Physical therapists play a vital role in treating and rehabilitating patients with chronic conditions or injuries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a significant increase in the demand for qualified physical therapists is expected between 2010 and 2020, partly due to the large number of aging baby boomers who are staying active later in life than previous generations. "U.S. News and World Report," ranks the top schools for physical therapy majors based on academic reputation, clinical education opportunities, faculty reputation, student-to-faculty ratios and financial resources.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California was ranked the top physical therapy school in 2013 by "U.S. News & World Report." Doctor of Physical Therapy students at USC engage in a rigorous course of study designed to prepare graduates as self-sufficient practitioners who also offer valuable collaboration with other healthcare professionals. In addition to comprehensive coursework, the physical therapy program at USC provides students with numerous opportunities to use and apply the skills and knowledge they gain from the academic program in clinical experiences.

University of Delaware

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Delaware is led by a faculty of highly qualified clinicians and researchers. Many of the physical therapy professors are board certified clinical specialists involved in conducting personal research, supervising student research and preparing case reports for publication. The faculty members at the University of Delaware are generally highly accessible to students and many meet regularly with students to help with coursework or career planning. The University of Delaware ranks second in the nation for graduate physical therapy studies, according to the 2013 “U.S. News & World Report."

University of Pittsburgh

Doctor of Physical Therapy students at the University of Pittsburgh -- ranked third in 2013 by "U.S. News" -- participate in a clinical education program that is integrated with the University's Medical Center and its Centers for Rehab Services. One of the largest Medicare-certified rehab organizations in western Pennsylvania, the Centers for Rehab Services include over 50 outpatient facilities in the state. University of Pittsburgh physical therapy students can complete full- or part-time practica as well as year-long internships at the centers. Clinical education in settings such as inpatient rehab hospitals and hospital-based units, independent and assisted living facilities, home health services and mental health facilities are also available.

Washington University in St. Louis

The physical therapy graduate program at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis tied for third place among schools in the nation, according to the 2013 “U.S. News” ranking. Many of the faculty members in the department of physical therapy are regionally, nationally and internationally recognized as leaders in clinical practice, research and teaching. Along with being actively engaged in current research, a number of professors hold leadership positions in the American Physical Therapy Association. The physical therapy program at Washington University combines extensive coursework with clinical experience opportunities off campus.

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