A Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program is an educational program designed to prepare individuals for a career as a physical therapist assistant, working under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist to provide rehabilitative care to patients. These programs combine classroom instruction with hands-on clinical experience to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and practical training needed to assist in the delivery of physical therapy services.


  • Program Length: PTA programs typically last two years and result in an associate degree. Some programs may offer accelerated options or part-time study schedules to accommodate students’ needs.
  • Admission Requirements: Admission requirements vary by program but commonly include a high school diploma or equivalent, prerequisite coursework in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, and psychology, and possibly completion of certain health-related courses or certifications (e.g., CPR certification).


  • Anatomy and Physiology: Detailed study of the structure and function of the human body, with a focus on the musculoskeletal system and other systems relevant to physical therapy.
  • Kinesiology: The study of human movement and biomechanics, including muscle function, joint mechanics, and principles of movement analysis.
  • Therapeutic Modalities: Instruction on the use of various therapeutic modalities, such as heat, cold, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and therapeutic exercise, to facilitate patient recovery and rehabilitation.
  • Rehabilitation Techniques: Training in manual therapy techniques, therapeutic exercises, gait training, balance training, and functional training to help patients regain mobility, strength, and function.
  • Patient Care Skills: Instruction on patient assessment, documentation, communication, ethics, and professional behavior in the clinical setting.
  • Clinical Education: Hands-on clinical rotations in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, and skilled nursing facilities, where students gain practical experience under the supervision of licensed physical therapists.

Clinical Experience

Clinical education is a crucial component of PTA programs, providing students with opportunities to apply classroom knowledge to real-world patient care scenarios. Clinical rotations typically take place in multiple settings and allow students to work with diverse patient populations and conditions, under the guidance of experienced physical therapists and clinical instructors.


PTA programs must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) to ensure they meet established standards of quality and prepare students for entry-level practice as PTAs. Graduating from an accredited program is typically a requirement for licensure and employment as a PTA in most states.

Career Paths

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