Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS)

A healthcare field on the move.

Available as
Associate of Applied Science
2 years
Fort Wayne

Why Become a PTA?

Physical therapy changes lives. It promotes healing and brings comfort; it helps people to regain independence or achieve health and fitness goals. Witnessing these physical changes in patients — seeing the effects of your care — makes working in this field incredibly rewarding.

With an associate degree and certification, you can begin a career as a physical therapy assistant. Often referred to as PTAs, these professionals provide a range of patient care services under the direct supervision of a physical therapist (PT).

PTAs are in extremely high demand. 

Physical therapist assistant lands at #7 on the U.S. Department of Labor’s 20 Fastest Growing Occupations list for 2019-2029.


Median annual salary for physical therapist assistants


Expected increase in physical therapist assistant positions from 2022 to 2032 (much faster than average for all occupations)


Number of jobs for physical therapist assistants in the U.S. in 2022

Why Saint Francis for Physical Therapist Assistant?

The University of Saint Francis is recognized as a leader in health sciences education around our region and beyond. Our strong academics and skilled faculty prepare future healthcare professionals for the practical aspects of the job, while our deeply held Franciscan values prepare our students to practice compassionate patient care.

As you explore physical therapy assistant schools, be mindful that licensing and certification boards require degrees from accredited PTA programs;  Saint Francis is proudly accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Hands-On Learning: Four Clinical Rotations

In a field as hands-on as physical therapy, practical experience is critical — and you’ll get plenty of it at Saint Francis. Starting in your first semester, you’ll learn by doing: performing tests, taking measurements, making observations and practicing other real-world PTA tasks.

Then you’ll bring that knowledge to your four clinical rotations:

  • Acute patient care/in-patient care
  • Out-patient care
  • Skilled nursing

The fourth rotation can be a subspeciality of your choice, such as:

  • Pediatrics
  • Home health

Saint Francis has more than 100 clinical site partners throughout Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and beyond; we’ll help you find the options that best fit your schedule, location and career goals.

Expert Faculty and Innovative Facilities

You will spend a lot of time in the Doermer Center for Health Science Education, a state-of-the-art facility with specialized laboratories, research spaces, and collaborative work areas. The Saint Francis Simulation Laboratory — SIM Lab for short — is home to life-like simulators that allow you to work with “blinking, breathing” patients in a safe, non-threatening environment.

As a PTA student, you’ll work through real-world scenarios and health challenges with your classmates in our physical therapist assistant labs. You’ll be guided by expert faculty members, many of whom are practicing PTs, PTAs and other health professionals; they bring valuable real-world experience — and professional connections — to our program.

Campus and Community

You can get involved on campus and serve others through campus ministries, student groups, and service-learning projects. Of special interest to physical therapist assistant majors might be:

  • PTAs in Motion
  • Intramural sports (a range of options!)

What Can You  Do With a Degree in Physical Therapy Assistant Studies?

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, most PTAs work in hospitals. However,  you can assist PTs and care for patients in a range of other settings, including:

  • Outpatient surgery centers
  • Private PT practice
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Social service organizations
  • School districts

Before they become PTAs, some of our current students or graduates first gain experience as physical therapy aides.

Where You’ll Find Our Graduates

Saint Francis physical therapist assistant graduates are using their skills and knowledge to make a difference at places like:

  • American Senior Communities
  • Athletico Physical Therapy
  • ATO Physical Therapy
  • Bona Vista Programs
  • DeKalb County Eastern School District
  • Hand in Hand Comprehensive Therapy Specialists, Inc.
  • Heritage Park
  • Indiana Physical Therapy
  • Lutheran Health Network
  • Parkview Health
  • Partners in Autism
  • Steppin’ Up Physical Therapy
  • Wellbrooke of Wabash

Beyond PTA Programs: Graduate School and DPT Opportunities

Many Saint Francis students use their PTA education and experience as a stepping stone toward a bachelor’s degree. Some go on to pursue a health-related master’s degree or even a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT). On the list of stops after Saint Francis for physical therapy assistant, schools include:

  • Briar Cliff University
  • Indiana Institute of Technology
  • Indiana State University
  • Indiana Northwest University
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
  • James A. Rhodes State College
  • Manchester College
  • Midwestern University
  • Trine University
  • University of Evansville
  • University of South Florida
  • Vincennes University

Learn more about what makes life at Saint Francis so special.