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Physical Therapist Assistant

Associate of Applied Science

TCC physical therapy assistant student works with a patient in the Movement Science Lab

Be part of one of the most rewarding, in-demand fields in health care

Movement science lab and a simulated house in the Regional Health Professions Center mean you will receive a hands-on education

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Imagine being able to teach a patient to walk again after surgery. Or helping a child adapt to a wheelchair or crutches.

Tidewater Community College’s Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant is perfect if you want to work with patients one-on-one and make a difference in their daily lives.

Physical therapy is among the fastest growing career fields among allied health professions with one of the highest rates of satisfaction. High salaries and opportunities for professional advancement make the field an attractive one.

Physical therapist assistants can work in a variety of settings:

  • hospitals
  • outpatient clinics
  • home health services
  • fitness and wellness centers
  • sports teams
  • school systems
  • armed services

You will learn about nutrition and diet, kinesiology, therapeutic methods, medical reporting and rehabilitation procedures. Three clinical practicums round out this comprehensive program, which is nationally accredited.

The Physical Therapist Assistant program at TCC is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 757-822-7251 or email

Certify your skills

Earn valuable industry credentials! Course work qualifies students to sit for one or more exams administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).

View program curriculum
Admission Forms and Information

Your acceptance as a Tidewater Community College student does not guarantee admission to most TCC health profession programs. We want you to be aware of these additional requirements and important information for this program.

Admission to this program is competitive. For more information, see the program packet.

Get program admission packet

If you are a new TCC student, begin your journey by applying for admission and financial aid. On your application, indicate that you intend to pursue the Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assistant.

Make sure you receive appropriate transfer credits from previous college studies and work experience.

It is strongly recommended that you attend an information session, which is held the third Thursday of each month at 4 p.m. (except December) at the Regional Health Professions Center on the Virginia Beach Campus.

Topics covered are general information, admissions process, prerequisite courses, selection process, curriculum, hands-on learning in clinical settings, provisional acceptance requirements and more. Faculty and staff will be available to answer your questions.

As a prospective health professions student, you must also complete and submit the Health Professions Program Application by April15 for fall admission. Include unofficial transcripts from previous colleges you have attended.

Additional requirements

1. Certification in CPR (can be completed at TCC)

2. Placement into Math Essentials (MTE) 5 College Algebra, or higher, based on your Virginia Placement Test (VPT) results

3. Completion of the following pre-admission requirements with grades of C or better. More points are awarded for higher grades.

  • Health (HLT) 130 Nutrition and Diet Therapy
  • Psychology (PSY) 230 Developmental Psychology
  • Student Development (SDV) 101 Orientation to Health Care
  • Biology (BIO) 141 Human Anatomy and Physiology I
  • English (ENG) 111 College Composition

4. Minimum of 40 documented observation or work hours divided equally among two physical therapy practice settings (outpatient and acute care, skilled nursing, etc) under the supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant.

5. Recommendations from two separate employers, professional associates, physical therapy clinicians or professors.

After you’ve been accepted:

1. Submit the Health Professions Physical Examination Form showing satisfactory health status based on a physician’s exam within the previous 12 months.

2. Submit your immunization record showing you have met Virginia’s requirements for health care personnel.

3. Submit documentation of a negative TB test

4. Complete a criminal/sex offender background check prior to working at any clinical facility.*  Order your background check here.

* Tidewater Community College does not assume any responsibility for obtaining or evaluating the results of a criminal background check, drug screen or other check, maintaining the records of results or for delivering them to clinical sites. It is the decision of the clinical affiliate (health care or medical facility) whether a student will be allowed to participate in clinical activities should there be positive criminal or sex offender results. 


1. Completion of the following courses

  • Biology (BIO) 142 Human Anatomy and Physiology II
  • 1 humanities elective (art, communications studies, English, culture, literature, music, philosophy, religion)

2. An additional 160 hours of observation in a physical therapy practice setting

What does this program cost?

You can complete a 2-year associate degree for less than the cost of 1 year at a 4-year college or university.

TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant consists of 4 semesters of full-time study, with classes held at the Regional Health Professions Center on the Virginia Beach Campus and internship sites.

Estimated Program Cost*:
67 credits x $185.35 per credit = $12,418.45 (not including textbooks and supplies)
*Based on Fall 2018 in-state tuition. Your actual cost may differ.

Additional costs include a criminal background check ($46).

Where can you go?

While most graduates find jobs with an associate degree, you can transfer to a 4-year school to work toward your bachelor of science in physical therapy, which qualifies you for education, research or management positions.

TCC's physical therapy assistant degree transfers to Old Dominion University's bachelor's degree program in health sciences and the University of Virginia's bachelor of professional studies in health science management. The U.Va. program is part time and offered almost entirely online.

Is this program for you?

Yes if you:

  • enjoy working with people
  • have the physical strength to transport, move or lift patients
  • have an aptitude for science
drawing of a soldier saluting

Veterans, transitioning military, spouses and dependents: TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education provides academic guidance and help in maximizing your GI Bill® and other educational benefits.

Learn more about the CMVE

Fanned-out money

Tuition assistance such as financial aid, scholarships, work-study, grants and loans can help you save money and reduce college debt.

Learn more about paying for college

100% pass rate the last two years for the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy licensure exam

Almost every student is employed before completing the program.

View program outcomes

Program director Melanie Basinger is chair of student relations for the Tidewater chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association


Meet TCC College Board member Cindy Free, among the first graduates of the program

Median annual salary

Jobs related to this field have a median annual salary of $53,872*


From here, go to work: Hickory alums find good jobs and buy a home after earning associate degree

* Salary estimate is provided for comparison purposes only and doesn’t constitute a promise of employment or earnings. Salaries were calculated based on related job codes and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.