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Physical therapy education varies greatly from country to country. Worldwide, physical therapy training ranges from basic work site education in hospitals and outpatient clinics to professional doctoral degree programs.

Physical therapy education in the 1980's



In Australia, a few different programs are available at both undergraduate and post graduate level. The physiotherapy degree can be undertaken over a four-year period as an undergraduate or two to three years post graduate with the early components being predominantly theoretical including basic anatomy, biology, physics, psychology, kinesiology, goniometry and physiology. In the latter half of the degree students partake in practical components focusing on musculoskeletal physiotherapy, neuromuscular physiotherapy, paediatric physiotherapy, geriatric physiotherapy, cardiothoracic physiotherapy, and women's health. The program generally progresses with an increasingly clinical focus and usually the final year involves practical placements at clinics, and research. Australian programs offer either the (B.Physio, B.Sc.Physio, M.Physio, or DPT) degrees.


In Bangladesh, the Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPT) course is provided by the Medicine Faculty of University of Dhaka. There are three affiliated institutes, the Bangladesh Health Professions Institute (BHPI)- the Academic Institute of CRP,the National Institute of Traumatology Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation, the state college of Health sciences and the which provide five years of professional education including a one-year mandatory internship. Bangladesh Physiotherapy Association ( only internationally recognized professional body, working hard to establish the rights and dignity of the professionals in the country.The Bangladesh Physiotherapy Association has received international recognition from WCPT (2007) in Vancouver.


In Canada, entry-level physiotherapy education is offered at 13 universities. Some of these university programs are at the Master's level, meaning that applicants must have already completed an undergraduate degree prior to applying; all of them are slated to be at the Master's level by 2010. Many universities also offer graduate programs in physiotherapy, rehabilitation, or related disciplines at the masters or doctoral level. Many physiotherapists may advance their education at these levels in such Clinical Practice Areas as cardiorespirology, geriatrics, neurosciences, orthopaedics, pediatrics, rheumatology, sports physiotherapy, and women's health.


In India, universities offer undergraduate program of physiotherapy with four years of academic and clinical program and six months of compulsory internship.After the graduation Physical therapist can use doctor before the name and compulsion to indicate physical therapy degree after their name. There are over 250 colleges offering undergraduate program in physiotherapy (BPT) and more than 50 colleges offering masters in Physiotherapy (MPT) with two years' duration. PhD in Physiotherapy is offered in some universities of the states Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

India is the first country with physiotherapy education up to doctoral level. Independent physiotherapy has been practices since 1989.


In Iran, The Physical therapy degree is offered in bachelor level which usually takes 4 years. Some medical students after studying 2 to 3 years of medicine, may switch to Physiotherapy which in this case they only need to study one more year.


The Physical therapy degree is a master part of orthopaedic surgery board that given by the medical school after the B.Sc. degree , it requires a full B.Sc. degree in medicine (six years) and is not a separate allied health field. The Physical therapy degree is B.Sc. College of Medical and Health technology-Baghdad has a graduate program in physical therapy, 4 year period after high school. Summer training courses in many hospitals (graduation requirement). The only college in Iraq is located in the medical city in Baghdad, in front of Ministry of Health. The students receive a in physical therapy.

Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland, Physiotherapy is available as an undergraduate course in four universities,, Trinity College, University College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons and University of Limerick. Courses are four years in length with clinical practice in the final two years. Students are required to complete 1000 hours of clinical practice before graduation.


In Italy, known as "Laurea in Fisioterapia (abilitante alla professione sanitaria di Fisioterapista)", it is a three-year full time degree taught in the Faculty of Medicine of many Italian Universities. The course is an intensive mix of class time and mandatory internship right from the first year. Internship is such an important part that the number of hours dedicated to practice progressively increases reaching half of the program by the third year. There are no special requirements to be admitted to the Bachelor's degree; students from various backgrounds can access the program, previous passing an 80 question pre selection test. This test is implemented to all those courses known as "numero chiuso" or close access to limit the number of participants. Depending on the Faculty and course between 30 to 400 positions are available each year. To be selected one has not only pass the examination but finish in the top positions required to enter. For all para-medical degrees each Institution can select its own test which it held simultaneously in all Universities, whereas for Medicine the test are administered by the Ministry of Education. Importance is given to the initial exam and a "close number" is paramount. This maneuver controls the job market, hence providing secure occupation to those who finish.


In Kuwait, Physical therapy B.Sc. degree can be obtained after graduating from Kuwait University (4-year program). Students learn to asses patients and document their progress in their second year of study and start going on to hospitals to have their practical learning beginning at the start of their third year. After graduating further training in hospitals is available. There are no formal post-graduation programs.


In Malta, Physical Therapy B.Sc. (honours) is available as a course which can be obtained after finishing a four-year course at the Institute of Health Care of the University of Malta. This course involves all aspects of Physiotherapy. Students have an intensive three-year theoretical course after whom s/he spends the last year doing clinical placements (in total = four years). Students learn how to assess and treat patients. To be able to secure a license to practice as a physiotherapist, one must be able to pass some practical exams which involves both assessment and treatment. In the fourth year, students are also expected to complete a physiotherapy research project, which fulfills the requirements of an Honours degree.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, there are currently two schools of physiotherapy offering four-year undergraduate programs. Many New Zealand physiotherapists work in the private health care system as musculoskeletal physiotherapists and the curriculum reflects the need to prepare graduates for autonomous practice. Students follow an educational program similar to Australia with an emphasis on biomechanics, kinesiology and exercise. Postgraduate study typically involves three years of subject specific learning. The New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists Incorporated (NZSP) is the professional body that physiotherapists may optionally be a member of in New Zealand.


In Nigeria, Physiotherapy training is a 5 year Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPhysio) or Bachelor of Medical Rehabilitation (BMR) degree programmes.[1] A 1-year clinical intership program under the supervision of senior and experienced clinician physiotherapists is required upon graduation from an accredited University before the new graduate can be licenced to practice as a physiotherapist. The first training program in Nigeria was started at the University of Ibadan in 1966, followed by the University of Lagos in 1971. A training program was also started at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1978, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus in 1987, Bayero University, Kano in 1989, University of Maiduguri,Maiduguri in 2003. Other training programs are also available at University of Maiduguri and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi. Advanced Masters and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Physiotherapy (MSc Physio and PhD) are available at the University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University and the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. Presently, the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy (Professional body representing Nigerian physiotherapists) and the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists (Registration) Board (the Government body that regulates the training and practice of rehabilitation therapy professionals in Nigeria) are making plans to transit the Nigerian entry level Bachelors programs to entry level Doctorate programs.[2][3]


In Pakistan there are 15 colleges offering B.Sc. Physiotherapy and 4 colleges offering DPT. 3 universities are offering t-DPT and 2 are offering Msc PT while 1 university is offering MPHIL in Physiotherapy.Physiotherapists have a good scope in government and private hospitals and they are awarded 17 grade pay scale.In this way Pakistan has become the third country offering DPT in the world.


In the Philippines, physical therapy programs are generally five years in length and awards the Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy (BSPT) degree upon graduation. The program consists of basic sciences, two years of physical therapy subjects and a final year of internship & research/thesis. Some schools require students to complete a full 12 months of internship. During the internship year, students are required to fulfill clinical affiliations with hospitals, outpatient physical therapy clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Due to the healthcare structure in the Philippines, clinics and therapy departments are often headed by a Physiatrist who performs evaluation and writes out specific treatment orders for the PT to follow, and majority of the treatments are cash-based since not a lot of people have health insurance. To be able to secure a license to practice PT in the Philippines, one must be able to pass a grueling licensure examination (board examination) given by Board of Physical Therapist under the supervision of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). Under R.A. 5680, successful examinees will be allowed to include P.T.R.P. in their name which stands for Physical Therapist Registered Philippines. Licensure examination for physical therapists in the Philippines is governed by Republic Act 5680, also known as The Philippine Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Law.

South Africa

In South Africa the degree (B.PhysT, B.Sc.Physio or B.Physio) consists of four years of general practice training, involving all aspects of Physiotherapy. Typically, the first year is made up of theoretical introduction. Gradually, time spent in supervised practice increases until the fourth year, in which the student generally spends about 80% in practice. In the fourth year, students are also expected to complete Physiotherapy research projects, which fulfills the requirements of an Honours degree. Professional practice and specialization can only be entered into after a state governed, compulsory year of community service is completed by the student after graduation.

All practising physiotherapists in South Africa are required by law to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa[4], the registering body for physiotherapists being the Professional Board for Physiotherapy, Podiatry and Biokinetics.[5]


In Spain a physiotherapy student is required to complete 3 years of training after having passed a university entrance exam. After completing a physiotherapy program, another exam can be taken to work for the public health system of an autonomous community, or a graduate can work for private hospitals, clinics, etc. There are 43 universities with physiotherapy faculties in Spain.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, Physiotherapy is available as a Diploma course for two years in School of Physiotherapy & Occupational Therapy, which is affiliated to the National Hospital of Colombo from 1957. After the six months of classroom training students are sent to hospitals for clinical practice. During the 80's foreign students from Australia, Belgium have studied at the Physiotherapy School. From the year 2005 Medical Faculties of University of Peradeniya and University of Colombo have started the undergraduate course for four years.


In Taiwan, Physical Therapy is available as a four-year undergraduate course in 14 universities. There are also three junior colleges to provide a five-year program. Clinical practice is required in the final year of the both programs mentioned above. Once a student graduates from the PT program, he/she is then required to pass a national licensure exam administered by the Ministry of Examination, Taiwan, R.O.C. Many universities also offer graduate programs in physical therapy, rehabilitation, or related disciplines at the masters or doctoral level.


In Turkey, the Physiotherapy (BPT) education is provided by physiotherapy schools in universities (Hacettepe University, Dokuz Eylül University, Istanbul University, Baskent University, Pamukkale University, Dumlupınar University, Süleyman Demirel University) after high school education. Education takes four years or five years with prep classes. M.Sc. and Ph.D. education is given by institutes of medical sciences.

United Arab Emirates

In the United Arab Emirates the Bachelor Of Physiotherapy (BPT) consists of a four-year undergraduate degree program. In the first year of the program they are introduced to pre-clinical subjects such as Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Human Behaviour & Socialisation & Basic Medical Electronics & Computers. The students also get hands-on experiences in cadaveric dissections while learning Human Anatomy during the first year of the program. The students progressively are introduced to supervised clinical practice and the integrated curriculum offers the best learning experiences in addition to extensive in-house elearning programs. The course offers Case Based Learning experiences and focuses on Evidence Based Practices. The program culminates with a six month internship ending with a research project work.

United Kingdom

In addition to full time university degrees, some universities offer a four-year part time course, which is open to physiotherapy assistants and technical instructors and involves studying for two days a week and working the remaining three.

In order to qualify, students are required to complete 1000 hours of clinically based learning: this typically takes place in the final two years; some courses also have clinical placement in the first year. 35 universities and tertiary level institutions train physiotherapists in the UK. The vast majority of physiotherapists work within the National Health Service.

United States

In the United States, training in physical therapy culminates in a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree. A few programs still offer a Masters degree. (MSPT, MPT) There are still many physical therapists currently practicing in the US who were trained with a BSPT degree. Physical therapist education includes clinical internships. All states also require physical therapists to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination before they can practice.[6] Each state regulates licenses for physical therapists independently. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, there were 215 accredited physical therapist programs in 2009–of those 15 offered the Master of Physical Therapy, and 200 offered the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Most programs are in transition to a DPT program.[7] In the United States, there are approximately 233 accredited two-year programs for Physical Therapist Assistants.


  1. ^ Medical Rehabilitation Therapists (Registration) Board of Nigeria (2009). Harmonized Curriculum of Studies for the Bachelor of Physiotherapy (B.PT) Degree Programme in Nigerian Universities (PDF)[1]
  2. ^ Medical Rehabilitation Therapists (Registration) Board of Nigeria (2009). Harmonized Curriculum of Studies for the Transitional Doctor of Physiotherapy (T-DPT) Degree Programme in Nigerian Universities (PDF)[2]
  3. ^ Medical Rehabilitation Therapists (Registration) Board of Nigeria (2009). Harmonized Curriculum of Studies for the Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT) Degree Programme in Nigerian Universities (PDF)[3]
  4. ^ South African Society of Physiotherapy
  5. ^ Health Professions Council of South Africa
  6. ^ The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (2008-01). "For Consumers - Physical Therapy". The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Retrieved 2008-06-03.  
  7. ^ American Physical Therapy Association (2009-02-06). "Number of PT and PTA Programs as of February 6, 2009" (PDF). American Physical Therapy Association. Retrieved 2009-06-19.  


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