Why This Matters


    More than two-thirds of PTA positions require an associate degree, according to data from O*NET. Another 16% require advanced education such as a bachelor’s degree or professional degree.


    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the average job growth rate across all industries will be 4% from 2019 to 2029. For PTAs, the job growth is expected to be more than seven times that figure at 29%.


    According to data from the BLS, the average salary for physical therapy assistants in 2020 was $49,970. Those in the top 10% of earners brought home more than $82,000.

Our Research

To ensure the most flexibility and convenience for students, our guide only includes associate in physical therapy assistant programs that are delivered in an online or hybrid format. These programs award an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant degree.

Physical therapy assistant programs, including all of the ones on our list, are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). This accreditation ensures the program is high-quality, will be recognized by potential employers, and will be suitable if you want to pursue an advanced degree later on.

  • 64 hours to write this article
  • 80 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 125 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Associate in Physical Therapy Assistant Programs

Best Online Associate in Physical Therapy Assistant Programs Badge
Best in the Southwest
San Juan College
Best Career Pathway
Santa Fe College
Best in the Southeast
Miami Dade College
Best Job Placement Rate
Clark State Community College
Best Dual Degree
Delta College

Discover More Options

What You Should Know About This Degree

Physical therapy assistant programs are often confused with both physical therapy aide programs and physical therapist programs. Physical therapists have advanced education and are considered medical professionals. Physical therapy aides are similar to medical assistants, but they specialize in physical therapy. Physical therapy assistants are in the middle of the two in terms of experience and education.

Any physical therapy assistant program you’re looking at needs to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Job growth expectations in this field are extremely high. Physical therapy assistants also have the option of taking travel positions, which often pay more and let you see the country as you work with patients.

Before you can work as a PTA, you’ll need to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). Passing this exam qualifies you to be licensed in your state.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online associate in physical therapy assistant programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? To be able to apply for an associate in physical therapy assistant program, you usually just need a high school diploma or equivalency. You may also need to demonstrate a base level of math, English, science, and computer proficiency through a placement test.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Courses in these programs are usually delivered both synchronously and asynchronously. General courses such as anatomy and physiology may be offered asynchronously, but classes that involve clinical hours are usually completed synchronously.

When you’re ready to apply, you’ll need to submit high school transcripts and possibly ACT/SAT scores. You’ll also need to take any relevant placement tests and check with the financial aid office about the possibility of grants, loans, scholarships, or work-study programs.