How Long Do You Have to Go to School to Be a Physical Therapist?


Physical Therapists (PTs) play a crucial role in rehabilitation and pain management. The journey to becoming a PT demands extensive education and training. If you’re curious about “How long do you have to go to school to be a physical therapist?” this guide has got you covered.

Undergraduate Education (3-4 years)

1. Bachelor’s Degree in Relevant Field

A bachelor’s degree in health sciences, biology, or a related field is a common pathway. Refer to official university websites for suitable undergraduate programs.

Pre-PT Requirements

1. Prerequisite Courses and Experience

Some PT programs require specific prerequisites and volunteer hours in physical therapy settings. Detailed requirements can be found at official PT program websites.

Graduate Education (3 years)

1. Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree

DPT programs usually last three years and include clinical rotations. Visit official DPT program websites for more information.

Licensing and Certification (Varies)

1. National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)

Licensure is mandatory to practice as a PT. More information on licensing and certification is available at official licensing board websites.

Total Time Required

The total time to become a physical therapist typically ranges from 6 to 7 years, inclusive of undergraduate, graduate, and licensing steps.


Q: Can I enter a DPT program without a bachelor’s degree?

A: Some programs offer direct entry, but prerequisites are still required. Refer to official DPT program websites.

Q: Is a doctoral degree necessary to be a PT?

A: Yes, a DPT is typically required. More details at official DPT program websites.

Q: Are there online DPT programs?

A: Some universities offer hybrid or online options. Check official university websites for details.

Q: What’s the job outlook for PTs?

A: The demand for PTs is expected to grow. For statistics and insights, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Understanding “how long do you have to go to school to be a physical therapist” enables you to plan your educational journey more effectively. With a total time commitment of 6 to 7 years, becoming a PT is an achievable goal for those passionate about rehabilitation and patient care.