To become a physical therapist, you must earn a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited physical therapy educational institution. With so many related programs, though, finding the best DPT programs might prove challenging due to their costliness. For this reason, we’ve come up with some of the best and cheapest DPT programs for you to consider.
A doctor of physical therapy degree is a three- to four-year post-baccalaureate program. Students must have earned an undergraduate degree before enrolling in a DPT program. This article highlights some of the most affordable DPT programs from accredited institutions in the United States to help you in your school search.
How Much Do the Cheapest DPT Programs Cost?
The cheapest doctor of physical therapy program can cost between $10,000 to $25,000 per year. However, the tuition costs are based on several factors. For example, in-state residents tend to pay less tuition than out-of-state students or international students. Living at home is the cheapest physical therapy degree option compared to living on-campus.
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Cheapest DPT Programs Costs Breakdown
- Tuition. Tuition usually forms the bulk of the total cost of attendance for doctoral programs in physical therapy school. Tuition rates are calculated by considering the cost per unit or the cost per credit hour.
- Textbooks and materials. Textbooks and learning materials are essential to learning and completing the course work. There are also clinical apps and licensure prep materials that you are required to buy as part of your physical therapy training. This makes finding affordable schools all the more important.
- Administrative fee. Universities and colleges charge students an administrative fee to help fund the many services associated with the administration and supervision of students. This fee is not specific to this field of study but is found in most degree programs.
- Physical therapy professional equipment fee. The DPT program includes both theoretical and practical learning. This fee helps fund the overall cost of acquiring and maintaining related physical therapy equipment.
- APTA national and state professional dues. This one-time time fee allows you to join the American Physical Therapy Association which is a necessary facet of the physical therapy program.
Why You Should Attend a DPT Program
You should attend a DPT program to practice physical therapy in the United States, receive an increase in salary, and have better employment opportunities. You must earn a doctor of physical therapy degree from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy if you want to work in a physical therapy clinic in the USA. Also, according to the NIH, a doctoral-level education is associated with an increased annual salary.
You should also attend a DPT program to increase your knowledge and skills and provide better clinical care. The changing clinical environment requires a developed skillset and a higher level of knowledge. A study published by ERIC shows Physical therapists benefit from DPT degrees, as a doctorate-level physical therapy program along with clinical rotations and observation hours will broaden their knowledge and skillset.
Best DPT Programs Career Options
Those with DPT professional degrees are typically eligible for higher-paying, higher-level jobs in the industry. Former physical therapy students can work in acute care, rehabilitation hospitals, government, sports and fitness, travel, telehealth, and education. Physical therapy training provides real-world experience that will lead to an excellent career.
DPT Programs Salary
However, how much a physical therapist will make is influenced by the sector or industry, like physical therapists in nursing, and residential care facilities earn more than those who worked in offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists and audiologists. Gaining years of clinical experience can also help you earn a higher salary.
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Can You Attend DPT Programs for Free?
No, it’s almost impossible to find institutions that offer free DPT programs. If you are on a tight budget, your best bet is finding cheap DPT programs that won’t break your bank and leave you in a lot of student debt. Living at home instead of on-campus hostels is a great way to lower your education costs. You could also opt for online courses and study from home.
Cheapest DPT Programs That Won’t Break the Bank
|School||In-State Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition||Graduation Rate|
|Baylor University||$17,800 per trimester||Not Specified||96%|
|Duke University||$38,000 per year||Not Specified||100%|
|Howard University||$56,439||$56,439||87.5% (average for two years)|
|Northeastern University||$19,165 per semester||Not specified||99% (class of 2020)|
|Northwestern University||$16,758 per term ($50,274 for all three terms)||Not specified||100% (2020 DPT graduating class)|
|Ohio State University||$20,797 ($52,168 for domestic non-residents)||$56,373||Not mentioned|
|Regis University||$935 per credit hour (110 total credits)||$935 per credit hour||100%|
|San Francisco State University||$3,588.00 per term||An extra $396 per unit||69.9% (science and engineering programs)|
|University of Florida||$22,721.72||$31,961.72||100% (2021 graduation)|
|Winston-Salem State University||$47,139||Not Specified||100% (average graduation rate for 2019 to 2020)|
What Are the Cheapest DPT Programs?
Baylor’s DPT program is a two-year hybrid program that combines distant education practices, on-campus lab immersion settings, and clinical education experiences. This institution is a member of the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT).
Duke University has one of the most highly rated DPT programs in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranked this program seventh among 244 programs evaluated. Furthermore, Duke boasts a 100 percent score in graduation, licensure, and employment rates for graduates of this program.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at this institution is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). This private school boasts relatively high licensure, graduation, and employment rates for graduates of this program.
Northeastern University features one of the longest accredited physical therapy programs in the United States. This institution ranks as the 49th best university in the country, according to U.S. News. Northeastern is best known for giving students valuable work experience before receiving their degrees, and this program is no different.
Students graduating from this program leave with great work experience and exceptional clinical decision-making and differential diagnosis skills. Some of the key topics covered during this comprehensive program include clinical anatomy, human anatomy, neuroscience, health education, public health, and wellness.
This institution is one of the largest physical therapy schools in the United States. U.S. News and World Report ranks this large institution as the ninth-best college in America. According to Northwestern University’s official webpage, this school accepts approximately 100 DPT students per year.
Northwestern’s robust curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for the national physical therapy exam (NPTE) and state licensure. Some of the key topics covered in this program’s core courses include motor control framework, clinical education, global health, and technical standards.
Ohio State University
Ohio State offers a robust DPT program that includes five clinical residency programs: sports physical therapy, geriatric physical therapy, orthopedic physical therapy, neurological physical therapy, and pediatric physical therapy. You’ll go through nine semesters and two intermediate clinical internships to complete this program. Public schools often have more affordable tuition rates than private schools.
Regis University offers a DPT program that features 38 weeks of clinical rotations experience. Students have the opportunity to observe therapeutic exercises and learn from experts in the field. This school’s curriculum is delivered by a nationally recognized and esteemed faculty. Graduates of this program are eligible to take the national physical therapy exam (NPTE).
San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University is one of the top universities in the country and has an affordable program cost. U.S. News ranks this institution as the 29th best university in the country. If you wish to become a physical therapist, you should enroll in this school’s entry-level DPT program to open up ample opportunities.
This three-year program covers clinical practice, social sciences, exercise physiology, applied sciences, human physiology, and comparative anatomy. You’ll need a 3.0 GPA or above in your undergraduate college coursework before becoming eligible for this program to keep up with the education requirements.
University of Florida
This entry-level program is designed to equip students with the knowledge necessary to take the professional licensure examination required to start a professional career in physical therapy. It places a strong emphasis on biological, behavioral, and kinesiological sciences and teaches you advanced medical terminology during the many hours of coursework.
Winston-Salem State University
WSSU’s DPT program is designed to prepare students for a wide range of practice settings and health care systems. Upon completion of the professional practice and hands-on experience courses, students will be able to work in several clinical sites and settings including acute care, outpatient facilities, rehabilitation hospitals, research centers, and extended care facilities.
Options to Help Pay for the Best DPT Programs
Many students will graduate from DPT programs with a lot of student debt. However, there are some options and resources that can help mitigate student debt and tuition cost without breaking your bank. Below are three of the main options for mitigating tuition cost.
Federal Student Loan Programs
DPT federal student loans could help you cover tuition balances, living expenses, and other physical therapy school costs. The loans include subsidized and unsubsidized loans, but federal student loans have limits. You’ll need to fill out a FAFSA application form to become eligible for aid with your tuition rates.
Scholarships and State Grants
American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), BrightLife, Tylenol Future Care, and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution’s awards are some of the most popular physical therapy scholarships available for DPT students. You will need to submit an online application to each individual organization to be considered for each.
Private Student Loans
Private student loans for graduates are not as common as undergraduate student loans but it is still a viable option if you want to attend school for a more affordable price. However, be wary when taking such a loan, as you will leave university with a ton of student debt and may have to refinance them for years.
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Tips for Saving Money While Attending DPT Programs
- Choose cheap DPT programs. The best way to save money starts by choosing a cheap DPT program. Programs can be expensive, but there are cheaper program options that have an expert faculty of educators that will provide you with the necessary education for your certification.
- Minimize your living costs. Consider living with other people to share housing and utility bills. If that’s not an option, consider living with your family instead of staying on-campus.
- Work while studying. Although this is not a savings hack, you should consider getting a part-time job to help you cover some of your college or living expenses. Besides, getting a job might save you from plunging into a lot of student debt.
- Limit going out. Resist the temptation to frequently go out and eat with friends, as this tends to be costlier than cooking meals at home.
- Plan ahead and stick to a budget. Having a budget and sticking to it will prevent you from overspending and making unnecessary purchases. This will ultimately save you money in the long term.
Find the DPT Programs That’s Right for You
Finding a DPT program that’s right for you starts by taking a closer look into the cost of attendance and other university offerings. For instance, if you are on a tight budget, consider those institutions offering robust scholarship programs. If you want the best DPT curriculum or interaction with faculty, consider the acceptance rate, class size, graduation rate, employment rate, and licensure rates to find the most suitable program for you.
Having a DPT education will provide you with outstanding opportunities via these institutions’ innovative curricula. Create a degree plan for procuring your DPT today by finding out the degree requirements, the clinical training experiences offered, and everything else you need to know about the physical therapy field to start your career as a doctor of physical therapy.
Cheapest DPT Programs FAQ
The University of Iowa, the University of Delaware, the University of Washington, and Baylor University feature DPT programs with high acceptance rates, making them the easiest DPT programs to get into.
Yes, DPT programs are good investments, especially if they only take up a small amount of student debt. Consider a DPT program if you want to practice physical therapy in the United States, receive an increase in salary, and have better employment opportunities. The degree will have a positive difference on your ability to provide quality clinical services.
According to Indeed, the highest paying specialties for physical therapists include sports medicine, cardiovascular, geriatrics, pediatric, and neurology.
Unfortunately, you cannot get into a physical therapy school with a low graduate record examinations (GRE) score. Although some schools might have lower GRE score requirements compared to others, it’s fairly hard to get into PT school with low GRE scores. Like any medical school, they have strict education requirements.
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