Physical Therapist Assistant Program Guidelines

Physical Therapist Assistant Program Guidelines

Grading and Attendance Policies

The Minimum (C)
The faculty of all four PTA programs at Penn State agree that students should achieve a grade of at least "C" in each of the courses listed below. This is to ensure the student's successful completion of the program, to ensure their competence as a health care provider, and most importantly to ensure passing of the National Physical Therapy Examination for Physical Therapist Assistants.

It is the student's professional responsibility to approach the professor in a timely fashion for guidance in improving his or her academic performance.

You are required to achieve at least a "C" in the following courses:

  • BIOL 129         4 credits
  • BIOL 141         3 credits
  • BIOL 142         1 credit
  • PT 100             3 credits
  • PT 204             1 credit
  • PT 205             2 credits
  • PT 270             4 credits
  • PT 384             4 credits
  • PT 150             2 credits
  • PT 160             3 credits
  • PT 250             4 credits
  • PT 260             3 credits
  • PT 280W          5 credits
  • PT 290             1  credit
  • KINES 013       1 credits
  • PT 395E           3 credits
  • PT 395F           4 credits
  • PT 395G          4 credits

Failing to achieve at least a "C" in these courses prevents you from continuing in the program.

Clinical Experience

Students will need to achieve a minimum of "C" in all academic courses listed above before progressing on to clinical rotations.


The following grading scale will be used:

  • A     (93 - 100)
  • A-    (90 - 92) 
  • B+   (87 - 89) 
  • B     (84 - 86)
  • B-    (80 - 83)
  • C+   (77 - 79) 
  • C     (75 - 76) 
  • D     (60 - 74)
  • F      < 60 

Any grade below "C" is considered unacceptable in the courses listed above and will delay academic progression. Students in the Physical Therapist Assistant program can fail one course and have the opportunity to repeat that course. If the student fails a second course they are dismissed from the program. The student needs to maintain a 2.0 GPA to remain in the program.


Attendance includes tardiness and class participation. It is the professional responsibility for all students to notify the instructor when they cannot be present for any lecture, lab activity or exam. For each unexcused absence, the instructor will deduct two percent from the final grade. If a student misses an exam with prior notification, and valid reason, a make-up exam will be given. Without prior notification, and/or a valid reason, the student will receive a grade of zero. Faculty may choose a predetermined percentage for attendance of a student's final grade.

Essential Functions

The following is a list of essential functions that a student must be capable of performing while enrolled in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program.

Academic abilities to maintain at least a “C” (75%) in all PTA program required courses and honoring the academic integrity policy of Penn State University.

A student should demonstrate the ability to achieve competency level performance (75%) in all laboratory practicals and clinical physical therapy internships which includes but is not limited to:

  1. Demonstrate good body mechanics and safety when bending, lifting, twisting, pushing, pulling, and transferring a patient up to 150 lbs.  Assist in moving a patient from one surface to another using minimum, moderate, maximum and dependent transfer techniques, including use of mechanical lifting devices. Must be able to instruct others in the activity including proper body mechanics. 
  2. Demonstrate coordination and agility to safely guard and protect a patient while using assistive devices (canes, crutches, and walker) on level surfaces, ramps and stairs.
  3. Current CPR certification and ability to perform CPR on an individual at floor level. 
  4. Demonstrate the ability to perform full body range of motion including passive and active assisted range of motion. 
  5. Apply graded manual resistance to patient’s individual muscle groups for the purpose of determining strength and applying exercise techniques for range of motion, coordination, strengthening, stretching, and motor control.
  6. Accurately perform and assess vital signs which include temperature, pulse, respirations and blood pressure.  
  7. Demonstrate gross and fine motor abilities sufficiently to provide safe and effective physical therapy interventions. 
  8. Demonstrate the ability to manipulate all equipment including dials for modalities.
  9. Apply universal precautions in the clinical and lab settings. 
  10. Perform cleaning protocols procedures for sterile techniques with all size whirlpools. 
  11. Demonstrate the ability to perform all components of wound care.
  12. Demonstrate effective visual acuity to be able to observe and assess a patient 10 feet away.
  13.  Demonstrate effective visual acuity to be able to set and read dials involved in the application of physical agents and mechanical agents to include athermal agents, biofeedback, compression therapies, cryotherapy, electrotherapeutic agents, hydrotherapy, superficial and deep thermal agents and traction.
  14.  Demonstrate auditory acuity to be able to respond quickly to an auditory timer.
  15. Communicate effectively in verbal and written formats with facility, patients, families, and healthcare workers. 
  16. Demonstrate the ability to set up treatment sessions using laboratory or clinic equipment within the time restraints of the treatment requirements to provide safe and effective treatments to the patient. 
  17. Have the physical and emotional capacity to work a 40 hour week during clinical affiliations. The program requires three clinical assignments equivalent to 120 hours + 240 hours + 240 hours, totaling 600 hours of clinical internships.
  18. Ability to handle the stress of an intensive training program in preparation for the stresses of clinical situations: Dealing with terminally ill patients, fast paced clinical situations, heavy workloads, demanding patients and psycho-social responses of patients with disabilities, etc.

In order to successfully complete the PTA curriculum students enrolled in the PTA program must be able to perform the foregoing essential functions and technical skills with reasonable accommodations.

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for modifications or reasonable accommodations, contact Dr. Karen Sofranko in 10 Schiavo Hall, 570-450-3194. For further information regarding ODS, please visit This same office also describes the University’s rights and responsibilities to the student under this act. Any questions concerning this information can be directed to the resources noted above.

Revised 05/19/2016


Penn State Hazleton Disability Services

For additional program policy and procedure information see the PTA Program Student Handbook at