Jun 20, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog

Physical Therapist Assistant AAS

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Within the discipline of physical therapy, the position of physical therapist assistant (PTA) has emerged as an integral, technically trained, skilled clinician supervised only by the physical therapist (PT). The PTA plays a key role in the patient’s recovery from injury or dysfunction, as well as in the client’s pursuit of wellness and health promotion. The PTA program at Shawnee State University strives to fulfill the University’s mission by developing students to become self-driven, critically thinking individuals, and productive members of society. Shawnee State University prepares students to become general practitioners in the field of physical therapy under direction of a licensed physical therapist.

Physical Therapist Assistant Program Mission Statement

The mission of the PTA Program is to provide higher education using broad-based learning experiences and transforming therapeutic principles into competent clinical application, communication, scientific reasoning, and logical reasoning to enrich lives in the community.  The PTA program develops life-long learners to be professional and sensitive to the ever-changing healthcare environment.  The PTA faculty prepare entry-level PTA’s to collaborate with the PT in a variety of settings and patient populations.  This training prepares students for the National Physical Therapy Assistant Examination (NPTAE), which is required for licensure.

Physical Therapist Assistant Program Philosophy

We, the faculty, value the physical therapist assistant (PTA), as an extension of the physical therapist, helping to carry out the physical therapist plan of care. The faculty strives to train the PTA as a generalist in the field of physical therapy, in which the PTA will work under the supervision of the physical therapist. The laws that mandate practice of physical therapy in the state in which the PTA is practicing shall govern such supervision.  

We, the faculty, strive to prepare student physical therapist assistants to be well suited to treat clients from a continuum of care, to practice in an ethical and safe manner.  

We, the faculty, are committed to providing a coordinated curriculum based upon a broad spectrum of research, theory, function and life skills. We will train and educate the PTA to communicate in ways that are congruent and appropriate within the program, clinical environment, and community. It is our philosophy that a keystone to the educational process is the ability to critically think and use sound judgments. The faculty strives to train the PTA to be patient caregivers, educators, patient advocates consistent with the governing state laws. Clinical data collection will be taught using standardized tests appropriate for Physical Therapist Assistant education. Students are assessed and evaluated on an ongoing basis to assure procedural knowledge, as well as completion of performance indicators (CPI) with regards to safety and technical competencies.  

Educational Process

Students are required to complete general education courses that will better prepare students for the technical course work of the Physical Therapist Assistant program. Physical Therapist Assistant courses emphasize the four major components of physical therapy (musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary, and integumentary). There are 70 total credit hours required to complete a degree as a Physical Therapist Assistant. The course work is divided into 31 general education credit hours, 29 PTA technical credit hours, and 10 PTA clinical credit hours. Students will be required to successfully complete a mock computer based exam at the end of the curriculum.


PTAs are employed in a variety of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitative centers, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient ambulatory centers, home health agencies, federal or state agencies, and within school settings. Currently the job outlook for Physical Therapist Assistants is in high demand. Our graduates enjoy a near 100% job placement upon graduation and gaining licensure.

Application Information

Prospective PTA students are required to progress through a selective admission process. The program is limited in terms of size, and the availability of clinical sites. In addition to being accepted to the University at large, the student must also apply to the PTA program. The application deadline is April 1st for the upcoming fall semester.  The application may be accessed on our website at https://applyto.shawnee.edu/healthscience.aspx.  Continue to check for the most updated application packet as it may change from year to year.

Minimum requirements to apply for admission to the PTA program are a 2.66 cumulative GPA, 2.66 Math & Science GPA, 18 composite score on ACT or SAT equivalent, 40 observation hours under a licensed PT or PTA (20 hours in two different types of PT settings).  If applying with more than 24 college credit hours, college GPA will be used instead of high school GPA. Student must be 18 years of age or older to enter the program.

Please note that meeting the minimum criteria for admission consideration does not guarantee admittance into the PTA Program. All candidates meeting the minimum criteria for admission consideration are subsequently ranked and only a selected number are admitted due to clinical site limitations. In most years the number of applicants meeting the minimum criteria far exceeds the numbers of seats available in the PTA Program. As a result, the qualifications of those students admitted are much higher than the minimum requirements for admission consideration.

Criminal background checks and drug screening are required after acceptance into the PTA program prior to starting clinical affiliations.

Scoring the PTA Program Admission Application

  • Overall GPA (Must have a minimum of 2.66 to be eligible) - College GPA will be used for calculation for all applicants with more than 24 college credits at the time of application.
  • Science Math GPA (Must have a minimum of 2.66 to be eligible)
  • ACT Composite  (Must have a minimum of 18 to be eligible)
  • Observation Hours
  • Interview - Information Session (By invitation only)

Special notes:

  • High school transcripts will be used for all calculations for any applicant applying with less 24 college credits at the time of application.
  • Applicants who have a confirmed associate degree, bachelor degree, or master degree at the time of application, will be awarded additional points based upon level of degree completion.
  • Applicants can earn additional points for completing any/all of the following:  Anatomy & Physiology 1, Anatomy & Physiology 2, and Chemistry 1.

Academic Requirements

In order to remain in good standing in the PTA program, students must obtain a minimum of 2.66 GPA (B- average). Students must receive no lower than a grade of “C” (2.0) in any course required for the PTA degree.  Failure to do so may result in delaying graduation, or academic dismissal from the PTA program.

Program/Graduation Outcomes

These statistics are for the PTA Program class of 2022:

Admitted: 24 students 

Graduated: 16 students

Graduation rate 66.7%

16 students have taken the National PTA EXAM

14 students passed the NPTAE on the first attempt

That is a first time pass rate of 94.7%

15 students ultimately passed of NPTAE 

That is an ultimate pass rate of 93.8%


The Physical Therapist Assistant program at Shawnee State University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) at the American Physical Therapy Association, 3030 Potomac Avenue, Suite100, Alexandria, VA 22305; telephone: 703.706.3245; email: accreditation@apta.org web site: www.capteonline.org

Please Note

  • Only those students who have been officially accepted into the program are eligible to take any course beginning with the PTAT prefix with the exception of PTAT 1111 Introduction to Physical Therapy.
  • Clinical practicums are contracted training sites with over 80 facilities throughout the United States. It is the student’s responsibility to assure adequate funding for travel and/or room and board for clinical affiliations.
  • If accepted to the PTA program, students will be required to obtain CPR/First Aid certification, TB skin test, Hepatitis B vaccinations, Federal and State background checks, physical at the student’s expense and provide the program with immunization records.



This program is designed over the following five semester sequence:

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