Online PTA Programs: Compare Physical Therapy Assistant Schools Online

Learn about online PTA programs and compare curriculum, costs and coursework as well as available physical therapy assistant schools online.
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Online PTA Program Curriculum

This page contains the most complete and updated list of physical therapy assistant schools online and the PTA course curriculum required.

Any question you may have regarding online PTA programs and classes is answered on this page with resources to aid you in planning your education and connecting with accredited schools.

 

List of Accredited Physical Therapy Assistant Schools Online

Here is a list of physical therapist assistant schools online offering the majority of their program (roughly 75%) through distance learning coursework to PTA students:

If these online PTA schools aren’t a good fit for you, then look into physical therapy assistant programs nearby. Many of these local schools will offer some courses through distance learning but maybe not as much as 75% of the program will be offered online. Below is a list of PTA classes online and which ones are only offered in person.
 

Physical Therapy Assistant Online Course Curriculum

The table below shares a general curriculum of physical therapist assistant online courses. As you can see, most PTA classes online are taught through distance learning but a few require meeting in person.

PTA Course NameOffered Online?CreditsLecture HoursLab HoursClass Description
Introduction to PTAYes110Required for PTA majors and can be taken by anyone interested in a PTA career. Offers a health care system overview along with specific roles of physical therapist and rehabilitation professionals. Some topics covered are medical terminology, communication skills, and medical documentation.
KinesiologyYes330Also open to anyone interested in PT and required for physical therapist assistant majors. Intro to concepts such as forces, levers, biomechanics, and locomotion. Some topics covered are insertions, origins, innervations, and actions of the prime movers of the musculoskeletal system.
Therapeutic MeasurementMaybe Partially212Goes more in depth on medical documentation. Discusses bony landmarks, measurement of joint range of motion, muscle length and muscle strength. Students will practice with eachother to develop their skills.
Pathology for PTAsYes330Overview of the essential nature of physical diseases and their abnormalities of structure and functional traits.
Therapeutic ExerciseMaybe Partially212Learn about physical therapy treatment interventions and patient goals using them. Material covered includes performing an initial PT patient evaluation, stretching, range of motion movements, joint mobilization, strenthening, aerobic exercise, and exercise parameters/progression. Focuses on clinical decision making for selecting exercises for different patient scenarios.
Motor DevelopmentYes110Intro to human motor development and developmental milestones.Material will discuss congenital, genetic, and acquired disorders with an emphasis on functional and structural abnormalities impacting human motor development.
PTA TechniquesMaybe Partially432Discusses proper patient care and handling such as positioning, transporting, bed mobility, vital signs, gait, massage, transfers, aspetic techniques, wound care, edema management, and cardiac physical therapy for the chest. Students will develop skills practicing with each other.
Physical AgentsMaybe Partially433Learn about therapeutic modalities and physical agents in a PT practice. Develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills through lecture and lab activities using heat, electrical stimulation, cold, hydrotherapy, traction, and more for therapeutic interventions.
PTA Therapy ClinicMaybe Partially333Study therapy interventions treating conditions related to traumatic brain injuries, amputations, cerebral vascular accidents, spinal cord injury, joint replacement, neurological issues, and cardiac diseases. Focuses on activities promoting optimized functional results for patients and develops decisino making skills through lab work with ssistive devices, prosthetics, and orthotics.
Orthopedics in PTAMaybe Partially222Learn about orthopedic conditions and the underlying pathology. Focuses on PT interventions used to rehab specific ortho conditions. This course is typically optional and considered an elective.
PTA Clinical Education INo300160 clinical hours are required for your online PTA degree, they will take place working 40 hours per week for 4 weeks in a supervised clinical setting. Your interactions will be observed and you will learn professional communication and development while refining your skills and time management.
PTA SeminarYes330Extension of the intro to PTA and goes more in depth on our healthcare system and the specific roles of different medical professionals. You will learn more medical terminology, medical documentation, psychosocial aspects for disabled, professional growth, communication, and evidence based practice.
PTA Clinical Education IINo4005 additional weeks of supervised clinical experience for 40 hours per week (200 clinical hours typically). Students will continue applying and practicing skills learned in class and labs learning to become an integral part of the PT clinic or department.
PTA Professional DevelopmentMaybe Partially330This PTA class discusses learning and communication styles, teaching, developing presentation skills, and other professional tools you will use in your career. Additionally you will observe prosthetic fabrication and witness PT in a rehab setting to better understand how to effectively education patients.
PTA Clinical Education IIINo500Your final clinical experience is usually about 6 weeks at 40 hours a week for 240 hours and you will be allowed to practice all procedures and techniques that you’ve learned in your program. You will be expected to perform as any other physical therapist assistant and will also conduct a presentation to your colleagues.

 

Help choosing physical therapy assistant schools onlinePhysical therapy assistant schools offer the required PTA associate degree required to become a PTA. There are 372 accredited physical therapist assistant schools nationwide, but not all of them offer their PTA courses online. PTA schools are CAPTE-accredited 2 year associate degree programs that prepare graduates for completing the national licensure exam called the National Physical Therapist Assistant Exam (NPTAE) and officially becoming a licensed physical therapy assistant (PTA). Certification or a license is required in most states to perform PTA work.

More important than prepping students for the licensing exam, physical therapy assistant schools provide students with the required knowledge and skills to become a valuable physical therapist assistant.

Logistics of Physical Therapy Assistant Schools Online

Although there are many accredited PTA schools and programs, only a handful offer online PTA courses known as distance learning courses.

It is also important to keep in mind that about 25% of the PTA associate degree curriculum is dedicated to clinical education. In fact, PTA students spend an average of 16 weeks in a full-time clinical education setting.

So, even if you find a physical therapy assistant school online, you must plan for your clinical work and identify a local PT clinic to complete it.

Logistically, the rest of your course material and assignments will be administered through an online learning portal.

Program Goals of Physical Therapy Assistant Schools

The main objective of physical therapist assistant schools is to graduate capable, knowledgeable, adaptable, self-confident, and service oriented patient care providers. The education offered by PTA schools prepares graduates for performing selected functions in a PT clinic such as data collection and intervention as well as assessing the patient’s safety and response to these interventions.

Of course, the PTA will be working under the supervision and direction of a physical therapist but preparing PTAs with sufficient education is crucial to their success. Physical therapy assistant schools look to ensure that PTAs can perform their functions in a legal, ethical, effective, and safe manner.

Another important aspect of PTA school is teaching the students to effectively communicate with other members of the health care and physical therapy teams they work with. Additionally, learning communication skills for interacting with patients, members of their family, and other care givers is emphasized. Cooperative work with other health care providers is very important to a PTA’s success. Graduates of PTA schools will be prepared to assist physical therapists in educating other health care providers and offering psychosocial support for patients, their families, and their caregivers all while considering individual, economic, and cultural differences.

As you can see, in addition to educating PTA students on the necessary sciences and procedures, or technical aspects to their career, social and communication skills are highly important and emphasized in physical therapist assistant schools.

School Tuition and Fees

Surely you are curious how much a PTA education is going to cost you. Below is 2008 data on the annual tuition and fees rates’ mean expense for PTA schools.

Mean Annual Tuition & Fees
  • Public In-State PTA School: $7,816
  • Private PTA School: $26,493

If physical therapist assistant schools are too expensive for you, then make sure you contact the PTA school directly to learn about potential financial aid opportunities. If you feel that you can afford PTA school but aren’t sure if it is worth your investment of time and money, then checkout how much a physical therapy assistant salary is.

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