According to the American Physical Therapy Association, all physical therapists must hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree by the year 2020. If you currently hold a license to practice but lack the required doctorate degree, you may be interested in entering an online Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) degree program.

Each program is designed to accept the physical therapist’s current skills, knowledge, and experience and “transition” it into a post-professional education commensurate with the same accolades that current graduates receive through a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program.

As a transitional student, you will come to the program with a wealth of knowledge due to your prior work experience; however, a tDPT degree program will provide you with a more in-depth look at patient care and the newest and most innovative practices now available. 

Currently, to become a Physical Therapist, the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is the minimum or entry-level professional degree needed to excel in this field.


Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree Programs are designed to provide physical therapists with advanced clinical knowledge and skills in the physical therapy field. These programs focus on bridging the gap between a current physical therapist’s prior experience and preparation for the challenges and changes in the practice of physical therapy today.

At, we strive to bring you the most up-to-date distance learning options in our list of the Best Online Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree Programs. We’ve chosen to rank these educators in random order, for all exhibit equivalent attributes, as well as unique qualities of their own. The following schools were chosen based on these factors:

  • Specifically designed to allow working Physical Therapy professionals the opportunity to earn the required DPT degree through a transitional online program,
  • 100% Online or Hybrid availability,
  • Offers innovative coursework and the most up-to-date technology in Physical Therapy treatment plans available,
  • Coursework elective options in specializations, such as Geriatrics, Pediatrics, or Women’s Health, among others,
  • Affordable Tuition with Financial Assistance opportunities,
  • Acquire the professional knowledge and skills expected of a quality practitioner in the field of PT,
  • Research-based, Doctoral level capstone project required for graduation, often leading to publication,
  • Displays proper accreditation,
  • Easy transfer of previous credits.

To learn more, please see our Methodology page.

Best Online Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy


Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

PROGRAM STANDOUTS: Utica College was established in 1946 and was founded by Syracuse University. At present, they offer quality academic programs taught by exceptional, experienced faculty. Utica offers the benefits that a larger university offers, however, with a smaller, more intimate feel of a private college.

Utica’s online programs offer students the same exceptional coursework and direct interaction that on-campus students receive. You can prepare for a career, learn leadership, be a lifelong learner, as well as build a strong foundation, both personally and professionally, at Utica College.

Their online Post-Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program will help you hone your critical thinking skills and PT knowledge so that you may function effectively and safely as a Physical Therapist with a DPT degree. This transitional program will fulfill the guidelines set by the APTA, requiring doctorate degrees for all physical therapists by the year 2020.

Your online curriculum will include:

  • Foundations of Autonomous Practice,
  • Diagnostic Imaging,
  • Prevention and Wellness,
  • Pharmacology and Pathophysiology, just to name a few topics.

Utica College can help you advance in your PT career, no doubt.


ACCREDITATION: Utica College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission,   Ph: (800)621-7440

TYPES OF AID: Federal Student Loans and Grants, Scholarships and Awards, Military and Veterans Benefits, PLUS Loans, Private/Alternative Education Loans, Direct Payment and Payment Plans

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Although each program will have different requirements, generally, all will require the submission of an online application and a $50 application fee. Utica will accept applications throughout the year. You can expect to hear from them within 2-3 weeks after your application is reviewed.

You will also need to submit:

  • prior college transcripts,
  • your current state professional physical therapy license,
  • resumé,
  • your personal statement stating your desired goals for the tDPt program,
  • and two letters of recommendation.

PROGRAM FLEXIBILITY: Utica is proud to provide online courses that work well for those who already hold down a full-time job and have a busy home life. The length of their tDPT program will primarily depend on the time you are able to spend and the number of courses you are able to handle each term; therefore, completion of the program will vary from student to student. Generally, most students will average a minimum of 12-15 hours of study time per week per course.

Your online course experience is delivered to you through “Engage.” Engage is an online course management system that allows you to access your courses from anywhere, at any time. You can also communicate with the faculty and fellow students.

You will also have technical assistance available to you 24/7. Textbooks can be purchased through Utica’s online bookstore, which is then shipped to your home before your course begins.

DEGREE OUTCOMES: As a graduate of Utica College’s online PT program, you will be eligible for positions such as:

  • a Senior Physical Therapist,
  • Physical Therapist Director,
  • or Lead Physical Therapist.

You will be prepared to thrive within the field of physical therapy. You can be proud of your DPT degree from Utica College.



Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

PROGRAM STANDOUTS: Be a part of the big picture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Graduates from this prestigious university are innovative and creative. They are skilled and knowledgeable entrepreneurs who contribute to the well-being of society and help solve the challenges of today. At UNC-Chapel Hill, you are encouraged to share your talents with your local community and the world.

Through the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill’s online Transitional Physical Therapy (tDPT) degree program, you can build on your prior education to receive the proper credentials needed to continue or advance in your career as a physical therapist.

Their tDPT program focuses on three components such as a clinical foundations core, a clinical practice core, and a specialty practice core.


ACCREDITATION: The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Ph: (800)621-7440

TYPES OF AID: Federal Student Loans and Grants, Scholarships and Awards, Employer Assistance, Payment Plans

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Online applications for the tDPT program are available for electronic submission every October through March for the following fall term. You must also submit:

  • your previous official transcripts,
  • a personal statement,
  • a copy of your physical therapy license,
  • two recommendation letters,
  • and an $85 application fee.

Although individuals with a bachelor’s degree may be considered for admission, UNC prefers students who exhibit additional professional development and initiative, such as previous graduate-level work, certifications, or other training, to display a preparedness for a graduate degree program.

PROGRAM FLEXIBILITY: With UNC-Chapel Hill’s online learning system, Sakai, you can access your assignments from anywhere at any time, as well as participate in class discussions. In addition, Blackboard Collaborate is utilized.

DEGREE OUTCOMES: As a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, you will leave with the confidence and skills needed to continue your career in physical therapy or, perhaps, move into a specialty career such as:

  • orthopedics,
  • geriatrics,
  • pediatrics,
  • or neurology.

You will become a critical thinker and an excellent communicator, in addition to being responsible for improving your patient’s quality of life through diagnosis and applicable care plans. UNC-Chapel Hill will assure your continued success, both professionally and personally.



Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

PROGRAM STANDOUTS: Arcadia University is proud of the programs that their College of Health Sciences can offer graduate students who are interested in seeking a professional degree in physical therapy. AU’s doctoral physical therapy program ranks 20th in the nation. Since 1853, generation after generation, it has brought forth an exceptional faculty and staff committed to providing all students with an extraordinary learning experience.

As Arcadia’s Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program is offered 100% online, it can be completed within one to three years, all offered at an affordable price. With recent changes in credential requirements for Physical Therapists, the tDPT program helps current professionals transition into the credentials required today.


ACCREDITATION: Arcadia University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission,   Ph: (800)621-7440

TYPES OF AID: Federal Grants and Loans, Scholarships, Military Benefits


  • a graduate application online
  • submit a $25 application fee
  • submit an official transcript from an accredited physical therapist degree program with a minimum GPA of 2.75,
  • currently licensed to practice as a physical therapist,
  • three written recommendation letters,
  • a brief essay stating your educational goals for the DPT program
  • your current PT license must be valid throughout your program.

PROGRAM FLEXIBILITY: Most of Arcadia University’s online programs require the student to attend synchronous (“live”) online class participation, as well as asynchronous discussion board participation. You will need to know basic computer skills such as using the internet and email, in addition to having the proper computer system requirements.

DEGREE OUTCOMES: Through the online tDPT program from Arcadia University, you, as a graduate, will be proficient in the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to enhance your career, as well as help you meet the requirements related to today’s physical therapist mandates relevant to the workplace. Let Arcadia University support you in your academic endeavors.



Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

PROGRAM STANDOUTS: Northeastern University is committed to your success. Established in 1898, they profess that their strength comes from experiential learning, allowing each student to explore their path, follow their passion, and learn through educational observation.

The Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program at NU is offered as a 100% online program that is designed to help practicing physical therapists transition into the required Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) credentials.

Designed to be completed within one to two years, core classes within this program include:

  • diagnostic imaging,
  • nutrition,
  • motor control,
  • differential diagnosis,
  • and medical screening.
  • A capstone project is required.

In addition, the program offers specializations in the following:

  • pediatrics,
  • geriatrics,
  • orthopedics,
  • women’s health, as well as many other options.


ACCREDITATION: Northeastern University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Ph: (800)621-7440

TYPES OF AID: Federal Grants and Loans, Scholarships, Monthly Payment Plans, Parent PLUS Loans


  • submit your completed application online, along with your $75 – $100 application fee,
  • your previous undergraduate and graduate school transcripts,
  • professional resumé,
  • statement of purpose,
  • and one to three recommendation letters,
  • your official GRE, LSAT, or GMAT scores, if applicable to your program.

PROGRAM FLEXIBILITY: Courses are offered online to allow for flexibility and convenience. You can choose to log in at any time from anywhere. However, you will need to adhere to specific deadlines by which your work should be completed.

Northeastern University offers a virtual classroom experience with the Blackboard learning system. You may contact instructors and classmates through online discussions.

DEGREE OUTCOMES: Through Northeastern University’s tDPT program, you will be prepared for today’s rigorous PT requirements, as well as gain additional knowledge and skills needed to assist you in helping your patients daily. Through their innovative teaching methods, NU combines science with the art of physical therapy to prepare you for a bright future.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the job duties of a Physical Therapist?

Through physical therapy, a patient can work through their pain, gain strength in their limbs or back, or learn how to walk again, among other conditions caused by ailments of injury or illness. 

Physical Therapists are crucial medical professionals who assist patients in regaining movement and in pain management. Duties of the Physical Therapist include: 

  • Works closely with physicians and follows their recommended treatment plan, 
  • Helps to develop individualized care plans for patients, 
  • Assesses patient’s pain level and range of motion,
  • Instruct patient on stretching and exercising techniques to benefit the most from treatment, 
  • Record a patient’s progress,
  • And much more! 

What type of patients do Physical Therapists work with?

There are many reasons people utilize the services of a Physical Therapist, such as those who have suffered from strokes, arthritis, back and neck injuries, amputations, as well as other ailments that stem from medical issues, sports injuries, or other accidents. 

How much money can I earn as a Physical Therapist?

According to the BLS, Physical Therapists, on average, earned $97,720 annually as of May 2022. The highest 10% earned upwards of $128,830 or more per year. 

Is there a positive job demand for Physical Therapists?

The field of physical therapy is growing by leaps and bounds. As an alternative to surgery, many find that physical therapy is a great path to healing; therefore, the need for Physical Therapists is expected to grow 15% over the next decade, adding approximately 13,900 new job openings to the workforce.  

What attributes do I need as a Physical Therapist? Is being a Physical Therapist physically demanding?

Yes, physical therapy can be physically demanding. Physical therapists must be able to bend, lift, kneel, stand, twist, and reach while working with their patients. Depending on their patient’s needs, physical therapists may also be required to lift and move patients.

Additionally, some physical therapy techniques require therapists to use their own body weight to help in treatment. Physical Therapists often do need physical strength themselves to manipulate bodies in the position they need to be in for the best stretches or exercises.

They are also prone to back problems due to lifting or moving patients. Knowing the right techniques will help you to avoid injury. 

In addition, you must be able to stand on your feet for extended times as you assist your patients. Dexterity issues are also common due to the repetitive hand movements used while administering therapy. 

Other qualities are helpful, as well. Physical Therapists must be good communicators, detail-oriented, goal-minded, resourceful, and have compassion for their patients and their recovery.

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