There are several different ways to earn a physiotherapy degree. Commonly known as physical therapy, a degree in this allied health specialty can be attained through a traditional college venue in two to six years. The length of higher education depends on the level in which you chose to begin your career.
The shortest route to earn your physiotherapy degree and begin your career is to become a physiotherapist assistant. Typically the physiotherapist assistant, or PTA, has an associated degree. The advantage to becoming a PTA is that you can begin your career in as little as two years. A physiotherapist assistant can perform most of the duties of a physiotherapist, or PT, but is required to have the supervision of a PT. The laws regarding the level of supervision vary from state to state.
Physiotherapists must obtain a post-baccalaureate degree. Professional entry-level physiotherapy degree programs offer two degree levels. A master’s degree, such as a MPT or MSPT, requires a prerequisite of at least three years of undergrad classes and a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy followed by a two-year long master’s program. An Master's Physical Therapy (MPT) degree has a bachelor's degree in another field before pursuing physical therapy, whereas the Master's of Science Physical Therapy (MSTP) degree holds an Advanced Master's of Science degree.
However, there is a transition in effect that would require entry level physiotherapists to obtain a doctorate degree, or Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Physical therapist programs for a doctorate level degree, is for those individuals possessing a bachelor’s degree and wish to pursue a physical therapy career path. Obtaining a DPT often requires an additional year after the master’s program, but will increase the number of opportunities available upon completion.
Some schools offering a physiotherapy degree allow entrance into the program at an undergrad level, while some prefer you to finish your undergrad work before admittance into the physiotherapy program. Though no specific undergraduate degree is required, focusing on a science major is your best bet. Maintaining a solid GPA, or grade point average, is important as the program to obtain a physiotherapy degree is competitive. Other requirements for admittance into a physiotherapy degree program include volunteering, preferably in a relevant setting, and letters of recommendation from licensed physiotherapists.
Schools offering a physiotherapist degree program must be accredited in order to be eligible to sit for the licensure exam upon completion. PTs and PTAs must obtain licensure in order to practice in physiotherapy. An accredited school has a program which has undergone extensive review by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, also known as CAPTE accreditation. This accreditation ensures the quality of educational courses and that of the instructors.