When recuperating from a serious illness or injury or dealing with chronic disabilities, people often enlist the assistance of a physical therapist to get back on their feet, sometimes literally. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field will have many job openings through 2020, more than the average. Although physical therapist positions require a doctoral or professional degree beyond the bachelor's, many schools offer bachelor's options appropriate for this career.
University of Massachusetts
The University of Massachusetts Lowell campus offers the kind of bachelor's degree often appropriate for students wanting to work as physical therapists -- a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology. After the basic general education courses in areas such as math, science, humanities, composition and social studies, students take more health science classes such as nutrition, anatomy and human biochemistry along with exercise physiology coursework and laboratory experience. The program culminates in a clinical setting to give students practice working with patients.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Other school programs also lead directly toward the bachelor's degree in physical therapy, while allowing other career options after graduation. For instance, an exercise science major at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is heavily science-based, requiring courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy, physics, biomechanics and exercise physiology, making it appropriate for many careers in the health sciences. SIUE's exercise science program also includes a 200-hour internship to give students the kind of practical experience many graduate programs in physical therapy demand for admission.
Northern Arizona University
If you would rather not continue on to a doctoral degree, you may choose a school that offers a physical therapy assistant bachelor's degree, such as the program at Northern Arizona University. Open to students who have obtained an associate degree in physical therapy assisting, this program builds on that experience with courses in epidemiology, healthy living, ethics for health care providers, disease and health services organizations. Graduates gain practical experience through a repeatable field work class.
California Baptist University
Another option is to find an online bachelor's program appropriate for physical therapy, like California Baptist University's online kinesiology degree. Kinesiology, or the study of movement, teaches students nutrition, prevention and care of injuries, safety in movement and basic first aid. Since physical therapy requires hands-on experience, CBU's program does require some time on-campus, while other courses are offered completely online. CBU emphasizes small classes to allow students individual and personalized attention.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physical Therapists
- University of Massachusetts: Physical Therapy
- University of Massachusetts: Course of Study for Exercise Physiology
- Southern Illinois University Edwardsville: Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science Preparing for Physical Therapy
- Northern Arizona University: Health Sciences -- Physical Therapist Assisting, Bachelor of Science
- California Baptist University: Top Kinesiology Degree Career Choice includes (PT) Physical Therapist
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