Physical Therapist Assistant

Program Description

Are you interested in science, health and physical fitness? Do you enjoy problem solving and helping others overcome challenges? If so, pursuing a degree as a physical therapist assistant (PTA) might be right for you. PTAs help people of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTAs provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist and work in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health, nursing homes and schools.

The Associate of Applied Science Physical Therapist Assistant degree may be completed in five semesters. The A.A.S. PTA degree consists of 24 general education course credits and 46 PTA course credits to include three clinical experiences at physical therapy facilities in the tri-state area. To be considered for spring admission to the program students must complete the PTA Application each fall. Upon graduation, students are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs, which is required to practice in all states.

Accreditation and Approval

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Cecil 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 you need to contact the program/institution directly please call Program Director, Deanna Smith, PT, MPT at (443) 674-1564 or or fax: (410) 287-1062.

To file a complaint with CAPTE, please refer to the CAPTE Rules of Practice and Procedure (see page 97, section 11.2 "Submission of Formal Complaints").

Financial Fact Sheet Academic Year 2022–2023

National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA)

NC-SARA approved institution logo.

Cecil College is approved by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) to offer distance education in the member states and territories. Student complaints relating to consumer protection laws offered under the terms and conditions of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), must first be filed with the institution to seek resolution. The student should begin the complaint process with the institution and if resolution is not found, the student would contact the Institution’s Home State SARA Portal Entity, Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). For more information, please refer to the SARA complaint process.

Supervised Clinical and Field Training Experiences

Through participation in NC-SARA and compliance with statutory regulations related to training in individual states, Cecil College is approved to offer limited, supervised clinical field experiences in 3 U.S. states to eligible students. The states include Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. These are the locations currently approved for student supervised clinical and field training. Individual state regulations are subject to change without prior notice and the College does not guarantee locations for clinical and field training experiences.

Licensure Requirements

The Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant program prepares the graduate to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination (NPTE) exam and meets the requirements in all 50 states. Since requirements may change, prospective students should contact their state for information on the applicable licensing boards to determine whether the program meets requirements for licensure in the state where students are located.

Degree Programs

Physical Therapist Assistant (Associate of Applied Science)

The Physical Therapist Assistant program provides a foundation for graduates to become highly skilled in providing patient services using physical therapy techniques under the supervision and direction of a licensed physical therapist in clinics, hospitals, and many other health care settings. Upon completion of the curriculum, the graduate will receive the A.A.S. and will be eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Exam for Physical Therapist Assistants.

Required Courses & Learning Outcomes

See a list of required courses and learning outcomes for this program in the college catalog.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a physical therapist assistant (PTA)?

Physical therapist assistants are trained and licensed health care professionals who work as an integral part of a rehabilitation team to provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

What does a PTA do?

PTAs strive to improve function, relieve pain, improve mobility and increase ability. They do this through a wide variety of hands-on treatments and modalities. The goals of physical therapy include the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of optimal physical function; the promotion of optimal wellness, fitness and quality of life as it relates to movement and health and the prevention of the onset, symptoms and progression of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities that may result from disease, disorders, conditions or injuries (APTA, 2003).

Where do they work?

PTAs work in wide variety of settings dependent on their area of interest, their competency and expertise. A PTA working in a school setting may help with seating, gait training, improving motion, mobility and posture. A PTA in a hospital may treat patients following a stroke, burn patients, a shoulder replacement, or a patient recovering from a hip fracture all in one day. Outpatient PTAs in an orthopedic or sports medicine setting work with acute injuries to active people. PTAs work in long term care settings with geriatric patients, rehabilitation centers that specialize in head and spinal trauma, pediatric centers and fitness facilities. Each setting is different, and a PTA may move from one setting to another as their competencies and career progresses.

Admissions & Advising

Cecil College is an open enrollment institution. Get more information, find out how to apply, or meet with an advisor.


Whether transferring coursework to Cecil College or transferring your completed degree or certificate to a four-year institution, transfer is a viable option to help meet your educational goals.

Transfer information for Maryland colleges and universities is available through the Articulation System of Maryland (ARTSYS) website at Additional transfer information can be found on the Transfer Agreements page.


Full-time Faculty

Deanna Smith PT, MPT
Director of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program
M.P.T., University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Medicine
(443) 674-1564

Kelly Yeager, PTA, MEd
Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education
MEd, Widener University
(410) 287-1060

Adjunct Faculty

Cecil College's adjunct PTA faculty are highly credentialed in their discipline and have years of professional experience. Adjunct faculty are licensed and practicing physical therapists and/or physical therapist assistants with advanced training and certifications in their area of specialization.

Program Overview

The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program at Cecil College has been designed to provide a foundation for graduates to become highly skilled in providing patient/client services using physical therapy techniques under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist. As a PTA, you will be challenged to be a self-motivated, creative and critical thinker who strives for personal as well as professional growth.

Students will complete general education courses focused in the sciences, verbal and written communication and psychology to prepare to work in a rehabilitation career. They will follow a progression of technical courses in the science of human movement, pathology of the human body, clinical skills development and the application of physical therapy procedures and interventions. The program will include clinical lab work, field trips and full time clinical affiliations in local health care facilities to reinforce and support classroom coursework.

The program will be full time, five semesters in length (70 credits), and culminate in an Associate of Applied Science Degree (A.A.S). The PTA graduate will be prepared to take the National Licensing Examination, required to practice in all states. After successfully passing the National Licensing Examination, the graduate is prepared to begin their professional career.


Cecil College is an inclusive, open-access community college committed to academic excellence and service to the greater community. The Physical Therapist Assistant program is dedicated to this mission. Consistent with the Cecil College Mission, the mission of the Physical Therapist Assistant program is to provide an optimal learning experience which fosters academic excellence, critical thinking, clinical performance and high ethical standards. This will be accomplished by providing a supportive learning environment of integrated classroom, laboratory, and clinical education experiences that prepare students to deliver the highest quality of patient care, under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. Ultimately, the outcome will be to graduate well-educated, competent, compassionate physical therapist assistants who strive for excellence, commit to high ethical standards, appreciate diversity, invest in their community and engage in lifelong learning.

Program Goals

Program goals are in alignment with and in support of the strategic initiatives of Cecil College. It is the goal of the Cecil College PTA program to provide for the health care needs of Cecil County and the surrounding area by educating and graduating PTAs who are highly skilled, competent, ethical providers prepared to join the health care team.

The PTA program will:

  1. Drive academic achievement by providing current information to the community and to prospective students regarding the practice of physical therapy and the role of the physical therapist assistant in health care delivery.
  2. Expand and deepen community alliances to meet the health care needs of Cecil County and the surrounding region.
  3. Foster a dynamic learning environment providing state-of-the-art classroom, laboratory and learning resources to enhance the student’s attainment of the knowledge and skills needed for graduation from the program and licensure.
  4. Provide clinical education experiences which provide the student with the appropriate environment for attainment of competence in the day-to-day practice of physical therapy under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
  5. Graduate individuals who:
    1. are well prepared to provide entry-level knowledge, clinical skills and the professional abilities of a physical therapist assistant in a safe and effective manner
    2. demonstrate the ability to communicate verbally and in writing, in a clear and understandable manner
    3. conduct themselves in a truthful and ethical manner with both patients and other health professionals
    4. seek out avenues in which to broaden and expand their professional roles to more adequately serve the health care field

Student Learning Outcomes

The specific student learning outcomes are identified to facilitate the student's ability to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors for providing competent physical therapist assistant care under the supervision of a physical therapist in a variety of health care settings. As a provider of health services, PTAs should be self-motivated, creative, critical thinkers who strive for personal and professional growth.

Cecil College faculty will utilize the following student learning outcomes in implementing and evaluating the program’s goals. Program graduates are able to:

  1. Demonstrate the entry-level knowledge, clinical skills and professional abilities of a physical therapist assistant
    1. In the delivery of interventions
      1. Demonstrate competence and safety in implementing selected components of interventions identified in the plan of care, established by the physical therapist
        • Functional training
        • Infection Control Procedures
        • Manual therapy techniques
        • Physical agents and mechanical agents
        • Therapeutic exercise
        • Wound management
      2. Demonstrate competency in performing components of data collection skills essential for carrying out the plan of care. These include:
        • Aerobic capacity and endurance
        • Anthropometrical characteristics
        • Arousal , mentation, and cognition
        • Assistive, adaptive, orthotic, protective, supportive, and prosthetic devices
        • Gait, locomotion, and balance
        • Integumentary integrity
        • Joint integrity and mobility
        • Muscle performance
      3. Review the plan of care established by the PT prior to initiating patient/client intervention
      4. Recognize when NOT to perform intervention based on patient signs/symptoms and when interventions are beyond the scope of a PTA
      5. Provide legal and ethical interventions as directed in the plan of care and supervised by the PT
      6. Provide effective instruction to the patient/client and others to achieve the goals and outcomes as described in the plan of care
      7. Participate in discharge planning
      8. Collect data to quantify the patient/client’s response to interventions as directed and supervised by the PT
      9. Progress the patient/client interventions through the plan of care
    2. In all communication
      1. Complete documentation that follows professional guidelines, health care system, and physical therapy facility policies
      2. Complete documentation that is accurate, timely, thorough, logical, concise and legible
      3. Communicate an understanding of the plan of care developed by the physical therapist
      4. Expressively and receptively communicate in a culturally competent manner with PTs, patients/ clients, family members, caregivers, other health care providers, students, interdisciplinary team members, payers, and consumers
      5. Report changes in patient status to supervising PT and requests clarification when needed
      6. Express and communicate outcomes
    3. During education activities
      1. Participate in educating patients and caregivers as directed by the supervising PT to achieve outcomes based on the plan of care
      2. Effectively educate others using teaching methods commensurate with the needs of the learners
      3. Educate others about the role of the PTA
    4. During resource management activities
      1. Adhere to federal and state legal practice standards and institutional regulations related to patient / client care and fiscal management
      2. Utilize human and material institution-based resources and services to provide high quality, efficient, and cost-effective PT services
      3. Comply with facility procedures and payer regulations consistent with the health care delivery system and the practice setting
      4. Participate in performance improvement activities
  2. Provide competent patient care under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist, in an ethical, legal, safe and effective manner in a variety of health care settings
    1. Select and demonstrate appropriate clinical interventions based on best clinical practice and sound clinical evidence
    2. Read and understand health care literature
    3. Respond effectively to patient/client and environmental emergencies in the work setting
    4. Demonstrate competence in the provision and documentation of interventions identified in the plan of a care established by the physical therapist
  3. Integrate behavioral expectations of altruism, caring and compassion, cultural competence, duty, integrity, PT/PTA collaboration, responsibility and social responsibility into professional practice
    1. Demonstrate behaviors, conduct, actions, attitudes, and values consistent with the roles, responsibilities, and tasks of the PTA
    2. Identify, respects, and acts with consideration for the patients/client’s differences, values, preferences, and expressed needs in all physical therapy activities
    3. Act in a manner consistent with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for the PTA and Standards of Practice of the PTA, and Maryland Practice Act for Physical Therapy
    4. Demonstrate a commitment to meeting the needs of patients and consumers
    5. Place patient’s/client’s needs above the PTAs own self interests
    6. Exhibit compassion, caring, and empathy in providing services to patients/clients
    7. Demonstrate integrity in all interactions with patients/clients, family members, caregivers, supervising PTs, coworkers, other consumers, employers, and payers
    8. Promote active involvement of the patient/client in his or her care
    9. Support and participates in organizations and efforts that promote physical therapy and demonstrate good citizenship
  4. Manage an effective transition from the educational program to a career as a licensed physical therapist assistant
    1. Develop a plan for continuous professional competence and lifelong learning
    2. Participate in learning and development activities to ensure continued professional competence
    3. Participate in and respond to self-assessment activities
    4. Change behavior in response to understanding the consequences (positive and negative) of the PTAs actions
    5. Recognize role of the PTA as a role model for PTA students
    6. Pass licensure exam and secure entry-level job
    7. Qualify for state licensure and take the National Board Examination (NPTE) for the physical therapist assistant
      1. meet all qualifications for graduation
      2. apply for the NPTE and state licensure
      3. develop a study plan for NPTE, successfully implement study plan for NPTE
    8. If successful in passing the NPTE, is able to apply for a job as a physical therapist assistant
      1. develop job seeking strategy
      2. develop resume and cover letter
      3. practice job interview skills
      4. initiate plan for continued professional competence by citing continuing professional competence requirements of licensure jurisdiction


The Physical Therapy Assistant program at Cecil College has limited enrollment and requires specific criteria to be considered for admission.

Prospective Student Information

Please refer to the Prospective Student Packet for detailed admission information.

Career Exploration Worksheet

The American Physical Therapy Association is an excellent resource for career information. For an enhanced understanding of the PTA profession, students are encouraged to complete the Career Exploration Worksheet and upload the worksheet on the checklist page of the PTA 2026 application.

Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)

Students applying for the Cecil College Physical Therapist Assistant program selective admission are required to complete the TEAS Version 7 exam. The TEAS exam is comprised of multiple-choice questions in the areas of reading, math, science, and English. The exam is specifically designed to assess a student's preparedness for entering a health science field.

Students may take the TEAS exam in-person at Cecil College in the Academic Success Center. The cost is $70.00, paid to the Cecil College Cashier's office. For an appointment email or call (443) 715-3292.

The TEAS may also be taken remotely proctored by ATI Testing. The cost is $120.00 paid to ATI testing. For more information on remote testing, please refer to the following documents:

PTA Admissions Application

To ensure the student's privacy, Cecil College has created a secure online PTA 2026 Application. Please use the secure link to complete your application, sign, and upload the requested documents. Upon completion, the application will be automatically sent to the PTA Admissions Team for review. Please follow up by sending an email to informing the PTA program of your application submission. Questions or concerns about the PTA program or the application process should be emailed to

Non-Discrimination Statement

Please refer to the college catalog for Cecil College's statement regarding non-discrimination.

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Please refer to the college catalog for information about FERPA.


Tuition & Fees

Standard tuition and fees apply for courses associated with the Associate of Applied Science Physical Therapist Assistant degree. The AA PTA degree consists of 46 PTA professional credits and 24 general education credits. Transfer credit for general education courses may be granted according to Cecil College policy. A Cecil College advisor is available to assist students with the PTA program requirements and transfer credit eligibility. The Cecil College financial aid office is available to assist students with applying for financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Cecil College tuition and fees are subject to change without prior notice.

Approximate Cost for Two-Year Associate of Applied Science PTA Degree

The following is an estimate of the costs for a Cecil County resident for the two-year AA PTA degree. Please refer to tuition and fees for out-of-state rates.

Item Cost
Tuition and institutional fees (46 PTA credits and 24 general education credits) $11,636.00
PTA course fee (includes required lab equipment) $1,200.00
PTA books $1,500.00
PTA uniform $80.00
APTA membership $90.00
PTA travel related expenses Varies depending on clinical site location
General Education course fee Vary by course

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduation Rates

Graduation rate is calculated at 150% time of completion for all students enrolled in initial PTA courses as of January. Students who voluntarily withdraw from the program are not included in graduation calculations, as per CAPTE requirements.* Program length for PTA technical coursework is four semesters.

Year of Graduation Number of Students Enrolled Graduation Rate* Recent 2-Year Average
2021 18 100% 82%
(Class of 2020 & 2021)
2022 18 92% 96%
(Class of 2021 & 2022)
2023 18 TBD 5/2024 TBD 5/2024

National Board Examination Pass Rates

National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) pass rates are reported by The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

Year of Graduation Number of Graduates* Graduates Who Passed NPTE on First Attempt First Attempt Pass (2-Year Average) Overall Pass Rate on NPTE (%)
2021 13 84% 92%
(2020 & 2021)
2022 13 92% 88%
(2021 & 2022)
2023 10 100% 94%
(2022 & 2023)

Employment Rates

Graduation Year Number of Graduates* Number of Graduates Who Sought Employment, Employed Within 1 Year of Passing the NPTE Number of Graduates Who Sought Employment, Employed Within 1 Year of Passing the NPTE (2-Year Average) Employment Rate for All Graduates (%)
2021 13 100% 100%
(2020 & 2021)
2022 13 100% 100%
(2021 & 2022)
2023 10 TBD TBD TBD

Career Opportunities

Demand for physical therapist assistants will continue to be high according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand is fueled by the rapidly growing elderly population, active baby-boomers and the increasing number of trauma patients who survive.

The physical therapist assistant, as defined by the APTA, is the only paraprofessional who assists the physical therapist in the provision of physical therapy interventions. The main goal of physical therapy is to rehabilitate patients to as much physical independence as possible after injury or illness. Fields of interest include neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, sports injuries, geriatrics and acute care. Our program prepares you for entry-level employment in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practices, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes.


Comments and Critiques

We welcome comment and critique in our continual effort to enhance the Cecil College Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program.

Comments and critiques must be provided in writing and signed by the author. Anonymous submissions, or written comments provided on behalf of an anonymous source will not be acknowledged.

Comments must be submitted to:

Cecil College
PTA Program Director
One Seahawk Drive
North East, MD 21901

Non-Retaliation Statement

Cecil College values input from our students, faculty, staff, and the community at large as it strives to provide high quality educational experiences in a professional environment. Multiple efforts are continuously employed to procure, address, and respond to feedback, concerns, and complaints. Protections are provided against retaliation, and confidentiality is maintained to the fullest possible extent. Identity may be disclosed in order to conduct a thorough investigation, comply with the law, and/or provide accused individuals their legal right to defense.

The College will not retaliate against any individual who truthfully, and in good faith, reports or assists in an investigation. The right of protection against retaliation does not include immunity to discipline if the investigation concludes that the individual has personally committed wrongdoing.

To learn more or file a complaint, please contact PTA Program Director, Deanna Smith, at or (443) 674-1564. Please contact the Dean of Health and Human Sciences, Nancy L. Norman-Marzella, at if the complaint is about the Program Director, or if contacting the Program Director would represent a conflict of interest.

The PTA Program Director responds to all comments within ten days to further discuss and resolve the issue. If satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, appeal may be made to the Dean of Health and Human Sciences within ten days. If satisfactory resolution still is not reached, appeal may be made to the Vice President of Academic Programs within ten days. The decision of the Vice President of Academic Programs will be final and not subject to further appeal.

Records of all correspondence are maintained by the Program Director for two years.