Undergraduate Majors for a Physical Therapy Career in 2023

A physical therapy major degree enables students to assist others in recovering from injuries or managing persistent diseases.

This a gratifying and an in-demand profession. As a physical therapy major, you’ll learn about human anatomy, kinesiology, and rehabilitation methods, and acquire crucial skills like empathy and critical thinking.

We will give a thorough review of the physical therapy major in this post, covering the coursework, clinical prerequisites, potential job pathways, and difficulties. We’ll also provide advice for success and predictions about physical therapy majors in the future.

This post will assist you in navigating the road to becoming a successful and valuable physical therapy major, whether you are thinking about majoring in physical therapy or are already enrolled.

The goal of the physical therapy major is to aid patients in regaining their strength and mobility following an illness or accident

Students who get a degree in physical therapy prepared to work as certified physical therapists who treat patients of all ages to reduce pain, increase mobility, and stop further injuries.

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 paradigm of care that respects biological, psychological, and sociological variables to assist in the resolution of impairments, alleviate activity restrictions, and restore involvement in society.

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

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 need to 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 a variety of clinical settings.

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Clinical Conditions for Graduation

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

Different Clinical Settings and Opportunities

Students may have the chance to perform clinical rotations in a range of 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, which are necessary for physical therapists, call for a bachelor’s degree. More than 200 programs that have been approved by the Commission on Accreditation in this Education are said to offer a DPT degree as of 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Physical therapists need to 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 a variety of 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 that specialize in treating injuries to the bones, muscles, and joints are known as orthopedic physical therapists.

Physical therapists who specialize in treating neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis assist 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 that focuses 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 have a promising employment prognosis as well, with an expected 18% growth rate between 2019 and 2029.

An aging population that will need more major services is one factor contributing to this growth.

Advice for Physical Therapy Major

The following advice will assist physical therapy majors in their academic endeavors 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

Take 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 as a way to obtain experience, and go to 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 of time. Additionally, they could deal with distressed or in pain patients, which can be emotionally taxing.

Managing the Challenges and Expectations of Patients

Physical therapists need to have the ability 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

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

Bachelor’s Degree Pre-Physical Therapy Programs

A solid college education is crucial if physical therapy is the type of career you want to pursue. Pre-physical therapy is a popular major 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. Anatomy, physiology, biology, and other relevant courses are part of this foundation. It also incorporates a solid liberal arts education, which aids in the development of students’ communication and critical thinking abilities.

Fundamental Conditions for Pre-Physical Therapy Programs

The majority of pre-physical therapy programs demand a foundational understanding of biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy, and physiology. Also, psychology, statistics, and exercise science courses could be mandated for students.

Additionally, a lot of pre-physical therapy courses demand that students complete a particular number of hours of physical therapy-related volunteer work or clinical shadowing.

Undergraduate major for a Physical Therapy

For a career in physical therapy, there are a number of undergraduate degrees that are very suitable. For graduate-level physical therapy programs, these majors offer the required courses and prerequisites.

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Health Sciences and Biology

For college students interested in physical therapy, biology and health sciences are two common majors. Anatomy, physiology, and other related disciplines are covered in depth in these degrees. They also get students ready for the more difficult material that graduate-level physical therapy schools need.

Science of Exercise and Kinesiology

Two additional disciplines that are suitable for those interested in physical therapy are exercise science and kinesiology. These degrees give students a solid understanding of the human body’s mechanics by concentrating on the study of 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 career. 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 as well as 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 two of the currently 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 art and science of human movement are investigated by the discipline of kinesiology. Students who enroll in the Kinesiology program get a respect for the human body and its limitless potential as well as knowledge of the link between healthy lifestyle decisions and sustained gains in health and wellbeing.

In order 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

Students are prepared for professions in wellness coaching and the fitness sector through this emphasis area. Students will acquire the theoretical understanding and practical skills necessary to support people in adopting healthy behavior patterns across all facets of wellbeing over the course of their lifetimes.

All these are Undergraduate Majors for a Physical Therapy Career in 2023 USA

Things to Think About When Picking a Physical Therapy Major

There are a number of 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 for 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 take into account. Researching the need for a therapists in your area and the kinds of settings you’d work in is crucial, even if its a discipline that is expanding.

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Regulations for Graduate Schools

Last but not least, it’s crucial to take into account the graduate school prerequisites for physical therapy programs. It’s 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

Those who want to become registered in this area, which is now seeing fast growth, there is need to acquiring a doctorate is necessary. The Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) and Doctor (DPT) programs are 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.

Anatomy, kinesiology, psychology, pathology, and specific education in orthopedics, neurology, and pediatrics are all covered in-depth by DPT programs’ thorough instruction for students.

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 a possibility for people who want to have a strong foundation but may not wish to specialize in a particular field, however, the curriculum may not be as extensive as that of a DPT degree.

Requirements for Admission and The Application Process

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

The prerequisite courses, which often include biology, anatomy, physics, and psychology, must be completed by applicants with a bachelor’s degree.

Prospective students must also have clinical experience dealing with patients in completing academic criteria; this can be through internships or volunteer work.

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

Physical Therapy Education in 2023: Challenges

This field is changing continually. Here are some difficulties that could affect the teaching of this profession in 2023..

Lack of Faculty with the Required Qualifications

The need for this kind of education is growing, but 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

Physical therapy is changing as a result of technological advancements. By 2023, 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

The ability os a physical therapist is to care for their patients is impacted by the changes in healthcare regulations and insurance reimbursement rates.

Physical therapy programs ensures 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 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 pay 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 practicing 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?

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

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. A major can pursue a satisfying career helping patients enhance their mobility, function, and general quality of life despite obstacles facing them.

Orthopedic, 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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