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Majors & Certificates

Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work hands-on with patients in a variety of settings, under the guidance of a physical therapist. Together with their fellow assistants and supervisors, PTAs help patients to strengthen their muscles, restore mobility to stiff joints and other afflicted areas of the body and help them achieve an improved quality of life.

Upon completing our Associate in Science in Physical Therapist Assistant degree, graduates will be able to work directly with a variety of patient ages and diagnoses to provide exercises and education to improve strength, balance, gait, and transfers to return the patient to maximum function and independence.

What kind of education and training can you expect from Lackawanna College’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program? Find out more details below.

Is PTA for me?

Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) work hands-on with patients in a variety of settings, under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist.

A student considering entering the field of PTA should:

  • Demonstrate aptitude for the sciences
  • Interact well with others
  • Be interested in working with individuals who are physically challenged, ill, or injured
  • Enjoy a physically active job
  • The Lackawanna College PTA program has been fully accredited by CAPTE since 2013, preparing students to enter the profession as entry-level, skilled PTAs.

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant

Fast Facts

  • 100% employment rate for all graduates who have passed the national licensure exam
  • Two-year program with a focus on hands-on lab experiences
  • 720 hours of clinical affiliation
  • Graduates are awarded an associate in science degree and are eligible to sit for the national licensure exam
  • The annual mean wage for physical therapist assistants in Pennsylvania was $58,520 as of May 2019, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

PTA Careers

Lackawanna College’s physical therapist assistant program has been fully accredited by CAPTE since 2013, preparing students to enter the profession as skilled, entry-level PTAs.

Furthermore, the employment rate for our program graduates who have passed the National Physical Therapy Exam is 100%. This information should reassure prospective students wondering whether they will be able to find a job after graduation.

Physical therapist assistants can work for a diverse range of employers, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Physical therapy clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Rehab facilities
  • Schools
  • Sports facilities

PTA Program Mission

The mission of the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Lackawanna College is to facilitate the preparation of individuals regardless of their socio-economic status, past achievements, gender, national origin, age, race, color or creed, as entry-level, associate in science degree-earning physical therapist assistants.These individuals will be compassionate and caring lifelong learners who will provide evidence-based ethical treatment to assist the physical therapist in the rehabilitation of all individuals in their care. The program will strive to provide students with a diverse educational setting allowing for academic excellence and to become socially, culturally, and professionally well-rounded clinicians and individuals who give back to the community.

PTA Program Objectives

The PTA program’s objectives are consistent with curriculum content and expectations as set forth by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) related to expectations for an entry-level PTA. Lackawanna College’s PTA Program is designed to prepare graduates who

  • Apply knowledge of basic and evidence-based PT sciences to the application and appropriate modification of selected PT procedures.
  • Interact with patients, the patient’s family members or caregivers, colleagues, and the public in a manner that reflects an appreciation of the worth of an individual, the appropriate response to cultural differences, and an understanding of the psychological and social effects of illness and injury.
  • Demonstrate appropriate and effective written, oral and non-verbal communication with patients, the patient’s family or caregivers, colleagues, and the public.
  • Recognize their own strengths and limitations, interpret for others their scope and function, and understand the need for continued lifelong education and growth.
  • Always demonstrate a commitment to safe, ethical, and legal practice.
  • Define basic concepts of healthcare and the mechanics of providing healthcare services.
  • Will sit for the National Licensing Examination.
  • Achieve the status of Licensed PTA, and skill level of an entry-level PTA.

PTA Goals

Program Goals

  • The program will accept highly qualified and capable students for each cohort.
  • The program will provide adequate resources needed to support the student – including resources related to financial aid assistance, faculty advising, mentoring, counseling, tutoring, along with adequate equipment, classroom and laboratory space, clinical facility, faculty, and technology to enhance the student’s learning.
  • The program will enhance the practice of physical therapy in our community by providing opportunities for educational, professional and personal growth.
  • The program will have a high retention rate.
  • The program will graduate highly qualified and capable students who will represent Lackawanna College and the PTA program.

Student Goals

  • Students and graduates will demonstrate professional, legal, and ethical behavior in all academic and clinical settings.
  • Students and graduates will correctly apply theoretical and conceptual knowledge related to practice as a Physical Therapist Assistant.
  • Students and graduates will competently perform intervention component and data collection skills in clinical settings, and appropriately modify components of intervention within the guidelines of a plan of care established by a Physical Therapist.
  • Program graduates will be successful in obtaining part-time or full-time employment related to the physical therapy field within 6 months of graduation.

Faculty Goals

  • The core faculty will participate in non-profit fundraising opportunities and/or community service opportunities to educate and enhance wellness in the public.
  • The core faculty will maintain contemporary expertise with clinical practice or by attending continuing education courses.

PTA Admissions Process and Criteria

Admittance into the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Lackawanna College is based on a rolling selective admissions process with an enrollment of a maximum of 18 students per cohort. Priority consideration will be given to applications received by June 1. After June 1, applications will be reviewed as space becomes available. The admissions selection process is based on the following criteria and requirements:

1. An Application to Lackawanna College along with a separate application to the Physical Therapist Assistant program.

Links for application forms are available below.

Admissions for the PTA Program are rolling. Therefore, applications will be considered as they are received. Please refer to the admissions rubric (PDF) for rolling the selective admissions timeline. Qualified applicants will be invited for final interviews. Following the interview process and a holistic evaluation/assessment of each candidate, applicants will receive a letter with a final determination of acceptance, waitlisted, or denied status. Items needed to complete the application process /packet include the following and are further explained below on this page:

Please note: Lackawanna College is a veteran-friendly institution and veterans (as documented on the Lackawanna College Application) will be awarded 5 additional points on their admission rubric for the PTA Program. Please refer to the admissions rubric above for any questions.

2. Must meet the college’s minimum requirements

The applicant must submit proof of high school or GED completion with an official high school transcript or GED equivalent.

Lackawanna College will determine the applicant’s current academic ability based on a combination of the following:

  • SAT or ACT test scores, if applicable
    • College Transfer Credits
    • If transferring credits from another college/university, official college transcripts are required. Transfer credits must be at least a letter grade of C or greater to meet academic standards.
  • Placement Test (Accuplacer)
    • Applicants without valid SAT/ACT scores and who have not previously earned college credits will be required to take the ACCUPLACER exam for determination of current academic ability. Applicants must achieve ‘College Ready’ scores in Reading, Writing, and Math to be considered qualified for the PTA Program.
    • Should a student need one or move developmental or introductory courses based on placement scores, the needed classes would have to be completed prior to entry into the initial academic term for the PTA program. If not completed prior to the initial academic term, the student would not be eligible to proceed into the PTA program but would be eligible to reapply for the following year.

      * Please note that the Lackawanna College PTA  program has a minimum requirement of a 2.5 GPA for consideration into the program.

3. Completion of a Prerequisite Biological/Science course

When applying to the Lackawanna College PTA Program, a student must prove that he or she is capable of completing this rigorous program with proof of previous success in studying the Sciences. This can be done in one of three ways:

  • The student has completed Biology, Chemistry, or Anatomy and Physiology in high school within the past three years with a passing grade of C or better. An official high school transcript must be sent to Lackawanna College as evidence of this.
  • The student has completed a three (3) or four (4) credit college-level course eligible for transfer within Lackawanna College in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, or Anatomy and Physiology with a passing grade of C or better. An official college transcript must be sent to Lackawanna College as evidence of this.
  • If neither of the above scenarios applies, a student must enroll in a college-level Biology, Physics, Chemistry, or Anatomy and Physiology course before applying to the PTA program. If a student is currently enrolled in this course while in the process of applying to the PTA program, the student may receive probationary acceptance while completing this course. Evidence by way of an official college transcript must be received confirming completion of the course with a grade of C or better for official entry into the Fall semester of the PTA program. Should the applicant either not complete the course or not receive the requisite grade, he or she will then forfeit the seat within the PTA program.

4. 20 hours of clinical observation

It is required that applicants observe or “job shadow” in more than one type of PT setting. The applicant must have 2 completed and signed confirmation sheets received by the program by the application deadline for an application packet to be considered complete. The Lackawanna College PTA program only expects that you are a “Passive Observer” while job shadowing within a PT setting. The program does not expect nor does it condone applicants participating in any direct patient care.

5. Two program essays

Program essays are described within the separate PTA program application. The essays must be completed as specifically instructed within the application and received with the submission of the application packet. Please follow all formatting instructions in full.

Essays and subsequent writing samples will be assessed by core faculty as per the Essay Scoring Rubric (PDF).

6. Interviews and writing sample

Interviews and writing sample will be scheduled for qualified PTA program applicants who meet application/admission rubric requirements. Interviews and writing sample will be held with core faculty members of the program.

Interviews will be assessed by core faculty as per the Interview Rubric (PDF).

*Submission of a PTA application does not guarantee an offer of an interview. Invitation to interview does not guarantee acceptance to the program.

7. Attendance at PTA Program Open House / Informational Meeting or an individual meeting with the PTA Program Director or Admissions will be required prior to the beginning of the fall term.

Several dates and times will be made available to allow students, parents or legal guardians, and working individuals to attend.

Informational sessions can be set up and scheduled individually with the PTA Program Director or Admissions on an as-needed basis IF the applicant is unable to attend any of the provided group sessions.

Transfer of Courses into the PTA Program

Students may only transfer in college credits for the following PTA program core courses and only if accepted by the College for direct transfer. Please refer to the PTA Application (located in the “Admissions Process and Criteria” section) for full requirements for transfer of the following courses:

  • College Writing (3 credits)
  • Computer Applications (3 credits and taken within the last five (5) years)
  • Anatomy and Physiology 1* (4 credits)
  • Medical Terminology* (1 credit)
  • Medical Ethics* (3 credits)
  • Effective Speaking (3 credits)
  • College Algebra or equivalent higher-level math (3 credits)
  • Introduction to Psychology (3 credits)

* It is recommended that these courses be taken within the PTA program due to course content taught towards or related to the PTA profession.

All other courses within the PTA program curriculum and designated with the course code initials (PTA) must be taken within the Lackawanna College PTA program and are not eligible for transfer.

PTA Program Outcomes

Graduation Rate

*Graduation rates updated as per the 2019 CAPTE AAR formula

Class of 2020Class of 2021Two-Year Average

First Time Licensure Pass Rate

Class of 2020Class of 2021

Ultimate Licensure Pass Rate

Class of 2019Class of 2020Class of 2021Stabilized Average

Employment Rate Post-Licensure

Class of 2019Class of 2020Two-Year Average

(for graduates who are actively seeking employment within twelve months of obtaining a license)

CAPTE-Accredited PTA Programs

At Lackawanna College, we’re also proud that our physical therapy course offerings are all CAPTE-accredited PTA programs. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education is an agency acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education for its accreditation of entry-level physical therapy programs.

Apply Now to Our Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Lackawanna College’s Associate in Science in Physical Therapist Assistant prepares students to go out into the world to help other people. Physical therapy is often vital for giving people their strength and mobility back, thus allowing them to live fuller, happier lives. Physical therapist assistants can feel fulfilled in themselves for helping their patients to realize their physical potential.

Interested individuals should complete a Lackawanna College inquiry form, the first step in the admissions process. We anticipate hearing from you soon!


View the Curriculum Guide (PDF)

Application Deadline

The Physical Therapist Assistant program operates on a rolling selective admissions process. Call 570-961-6100 ext. 1026 for more information. Priority consideration will be given to applications received by June 1. After June 1, applications will be reviewed as space becomes available.

Application Forms

College application
Applicant reference form (PDF)
Clinical observation form (PDF)
In lieu of clinical observation due to COVID-19 (PDF)
PTA program application (PDF)

Public Comment

Register a complaint with CAPTE


The Physical Therapist Assistant program at Lackawanna College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 570.961.6100 ext.1026 or email