Undergraduate Catalog: 2021-22

Physical Therapist Assistant AS

The University of Saint Francis Physical Therapist Assistant program is a two-year curriculum consisting of four semesters leading to an Associate of Science degree. The program emphasizes academic knowledge while offering hands-on experience in a variety of clinical settings. The program sequence begins each fall semester. Some students may have the opportunity to attend part time based on previous college experience. Some students spread their coursework over three years, often completing many general education courses before enrolling in the four-semester sequence PTA courses. Students enrolled at USF and who choose to further advance their education in physical therapy can prepare to enroll in a professional physical therapy education program in two ways:

  • Enroll in the USF two-year Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Science Degree program, followed by completion of a bachelor’s degree that includes physical therapy school prerequisites. Graduates of USF’s PTA program can practice as PTAs while completing their bachelor’s degree.
  • Enroll in and complete a bachelor’s degree at USF that includes the prerequisites for physical therapy school.


Physical Therapist Assistant

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
American Physical Therapy Association
3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100
Alexandria, VA 22305-3085
703/706-3213 or 800/999-2782, ext 3213

Articulation Agreements

The University of Saint Francis has established articulation agreements with the professional physical therapy education programs at Midwestern University and at Trine University. The articulation agreements facilitate enrollment of qualified USF graduates in these programs.

Midwestern University Articulation Agreement

Under the provisions of this agreement, selected students who successfully complete the specified coursework and maintain eligibility requirements at the University of Saint Francis, and who complete the application requirements and take part in the interview day at Midwestern University will be granted acceptance to the Midwestern University Physical Therapy Program in Downers Grove, IL.

Trine University Articulation Agreement

The articulation agreement with the Trine University Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program commits two reserved seats in each annual cohort of students entering the DPT program for qualified students of the University of Saint Francis.

Information on both articulation agreements is available from the USF Office of Admissions or from the Program Director of the Department of Physical Therapist Assistant Studies.

Program Goals

The University of Saint Francis Physical Therapist Assistant program is designed to:

  1. Prepare students for entry-level practice as physical therapist assistants who work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists.
  2. Provide the healthcare community with skilled physical therapy practitioners who can apply theoretical knowledge to clinical practice.
  3. Provide a learning environment that recognizes individual differences and promotes caring behaviors.
  4. Promote critical thinking skills to effectively address patient care problems and to adapt to the rapidly changing challenges of healthcare.
  5. Provide students with a strong educational foundation for life-long personal and professional growth.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assisting, the graduate will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate safe and effective physical therapy patient skills under the direction and supervision of physical therapists.
  2. Integrate related concepts and theories of the physical, social and behavioral sciences and humanities with physical therapy knowledge and practice.
  3. Utilize critical thinking skills in the delivery of physical therapy services.
  4. Uphold the standards of ethical conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant in all areas of practice as identified by the American Physical Therapy Association.
  5. Value caring and respect for the individual needs of each person.
  6. Demonstrate a commitment to professional growth and life-long learning.


Graduates of accredited Physical Therapist Assistant educational programs are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for Physical Therapist Assistants in order to obtain licensure or certification to practice. Most states require licensure or certification of the physical therapist assistant.

Degree Requirements

The program requires 69 credit hours, which includes 45 credit hours of core courses and 24 credit hours of general education courses.

Technical Standards and Clinical Requirements

The University of Saint Francis has identified technical standards critical to the success of students in health sciences programs. These standards are designed not to be exclusionary, but to establish performance expectations that will enable students to provide safe patient practice with or without accommodations. These standards include Observation; Communication; Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities; Motor Skills; Behavioral and Social Attributes; Tests and Evaluations; and Clinical Assessment.

Clinical Requirements include a criminal background check, a driving history, and a drug screen. Evidence of positive drug screens, any DUI, driving violations or penalties, crimes such as battery or assault, theft or embezzlement, and drug or other substance abuse-related crimes may make a student ineligible to participate in clinical experiences and therefore ineligible to be admitted to a health sciences program. Students will be required to complete a technical standards and clinical requirement form before full acceptance to a COHS program is granted. More information will be made available to candidates from the COHS programs.

Program of Studies

  • Departmental core: 45 hours: COHS 108, 110, PTA 150, 152, 162, 164, 168, 272, 274, 278, 282, 284, 288, 298
  • General education: 24 hours with directed courses including BIOL 221,222, ENGL 101, PSYC 121, 232, MATH 131, SCIE 273, THEO 105

Admissions Requirements

The University of Saint Francis accepts a limited number of students each year into this academically competitive program. The candidate’s high school record should reflect a college preparatory curriculum including four years of English, three years of mathematics, two years of social sciences, and three years of laboratory science, including one year of physics. In addition to meeting University of Saint Francis’ admission criteria, candidates will be considered for admission to the program who meet the following criteria:

  1. A minimum one year of high school algebra, chemistry and biology or its equivalent with a grade of “C” or better.
  2. Exposure to work in the health field through observation, volunteer service or employment.
  3. Knowledge concerning the profession of physical therapy.
  4. Two of the following criteria for admission:
      • High school cumulative GPA of “B” or better (3.0 on a 4.0 scale)
      • SAT re-centered math and verbal composite score of 1080 or above or an ACT composite score of 19 or higher post May 2016. For SAT or ACT test administrations prior to May 2016, an SAT composite score of 1000 or above or an ACT composite of 21 or above. *
      • 12 or more transfer credit hours with a cumulative GPA of 2.3 or above. It is strongly recommended that at least three credit hours be from a physical or biological science.
      • Associate or higher-level degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
      • 12 credits at the University of Saint Francis with a cumulative GPA of 2.3 or above. It is strongly recommended that at least three credit hours be from a physical or biological science.

* The Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) for Health Occupations Aptitude Examination may be substituted for the SAT or ACT. Applicants who take the PSB will be provided Admission Committee criteria of the results upon request.

Please submit completed applications for the PTA Program no later than December 1. Shortly after December 1, the PTA Program Admissions Committee will review all completed applications for admission to the PTA Program the following August. The goal is to fill the next cohort group for the following August with the most qualified applicants. Once the class is filled, remaining December 1 qualified applicants and qualified applicants who apply after December 1 may be offered positions in the class, or positions on the Wait List. Movement of applicants from the Wait List into an earlier class may occur if positions become available.

The Program requires four semesters of coursework once enrolled due to the sequencing of didactic and clinical coursework. Students may attend full time or, if all or some general education courses are completed, students may attend part time.

A candidate’s position in the class will only be guaranteed if:

  • any subsequent required general education courses for the PTA Program registered for and taken prior to enrollment in the PTA Program are earned at the University of Saint Francis; and
  • the candidate’s records for subsequent coursework continues to be at a level that supports the application score required for admission.

Criminal History

An applicant for certification or licensure as a physical therapist assistant should be aware that a criminal history may adversely affect the decision rendered by a regulatory body related to granting certification or licensure.  These decisions are rendered on a case-by-case basis.

Progression Requirements

In order to advance in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, the student must:

  1. Complete all prerequisites and enroll in all co-requisites;
  2. Achieve a “C” (2.0) or above in each Physical Therapist Assistant and School of Health Sciences course. A grade of “C” or above in the PTA Program courses with laboratory components means that the student has received a 75% or above for both the lecture and laboratory component of the course
  3. Achieve a score of 80% or more and successfully perform all critical elements identified on a practical examination score sheet when taking or retaking a practical exam.  Achieve a “P” (pass) for each Clinical Education course;
  4. Achieve a “C” (2.0) or above in Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II;
  5. Maintain a “C” (2.0) or above in all courses taken at University of Saint Francis;
  6. Maintain certification in Healthcare Provider Level Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (formerly called Level C);
  7. Exhibit personal and professional behaviors that demonstrate honesty, dependability, responsibility and positive interpersonal skills*; and
  8. Demonstrate consistently safe clinical skills and actions. An unsafe clinical skill or action is a single occurrence or pattern of behavior in the classroom lab or clinic involving unacceptable risk or actual harm to the patient, to the student or others.*

* A student who exhibits impaired judgment or is suspected of substance abuse in the classroom, lab or clinic will be removed from the setting promptly, will meet jointly with his or her advisor and the Program Director.  The situation will be handled by the PTA Program based on the behaviors which resulted in action on the part of university or clinical faculty/staff.   Please refer to the USF Student Handbook section on Standard of Conduct for more information.

Failure to meet these requirements will result in dismissal from the PTA Program following review by the PTA Faculty.

A student must receive a “C” or above in both PTA 282 and PTA 284 and a pass in PTA 288 to progress to PTA 298. PTA 298 is identified as a terminal clinical experience and is designed to be completed following a student’s successful completion of all didactic components of the PTA curriculum.

Graduation Requirements

All students must complete required credits indicated in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program’s curriculum plan with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale for eligibility to graduate. At least 55 percent of the credits for the Associate of Science degree must be obtained from University of Saint Francis coursework. Competent performance of clinical procedures will be documented from laboratory check-offs and from clinical education evaluations performed on each student. In addition, university requirements for an Associate of Science degree must be met. Students enrolled in the Physical Therapist Assistant program are expected to complete graduation requirements in four to six semesters.