Female physical therapy professional high fiving an older patient

How to Choose the Best PTA Program

Key Factors and Questions to Guide Your Decision

Female physical therapy professional high fiving an older patient

Choosing the right Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program is a pivotal decision that significantly influences your future career in physical therapy. A thoughtfully selected program not only imparts essential knowledge and skills in rehabilitation techniques, patient care, and therapeutic exercises but also shapes your professional competencies and career trajectory.

With the right PTA program, you’ll receive a well-rounded education that integrates rigorous academic instruction with hands-on clinical experience, ensuring you’re fully prepared to assist physical therapists in enhancing patients’ mobility and overall quality of life. Moreover, a quality PTA program provides access to valuable resources, networking opportunities, and support services that pave the way for career advancement and personal growth in the dynamic field of physical therapy.

An accredited program ensures that PTAs meet national standards and are eligible for licensure, which is essential for career advancement and credibility in the field. Additionally, reputable programs often offer clinical placements and networking opportunities that can lead to job placements post-graduation. Learn how to become a Physical Therapist Assistant and explore the pathways to a rewarding career in physical therapy.

Researching PTA Programs

Factors to Consider When Researching PTA Programs

Choosing the right Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program requires thorough research to ensure it aligns with your career goals and provides a solid foundation for your future in physical therapy.

Program Accreditation: Accreditation ensures that the program meets established standards of quality and prepares you for licensure. Look for programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Verify accreditation status on CAPTE’s official website to ensure the program meets national standards.

Location: Consider the program’s location as it affects accessibility, potential job opportunities, and cost of living. Evaluate whether you prefer a program close to home or are willing to relocate. Research local healthcare facilities for potential clinical placements and future employment opportunities.

Online vs. In-Person Options: Decide between online and in-person formats based on your learning preferences and logistical considerations. Assess the flexibility and structure offered by online programs versus the hands-on experience of in-person classes. Confirm whether online programs include practical lab sessions and clinical rotations to meet licensure requirements.

Faculty Expertise: The expertise of faculty members directly impacts the quality of education and mentorship you receive. Review faculty profiles to assess their qualifications, clinical experience, and research interests. Seek programs where faculty actively engage in the field and have a reputation for mentoring students.

Program Specialties: Some programs offer specialized tracks or focus areas that align with your career interests. Explore whether the program offers concentrations in areas like sports medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, or orthopedics. Consider how these specialties align with your career goals and interests in physical therapy.

Opportunities for specialization

  • Evaluate opportunities for specialization or further education beyond the PTA degree.
  • Research whether the program provides pathways or partnerships for pursuing advanced degrees in physical therapy or related fields.
  • Look for programs that support continuing education and professional development.
  • Understand potential career paths so that you can align your educational choices with long-term goals.
  • Explore different career paths available to PTAs, such as working in hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, or sports rehabilitation centers.
  • Learn about certifications or additional training that can enhance your career prospects.

Close up of a woman stretching her arm in physical therapy

Evaluating PTA Programs

Factors to Consider When Evaluating PTA Programs

Evaluating PTA programs before deciding is essential to ensure you receive a comprehensive education that meets your career goals and professional standards. Here are key factors to consider:


The curriculum should offer a balanced mix of theoretical knowledge and practical skills in physical therapy. Ensure the program covers essential areas such as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, therapeutic exercises, and patient care techniques. Check if the curriculum is up to date with current industry standards and includes coursework that prepares you for the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs.

Clinical opportunities

Clinical experiences are crucial for hands-on learning and real-world application of skills. Look for programs that provide diverse clinical placements in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, and rehabilitation centers. Assess the quality and variety of these opportunities to ensure they align with your career interests and provide comprehensive practical training.


The reputation of a PTA program can impact your education and future job prospects. Research the program’s accreditation status, as accreditation ensures the program meets rigorous educational standards. Investigate the program’s graduation and licensure pass rates and seek feedback from current students or alumni to gauge their experiences and satisfaction with the program.

Student support services

Strong student support services can enhance your educational experience and contribute to your success. Consider the availability of academic advising, tutoring, career counseling, and financial aid services. Programs with robust support systems can help you navigate challenges, stay on track academically, and prepare for your career.

Hands-on experience

Practical experience is vital for developing the skills needed to excel as a PTA. Evaluate how the program integrates lab work, simulations, and clinical rotations into its curriculum. Check if there are opportunities for supervised practice and feedback from experienced professionals, as these experiences are invaluable for building competence and confidence.

By thoroughly evaluating these factors, you can make an informed decision about which PTA program best aligns with your career aspirations and provides the quality education and training you need to succeed.

PTA Program Cost

How Much Does a PTA Program Cost?

When choosing a PTA program, understanding the cost is crucial to ensure you can manage the financial commitment. The expenses can vary widely depending on the program and institution. Here’s a breakdown of the key cost factors:

Tuition and Fees

Tuition is often the largest expense associated with a PTA program. Costs can vary significantly between community colleges, private institutions, and public universities. In addition to tuition, be aware of other fees such as application fees, registration fees, technology fees, and lab fees. It’s important to calculate the total cost of tuition and fees for the entire program, not just for a single semester.

Close up of a medical professional typing on a laptop

Textbooks and Supplies

Textbooks and supplies are essential for your coursework and can add up over the duration of the program. This includes costs for required textbooks, lab manuals, and other educational materials. Some programs may also require specialized equipment or uniforms for clinical rotations. Be sure to budget for these expenses and consider looking for used or digital versions of textbooks to save money.

Additional Costs

Additional costs can include various miscellaneous expenses such as:

  • Transportation: Travel costs to and from campus and clinical sites can add up, especially if the locations are far from where you live.
  • Licensure Preparation: Some programs may include fees for licensure exam preparation materials or review courses.
  • Health and Background Checks: Programs may require health screenings, vaccinations, and background checks before starting clinical placements.
  • Living Expenses: Consider the cost of living, including housing, food, and utilities, if you need to relocate for your program or if you are studying full-time without a source of income.

Understanding these costs helps you budget effectively and seek financial aid options such as scholarships, grants, or student loans. It’s important to choose a program that provides value for the investment and aligns with your financial situation.

PTA Program Financial Aid

Financial Aid Options for PTA Students

Exploring financial aid options is essential for managing the costs of PTA programs and reducing the financial burden on students. Here’s an overview of the main financial aid resources available:


Scholarships are a great way to fund your education, as they do not need to be repaid. They are awarded based on various criteria, such as academic achievement, financial need, or community involvement. Here’s how to apply:

  1. Research Opportunities: Look for scholarships offered by the PTA program, local organizations, national associations, and private foundations.
  2. Prepare Application Materials: Gather transcripts, recommendation letters, and personal statements. Tailor your applications to meet specific scholarship requirements.
  3. Submit Applications: Pay attention to deadlines and ensure all application materials are complete and submitted on time.


Grants, like scholarships, do not require repayment and are typically based on financial need. Federal and state governments, as well as educational institutions, offer grants. To apply:

  1. Complete the FAFSA: Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal and state grants.
  2. Apply for Institutional Grants: Check with the PTA program’s financial aid office for available grants and specific application procedures.
  3. Meet Deadlines: Ensure you apply early and provide all required documentation.


Student loans can help cover the costs of PTA programs, but they must be repaid with interest. Understanding your loan options is crucial to managing debt effectively. To apply:

  1. Fill Out the FAFSA: The FAFSA is also used to determine your eligibility for federal student loans, such as Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.
  2. Research Private Loans: If additional funds are needed, consider private student loans, but be aware of the terms and interest rates.
  3. Compare Loan Offers: Evaluate loan terms, interest rates, and repayment options before accepting any loan.

Physical therapy professional helping an older man stretch

Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs provide part-time jobs for students with financial needs, allowing them to earn money to help pay for educational expenses. To participate:

  1. Indicate Interest in FAFSA: When filling out the FAFSA, indicate that you’re interested in work-study opportunities.
  2. Find Work-Study Jobs: Work with your PTA program’s financial aid office to find eligible work-study positions, often on-campus or related to your field of study.
  3. Balance Work and Study: Ensure the job fits your schedule and allows you to maintain your academic responsibilities.

By exploring and applying for these financial aid options, you can better manage the costs of your PTA program and focus on your education and training.

Visiting PTA Programs

Visiting PTA programs before deciding is an essential step in finding the right fit for your education and career goals. An on-site visit allows you to gain firsthand insights into the program’s environment, resources, and culture. Here’s what to consider during your visit:

Touring the Campus: A campus tour provides a general sense of the program’s facilities and learning environment. Pay attention to the following:

  • Check the classrooms, labs, libraries, and clinical training areas to ensure they are well-equipped and conducive to learning.
  • Evaluate the availability and quality of the technology used in instruction, such as simulation equipment and digital resources.
  • Consider the campus layout, transportation options, and the availability of parking or public transit.

Meeting Faculty and Current Students: Interacting with faculty and current students offers valuable perspectives on the program’s quality and community. During your visit:

  • Meet with instructors to discuss their qualifications, teaching philosophy, and the support they provide to students. Assess their accessibility and willingness to engage with students.
  • Talk to current students about their experiences, including the workload, support services, and their overall satisfaction with the program. Their insights can reveal the program’s strengths and potential challenges.

Observing a Class: Sitting in on a class gives you a feel for the program’s instructional style and student engagement. When observing:

  • Note the methods used by instructors to deliver content, such as lectures, group work, or practical demonstrations.
  • Observe the class size to see if it allows for personalized attention and interaction.
  • Pay attention to how students interact with each other and the instructor, which can indicate the classroom dynamic and level of collaboration.

Asking Pertinent Questions

Prepare a list of questions to ask faculty, students, and program administrators to get a comprehensive understanding of the program. Consider questions like:

Asian woman deep in thought at her desk


  • How is the curriculum structured, and what are the core and elective courses?
  • Are there opportunities for specialization or advanced topics in certain areas of physical therapy?
  • Are there any upcoming changes or recent updates that prospective students should be aware of?
  • How often is the curriculum updated, and how does it align with current industry standards?

Clinical Placements

  • What are the opportunities for clinical experience, and how are placements arranged?
  • Are students able to choose or influence their clinical placements, and what types of settings (e.g., hospitals, outpatient clinics) are available?
  • How does the program support students during their clinical placements?
  • What kind of supervision and feedback do students receive, and how are clinical competencies assessed?

Support Services

  • What types of academic and career support services are available to students?
  • Are there dedicated advisors, tutoring, or mentorship programs available to assist students throughout the program?
  • How does the program help students prepare for the licensure exam and job placement after graduation?
  • Are there resources such as licensure exam prep courses, mock exams, or job search assistance?


  • What are the program’s graduation rates, licensure exam pass rates, and job placement rates?
  • How do these metrics compare to national averages or benchmarks?
  • Can you provide examples of typical career paths and employers for recent graduates of the program?
  • What percentage of graduates find employment in their field within six months of graduation?

Visiting PTA programs in person helps you make an informed decision by allowing you to assess the facilities, meet key individuals, and experience the learning environment. This personal insight is invaluable in choosing a program that aligns with your educational and career aspirations.

Choosing the Best PTA Program

Selecting the best PTA program requires a careful review of all your research and evaluation notes. After gathering information on curriculum, clinical opportunities, costs, financial aid, and visiting campuses, it’s crucial to assess how each program measures up against your criteria. Revisit your notes to compare the strengths and weaknesses of each option, focusing on the quality of education, support services, and practical experiences. This comprehensive review ensures you have a clear understanding of what each program offers and helps you make a well-informed decision based on factual and personal insights.

Equally important is aligning your chosen PTA program with your personal preferences and career goals. Consider factors such as the learning environment, campus culture, and support systems to find a program that fits your lifestyle and learning style. Ensure that the program’s approach to physical therapy education aligns with your professional aspirations, whether that includes a specific specialization or a particular type of clinical setting. Making a decision that reflects both your academic needs and career objectives will enhance your educational experience and set a solid foundation for your future in physical therapy.

Brookline College PTA Program

Brookline College offers a comprehensive Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program designed to prepare students for a successful career in physical therapy. The program combines rigorous academic coursework with extensive hands-on clinical training, ensuring students gain the knowledge and practical skills necessary to excel as PTAs. Brookline College’s curriculum covers essential topics such as anatomy, physiology, therapeutic exercises, and patient care techniques, aligned with industry standards and requirements for licensure. The program also emphasizes real-world experience through diverse clinical placements, providing students with the opportunity to apply their learning in various healthcare settings.

Brookline College might be the optimal choice for earning a PTA certificate due to its commitment to providing high-quality education and strong student support. The college boasts experienced faculty who are dedicated to student success, small class sizes that facilitate personalized instruction, and a robust network of clinical partners for practical training. Additionally, Brookline offers comprehensive student services, including academic advising, career counseling, and financial aid assistance, to help students navigate their educational journey and prepare for their careers. With a focus on hands-on learning and student support, Brookline College stands out as a leading institution for aspiring PTAs.

Learn more about the Brookline College PTA program.

Start your education in healthcare today!

In conclusion, selecting the right Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program involves careful consideration of various factors, including the curriculum, clinical opportunities, costs, financial aid, and the overall fit with your personal preferences and career goals. Thorough research and evaluation of these elements are essential to ensure you choose a program that provides a solid educational foundation and supports your professional aspirations. Visiting campuses, meeting with faculty and students, and observing classes can provide valuable insights that help refine your choices.

Aligning your chosen PTA program with your personal and professional objectives is crucial for a fulfilling educational experience and a successful career in physical therapy. Use the information and resources provided to explore different programs, assess their offerings, and determine which one best suits your needs. By making an informed decision, you set the stage for achieving your goals and thriving in the dynamic and rewarding field of physical therapy. You can also explore the best entry-level medical jobs to get more information on career options in healthcare and join Brookline College to start your education in healthcare today.