The Duration for Becoming a Physiotherapist in Canada
To become a physiotherapist (physical therapist or PT) in Canada, a university-level entry-to-practice degree in physiotherapy must be completed. After finishing a physiotherapy degree, candidates must pass the Physiotherapy Competency Examination successfully before being issued a license (with the exception of candidates graduating from a Quebec physiotherapy program). The credentials of individuals who have completed their PT education outside of Canada must also be assessed by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR). The duration of being a physiotherapist in Canada heavily depends on the terminal degree you decide to pursue. There are three possible terminal physiotherapy degrees available in Canada for prospective physiotherapists.
Obtaining a Bachelor's degree in physiotherapy usually takes about four years to complete. Applicants can apply for a Bachelor's degree in physiotherapy once they have completed high school, though some students also apply after finishing post-secondary education. In Quebec, there are only several universities that offer a Bachelor's degree in physiotherapy and are taught only in French. Hence, every applicant must be fluent in French.
This is the most popular terminal degree for physiotherapists who were educated in Canada. In the late 90s, twelve out of 15 PT programs transitioned to a Master's program in physical therapy from a Bachelor's program. The Master's program takes about two years to complete. Candidates interested in pursuing a Master's degree in physiotherapy must have finished an undergraduate degree and must have undertaken the prerequisite courses required by the program they apply to. It usually takes around four years to complete an undergraduate degree, but some programs require only three years, and some students may fast track their undergraduate degrees by taking extra courses. Most students who choose this path of becoming a PT will conclude a total of six years of post-secondary education (four-year undergraduate degree followed by a two-year Master's degree in physiotherapy).
American (and some Australian) physical therapy programs diplomate students with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, despite its name, being an entry-level professional degree in both the United States and Australia. DPT programs require three years to finish, while some hybrid DPT programs (online and in-person) may last four years. To pursue a DPT, students must have concluded an undergraduate degree and must have completed the prerequisite courses required by the program they wish to apply for. Most students taking this road to become a PT will complete a total of seven years of post-secondary education (four-year undergraduate degree plus minimum three-year DPT degree). Post-professional PhD programs are the only Canadian-accredited doctorate programs in physiotherapy offered by Canadian universities. Practicing physiotherapy in Canada does not require a PhD degree.
Most physiotherapists who were educated in Canada usually complete six years of post-graduate education. This entails a four-year undergraduate degree with prerequisite courses required for PT school, followed by a two-year Master's degree in physiotherapy. For physiotherapists working in Canada who have completed their physiotherapy education abroad, it may take four to seven years to obtain their physiotherapy degree depending on the terminal degree in physiotherapy they opt for.
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