Online Physical Therapy Programs
Graduates of physical therapy programs may seek employment in private physical therapy clinics, hospitals, residential care facilities, or home healthcare agencies. While students who earn a graduate degree in the field may work as a physical therapist, graduates of lower-level programs may find work as a physical therapy aide or assistant.
Available Degree Levels
- Career Diploma: Varies
- Certificate: One to two years to complete
- Associate Degree: Two years to complete
- Bachelor’s Degree: Four years to complete
- Master’s Degree: One to two years to complete
- Doctoral Degree: Three to five years to complete
An online career diploma in physical therapy prepares students to work as an assistant to a physical therapist, aiding in the improvement and recovery of patients. These programs may equip students with the fundamental skills to work in the field, in addition to providing them with training on workplace health and safety. Coursework may cover medical terminology, safety and preparation for patient care, medical billing, and musculoskeletal physical therapy.
An online certificate in physical therapy may either provide students with the educational background and experience to seek employment as a physical therapist aide, or they may arm practicing physical therapists with advanced training in the field. Students interested in working as an aide may be able to perform many non-technical duties of physical therapy, including transporting patients and readying treatment areas. Post-graduate certificate programs are designed to allow students to gain in-depth experience in a specific area within the field, such as orthopedics, geriatrics, pediatrics, or cardiopulmonary physical therapy.
Graduates of online associate degree programs in physical therapy may find work as physical therapy assistants, working alongside licensed physical therapists. Curriculum for these programs integrate general education coursework with classes specific to the program, including kinesiology, medical and surgical conditions, and rehabilitation.
Bachelor’s degree programs in physical therapy typically prepare students for graduate school work in the field. Oftentimes, students may enroll in general studies or health sciences-based programs that have a pre-physical therapy focus. Coursework for these programs may include prerequisites for graduate-level programs in the field, such as basic athletic training and introduction to physical therapy.
Master’s degree programs in physical therapy often include a broad curriculum with a specialization in physical therapy. These programs provide students with the advanced clinical skills to excel as a physical therapist. Courses may cover motor learning and control of movement, falls and balance dysfunction, and advanced neuroscience.
A doctoral-level program in physical therapy follows a four-year bachelor’s degree and may include courses such as functional anatomy, physical therapy administration, and rehabilitation psychology. Curriculum for these science-based programs focus on human structure and movement, and teach students how to effectively apply these elements to their practice. These programs strive to build upon an individual’s clinical knowledge and skills by using critical-thinking and problem-solving methods.
Online diploma, certificate, and degree programs in physical therapy prepare graduates to work with individuals who have been injured or have disabilities that hinder their movement and comfort. Graduates of these programs may have the training to seek employment in sports, nursing homes, universities, private clinics, hospitals, or rehabilitation centers. Students should have the skills and knowledge to assist in rehabilitation and treatment, diagnose problems, improve mobility, and manage pain.
Possible career fields include:
- Physical Therapy Aide
- Physical Therapy Assistant
- Physical Therapist
- Athletic Trainer
- Home Health Care Therapist