Description and Student Learning Outcomes

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs help people of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.

Some of the care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients or clients exercises for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes or walkers, using manual therapy, physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound.  PTAs also observe the patient's abilities and report their observations to the physical therapist.  Unlike a physical therapist, the PTA cannot evaluate a patient, update a plan of care, or discharge a patient.

Generally, physical therapist assistants are employed wherever physical therapists work. Hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home and public health agencies, schools, private physical therapy practices, and the armed forces are major employers.

At the completion of the Physical Therapist Assistant program,students will be able to:

  1. Exhibit professional behavior in their role as responsible physical therapist assistants, adhering to appropriate ethical, legal, and regulatory standards.
  2. Engage in evidence-based practice, responding to the dynamics of a changing healthcare system.
  3. Integrate the principles of the physical, biological and behavioral sciences with the clinical practice of physical therapy.
  4. Communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, families and other members of the health care team.
  5. Commit to a lifelong process of self-improvement and learning.

Admissions Requirements

Students will be admitted to UAA Physical Therapist Assistant program as a pre-major. Prior to being admitted as a full major, Students must complete prerequisite coursework and an application process prior to being admitted into the full-major program.  Please see the Application Procedure page for additional information.


Special admission and application procedure requirements apply. Interested students should contact the Physical Therapist Assistant department for selection criteria. Completion of admission requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the program. Due to the risks associated with working in a healthcare setting, students will also be required to have health insurance and show evidence of current immunizations.  Health insurance is available for purchase through the UAA Student Health and Counseling Center.

Prerequisite Requirements

  • BIOL A111/LHuman Anatomy and Physiology I with Laboratory (4)
  • BIOL A112/LHuman Anatomy and Physiology II with Laboratory (4)
  • COMM A111 Fundamentals of Oral Communications OR COMM A235 Small Group Communication OR COMM A237 Interpersonal Communication ORCOMM A241 Public Speaking (3)
  • ENGL A111 Introduction to Composition (3)
  • MA A101Medical Terminology (3)
  • MA A104 Essentials of Human Disease (3)
  • PSY A111General Psychology OR PSY A150 Lifespan Development (recommended) (3)

General Degree Requirements not included in prerequisites

  • ENGL A211 Academic Writing about Literature, ENGL A212 Technical Writing, ENGL A213 Writing in the Social & Natural Sciences, OR ENGL A214 Persuasive Writing (3)

Major Requirements

  • BIOL A111/L Anatomy and Physiology I with Lab (4)
  • BIOL A112/L Anatomy and Physiology II with Lab (4)
Spring Semester
  • PTA A101 Fundamentals of Physical Therapy (2)
  • PTA A105 Tests and Measures (3)
  • PTA A110 Kinesiology and Biomechanics (3)
  • PTA A120 Rehabilitation I (3)
  • PTA A130 Physical Therapy Interventions I (4)
Summer Semester
  • PTA A150 Psychosocial Aspects of Health Care (2)
  • PTA A195 Clinical Practicum I (1)
  • PTA A210 Therapeutic Exercise (4)
  • PTA A220 Rehabilitation II (3)
  • PTA A230 Physical Therapy Interventions II (4)
  • PTA A250 Neurological Interventions Across the Lifespan (3)
Fall Semester
  • PTA A292 Physical Therapist Assistant Seminar (2)
  • PTA A295A Clinical Practicum II (5)
  • PTA A295B Clinical Practicum III (5)

A total of 61 credits is required for the degree.