Physical therapists work to help people live healthy and active lives. Using prescribed exercise and hands-on care, they improve the quality of life for many people with injuries or disabilities. These medical professionals educate patients about exercises best suited to their individual situations. The benefits of PT are helpful in many environments such as hospitals, clinics, and sports facilities.
To practice, students must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from an accredited program and pass the licensure exam. These programs tend to last three years and include courses like biology, physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, pharmacology, and behavioral sciences. PT students also study non-technical topics from communication to ethics. After classroom and laboratory study, students utilize their knowledge in clinical rotations.
The need for PT professionals is expected to remain strong as the population ages, and the demand for services grows. As a result, many comprehensive programs educate students on how to succeed as physical therapists. With nearly 20,000 active physical therapists and 30 accredited programs, Texas is no exception to the growing demand for PT services.
With so many top-tier programs, it can be challenging to pick the right one. Here are the ten best physical therapy schools in Texas, based on the US News ranking of physical therapy programs. In the case of a tie on the US News list, the College Gazette team will determine the tiebreaker.
10. University of Texas at El Paso (El Paso, TX)
PT students studying at UT El Paso develop professional core values, critical inquiry abilities, and a community-centered mindset. This approach prepares graduates to improve the health of communities and advance the physical therapy profession.
At UTEP, the highly experienced faculty members work to be role models. Professors demonstrate leadership at all levels in the physical therapy profession. Outside of the classroom, faculty members mentor students in research and evidence-based practice.
Dr. Gurovich, program director and associate professor, was recently named the interim editor-in-Chief of the Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal.
The PT program is housed in the state-of-the-art Campbell Building. Students have the opportunity to study in the Human Anatomy Teaching Laboratory and hospital simulation lab facilities. These innovative centers allow physical therapy students to train in “real life” scenarios and develop core competencies.
9. Hardin-Simmons University (Abilene, TX)
In 2019, 100% of Hardin-Simmons PT students were members of the American Physical Therapy Association. This milestone earned the university a Reach100 platinum award and free access to telehealth certificate core courses. Along with membership to APTA, 100% of students have passed the certification exam since 2011.
Physical therapy students begin hands-on learning in their first week at HSU. Outside of clinical experiences, the HSU PT ministries were established to provide pro bono health care to members of the community. Students are able to practice physical therapy with individuals who have trouble obtaining necessary PT care.
Since the first graduating class in 1997, HSU physical therapy students have found success in the field. All of the PT graduates who pass the national licensure exam are employed within 12 months of graduation. Alumni practice in all areas of the field, from clinical practice to research.
8. University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (San Antonio, TX)
At UT San Antonio, PT students complete 1,360 hours of supervised clinical practice. These full-time clinical affiliations cover acute care, outpatient orthopedics, and neurological rehabilitation. In order to pursue professional interests, physical therapy students participate in a specialty rotation covering sectors from pediatrics to sports medicine.
Physical therapy students are able to participate in research alongside faculty members in the health professions. The necessary areas of research include physical activity and function, community health, prevention and management of chronic conditions, and critical care. In addition to resources, the School of Health Professions offers programs to promote publications and disseminate research.
One research project at UT San Antonio seeks to study the impact of holistic programs on the wellbeing of cancer survivors. Through collaboration with the Institute for Health Promotion Research, physical therapy students comprehensively assess patients to determine the best solution.
7. University of North Texas Health Science Center (Fort Worth, TX)
PT students at the University of North Texas Health Science Center receive a well-rounded education in contemporary physical therapy. Along with a research-focused environment, the curriculum emphasizes healthcare for underserved populations. There are many opportunities for clinical internships at sites across the globe, including in Italy, Malawi, and rural areas.
UNT’s campus is home to two laboratories dedicated to the physical therapy department. The Human Movement Performance Lab, spanning 2,300 square feet, is equipped with motion analysis systems, force plates, and simulation facilities. The Functional Mobility Assessment Lab is designed to evaluate subjects with poor balance. UNT has invested nearly $500,000 in PT research.
In addition to exciting research and clinical opportunities, PT students are supported in the classroom. The low student-faculty ratio in each class ensures mentoring by physical therapy experts.
6. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (Lubbock, TX)
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center seeks excellence in education and service in the physical therapy profession. Based on student satisfaction surveys, the PT program was ranked #1 nationwide for three consecutive years. TTUHSC physical therapy students are prepared to improve patients’ health by applying clinical skills learned in the classroom.
The university is recognized for its comprehensive 3-year lock-step program. Through 100 credit hours, the curriculum prepares students with a strong base in foundational science and the most recent clinical practices. In addition, students receive exposure to a wide range of practice areas within the field.
After graduating, 100% of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center students find jobs within six months of passing their licensure exam. Students go on to work for hospital systems, outpatient practices, schools, acute care facilities, and sports rehabilitation practices. A physical therapy degree from TTUHSC opens up many opportunities for graduates to further their careers.
5. Texas State University (San Marcos, TX)
At Texas State University, physical therapy students have the opportunity to learn from faculty members who have made contributions to academics and the profession. Professors work to prioritize students by offering support and care. The Barbara Melzer Endowed Professorship was created to recognize faculty members who further the family culture of the program.
The Community-Access Physical Therapy Clinic at TSU is a student-run clinic offering pro bono services. Located in Round Rock, the staff practices evidence-based physical therapy. Along with PT, the clinic provides orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation services.
Physical therapy students will have access to many resources through the program’s industry partners. These benefactors offer time, money, equipment, and support to the TSU physical therapy program, including 3M, Central Texas Medical Center, DARCO Medical Technologies, and Wake Pharma US.
4. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX)
Located in Dallas, UT Southwestern Medical Center offers plenty of exciting opportunities for physical therapy students. The dynamic city is a center for business, health care innovation, and the arts. Students can take advantage of the outstanding facilities on campus from the Parkland Memorial Hospital to the Aston Ambulatory Care Center.
UT Southwestern PT students have the opportunity to volunteer at Camp John Marc during their second summer semester. During the summer, PT students practice essential rehabilitation skills and care for campers with neuromuscular diseases. This unique experience shows students the challenges that families and patients face in daily life.
Even after graduation, UT Southwestern students can continue to expand their expertise in health care. The school houses five residency programs that can develop clinical skills from neurological PT to prosthetics-orthotics programs.
3. University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (Galveston, TX)
UTMB Galveston offers plenty of programs for students to utilize their classroom knowledge in a hands-on setting. The Student Physical Therapy Association, an educational organization, volunteers in the community to represent the PT profession. Students provide necessary care while continuing their education outside of the classroom.
For students looking to apply their skills globally, mission trips are offered throughout the academic year. Students participate in service and volunteer-based learning in various locations, including Peru, Haiti, and Guatemala. The Clinic Saint-Esprit in Haiti serves over 200 patients each day, providing outpatient rehabilitation therapy for community members.
Third-year PT students at UTMB Galveston are required to complete capstone projects based on a real-life patient case from their clinical rotation. They present their work to peers and faculty during Research Day. Their work helps students develop the necessary skills used in their future careers.
2. Texas Woman’s University (Denton, TX)
At TWU, physical therapy students learn from leaders in PT education and research. As one of the top schools nationwide, faculty members have spent many hours practicing, researching, and educating. Professors are active in state and national Physical Therapy Associations to advocate for the profession. Furthermore, several have received awards for their commitment to the industry.
Clinical education at TWU allows students to practice what they learned in a clinical environment. The school has approximately 400 sites across the nation for the clinical education of PT students. With many choices of clinical sites, students can pursue their professional interests.
TWU alumni use their expertise to promote health and wellness for patients. The program’s reputation and stellar professors ensure they have the technical knowledge to practice PT. Using her TWU physical therapy education, Patsy Shropshire created a program to bring fitness to local communities.
1. Baylor University (Fort Sam Houston & Waco, TX)
Baylor prepares students with the necessary skills to meet the demands of practicing physical therapy. The accelerated PT program is unique in the field, allowing students to complete the curriculum in just two years. Using a blended learning approach, professors teach students through online interactions, hands-on laboratory sessions, and clinical education.
The highly-ranked PT program at Baylor also recruits students to become officers through the Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program. Along with basic officer initial entry training, students receive their degree in physical therapy. Graduates are prepared to serve as active-duty officers and as military physical therapists.
Both Baylor physical therapy programs offer plenty of opportunities for student research through collaboration in faculty-directed research projects. Using state-of-the-art facilities, the Baylor community focuses on optimizing the prevention and treatment of diseases like neuromusculoskeletal disorders.