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19 Physical Therapy Scholarships for Students and PT Residents

Rizing Tide Team

Finding and applying for national scholarships can be deeply frustrating—the process is a heck of a lot more difficult than it should be. Ideally, students and other fiscal-aid hunters should be able to key in a quick Google search and find a world of info about available scholarships and application processes—but it’s rarely ever that simple. 

Even though there are a plethora of scholarship websites that have compiled lists of opportunities for specific fields or specific applicants—many of them are gated, requiring personal information to access, or they’re downright outdated, linking to broken scholarship pages and misstating scholarship details. 

So to help y’all navigate the information that’s out there and give you a good jumping-off point for your own fiscal research, we compiled a list of national scholarships that are specific to physical therapists. Just know that, even though we didn’t include them here, there are many non-PT-specific and state-specific scholarships available to PT students. Reach out to your career counselor or residency or fellowship program for more guidance! 

This article was last updated on 3/9/22. 

General Scholarships for Student PTs

Open to All Applicants

These are the PT scholarships that are open to all applicants—no matter their age, gender, race, or ethnicity. 

AAPT Academic Award of Excellence

The American Academy of Physical Therapy (AAPT) is an organization that aims to reduce healthcare inequity caused by financial and racial status. To this end, the AAPT annually awards this scholarship to outstanding PT or PTA students who are in their last year of an accredited program. Applicants must fill out a form and provide three short personal statements. Send applications to epollard@langston.edu.  

Amount: $2,500

Application Window: Before December 31

AMBUCS Scholarship for Therapists

AMBUCS is a charitable organization with a mission to inspire greater mobility and independence for disabled people. Each year, the organization gives away hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships—for which applicants must fill out a form, provide a student aid report, and write a one-page personal statement. Apply here

Amount: $600–$1,500, with one two-year award of $6,000

Application Window: Between February 7 and May 1 

Daughters of the American Revolution Physical/Occupational Therapy Scholarship

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is a volunteer organization with a mission that involves supporting students’ education pursuits. While DAR offers many scholarships, this particular one is awarded to students who are pursuing careers in occupational or physical therapy through an accredited program. To apply, simply fill out an application and attach the required documentation (including a personal statement of no more than 1,000 words).  Apply here

Amount: $2,000 to two students

Application Window: Between November 1 and January 31

HIE Help Center Scholarship for Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy Students

The HIE Help Center is an informational resource for families with children with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Each year, the organization awards this scholarship to one aspiring speech, occupational, or physical therapy student. To apply, students must fill out a form, attach a transcript, write a short essay, and complete one creative project. Apply here

Amount: $1,000 to one student

Application Window: Before July 31

International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons Health Careers Scholarship

The International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons (IOKDS) is a religious organization with a mission that involves offering fiscal aid to aspiring healthcare workers. Physical therapy students who’ve completed at least two years of study are welcome to apply for this scholarship—and recipients may request an annual scholarship renewal for up to three years. To apply, email health-careers-director@iokds.org. 

Amount: $1,000

Application Window:  Between November 1 and March 1 

Mary McMillan Scholarship Award

Each year, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers a handful of scholarships to aspiring PTs in its Student Assembly. The APTA awards this particular scholarship to students who are within 12 months of graduation and who exhibit potential to significantly contribute to the PT profession. To apply, simply fill out an application and submit two letters of recommendation, an enrollment verification form, and one personal statement. Apply here

APTA membership required for application. 

Amount: $5,000 to student PTs and $3,000 to student PTAs

Application Window: Between September 1 and December 1

National Strength and Conditioning Association Challenge Scholarship

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is a nonprofit association pursuing the advancement of sport science professions (physical therapy included). Each year, this organization awards this scholarship to NSCA members who are pursuing a degree in a strength and conditioning-related field. To apply, simply submit an application, a transcript, and three letters of recommendation. Apply here.
NSCA membership required for application. 

Amount: $2,000 

Application Window:  Between August 1 and October 15

Outstanding PT Student and PTA Student Awards

Each year, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers a handful of scholarships to aspiring PTs in its Student Assembly. This particular scholarship is awarded to two students who’re in their last year of PT or PTA school and who’ve demonstrated “exceptional overall accomplishments and contributions to APTA, the Student Assembly, and the physical therapy profession.” To apply, simply fill out an application and complete a number of short personal statements. Apply here.
APTA membership required for application. 

Amount: $1,000 to one PT student and $500 to one PTA student 

Application Window: Between September 1 and December 1

Open to BIPOC Applicants 

These PT scholarships aim to widen the diversity of the PT field, and are therefore open to applicants who are Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC). 

Rizing Tide Crest Scholarship

Rizing Tide is a scholarship program designed to empower a new generation of BIPOC leaders in the physical therapy profession—and ultimately improve the accessibility of PT care. Each year, Rizing Tide awards the Crest scholarship to undergraduate students who are going on to attend PT school and/or to PTAs entering a PTA-to-DPT bridge program. To apply, simply fill out an application, collect two letters of recommendation, and submit a transcript and three short personal statements. This scholarship is renewable. Apply here

Amount: $14,000 to three students

Application Window: Between June 1 and June 30

IHS Scholarship Program

The Indian Health Service (IHS) is a federal program that aims “to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level.” In pursuit of its mission, the IHS offers scholarships to aspiring health professionals who are members or descendants of a federally recognized, state-recognized, or terminated American Indian Tribe or Alaska Native village. Scholarship recipients must commit to working within an Indian health

program for two years. Applicants must fill out a form and write an essay. Apply here

Amount: Full tuition plus a monthly stipend of at least $1,500 for living expenses

Application Window: Between December 15 and February 28

Minority Scholarship Award for PT Student and PTA Students

Each year, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers a handful of scholarships to aspiring PTs and PTAs in its Student Assembly. This particular scholarship is awarded to students who come from an underrepresented racial or ethnic background. Applicants must fill out a form, complete a short personal statement, and submit a curriculum vitae and three personal references. Apply here

APTA membership required for application. 

Amount: $5,000 to student PTs and $3,000 to student PTAs

Application Window: Between September 1 and December 1

NABPT Prospective Student Scholarship

The National Association of Black Physical Therapists, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase opportunities for the African Diaspora in the physical therapy industry. In pursuit of that goal, the NABPT provides this scholarship to a prospective PT or PTA student to help cover DPT application or prerequisite fees. To apply, students must submit a video or written essay to info@nabpt.org.

Amount: $500

Application Window: Before November 22

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Minority Scholarship

As mentioned above, the NSCA is a nonprofit that aims to advance sport science professions (physical therapy included). Each year, this organization awards this scholarship to NSCA members who are considered “ethnic minorities” per the U.S. Census Bureau and who are pursuing a degree in a strength and conditioning-related field. To apply, simply submit an application, a transcript, and three letters of recommendation. Apply here

NSCA membership required for application. 

Amount: $2,000

Application Window:  Between August 1 and October 15

Scholarships for PT Residents and Fellows

Rizing Tide Surge Scholarship

Rizing Tide is a scholarship program designed to empower a new generation of BIPOC leaders in the physical therapy profession—and ultimately improve the accessibility of PT care. Each year, Rizing Tide awards the Surge scholarship to graduating physical therapy students or licensed physical therapists who are entering a residency program. To apply, simply fill out an application, collect two letters of recommendation, and submit a transcript and three short personal statements. Apply here

Amount: $10,000 to two students

Application Window: Between September 1 and September 30

APTA Geriatrics Physical Therapy Clinical Residency or Fellowship Scholarship

The Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy (or APTA Geriatrics, as it’s now called) is an association that advances optimal care for geriatric patients. This residency or fellowship scholarship is awarded to applicants who are enrolled in an accredited geriatrics residency or fellowship program. Scholarship hopefuls must fill out an application; submit a cover letter, a transcript, and five short personal statements; and collect a letter of recommendation. To apply, email an application to geriatrics@geriatricspt.org.

APTA Geriatrics membership required for application. 

Amount: Between $1,250 and $5,000

Application Window: Before March 15

NABPT Student Scholarship

As mentioned above, the NABPT is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase opportunities for the African Diaspora in the physical therapy industry. To achieve that goal, the NABPT provides this scholarship to a student PT or student PTA to help cover the housing costs associated with clinical rotations. To apply, students must submit a video or written essay to info@nabpt.org.

Amount: $1,000

Application Window: Before November 22

Scholarships for PTs Pursuing Additional Schooling

These scholarships are for licensed PT professionals who are pursuing additional schooling—whether that’s a PhD or a specialty certification. 

Foundation for Physical Therapy Research PODS Scholarships

The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research is an organization dedicated to funding PT research and supporting researchers. As such, the foundation offers financial aid to students who are at least one year into pursuing a post-professional doctoral degree related to the PT field (i.e., a PhD). These scholarships are renewable. Find the link to apply here

Amount:  $7,500 to $15,000 depends on the PODS award

Application Window: October 8 through January 6

Minority Scholarship Award for Faculty Development Scholarship Award

This APTA-sponsored scholarship is for BIPOC DPT faculty who are pursuing a post-professional doctoral degree (i.e., a PhD). Applicants must currently teach full-time and show commitment to bolstering the BIPOC community. Applicants must fill out a form, collect three references, and submit their curriculum vitae and a personal essay. Apply here

APTA membership required for application. 

Amount: $5,000 

Application Window: Between September 1 and December 1

NABPT Clinician Scholarship

As mentioned above, the NABPT is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase opportunities for the African Diaspora in the physical therapy industry. This final NABPT scholarship is awarded to a PT or PTA to help cover the cost of a specialty certification. To apply, students must submit a video or written essay to info@nabpt.org.

Amount: $1,000

Application Window: Before December 20


Know of any more national PT scholarship opportunities that you think should be featured on this list? Feel free to leave a comment below, or email the information to info@rizing-tide.com.

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About the Author

Rizing Tide Team

Rizing Tide is a scholarship program designed to empower a new generation of BIPOC leaders in the physical therapy profession. We partner with PT and PTA students, PT residents, and industry leaders to advance diversity and inclusiveness in the physical therapy workforce and inspire better—and more accessible—patient care.

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