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Physical Therapist Assistant programs

Earn a Physical Therapist Assistant Degree in as Little as 2 Years

Choose a career where you can make a difference in people's lives. We can prepare you to put your compassion and people skills to work with a career in physical therapy. Earn your degree in as little as 2 years, with 600+ hours of hands-on experience in local healthcare settings.

What a Physical Therapist Assistant Does

Physical therapist assistants work under the supervision of physical therapists to help patients regain movement and manage pain as they recover from injuries and illnesses. As a physical therapist assistant, you’ll work directly with physical therapy patients, with duties that may include:

  • Helping implement treatment programs per the plan of care
  • Educating and training patients (and their caregivers) on exercises and daily activities
  • Treating patients using modalities and other procedures, often incorporating special devices or equipment
  • Observing and reporting on patients’ responses to the physical therapist

Physical therapist assistants may work in physical therapist offices, hospitals, nursing facilities, home care, physician's offices, or other healthcare settings. As a physical therapist assistant, you’ll need to be compassionate, empathetic, and enjoy helping others. For patient interactions, patient records, and following physical therapist instructions, it’s also important to be organized, detail-oriented, and a good communicator.

How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant

Becoming a physical therapist assistant requires meeting specific physical therapist assistant education requirements, including earning an associate’s degree from an accredited program and achieving either licensure or certification.

Graduating from a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredited physical therapist assistant education program or its equivalency and passage of the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) is required for licensure.*

At South University, our physical therapist assistant programs are CAPTE accredited and can be completed in as little as two years. While our programs are designed to prepare you for the NPTE exam and physical therapist assistant employment, it is your responsibility to be aware of licensure requirements in your state.

Complete information on practice acts and regulations are available from the individual state licensing boards or through The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy ( Specific information regarding applying for licensure will be available to you during your final term of study.

Focused Program Courses & Clinical Experiences

Our physical therapist assistant program courses are carefully selected and designed to prepare you for your career, providing a comprehensive education in all fundamental concepts and theories applying to physical therapy equipment and procedures. In this physical therapist assistant degree program, you’ll explore topics that include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Testing and measurement
  • Modalities and their uses
  • Habilitation/rehabilitation
  • Clinical care
  • Therapeutic exercise and orthopedic applications

Our Physical Therapist Assistant program’s curriculum includes a strategic mix of lecture, laboratory, and clinical coursework. Throughout the program, you’ll have access to personalized attention from experienced, knowledgeable instructors** who are committed to your success. In addition, our courses can help you to build your communication and interpersonal skills, since educating and communicating with your patients, their caregivers, and your coworkers will be an essential part of your job.

As a physical therapist assistant student, you’ll also complete one part-time and two full-time clinical education experiences for a total of 660 clinical hours. In these clinical experiences, you can gain valuable on-site learning experience and practice performing supervised physical therapy assistant duties in a local healthcare facility, helping to set you up for future career success.

Physical Therapist Assistant Program Admissions

Anyone intending to enter one of our physical therapist assistant programs will first be admitted to South University as candidates for that physical therapist assistant program. Only after completing prerequisite coursework and achieving the specified requirements—as outlined on the Admissions Process section of the campus program pages—will students be admitted into the technical phase of the physical therapist assistant program.

Physical Therapist Assistant Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the physical therapist assistant job outlook is strong, with employment growing 31% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the 7% average across occupations. With the aging population, an increase is expected in physical therapy needed for rehabilitation. A rise in chronic conditions may also increase the demand for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants who can help patients maintain mobility.

Some physical therapist assistants may work with physical therapists who specialize in particular areas such as a pediatric physical therapist or a sport physical therapist. The standard physical therapist assistant salary varies by factors like experience level, employment type, and geographic region.

**South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.

**Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.


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