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Degree Overview

Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant

Shannon Herrin, Program Director, Physical Therapist Assistant

The Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant program offers a curriculum that is well-rounded in all fundamental concepts and theories as they apply to physical therapy modalities and rehabilitation procedures. The technical phase of the South University Virginia Beach Physical Therapist Assistant program consists of five academic quarters of lecture, laboratory, and clinical coursework. The academic program is taught during the day at the Virginia Beach campus.

The program has one part-time and two full-time clinical education experiences in which students complete 660 hours of clinical education. The first clinical experience is integrated into the second quarter of the technical phase of the program. The second and third clinicals take place during the last two quarters of the curriculum, with students returning to campus to complete a course in Current Rehabilitation Issues between the clinical experiences. This course allows for the integration of clinical experiences with didactic materials and the opportunity to correct deficiencies identified in the assessment of the student's performance in the clinic. The clinical experiences are chosen from a variety of settings, which may include hospitals, nursing homes, sub-acute facilities, and outpatient centers with which the program has entered into clinical agreements.

Commission on Accredtitation in Physical Therapy Education

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at South University, Virginia Beach, 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:; website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 757-493-6988 or email

Graduation Rate


South University Virginia Beach's PTA Program 2018-2019 graduation rate.

Ultimate Pass Rate


South University Virginia Beach's PTA Program 2018-2019 NPTE ultimate licensure exam pass rate.

first-time Pass Rate


South University Virginia Beach's PTA Program 2018-2019 NPTE first-time licensure exam pass rate.

Employment Rate


South University Virginia Beach's PTA Program 2018-2019 graduate employment rate.

Admission Requirements

Procedure for Admission to the Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Admission into the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program is a two-step process:

  1. Candidates are eligible to enter the general education phase of the PTA program as "PTA students" by meeting South University's General Undergraduate Admission Requirements.
  2. Candidates must complete prerequisite coursework and meet all requirements outlined below to be eligible for admission to the technical phase of the PTA program.

Students may transfer prerequisite courses into the program before entering the technical phase if approved by the registrar. The coursework that is transferred to South University must permit the student to obtain a 2.85 CGPA by the time the student applies for admission into the PTA technical phase. Students who transfer coursework into South University, but cannot mathematically attain a CGPA of 2.85 by the time they would enter the technical phase, will not be admitted to the PTA program.

Transfer credit will not be accepted for courses in the South University PTA Technical Phase Curriculum.

Note: This does not apply to South University PTA students (in good standing) transferring between campuses.

Students from South University who are in another major will be permitted to transfer into the general education phase of the PTA program if they meet all requirements as stated in the PTA Program Change Policy. Applicants must satisfy technical standards for the PTA program in order to be admitted.

Admission Requirements for the Technical Phase of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Applicants must apply for admission into the technical phase of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program. Applicants must submit a complete application packet and meet all admission requirements as stated below to enter the ranking process. The technical phase slots will be filled by applicants with the greatest academic potential for success as determined by the ranking process.  Applicants with the highest numerical ranking will be admitted to the technical phase of the program.

The criteria to determine admission to the PTA program include:

  1. Application must be submitted seven (7) weeks before the start of the technical phase of the program.
  2. Applicants must meet the Essential Functions and Technical Standards (listed in the application for admission and the program student handbook) of the program in order to enter the ranking process.
  3. Applicants must complete a background check at their own cost using the agency identified by the PTA Program Director. Applicants must meet timelines and requirements as detailed in the application packet. The PTA program follows the College of Health Professions Background Check Policy located in the South University Catalog ( Applicants are not eligible for admittance into any portion of the PTA program if they have a felony conviction, plea, or adjudication withheld, or any disqualifying misdemeanor, for which a pardon or exemption for disqualification has not been received, including but not limited to rape or sexual abuse or molestation, and abuse, endangerment, or neglect of a child, disabled person, or elderly person.
  4. Applicants must complete a drug screen at their own cost using the agency identified by the PTA Program Director. Applicants must meet timelines and requirements as detailed in the application packet. The PTA program follows the College of Health Professions Substance Abuse and Screening Policy located in the South University Catalog ( Applicants with positive drug screen results will not be admitted into the PTA Program. Applicants may be eligible to reapply to a future admissions cycle (see PTA Program Director).
  5. Applicants must complete an American Heart Association BLS CPR certification course (or equivalent) and provide a copy of a valid card at the time of application. The card must remain valid throughout all clinical rotations.
  6. Applicants must complete a health screening (physical exam showing medical clearance and proof of required immunity) before participating in the ranking process.
  7. Applicants must complete 25 hours of observation in a physical therapy setting documented by a licensed PT or PTA on the appropriate form provided in the admissions packet. The completed form must be submitted at the time of application.
  8. Applicants must achieve a 2.85 CGPA or greater in prerequisite coursework. All prerequisite coursework must be successfully completed prior to entry into the Technical Phase of the PTA Program.
  9. Applicants must submit ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) scores. Students must achieve a minimum level of "Proficient" to enter the ranking process. Scores will not be accepted if greater than 5 years old.
  10.  Ranking will be based upon:
    1. Cumulative GPA in required prerequisite coursework (2.85 or greater required).
    2. Science GPA (required to score a B or higher in these courses; science coursework will not be accepted if greater than 7 years old).
      1. AHS1001 Medical Terminology
      2. BIO1011 Anatomy and Physiology I
      3. BIO1012 Anatomy and Physiology I Lab
      4. BIO1013 Anatomy and Physiology II
      5. BIO1014 Anatomy and Physiology II Lab
    3. The ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) (minimum level of "Proficient" required).

    4. Repeating a course to achieve a higher grade is associate with penalty point deductions from the ranking score.

  11. The number of students entering the technical phase will be determined by the Campus Director/President in conjunction with the PTA Program Director and the ACCE/DCE.

Technical Standards for Physical Therapist Assistant Students

The following standards reflect expectations of a student in the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program for the performance of common physical therapy functions. In adopting these standards the PTA Program is mindful of the patient's right to safe function in a broad variety of clinical situations while receiving physical therapy interventions. The PTA student must be able to apply the knowledge and skills necessary to function in a broad variety of clinical situations while administering physical therapy interventions. These standards do not encompass all that may be required for employment of the PTA Program graduate. In order to verify the students' ability to perform these essential functions, students are required to demonstrate the following technical standards throughout the curriculum.

The faculty is the sole judge of a student's ability to meet these standards through successful completion of the requirements of the program and individual courses.

  1. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving Skills. Ability to collect, interpret and integrate information and use that information to make appropriate decisions.
  2. Interpersonal Skills. Ability to collaboratively work with all PTA students and with program faculty and patients in the classroom, lab, and clinical setting.
  3. Coping Skills. Ability to respond appropriately to stressful environments or during impending deadlines.
  4. Communication Skills. Ability to communicate effectively in English using verbal, nonverbal and written formats with faculty, other students, patients, families, and healthcare workers.
  5. Mobility/Motor Skills. Sufficient motor ability to execute the movement and skills required for safe and effective physical therapy treatment in various clinical settings.
  6. Sensory Abilities. Sufficient visual, auditory, and tactile ability to monitor and assess health needs.
  7. Behavioral Skills. Ability to demonstrate professional behaviors and a strong work ethic.

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program fully supports the provision of reasonable accommodations to students with special needs. Program requirements will not be altered. Instead, it is the policy of South University to provide reasonable accommodations to students with special needs who request them so that they can meet the program requirements. It is the students' responsibility to contact the Dean of Student Affairs/Office of Disability Support Services with documentation to support their need for accommodations. Students are encouraged to contact the Dean of Student Affairs and/or Program Director as early as possible to discuss their particular situation.

Both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C.A. Section 794, and the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit discrimination against "otherwise qualified" persons with a disability. If an applicant can perform the Technical Standards listed above, he or she is "otherwise qualified" under the law and must be treated the same as a person without a disability. A person who cannot perform the Technical Standards is not "otherwise qualified" and may be denied access to the program without discrimination.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 98,700 physical therapist assistants employed in 2019. Employment of physical therapist assists is projected to grow 33% from 2019-2029, much faster than the average for all occupations ( 


Graduation from a CAPTE accredited physical therapist assistant education program or its equivalency and passage of the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) is required for licensure.  Graduation from this program does not guarantee licensure as a PTA, and it is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the licensure requirements in each state. Complete information on practice acts and regulations can be obtained from the individual state licensing boards or through The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (  Specific information regarding application for licensure will be available to the student during the last term of study.

Course Requirements

Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant: 110 Credits

Offered at South University, Richmond; and South University, Virginia Beach.

 This program is a technical program and credits generally earned in this program are not applicable to other degrees.

Area I General Education: 36 Credits

(Quarters 1 - 3)

BIO1011 Anatomy and Physiology I, 4 Credit Hours

(must be taken concurrently with BIO 1012 <em>2 credit hours</em> Anatomy and Physiology I Lab)

BIO1012 Anatomy and Physiology I Lab, 2 Credit Hours
BIO1013 Anatomy and Physiology II, 4 Credit Hours

(must be taken concurrently with BIO 1013 Anatomy and Physiology II <em>4 credit hours</em> Anatomy and Physiology II)

BIO1014 Anatomy and Physiology II Lab, 2 Credit Hours

Math Elective (MAT1001, MAT1005 or MAT1500 4 credit hours

ENG1100 Composition I, 4 Credit Hours

English Elective:

ENG1200 Composition II, 4 Credit Hours


ENG1300 Composition III, 4 Credit Hours
  • Approved Communications Elective (COM2006 or SPC1026 ) 4 credit hours
Social Sciences
AHS1001 Medical Terminology, 4 Credit Hours
  • Approved Social Science Elective (PSY1001 or SOC1001 ) 4 credit hours
UVC1000 Strategies for Success, 4 Credit Hours

*Required if the student is also required to take MAT0099 


Area II Technical Phase: 74 Credits
4th Quarter
PTA1001 Introduction to Physical Therapist Assistant, 4 Credit Hours


PTA1003 Pathophysiology, 4 Credit Hours
PTA1005 Kinesiology, 6 Credit Hours
PTA1006 Testing and Measurement for the Physical Therapist Assistant, 6 Credit Hours
5th Quarter
PTA2000 Habilitation/Rehabilitation, 6 Credit Hours
PTA2024 Therapeutic Interventions I, 6 Credit Hours
PTA2047 Essentials of Clinical Care, 2 Credit Hours
6th Quarter
PTA2025 Therapeutic Interventions II, 6 Credit Hours
PTA2046 Advanced Habilitation/Rehabilitation, 6 Credit Hours
PTA2050 Professional Seminar, 4 Credit Hours
7th Quarter
PTA2048 Clinical Externship I, 8 Credit Hours
PTA2049 Current Rehabilitation Issues, 4 Credit Hours
8th Quarter
PTA2099 Clinical Externship II, 12 Credit Hours

**PTA1001 may also be taken in the quarter preceding the Technical Phase of the program.


Graduates will be able to:

  • Provide safe, efficient, efficacious interventions within the plan of care established by the physical therapist.
  • Communicate using effective and culturally-competent verbal, nonverbal, written, and digital communication.
  • Provide effective education to patients, caregivers, and members of the healthcare team.
  • Demonstrate the ability to appropriately and efficiently utilize resources to provide high- value physical therapy services.
  • Recognize the importance of maintaining competence in applicable areas of physical therapy practice.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work within the guidelines and standards established by regulatory, professional, and organizational entities.
  • Demonstrate behaviors consistent with the Core Values of the profession of physical therapy.
South University, Virginia Beach
Program Outcomes 2018-2019
Graduation Rate 92.6%
Ultimate Licensure Exam Pass Rate 84%
First-Time Licensure Exam Pass Rate 80%
Employment Rate 100%

Comments and Concerns

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Learn More

Physical Therapist Assistant Program at South University

You want to make a difference. You want to give back. You want to help people work their way back to health and wellness. Put your compassion and people skills to work with a career in physical therapy. A Physical Therapist Assistant degree can do more than improve your life. It’s a meaningful way to improve the life of others, too.

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Success Stories

Outstanding Education for Remarkable Careers

We're committed to helping our graduates make an impact in their professional and personal lives. We applaud our alumni and the difference they make. Check out what some of our healthcare graduates have to say.

Laceye A. Parker 2010
Laceye Parker Grad Alumni
Class of '13
Doctor of Pharmacy

“I had always been interested in healthcare, and as a child thought about becoming a physician. But when both my grandfathers became seriously ill, I came to a new appreciation of the vital role that pharmacists play in achieving positive outcomes for patients. As soon as I completed my master's degree, I decided to enter South University's Doctor of Pharmacy program. I've learned through my work at SCDHEC, and in my MBA program and Pharmacy School at South University, is laying a firm foundation for my career as a pharmacist.”

Crystal May 2014
Crystal May Grad Alumni
Class of '14
Bachelor of Sceince in Healthcare Management

“The staff was the heart of my experience at South. The staff worked together to provide a positive learning environment and truly had passion in educating the students. The staff helped me identify my strength and interest in the financial avenue of healthcare, and helped me see the benefits of pursuing this career. South University gave me the tools I need to be successful and validated my capabilities to be a successful professional.”

Robyn Smith 2007
Robyn Smith Grad Alumni
Class of '07
Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assistant

“I had only heard good things about their PTA program and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I find it very rewarding and emotional when a patient of mine who hasn't walked in a while takes steps again. It makes going to work everyday worth it to know that i can help improve the quality of life for some of these people.”

Anna Langley 2014
Anna Langley Grad Alumni
Class of '14
Master of Science in Physician Assistant

“During my [admissions] interview, I really felt like South was a place that professors were encouraging, welcoming, and helpful. I also was drawn to the small groups that they present. I liked the idea of having a faculty member mentor to guide a smaller group of students throughout the entire program. The rigorous nature of the coursework prepared me well for the boards and the ability to be successful in my career. During clinical rotations, I was able to apply what I had learned and gain valuable patient experience that has helped me today”

Allyson Obluck 2017
Allyson Obluck Grad Alumni
Class of '17
Associate of Science in Occupational Therapist Assistant

“I wanted to make a difference and I knew occupational therapy was a hands-on way to improve quality of life for many people. My professors always made the effort to ensure that I understood the material and were constantly encouraging me to be better and do better. All of my experiences throughout my clinical rotations challenged me to think outside the box and to trust my instincts.”