Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical Therapist Assistant - Associate of Science

Role of the Physical Therapist Assistant in Health Care Delivery

The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) is a technically educated health provider who assists the Physical Therapist in the provision of physical therapy and may perform physical therapy interventions selected by the supervising Physical Therapist. The Physical Therapist Assistant works under the direction and supervision of the Physical Therapist, helping manage conditions such as back and neck injuries, sprains/strains, and fractures, arthritis, burns, amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, birth defects, injuries related to work and sports, and others (American Physical Therapy Association).

Overview of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program

The South College Physical Therapist Assistant program is a 24-month program leading to an Associate of Science degree. PTA major courses must be completed in the designated order. Classes are taught in the morning and afternoon, Monday through Friday. Class schedules may change at the discretion of the institution. Students should be committed to considerable out of classroom preparation and study. Certain methods classes require off-campus site attendance. Clinical education internships are required and administered by South College and take place in a variety of health care delivery facilities in the Knoxville metropolitan area and beyond. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from these off campus educational sites. Students are responsible for costs associated with any emergency services needed while participating in off-site educational activities.

Students applying to the Physical Therapist Assistant program must accept the following:

  1. A felony conviction may affect ability to attain state licensure
  2. Failure to produce proof of the following may severely limit clinical placement (possibly increasing the overall length of the program) and future employment options:
    1. Negative TB test
    2. Hepatitis B vaccination or waiver
    3. CPR training
    4. Drug screening (increasingly required by internship sites)
    5. Health Insurance (increasingly required by internship sites)
  3. Commit to full attendance and participation in a rigorous educational progam, significant out of class preparation time, and clinical assignments off campus.

Prospective students transferring credit into the PTA program should consult with the Executive Vice President and PTA Department Chair regarding transferability of credit. This decision is final. There is no guarantee that transfer credit will be given for major curriculum courses. Students may not take major curriculum classes until official transcripts have been received to verify pre-requisites have been completed.


The mission of the South College PTA program is to develop knowledgeable, motivated, competent professionals who have the skills necessary to meet the career demands of an entry-level physical therapist assistant and, thereby, serve the diverse needs of their communities. A comprehensive curriculum is maintained, which includes verifying the competence and professionalism of students. To promote an optimal educational experience for all students, diversity in teaching methodology is also practiced. As role models, those involved with the program strive to exhibit the professional attributes expected in the physical therapy profession.

Program Goals and Expected Outcomes

1. Graduates will be competent physical therapist assistants who work under the supervision of physical therapists.

  • Students/graduates will demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills.
  • Students/graduates will implement appropriate physical therapy treatments based on the plan of care established by a licensed physical therapist.
  • Students/graduates will understand the role of the physical therapist assistant and work in a manner consistent with their state practice act and APTA's Standards of Ethical Conduct forthe Physical Therapist Assistant.
  • Graduates will pass the national physical therapist assistant licensure exam.

2. The program will maintain a comprehensive curriculum developed and taught by qualified faculty in accordance with accreditation standards.

  • Faculty will continually develop and improve a comprehensive didactic curriculum.
  • Faculty will continually develop and improve a comprehensive clinical education plan.
  • The program will maintain adequate physical and monetary resources to facilitate a learning environment.
  • The program's mission, philosophy, goals, and objectives will be consistent with those of the college.

3. The program, through its faculty and students, will show a commitment to the private and professional communities through activities of continuing education, service, and advocacy for the physical therapy profession.

  • The program will provide faculty with professional development opportunities relevant to their topics of instruction, licensure requirements, areas of weakness noted on assessment tools, and desired areas of professional growth.
  • Faculty and students will participate in community service activities.
  • Faculty will be advocates for the physical therapy profession.

Physical Therapist Assistant Licensure

Passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy is a requirement for professional practice in the state of Tennessee. Specific information regarding application for licensure will be available to students during their last term of enrollment. Licensure or registration is not required in every state for the physical therapist assistant to practice. Complete information on practice acts and regulationscan be obtained from individual state licensing boards.


The Physical Therapist Assistant program at South College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703-706-3245

The program's current status is Accreditation through 2023.

Admission Requirements

General admission to South College does not guarantee admission to the Asso­ciate of Science degree program in Physical Therapist Assistant. Applicants inter­ested in this program are required to visit the college and meet individually with an admissions representative and program faculty to ascertain if their goals can be met by the college. Prospective students declaring PTA as their major must be gen­erally admitted to South College and meet the following requirements in order to be considered for full admission to the program:

  1. Meet minimum score requirements on the college entrance examination, OR present documentation of a score of 19 or higher on the ACT Assess­ment examination, OR present documentation of a 900 combined score or higher on the SAT I examination, OR meet the South College require­ments for admission as a transfer student.
  2. Complete and submit the South College PTA Program Application.
  3. Successfully complete an interview that includes both an oral and written portion with a score of 75% or better.* The interview must be completed at least 6 weeks prior to starting the first quarter of PTA classes. Exceptions to this deadline may be allowed only with department chair approval.
  4. Submit three (3) letters of reference (none of them from family members) uti­lizing the program's reference form. These reference forms will be scored.*
  5. Submit proof of at least 25 observation or work hours in a physical ther­apy setting using the form provided by the program.*
  6. Complete all required general education core courses with a "C" or higher.*
  7. Complete BIO 1110 Anatomy & Physiology I, BIO 1120 Anatomy & Physiology I Lab, BIO 1130 Anatomy & Physiology II, and BIO 1140 Anatomy & Physiology II Lab with at least a 2.50 grade point average. The necessary grades must be achieved on the first or second attempt (all postsecondary attempts counted) unless approved by department chair.*
  8. Complete PTA 1010 Introduction to PTA, PTA 1030 Pathophysiology, and PTA 1040 Kinesiology for the PTA with a grade of "C" or better earned on the first or second attempt only.* In PTA 1010 and PTA 1040 a grade of "C" is equivalent to 75%.
  9. Obtain a physician's certification that student is in good general health and able to participate in clinical internships, as well as provide proof of immunizations such as MMR. A criminal background check must be completed prior to taking PTA 2420.

*Each of these areas is used to rank applicants for full program admission. If minimum standards are met by more applying students than clinical seats, these rankings determine program admission.

Transfer credit for Kinesiology or Pathophysiology classes to the South College PTA program from another institution will be considered on an individual basis. For a PTA class to be considered for transfer into the South College PTA program, the class must have been comparable in hours and content, must have been taken within the last five years, and a grade of "B" or higher must have been received for the class. For final transfer approval, a course description or syllabus may be required.

Applicant must also demonstrate functional capacities. Please see the South College catalog for more information regarding these capacities.

Program Data

Year of Graduation









# that Enrolled in the Program        

















% that Graduated 


















% that Passed Licensure Exam (if attempted)

















to date

% Employed as a PTA within 6 mo. of passing exam 















(100% by 1 yr.)



(100% by 9 mo.)

Revised 03-17-15


(04-15-14)  % that graduated includes those from original cohort that may have graduated in next year per CAPTA’s definitions/calculations; therefore, these students are NOT included in the number enrolled for the next year!

(10-24-14) Employment rates denote those who SOUGHT employment within 6 mo. per CAPTE’s wording on AAR!

Contact Information:

Please contact the PTA Department Chair with any questions or comments regarding the PTA program at 865-251-1839.

Consumer Information
* Amounts for tuition, fees, books, and supplies are subject to change. The information included here is estimated for a full-time student. *

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