- School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders
- Physical Therapy
- Pre-Physical Therapy Emphasis
Both physical therapy and athletic training focus on patient care but the educational requirements and work environments vary.
Athletic training programs give students the skills needed to evaluate, assess and sometimes treat injuries. Athletic trainers often work with teams (high school, college or professional sports teams) but can also work in hospital or clinic settings.
Students who wish to become athletic trainers are required by the Board of Certification (BOC) to have at least a Bachelor's degree in athletic training from an accredited program in order to take the certification exam. NIU's athletic training program requires some biology and chemistry while also focusing on courses specifically related to athletic training and injury prevention; this allows students to have hands-on clinical experience at the undergraduate level.
Physical therapy programs (at the post-baccalaureate level) provide students with the ability to assess and treat individuals who have health-related conditions or injuries that may hinder them from performing daily activities.
Typical requirements to become licensed include graduating from an accredited physical therapy program and passing the National Physical Therapy Examination. Physical therapists often work in hospitals, clinics, private practices and nursing homes.
NIU's pre-physical therapy undergraduate program prepares student to enter a post-baccalaureate program (D.P.T.), which is necessary for practice as a licensed physical therapist, by requiring several biology, chemistry, and psychology courses and also requiring introductory courses to research methods and the rehabilitation process. Student will not have hands-on clinical experience at the undergraduate level but will while pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.). Please note that D.P.T. programs, including the D.P.T. offered at NIU, are often very competitive and have limited seats.