Physical Therapist Assistant
Associate in Applied Science Degree
Physical Therapist Assistant Program Mission
The Physical Therapist Assistant program strives to develop competent paraprofessionals
in their given field through education that stresses problem-solving, critical thinking,
and independent skill performance such that our graduates will provide quality care to
the public in a positive and professional manner. Our mission is consistent with that of
Central Penn College.
Program Learning Outcomes
• Demonstrate knowledge of the theoretical concepts that are foundational to the
practice of physical therapy.
• Deliver physical therapy services as described in a plan of care under the direct
supervision of a physical therapist in a competent, safe, and effective manner.
• Communicate verbally, non-verbally, and in writing with those involved in patient
care, in an appropriate and professional manner.
• Demonstrates sound clinical judgment when implementing the plan of care
established by the physical therapist.
• Perform appropriate therapeutic interventions, including tests and measures, to
assist the supervising physical therapist in monitoring and modifying the patient’s
plan of care.
• Practice with a high ethical standard and sensitivity consistent with cultural and
societal needs for physical therapy services.
• Exhibit a professional attitude and demonstrate a commitment to life-long learning,
scholarship and research.
• Demonstrate professional responsibility by participating in professional and
community organizations that provide opportunities for volunteerism, advocacy
The Associate in Applied Science degree program in Physical Therapist Assistant
(PTA) provides graduates with a thorough background in the rehabilitation of
musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders while incorporating an understanding of
the psychosocial aspects of disability. Physical therapist assistants work with physical
therapists in treating people with a wide range of physical disorders. At Central Penn,
the incorporation of hands-on laboratory classes and clinical internships at physical
therapy facilities enable students to practice what is learned in the classroom. The
Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical
Therapy Association (CAPTE/APTA) accredits this program. Graduates of Central Penn’s
PTA program will be eligible to sit for the state physical therapist assistant licensing
examination. Due to the academic rigor of the program, students must earn a final grade
if C+ (77%) or higher in all PTA core courses in order to progress through the program.
The Physical Therapist Assistant program must limit enrollment due to classroom space
and available clinical facilities. Minimum academic standards may be set. Students will
be ranked according to the following admissions criteria:
- Students are required to have earned a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. GPA
is calculated from all schools attended. Cumulative GPA is based off of school
transcripts and pending all course completion.
- Observation Hours: all applicants are required to complete a minimum of 20
nonpaid observation hours in at least two different physical therapy facilities. A
minimum of 10 hours must be completed at each facility. A physical therapist or
physical therapist assistant working in each facility must validate all observation
hours and document the candidate’s performance via the form provided by
Central Penn College’s Admissions Department. Observation hours are to
be completed within 12 months of the application and submitted prior to the
- References: all applicants are required to submit two professional references
obtained within 12 months of the application deadline.
- Interview: Students desiring to enter the field of physical therapy are expected
to have effective communication skills in order to be able to work with clients
and other professionals. Each applicant will be rated on communication skills,
professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm for the profession, and their personal
attributes as related to their compatibility to the physical therapy profession.
Students will also be required to conduct an interview with a member of the
- Due to the academic rigor and specificity of the PTA program, submission of SAT
or ACT scores is highly recommended. The program accepts the top students
based on the scores given for the abovementioned criteria.
There are two separate application deadlines during the calendar year for enrollment into
the program. The application deadline to begin during the summer term is April 1. The
application deadline to begin during the winter term is October 1. Up to 30 students will
be accepted each summer and winter term in Summerdale and up to 30 students will
be accepted each winter in Lancaster. Only complete applications, including most recent
transcripts will be reviewed.
Readmission to the PTA Program
- If a student voluntarily withdraws from the college, he/she will be granted the
opportunity to re-apply for admission into the program. However, this is not a
guarantee that the student will be re-accepted. Students who have voluntarily
withdrawn for more than one term but less than one year will have the opportunity to
take the comprehensive examination.
a. The student must submit a written readmission request to the Program Director.
The request must include a statement showing how the student will successfully
complete the program upon readmission. The decision to readmit the student will
be determined by the full-time PTA faculty, Program Chair and the Dean of the
School of Nursing and Health Science.
b. Prior to readmission, the student will be required to take a comprehensive
exam covering the material of the previously completed PTA core courses. The
student must score a 75% or higher in order to transfer the previously taken
core courses. The purpose of this exam is to ensure that all students have the
proper knowledge and skill level prior to participating in clinical experiences. If
the student does not pass the exam, the student must re-apply to the College for
either the winter or summer term and go through the entire application process.
If accepted, the student will follow the current college catalog’s academic
requirements for the PTA program.
c. If a student scores a 75% or better, yet would like to review material from
previously taken courses, the student may audit any previously taken PTA
courses. This means a student may “sit” in the requested course/courses for no
credit, no tuition fee as long as space is available in that particular course.
PTA Program Policies
PTA core courses must be taken at Central Penn College. There will be no transfer
credits accepted for PTA core courses.
• Students should be advised that the PTA Program, to meet legal standards, will
require a personal and professional criminal background investigation including
child abuse, FBI fingerprinting, and PA State Police PATCH report prior to clinical
internship placement. Students will be responsible for paying additional fees
associated with these clearances. A felony criminal record may prohibit eligibility
to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) and obtain licensure
to practice as a physical therapist assistant. Students with any criminal record will
need to contact the Pennsylvania State Board of Physical Therapy (State Board
of Physical Therapy, P.O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649). Most internship
sites will also require criminal background clearances as well as proof of health
screenings and immunizations. Students will also be required to purchase
professional liability insurance in order to participate in clinical internships.
All students will also be required to show proof of CPR certification prior to
• Students should be advised that some internship experiences will take place
during the breaks between terms.
• All PTA students are required to pass ALH120 Anatomy and Physiology I and
ALH120L Anatomy and Physiology I Lab with a final grade of C+ (77%) or higher
during their first term in order to progress through the PTA program. Any student
who does not pass ALH120 with a final grade of C+ or better will be dismissed
from the PTA program. If it is the student’s intent to reapply to the PTA program,
the student will withdraw from the college and reapply to the program the
next year, and complete the entire application process. If the student would
like to change their major, they will fill out the change of major form found on
mycentralpenn.edu. The student’s faculty advisor will assist with this process.
Additional PTA program policies can be found in the PTA Handbook, which is located
on the PTA Program page of the college’s website. (https://www.centralpenn.edu/wpcontent/uploads/2019/09/PTAprogrammanualJan2017-1.pdf)
General Education Requirements
Students should see general education requirements on page 67 – Associate Degree
Programs. The following general education requirements are specific to this program.
• Math, Science, and Technology – Students are required to take BIO105 Human
Development (offered winter and summer terms).
• Social and Behavioral Science – Students are required to take ALH280
Professional Behaviors for the Allied Health Professional (offered spring and
In addition to the 33 credits of general education and elective requirements, students are
required to take a core group of courses associated with their major to total 79 credits.
Students are required to complete three internships prior to graduation; one two-week
and two seven-week clinicals. To be eligible for internship, the student must have on filedocumented proof of required immunizations and liability insurance, as well as current
CPR certification. An extensive criminal and child abuse background clearance are
required for clinical placements. Students are responsible for all costs associated with
clearances, immunizations, liability and health insurances and physical exams.
Physical Therapist Assistant Core Courses – 46 credits
ALH120 Anatomy and Physiology I (offered winter and summer terms)
ALH120L Anatomy and Physiology I Lab (offered winter and summer terms)
ALH130 Anatomy and Physiology II (offered spring and fall terms)
ALH130L Anatomy and Physiology II Lab
PTA100 Fundamentals of Physical Therapy (offered winter and summer terms)
PTA155 Physical Therapist Assistant Procedures (offered spring and fall terms)
PTA160 Pathophysiology for the PTA I (offered spring and fall terms)
PTA235 Modalities (offered winter and summer terms)
PTA245 Applied Kinesiology (offered winter and summer terms)
PTA255 Therapeutic Exercise (offered spring and fall terms)
PTA260 Pathophysiology for the PTA II (offered winter and summer terms)
PTA265 Neurological Rehabilitation (offered spring and fall terms)
PTA298 PTA Clinical Practice (2 weeks) (offered winter and summer terms)
PTA299 Internship for Physical Therapist Assistant (Two 7-week rotations = 14 weeks)
(offered spring and fall terms)
Some undergraduate courses have a minimum grade requirement (for instance, C+ to
progress). A student taking these courses must receive the minimum grade to satisfy
degree requirements or to take other required courses in their program. These courses
will be denoted with * or + in the course description of the College catalog.
All PTA core classes listed above are C+ to progress
Note: Students taking PTA courses at the Lancaster location will follow a unique
schedule in order to meet the needs of the students enrolled in that program.
Progression Through PTA Classes
It is the ultimate goal of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program to prepare its
graduates for the National Licensure Examination. The core classes of the PTA program
are designed to give the students the background knowledge that they will need to be
successful in the field of physical therapy. In order to ensure that students are graduating
from the PTA Program with the appropriate knowledge base, all PTA core classes have
been designated as C+-to-Progress. This means that a final grade of C+ (77%) or higher
must be obtained in all core classes in order to move on to subsequent classes.
- If a student scores below a C+ (77%) one of the PTA core classes (PTA or ALH), they
will have one opportunity to retake that class.
- If on the second attempt of taking a core class the student receives a final grade of
less than a C+ (77%), the student will be dismissed from the PTA program and asked to
change their major.
- If a student in the PTA program accumulates a total of three final grades of “C” or
below (less than 77%) in any of their core courses (PTA or ALH), they will be dismissed
from the PTA program and asked to change their major.
- PTA students must maintain a GPA of 2.5 in their core courses. Failure to maintain this
GPA for two consecutive terms will result in the student being dismissed from the PTA
program and asked to change their major.
- All (100%) of the competencies must be passed with an 80% or higher to
successfully complete all core courses and progress in the program. Failure of any
competency results in unsuccessful completion of the course with the highest grade
earned being a “C-.”