Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant

Degree Awarded: 
Associate's Degree

To learn more about the faculty and staff of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, click here.
To see the Physical Therapist Assistant section in the Jefferson College of Health Sciences Catalog, click here.


The Physical Therapist Assistant program blends classroom, lab, and clinical components into a two-year, five-semester Associate of Applied Science degree. This program includes three clinical rotations, each with a distinct focus. Graduates are eligible to take the state board licensing examination for the Physical Therapist Assistant in any state that offers this examination. A total of 76 hours are required for graduation. All who enter the course must be able to execute physical functions that are routinely required of the PTA.

The physical therapist assistant is a trained, paraprofessional health provider who, under the direction of a physical therapist, carries out the patient's treatment program. The physical therapist assistant, who follows the plan developed by the supervising physical therapist, is a vital member of the patient's healthcare team.

Responsibilities of the physical therapist assistant include: instructing patients in exercises and activities of normal daily living; performing treatments; utilizing special equipment; assisting in performing patient examinations, evaluations, and complex treatment procedures; monitoring and reporting the patient's reactions.

Program Mission: 

Our students learn to work as a clinical generalist and work under the direct supervision of Physical Therapists. They provide direct care including implementing the treatment plan, treating patients with therapeutic exercises, massage, and physical agents such as heat, cold, and electricity. There are many opportunities for qualified PTAs and the rewards of seeing a patient progress are great. PTAs help patients regain or maintain their independence.

Program Goals Intro: 

Our faculty believe that a graduate from the PTA program:

Program Goals: 
  • Will have an excellent chance of passing the state licensing examination on the first attempt.
  • Is a generalist and can practice in a wide variety of physical therapy environments.
  • Will meet the expectations of the employers.
  • Will be confident in their skills as an entry-level Physical Therapist Assistant.
Accreditations: 

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Jefferson College of Health Sciences is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org;website: http://www.capteonline.org.

History: 

In the late 1940s, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) House of Delegates anticipated growth in the physical therapy profession and examined the need for additional personnel to assist physical therapists. With the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, the need for this personnel was greatly increased. In 1967, the first two Physical Therapist Assistant programs were created. Today, the number of PTA programs outnumbers PT.

Career Outlook: 

In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment of physical therapist assistants is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations (increase 43% percent) through the year 2020, and that over the long run, demand for physical therapist assistants will continue to rise, in accordance with growth in the number of individuals with disabilities or limited function. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the median annual earnings of physical therapist assistants were $49,690 in 2010. The median annual wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,070, and the top 10 percent earned more than $68,820. In addition, the Bureau reported (2011) that in Virginia, the average salary for a PTA was $51,110, and in the Roanoke area, the salary was $51,340.

Admission Requirements: 
  • Click here for the general information on admissions requirements.
  • Attendance at an onsite or online program information session is required for admission to the program.
    - The online program information session can be found here.
    - You will then need to complete a PTA Program Applicant Orientation Quiz, which can be found here.
Other Information: 
Our Graduates

Surveys from employers of our graduates report very favorably that our graduates are rated for job performance relative to graduates of similar programs. They include comments on what our graduates demonstrate: 
 

  • Ability to research problems
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility
  • Ability to work well with staff and residents.
  • Good oral and written communication
  • Good interpersonal skills Similar results are shown regarding a graduate’s ability to meet entry-level job expectations and the employer’s overall satisfaction with the work-related performance of graduates.
Graduate Outcomes

As part of the accreditation standards of all PTA programs, each program is required to make outcome data from the previous three (3) years available to the public. Most states require that graduates pass a national licensure exam in order to be licensed to practice in that state. Jefferson College of Health Sciences results were as follows: 

Year Number of Program Graduates Graduation Rate Percentage of first-time licensure exam takers who passed the exam Ultimate licensure exam pass rate Percentage of graduates employed within 6 months
2011 22 59% 86% 95.2% 100%
2012 35 81.1% 71% 88.5% 100%
2013 31 76.9% 83.8% 90.3% 93.5%
Clinical Education for the Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Current Jefferson College Physical Therapist  Assistant students and Clinical Instructors can click here to access forms and other information.

CAPTE Accreditation