Physical Therapist Assistant Program


Career Education

This is a Career Education Program. 


The Physical Therapist Assistant Program prepares the student for employment as a physical therapist assistant. The physical therapist assistant, working under the supervision of a registered physical therapist, assists in the provision of physical therapy services, such as electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, thermotherapy, massage, therapeutic exercise and rehabilitation activities.

The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association (1111 North Fairfax, Alexandria, VA., 1-800-999-APTA) and approved by the Physical Therapy Board of California. Graduates are eligible to take the examination for licensure as a physical therapist assistant.

A grade of “C” or better must be maintained in all courses to continue in the program. Course repetition in this program is not permitted. The program is governed by the Allied Health Department Policies.

Eligibility for enrollment in this program is determined by a special admission procedure. Interested persons should call the Special Programs Admissions Clerk in the Admissions Office, 619-388-2684.

NOTE: Current information is for the class of 2017. View class of 2018 requirements here

Statement of Goals

At the completion of the program’s curriculum, the job-ready graduate will be able to work safely and effectively under the supervision of a physical therapist.

Career Options

Employment as physical therapist assistant after passing state-administered national examination.

Mission Statement

The primary mission of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at San Diego Mesa College is to provide excellence in the education and development of competent physical therapist assistants that provide high quality patient care through evidence based practice to diverse population s and become leaders within the health care community and profession.

Award Type Units
Associate of Science Degree:
Physical Therapist Assistant 41 units*

*Required courses for major

Program learning outcomes

Students who complete the Physical Therapist Assistant Program will be able to:

  • Select and perform safe and effective interventions within the:
    • Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) scope of practice.
    • Physical Therapist's plan of care.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of California physical therapy laws and regulations.
  • Demonstrate ethical and professional behaviors consistent with professional standards and practice.
  • Communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, as appropriate for a PTA.
  • Participate in self-assessment and develop plans to improve knowledge, skills, and behavior as appropriate for a PTA.
  • Incorporate an understanding of the implications of individual and cultural differences, and adapt behavior and delivery of care accordingly in all aspects of physical therapy services with respect to patients’ values, preferences, and needs.

Students will be assessed through a combination of performance evaluations, written assignments, and written tests and quizzes.

Directed Clinical Practice Requirement

Students accepted into this program will be required to successfully complete DCP, clinically based courses held in health care facilities. These facilities may require background checks, including fingerprinting and drug screening, as a condition of placement at the clinic.

Refusal to submit to a background check, or failure to meet clearance criteria established by the health care facility, may prevent placement in DCP courses and thus, it may not be possible to successfully complete the program.

Health care facilities also require adherence to strict standards of conduct. Facilities may refuse educational access to any person who does not adhere to the facility’s standards of safety, health and ethical behavior. This may be cause of removal from the program.

Associate of Science Degree

Physical Therapist Assistant

For graduation requirements see Requirements for the Associate Degree.

Electives as needed to meet minimum of 60 units required for the degree.

Program Prerequisites: Units
BIOL 160 Elements of Human Anatomy and Physiology or
BIOL 230 Human Anatomy and 4
BIOL 235 Human Physiology 4
MATH 96 Intermediate Algebra and Geometry 5
COMS 135 Interpersonal Communication 3
Reading Assessment R5 and Writing Assessment W5
Total Units = 16 units
Courses Required for the Major: Units
PHYR 210 Physical Therapy Introduction 2
PHYR 215 Documentation Skills 1
PHYR 220 Growth, Development & Aging 3
PHYR 225 Acute Care Techniques 2
PHYR 225L Acute Care Techniques Lab 2
PHYR 230 Introduction To Human Movement 3
PHYR 240 Introduction to Pathology 3
PHYR 250 Introduction to Therapeutic Exercise 2
PHYR 260 Topics in Neurology and Rehabilitation 2
PHYR 260L Topics in Neurology and Rehabilitation Lab 2
PHYR 263 Patient Management 1
PHYR 264 Therapeutic Modalities 1.5
PHYR 264L Therapeutic Modalities Lab 1.5
PHYR 275 Orthopedic Exercise and Rehabilitation 3
PHYR 275L Orthopedic Exercise and Rehabilitation-Lab 2
PHYR 280 Organization of Physical Therapy 2
PHYR 292 Directed Clinical Practice 2
PHYR 294 Directed Clinical Practice II 3
PHYR 297 Directed Clinical Practice III 3
Total Units = 53-57 units

Transfer Information

Students planning to transfer to a four-year college or university should complete courses required for the university major and the general education pattern required by that transfer institution. See catalog TRANSFER INFORMATION section. Additional courses may be required to meet university lower-division requirements.

Course requirements at the transfer institution are subject to change and may be verified by a counselor or by consulting the current university catalog. Many Baccalaureate in Arts degrees require third semester competency in a foreign language. Consult the current catalog of the transfer institution and consult with a counselor.