Physical Therapist Assistant AS Degree

The Physical Therapist Assistant program prepares students for employment as physical therapist assistants (PTA). The PTA functions through the direction of a physical therapist (PT) to implement the PT’s plan of care. The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to aid patients and clients in their return to maximal function. PTA students are instructed in thinking processes and skills such as therapeutic exercise, orthopedic and neurological interventions, therapeutic modalities, and the art of patient care. In addition to patient treatment courses, students study the basic sciences of anatomy, physiology, clinical pathology, and kinesiology. Clinical education experiences are integrated throughout the curriculum and offer students the opportunity to practice the techniques learned and practiced each semester. Students can complete the program in two years.

It is recommended that students interested in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program see a counselor in the counseling department and read the information on the School of Health Sciences & Education webpage.

Program Entrance Requirements: Acceptance under the existing eligibility and selection criteria available on the School of Health Sciences & Education webpage.  Program eligibility and selection processes are subject to change. Prospective students are encouraged to check the school web page periodically or call 760.773.2578

Course Code Title Units
Prerequisite/General Education Courses
BI 013Human Anatomy and Physiology I4
BI 014Human Anatomy and Physiology II5
PSY 001General Psychology3
or PSY 003 Developmental Psychology
ENG 001AEnglish Composition4
KINE 008Introduction to Kinesiology3
MATH 045Pre-Statistics4
or MATH 049 Intermediate Algebra
or any College Level Math Class
Select one course from the following:3
Introduction to Philosophy
Introduction to Ethics
Perspectives on Death & Dying
or Any class from Area C3, Arts, Humanities & Culture
Kinesiology Activity Courses2
Physical Therapist Assistant Program (Technical Phase)
PTA 001Introduction To Physical Therapy3
PTA 002Pathophysiology I3
PTA 003Therapeutic Procedures I3
PTA 004Therapeutic Procedures II4
PTA 005Kinesiology Lab1
PTA 006Pathophysiology II2
PTA 007Neuroscience3
PTA 009Functional Anatomy + Kinesiology3
PTA 010Physical Therapy Issues and Trends2
PTA 011Therapeutic Procedure III3
PTA 012Clinical Fieldwork I4.5
PTA 013Clinical Fieldwork II7.5
PTA 014Physical Therapist Assistant Seminar2
PTA Technical Phase Total41
Degree Total69


Effective April 25, 2023, College of the Desert's Physical Therapist Assistant Program has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; phone: 703-706-3245; email: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 760-773-2578 or email

Candidate for Accreditation is an accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates the program may matriculate students in technical/professional courses. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status does not assure that the program will be granted Initial Accreditation.