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The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

What to expect when studying physiotherapy

We uncover everything you need to know about studying physiotherapy from tuition fees, course content, salary expectations and more.

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Considering studying physiotherapy? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve got the answers to the questions you need to know. So before actually applying to universities or colleges, it’s important to understand exactly what to expect when studying physiotherapy. Whether you’re looking at undergraduate or postgraduate level, find out everything you need to know about embarking upon a physiotherapy programme abroad.


What are the entry requirements for a physiotherapy degree?

As with any subject, entry requirements for physiotherapy degrees differ depending on your study level and also where you are applying. Make sure you check with the specific institutions before sending off your application. However, you can find general guidance below:



  • Decent A-levels grades (or equivalent) including a biological science or physical education subject.
  • At least five GCSE’s (or equivalent) including maths, English and one science subject.
  • A personal statement reflecting your passion, drive and relevant experience.
  • English language proficiency - IELTS score of 6.5, no component lower than 6.0 (universities may differ in their admission requirements)



  • An undergraduate degree (ideally 2:1 or above) in a relevant subject such as biology, sports science, anatomy etc.
  • Some universities may ask for work experience.
  • English language proficiency (check with the university).


Didn’t study for a relevant degree? Not to worry. You can enrol on a pre-master's course to prepare for a postgraduate degree. However, it will be beneficial for you to prove your interest in physiotherapy with relevant work experience or your own research to demonstrate your motivations and aptitude for physiotherapy.


What does a physiotherapy degree involve?

To succeed in the field of physiotherapy you must care about the physical health and wellbeing of your patients and want to improve their quality of life. These are some of the basic requirements for any student undertaking a course in physiotherapy, whether at the undergraduate or postgraduate level.


While courses will differ in their approach, you can use the below as a guide for what you can expect to cover in a physiotherapy degree:


  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Cardiorespiratory
  • Pathophysiology
  • Health psychology
  • Orthopaedics
  • Musculoskeletal therapy
  • Neurological therapy


On top of these core modules, you are likely to focus on developing independent research skills, which are essential for progressing onto a master’s level course. Additionally, some universities offer work placements in hospitals, rehabilitation clinics or in people’s homes. This will provide you with real-life, hands-on experience that will enable you to gain relevant practical experience.


How long does a physiotherapy degree take?



Again, it really depends on the university and where it is located. In some countries, most degrees take three years on average whereas others require four years of study. In New Zealand for example, students are expected to study health science for one year prior to three years of physiotherapy. In the UK, full-time physiotherapy undergraduate degrees tend to take three years.



Master’s degrees vary from one to two years in length depending on the institution, course and whether you decide to study part-time or full-time. Some physiotherapy courses will take two years of full-time study whereas others might offer just one year.


You may also find that some institutions require a certain number of clinical hours which you’ll have to fulfil during the course. Want to know more about the move from undergraduate to postgraduate study?


Top universities for physiotherapy courses


How much does a physiotherapy degree cost?

For specific fees, you’ll need to check university websites. However, the below fees for undergraduate physiotherapy courses will provide you with an idea of the costs:


  • UK – GBP 15,000 – 29,000 per year
  • Canada – CAD 22,000 - 33,000 per year
  • USA – USD 30,000 – 36,000 per year
  • Australia – AUD 33,000 – 38,000 per year


Of course, international student fees are generally higher than those of domestic students so you’ll need to ensure that you can cover the tuition fees and costs of living in your chosen country. If you’re concerned about affording your studies, you can also apply for a scholarship to receive financial assistance.


Online physiotherapy degrees

Within the current coronavirus climate, you might be concerned about your study options and moving to a university campus. If that’s the case, you can use the filters on our search tool to find online/distance learning courses or programmes which start online before moving on campus.


Physiotherapy specialisations

There are many different areas that you can choose to specialise in within the field of physiotherapy. Some of these are:


  • Paediatrics – helping children with their movement and physical development.
  • Neurology – treating people who suffer from issues related to their central nervous system which affects the brain, spine and nerves.
  • Orthopaedics – advising patients who have injuries or problems with their joints, muscles and ligaments.
  • Oncology – being involved in the care and rehabilitation of cancer patients.
  • Geriatrics – helping to improve the physical health of elderly patients.
  • Sport – dealing with sport-related injuries and helping players to improve their physical health.


How much do physiotherapists earn?

As a qualified junior physiotherapist in the UK, you can earn a starting salary of GBP 24,214 to GBP 30,112 which then jumps to GBP 30,401 to GBP 37,267 with more experience. Team leaders can be paid GBP 37, 570 to GBP 43,772 and consultant therapists can reach salaries of GBP 60,983 (Prospects).


So, while you might be worried about the cost of a physiotherapy degree, you can see that there are opportunities to earn a high salary once you’ve gained the necessary experience and qualifications.


Hopefully, you now feel more confident in knowing what to expect from a physiotherapy course. For more information and guidance, check out our article on how to become a physiotherapist or if you’re sure this is the right course for you, use our course matcher tool to find the right programme and university. Before you leave, make sure you check out our news bulletin for international student updates.

Want to check which program suits you the best?
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