciences and Biology

Biology and health sciences are two common majors for college students interested in physical therapy. These degrees cover anatomy, physiology, and related disciplines in depth and prepare students for the more difficult material required by graduate-level physical therapy schools.

Science of Exercise and Kinesiology

Two additional disciplines suitable for physical therapy are exercise science and kinesiology. These degrees give students a solid understanding of the human body’s mechanics by concentrating on studying human movement and biomechanics. They also offer the required coursework for physical therapy graduate programs.

Social Science and Psychology

Two less common majors that can be useful for a career in physical therapy are psychology and sociology. These degrees give students a solid understanding of social processes and human behavior that they can use to improve patient care and communication.

3+2 Nursing Dual Degree Program

The 3+2 Nursing Program at Loras College allows students to start their academic careers. Now, Loras students who are interested in the healthcare field can finish their Loras bachelor’s degree while also pursuing a nursing degree.

Students who complete the program successfully receive a Loras College Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree and their NICC Nursing degree.

“The program gives students the advantage of incorporating nursing coursework into a bachelor’s degree program to suit their unique interests and career aspirations.

Kinesiology and Spanish are recognized undergraduate disciplines that offer a route to the 3+2 Nursing degree; additional alternatives will be available soon.

Kinesiology: Health & Fitness Bachelor’s Degree

The discipline of kinesiology investigates the art and science of human movement. Students who enroll in the Kinesiology program develop respect for the human body and its limitless potential and knowledge of the link between healthy lifestyle decisions and sustained gains in health and well-being.

To earn a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, students must complete a course of study with one of the following four emphases:

Jobs in Exercise Science and Health
Fitness and Wellness
Sport Coaching Studies

Through this emphasis area, students are prepared for careers in wellness coaching and the fitness sector. They will acquire the theoretical understanding and practical skills necessary to support people in adopting healthy behaviour patterns across all facets of well-being throughout their lifetimes.

All these are Undergraduate Majors for a Physical Therapy Career in 2024 USA

Things to Think About When Picking a Physical Therapy Major

There are several things to take into consideration while selecting an undergraduate major.

Your Unique Strengths and Interests

It’s crucial to pick an undergraduate degree that fits with your strengths and interests. While biology and health sciences are the most popular majors for students pursuing physical therapy, it may still be a choice if you have an interest in a different field, such as psychology or sociology.

Job Opportunities and the Job Market

The job market and career prospects in your sector of choice are equally crucial to consider. Researching the need for therapists in your area and the kinds of settings you’d work in is crucial, even if your discipline is expanding.

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Regulations for Graduate Schools

Last but not least, it’s crucial to consider the graduate school prerequisites for physical therapy programs. It’s also important to pick an undergraduate major that offers the appropriate training and preparedness because most programs have specified coursework requirements and prerequisites.

Graduate Physical Therapy Programs

Acquiring a doctorate is necessary for those who want to become registered in this area, which is now seeing fast growth. The Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) and Doctor (DPT) programs are the most popular graduate options for students.

DPT Programs for Doctors of Physical Therapy

Physical therapists in the US, the DPT program is the chosen academic path. The average length of a DPT program is three years, during which students receive academic and clinical training.

DPT programs offer thorough instruction in anatomy, kinesiology, psychology, pathology and specific education in orthopaedics, neurology, and paediatrics.

Programs for Masters in Physical Therapy (MPT)

The MPT program takes two to three years to complete and is a less popular degree in the United States. The MPT curriculum comprises classroom and clinical instruction, just like the DPT program.

It is possible for people who want a strong foundation but may not wish to specialize in a particular field. However, the curriculum may not be as extensive as a DPT degree.

Requirements for Admission and The Application Process

It difficult to get accepted into a physical therapy graduate program. 

Applicants must complete the prerequisite courses, which often include biology, anatomy, physics, and psychology, to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Prospective students must also have clinical experience dealing with patients in completing academic criteria, whether through internships or volunteer work.

A personal statement, recommendation letters, transcripts, and an interview are part of the application process.

Physical Therapy Education in 2024: Challenges

This field is changing continually. Here are some difficulties that could affect the teaching of this profession in 2024..

Lack of Faculty with the Required Qualifications

The need for this kind of education is growing. Still, there aren’t enough competent teachers to fill the courses, causing institutions to struggle, resulting in worse educational quality, bigger class sizes, and less individualized care.

Technological Advancements’ Effect

Technological advancements are changing physical therapy. By 2024, physical therapists will be flexible and proficient in integrating technology into their treatment strategies. These programs may need to add new courses or training to address this.

Healthcare Regulations and Insurance Reimbursement are Changing

Changes in healthcare regulations and insurance reimbursement rates impact physical therapists’ ability to care for their patients.

Physical therapy programs ensure that graduates are capable of these changes as these regulations continue to alter.

Can You Be a Physical Therapist with a Bachelor’s Degree?

Yes, an approved four-year college or university bachelor’s degree is required for all physical therapy employment.

Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy Salary

Bachelor’s Degree $89,396 – $94,263

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Good Minors for Physical Therapy Majors

  • Minors
  • Biology
  • studies in business
  • Chemistry
  • Ethics
  • Minor in Family and Consumer Sciences—Nutrition
  • Health
  • Leadership Research
  • Leadership and Management
  • Neuroscience
  • Sociology
  • Another foreign language, such as Spanish

Physical Therapy Major Salary

Starting pay for physical therapists varies by region and specialty. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for physical therapists in 2019 was $89,440, or $43 per hour. The lowest 10% of earners took home less than $62,120, while the top 10% took home more than $124,740.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which degree is ideal for physical therapy?

The Top 5 Undergraduate Programs in Physical Therapy
Biology. As knowledge of the human body is necessary for practising physical therapy, it should come as no surprise that biology is one of the top degrees to study when beginning a career in physical therapy.
Sport Science.
Business and psychology.

Is there a future for physical therapy?

PT employment is to increase by 17% until 2031, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. To the present 238,800 US physical therapists, the sector is to hire over 40,000 more professionals in the upcoming years.

Which undergraduate program in Canada is best for physiotherapy?

The Bachelor of Health Sciences degree program provides excellent preparation for students interested in a career in physical therapy (commonly known as physiotherapy).

How many physical therapy colleges exist in the US?

The field of physical therapy education has developed, and today, there are about 230 approved schools in the US, producing thousands of PTs who treat patients with a range of ailments and injuries.

Final Thoughts On The Physical Therapy Major

There are several job prospects in the expanding profession. Despite obstacles, a major can pursue a satisfying career helping patients enhance their mobility, function, and general quality of life.

Orthopaedic, neurological, pediatric, geriatric, and sports therapy are among the many job opportunities available to majors. Physical therapists make an average of $89,440 yearly, and the job market is promising.

The emotional and physical strains of the profession, controlling patient expectations, and resolving moral and legal dilemmas are all challenges to consider.


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