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Accelerated Physical Therapy Assistant Programs

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Employers expect physical therapy assistants, or PTAs, who are people trained to help physical therapists treat patients, to have at least an associate degree, which usually takes two years to obtain. However, a few educational institutions that offer PTA degrees have accelerated tracks or options, designed to hasten the process of completion.

Kent State University

A public research university headquartered in Kent, Ohio, Kent State University offers an accelerated PTA track specifically for Certified Athletic Trainers, or ATCs. This program awards the ATCs credit for their experience in sports assistance and saves half the time it takes to complete the PTA associate degree offered at Kent's Ashtabula campus. Incoming ATC students need only 14 months to complete as few as nine courses out of Kent State's PTA program; traditional students are required to complete all 24 courses that constitute the 71-credit curriculum. PTA classes at Kent State include Human Growth and Development, Physics for Health Technologies and Analysis of Movement. Prerequisites include Anatomy & Physiology and College Writing.

Kent State University 3300 Lake Road West Ashtabula, OH 44004 440-964-3322

Polk State College

Normally, the PTA program at Polk State College is a six-semester program spread out over two years. However, PSC offers a track in which the 78 credits that constitute the PTA program are compressed into five semesters instead of six. PTA courses at Polk include Physical Therapy Principles and Procedures, Orthopedic Disabilities and Rehabilitation, Therapeutic Exercise in Physical Therapy, and Functional Anatomy and Kinesiology. PSC additionally requires students to take the following prerequisite courses during the summer semesters: English Composition I, Anatomy & Physiology I, Clinical Education I and General Psychology.

Polk State College 999 Avenue H, N.E. Winter Haven, FL 33881 863-669-2904

Alternative Option

The alternative option for students at PTA programs to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete their associate degrees involves taking additional classes each semester. After consulting with their academic advisors regarding course load concerns and adherence to program guidelines, students may receive permission to accelerate their course schedule. Aspiring PTAs can contact any of the 200-plus programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education about the possibility of accelerating the class schedule.


Based in the D.C. area, Andy Joseph works full-time as a data analyst and technical writer. He has been writing articles about technology, health, politics, music, culture and automobiles since 2007. His work has appeared in The Express, Congressional Report and Road & Track. He has a master's degree in journalism and technology management.

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