Earning your Doctor of Physical Therapy degree is not done in the traditional manner. In most professions, you begin your educational journey by earning your associate degree, then your bachelor’s degree. With a bachelor’s degree, your accolade will usually allow you to enter into an entry-level position in your specific career choice.

Generally, if you would like to further your education and possibly obtain the promotion and pay raise that may accompany it, you would want to earn a master’s degree. If you would like to enter into a research position or perhaps a teaching position at the university level, a doctorate degree is required, in most cases.

However, if you wish to become a licensed physical therapist, the usual order of earning your degrees will not always apply. Sure, you will need to begin like everyone else. Through an associate and bachelor’s degree program, you will learn the basics needed to take the next step in becoming a physical therapist. Although the next logical step is typically earning a master’s degree, it does not apply in this particular career choice.

In fact, a master’s degree program in physical therapy is very rare to find, although they do exist… but, it’s not a requirement. However, the degree that you must have is the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This path may save you a little time in school, although a DPT program will typically take two to three years to complete. After you graduate, you will be allowed to sit for the NPTE test to gain licensure to practice physical therapy in your state. Please note that Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs are not readily available through an online distance learning format due to the clinical requirements.

In addition, individuals who currently own a license, although do not yet have a doctorate degree, must also adhere to the new regulations set forth by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), in which all licensed physical therapists must have a doctorate degree by the year 2020. In this case, students can enter an online Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program to complete the requirement.

If you are interested in this field, please see our list of the Best Online Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy programs.