Physical Therapist Assistant, A.S.

Program Code: 2PTA_AS

Program Description

This major helps prepare individuals to provide physical therapy services under the direction of a physical therapist in an ethical, safe and effective manner. Students develop knowledge and skills in data collection and the appropriate use of equipment and exercise associated with various physical therapy treatment modalities. In order to accomplish these tasks, the major utilizes a combination of basic science and non-science course work coupled with courses specifically designed for the physical therapist assistant student. Students must progress through the program as prescribed by the recommended academic plan for their campus of admission. The program culminates with a full semester of clinical experience.

The size of each entering class is limited so that optimal clinical experiences and practical application situations can be maintained. Clinical affiliations are maintained over a wide geographical area, and students may be required to make special housing and transportation arrangements for the clinical phase. Prior to the beginning of the clinical practicum, PTA students are required to complete clinical requirements that may include, but are not limited to: health examination, immunizations, FBI fingerprint check, child abuse clearance, state background check and drug screening. Students will be responsible for completion and purchase of the necessary checks/clearances through a University approved vendor and providing results to the clinical sites.

In addition to a PTA certification/licensure, many state licensing boards and clinical facilities require a criminal background check, child abuse clearance, and a drug screening. Students with criminal records should contact the physical therapy licensing board in the state they plan to practice prior to applying for admission to the PTA Program to inquire about potential restrictions for licensure.

What is a Physical Therapist Assistant?

Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) work as part of a team providing physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist. PTAs implement interventions outlined in the physical therapist’s plan of care, collect data related to interventions, and modify selected interventions to progress patients towards their individual goals. These goals are designed to reduce pain, restore function, improve mobility and prevent disability. An Associate in Science Degree in Physical Therapist Assistant requires 5-semesters of study, including three full-time clinical practicums. The PTA Program prepares graduates to take the national examination for certification/licensure as a PTA.

You Might Like This Program If...

You might like this major if you are interested in working with people of all ages who have health-related conditions that cause pain, limit their ability to move or perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTAs work under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist to provide meaningful interventions, such as exercise, training for walking and other activities, and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy.

Entrance to Major

Students must request a Dean's review to change to this Associate degree after admission to the University.

Additional Information

In addition to a PTA certification/licensure, many state licensing boards and clinical facilities require a criminal background check, child abuse clearance, and a drug screening. PTA students are required to complete clinical requirements that may include FBI fingerprint check, child abuse clearance, state background check and drug screening prior to the beginning of the clinical practicum. Students will be responsible for completion and purchase of the necessary checks/clearances through a University approved vendor and providing results to the clinical sites. Students with criminal records should contact the physical therapy licensing board in the state they plan to practice prior to applying for admission to the PTA Program to inquire about potential restrictions for licensure.

Degree Requirements

For the Associate in Science degree in Physical Therapist Assistant, a minimum of 70 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 21
Requirements for the Major 61

9-12 of the 21 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 3-6 credits of GWS courses; 3 credits of GN courses; 3-6 credits of GS courses.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all associate degree students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 3 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 3 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Note: Up to six credits of Inter-domain courses may be used for any Knowledge Domain requirement, but when a course is used to satisfy more than one requirement, the credits from the course can be counted only once.

Foundations or Knowledge Domains

  • Any General Education course: 3 credits

University Degree Requirements

Cultures Requirement   

3 credits of United States (US) or International (IL) cultures coursework are required and may satisfy other requirements

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 60 degree credits must be earned for a associates degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 60 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
PSYCH 100Introductory Psychology Keystone/General Education Course3
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
BIOL 161Human Anatomy and Physiology I - Lecture Keystone/General Education Course3
BIOL 162Human Anatomy and Physiology I - Laboratory Keystone/General Education Course1
BIOL 163Human Anatomy and Physiology II - Lecture Keystone/General Education Course3
BIOL 164Human Anatomy and Physiology II - Laboratory Keystone/General Education Course1
ENGL 15Rhetoric and Composition Keystone/General Education Course3
PT 120Human Musculature and Functional Anatomy2
PT 150Physical Therapist Assistant Procedures I2
PT 160Therapeutic Exercise I3
PT 250Physical Therapist Assistant--Procedures II3
PT 260Therapeutic Exercise--II3
PT 285Clinical Reasoning for the PTA2
PT 290Professional Issues in Clinical Practice2
PT 384Applied Kinesiology3
PT 395EPhysical Therapist Assistant--Practicum I3
PT 395FPhysical Therapist Assistant--Practicum II 14
PT 395GPhysical Therapist Assistant--Practicum III 14
Additional Courses
Select one of the following:3
Interpersonal Communication Keystone/General Education Course
Effective Writing: Technical Writing Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Human Development and Family Studies Keystone/General Education Course
Infant and Child Development Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Developmental Psychology Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Abnormal Psychology
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
PT 100Physical Therapist Assistant--Introduction3
or PT 100S Physical Therapist Assistant-Introduction
Select one of the following:5
Pathophysiology
Pathophysiology
Pathophysiology I
and Pathophysiology II
Pathophysiology I
and Pathophysiology II
Select one of the following:5
Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation-1
and Rehabilitation-2
Rehabilitation-1
and Rehabilitation-2W

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.

READ SENATE POLICY 32-00: ADVISING POLICY

Dubois

Barb Reinard, PT, DPT
Assistant Teaching Professor
PTA Program Coordinator
1 College Place
DuBois, PA 15801
814-375-4773
ber125@psu.edu

Fayette

Stacy Sekely
Assistant Teaching Professor
2201 University Drive
Lemont Furnace, PA 15456
724-430-4105
sas85@psu.edu

Hazleton

Rosemarie Petrilla
Teaching Professor of Physical Therapy
7D Physical Education Building
Hazleton, PA 18202
570-450-3042
rxp21@psu.edu

Mont Alto

Renee Borromeo
Teaching Professor, Physical Therapy
University College, Professor in Charge
104H Sci-Tech
Mont Alto, PA 17237
717-749-6020
rlb18@psu.edu

Shenango

Gizelle Dean
Associate Teaching Professor
147 Shenango Avenue
204B Forker Lab
724-983-2867
gad12@psu.edu

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2021-22 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Physical Therapist Assistant, A.S. at DuBois Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits 
ENGL 153PT 100S*3 
BIOL 161#3PT 120*2 
BIOL 162#1PT 384*3 
PSYCH 1003BIOL 163*†3 
General Education Course - Arts, Humanities or Quantitative3BIOL 164*†1 
General Education Course3General Education Course3 
 16 15 
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
PT 150*2PT 250*3PT 395F*4
PT 160*3PT 395E*3PT 395G*4
PT 271W*3PT 260*3 
PT 272*2PT 282*3 
PT 290*2PT 285*2 
PT 281*2PSYCH 212*3 
 14 17 8
Total Credits 70

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GN, GA, GH, and GS). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Program Notes:

Physical Therapist Assistant, A.S. at Fayette Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits 
BIOL 161 (GN)*3BIOL 163 (GN)*3 
BIOL 162 (GN)*1BIOL 164 (GN)*1 
PT 100*3PSYCH 100 (GS)3 
PT 120*2PT 384*3 
ENGL 15 (GWS)3General Education Course (GH or GA)3 
Quantification (GQ) (MATH 37 suggested)3General Education Course (GH or GA); US/IL Recommended3 
PSU 81  
 16 16 
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
PT 150*2PT 201 (suggested elective course but not required)1PT 395F*4
PT 160*3PT 260*3PT 395G*4
PT 250*3PT 272*2 
PT 271*3PT 282W*3 
PT 281*2PT 285*2 
PT 290*2CAS 203, ENGL 202C, HDFS 129, HDFS 229, PSYCH 212, or PSYCH 2703 
 PT 395E*3 
 15 17 8
Total Credits 72

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GN, GA, GH, and GS). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Academic Advising Notes:

A student's career/graduate school plans should be considered in developing an individual academic plan.  Be sure to consult an adviser in this department when scheduling courses.

Physical Therapist Assistant, A.S. at Hazleton Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits 
BIOL 161*†3BIOL 163*3 
BIOL 162*†1BIOL 164*1 
ENGL 15 or 30H3General Education Course3 
PSYCH 1003PT 120*2 
PT 100*43General Education Course3 
General Education Course3  
 16 12 
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
PT 150*2PT 250*3PT 395F*34
PT 160*3PT 260*3PT 395G*34
PT 270*5PT 280*25 
PT 290*2PT 285*2 
PT 384*3ENGL 202C, PSYCH 212, CAS 203, PSYCH 270, or HDFS 2293 
PT 395E*3  
 18 16 8
Total Credits 70

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GN, GA, GH, and GS). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Program Notes:

Students are required to take a total of 3 credits in ARTS and 3 credits in HUM during the first 2 semesters.

KINES 13 is optional, student must be certified in Professional Rescuer, CPR, and First Aid.

Students are allowed to attend graduation ceremonies, but officially do not receive diploma until August, upon successful completion of their summer practicums.

A student's career/graduate school plans should be considered in developing an individual academic plan.  Be sure to consult an adviser in this department when scheduling courses. 

Physical Therapist Assistant, A.S. at Mont Alto Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits 
PT 100S*13PT 120*2 
BIOL 161 (GN)*†3PT 384*3 
BIOL 162 (GN)*†1BIOL 163 (GN)*3 
ENGL 15 or 30H (GWS)3BIOL 164 (GN)*1 
PSYCH 100 (GS)3General Education Course (GQ)3 
PSU 881General Education Course (GH or GA); US/IL recommended3 
General Education Course (GH or GA); US/IL recommended3  
 16-17 15 
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
PT 150*2PT 250*3PT 395F*54
PT 160*3PT 260*3PT 395G*64
PT 271W*23PT 272*2 
PT 281*2PT 282*3 
PT 290*2PT 285*2 
PT 395E*33ENGL 202C, PSYCH 212, CAS 203, HDFS 129, HDFS 229, or PSYCH 27043 
 15 16 8
Total Credits 70-71

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GN, GA, GH, and GS). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Advising Notes:

All students are required to be currently certified in CPR for participation in PT 395E, PT 395F, and PT 395G. Students may attain the certification through KINES 13, which can be taken any semester.

Physical Therapist Assistant, A.S. at Shenango Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits 
Art (GA)3BIOL 163*3 
BIOL 161*3BIOL 164*1 
BIOL 162*1Humanities (GH)3 
ENGL 15 (GWS)*†‡3PT 120*2 
PSYCH 100 (GS)3PT 384*3 
PT 100*3Quantification (GQ)*‡3 
 16 15 
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
PT 150*2PT 250*3PT 395F*4
PT 160*3PT 260*3PT 395G*4
PT 270W*5PT 280*5 
PT 290*2PT 285*2 
ENGL 202C, CAS 203, PSYCH 212, PSYCH 270, HDFS 129, or HDFS 229 (GS)3PT 395E*3 
 15 16 8
Total Credits 70

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GN, GA, GH, and GS). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Program Notes:

Students must complete a 3-credit course in "United States Cultures (US)" or a 3-credit course in "International Cultures (IL)."

Healthcare Providers CPR is required for clinical rotations.

Career Paths

The Physical Therapist Assistant program prepares its graduates for positions in many traditional and non-traditional career settings and for opportunities to further their educations in a variety of fields.

Careers

Physical Therapist Assistants provide services to patients of all ages and health conditions many settings, including outpatient clinics, hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, extended care or sub-acute facilities, home, education or research centers, schools, occupational environments, fitness centers and sports training facilities. All states in the US require PTAs to have graduated from a CAPTE-accredited program and have obtained state licensure. Students seeking licensure as a PTA must apply to the licensing authority of the jurisdiction (state) in which the graduate is seeking licensure and then register for the National Physical Therapy Examination for PTAs administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PT/PTA CAREERS

BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK HANDBOOK IN HEALTHCARE

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Many students choose to continue their education at Penn State after completing their AS degree in PTA by completing and complete bachelor’s degrees in a variety of disciplines, including: Rehabilitation and Human Services; Letters, Arts and Sciences; Human Development and Family Studies; Health Policy Administration; Psychology; or other related field of study. Advisers assist interested students in completing bachelor’s degrees and meeting prerequisite qualifications to apply for doctoral degrees in physical therapy (DPT) or other field of graduate study.

Professional Resources

Accreditation

The Associate of Science degree in Physical Therapist Assistant at Penn State is accredited by the:

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
American Physical Therapy Association
3030 Potomac Ave.,
Suite 100
Alexandria, VA 22305-3085
Telephone: 703-706-3245
Email: accreditation@apta.org
Website: https://www.capteonline.org

Graduation from a physical therapist assistant education program accredited by CAPTE is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states.

Accreditation by Campus

Penn State DuBois

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at The Pennsylvania State University, Dubois Campus is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: http://www.capteonline.org. The program’s current status is probationary accreditation; for more information see http://www.capteonline.org/WhatWeDo/RecentActions/PublicDisclosureNotices/. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 814-375-4773 or email ber125@psu.edu.

Penn State Fayette

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, VA 22305-3085, 703-706-3245, accreditation@apta.org.

Penn State Hazleton

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Penn State Hazleton is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, VA 22305-3085, 703-706-3245, accreditation@apta.org.

Penn State Mont Alto

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at the Penn State Mont Alto is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, VA 22305-3085, 703-706-3245, accreditation@apta.org.

Penn State Shenango

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Penn State Shenango is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, VA 22305-3085, 703-706-3245, accreditation@apta.org.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE COMMISSION ON ACCREDITATION IN PHYSICAL THERAPY EDUCATION

Professional Licensure/Certification

Many U.S. states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map.

Contact

Dubois

1 College Place
DuBois, PA 15801
814-375-4773
ber125@psu.edu

http://dubois.psu.edu/2pta

Fayette

2201 University Drive
Lemont Furnace, PA 15456
724-430-4105
sas85@psu.edu

http://fayette.psu.edu/pta

Hazleton

7 Physical Education Building
Hazleton, PA 18202
570-450-3047
rxp21@psu.edu

http://hazleton.psu.edu/associate-science-physical-therapist-assistant

Mont Alto

104H Sci-Tech
Mont Alto, PA 17237
717-749-6020
rlb18@psu.edu

https://montalto.psu.edu/academics/associate/physical-therapist-assistant-degree

Shenango

147 Shenango Avenue
204B Forker Lab
724-983-2867
gad12@psu.edu

http://shenango.psu.edu/pta