When you are enrolled in a physical therapy master's degree or doctorate degree program, you will be taking a series of specialized courses that provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in your career. Physical therapy degree requirements typically require taking both classroom-based physical therapy courses and hands-on or clinical work. This allows you to gain valuable experience working with patients and professionals in the field. Some courses may be offered online, but you will still need to complete your hands-on training at an accredited facility or medical center.

Physical Therapy Courses for a Degree Program

Physical therapy training for a degree at the master's and doctorate degree levels typically includes the following types of physical therapy courses:

  • Neurophysiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Gross Anatomy
  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Physical Restoration
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Functional Anatomy
  • Rehabilitation Psychology
  • Biomechanics of Exercise
  • Pharmacology
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Motor Control

In addition to taking a course in each of these subject areas, the student is required to complete a multi-week clinical clerkship or a certain number of clinical hours as part of their educational requirement.

Prerequisites for Physical Therapy Courses and Degree Programs

Whether you're applying for a master's degree program in physical therapy or a doctorate degree, you will need to have completed certain types of courses at the undergraduate level in the fields of mathematics, natural science, behavioral science and English. Some of the prerequisites include:

  • Chemistry
  • Introduction to Biology
  • Physics
  • College Algebra
  • Physiology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Speech
  • Statistics
  • English

If you decide to pursue an undergraduate degree in physical therapy, you will probably fulfill some or all of the prerequisites for advanced courses and requirements for a master's or doctorate degree. Talk to your academic advisor about the best educational track based on your goals and career. If you choose to specialize in a certain field, you will need to take advanced physical therapy courses as part of a certification program, and may be able to complete these during your master's degree studies.

Physical Therapy Courses for Continuing Education Requirements

If you are a licensed physical therapist and need to fulfill your continuing education requirements, you'll need to take some advanced courses in your field of specialization or general courses in the subject. Physical therapy training is an ongoing process, and most states require physical therapists to take a certain number of credits each year in order to maintain their license. Courses for fulfilling continuing education requirements are typically focused on a particular type of physical therapy, and may be taken online, as part of a distance learning program, or at a dedicated campus.

These programs typically cover very specific areas of study, such as rehabilitation for Alzheimer's patients, treatments for spinal cord injuries, home care basics, treatment of brain injuries and clinical reasoning amongst others. You can choose what type of physical therapy training you want to focus on based on your specialization or core area of service.