In New Jersey, there are physical therapy aide, physical therapy assistant (PTA) and physical therapist (PT) programs. Physical therapy assistants work closely with physical therapists to execute their treatment plans, while physical therapy aides assist with administrative tasks and may be responsible for moving patients and cleaning therapy areas. Consequently, physical therapy aide studies are less intensive and are offered at the undergraduate certificate level.
Physical therapy assistant studies are offered through associate degree programs and include clinical experiences. Physical therapist programs in New Jersey are offered at the doctoral level. With the exception of the certificate program and the dual bachelor's and doctoral degree program discussed below, each of the programs in this article is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
Essex County College
Located in Newark, this college enrolls about 13,000 students. It offers an Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant that requires 69 credit hours of study. Classes related to the major in this program cover topics like the principles of physical therapy assisting, professional issues in physical therapist assisting, kinesiology and medical terminology. The program's curriculum also includes three practicums.
Mercer County Community College
Located in West Windsor, Mercer County Community College enrolls approximately 9,000 students. The school offers an Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant that requires completion of 65 credit hours of study. In addition to coursework, this program's curriculum includes three clinical education experiences. Classes cover topics like therapeutic measurement, pathology and orthopedics in physical therapy.
Rutgers University - Camden
This university is located in Camden and offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program in conjunction with the School of Health Related Professions at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. This program is offered at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey campus in Stratford.
Students in this entry-level program complete 100 credit hours of study, clinical experiences and an applied research project. They must also pass an exam prior to graduation. Coursework covers subjects such as cardiopulmonary physical therapy, exercise science, human anatomy and medical considerations in rehabilitation.
Seton Hall University
Seton Hall University is situated in South Orange and enrolls about 10,000 students. It offers an entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program that takes four years to complete. The curriculum of this 120-credit hour program includes coursework, a research project and a clinical practicum. Classes cover topics such as orthotics and prosthetics, orthopedic clinical medicine and exercise pharmacology.
The university also offers a dual Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Physical Therapy program that is designed to take seven years to complete. Classes in the first professional year of study focus on areas like surface anatomy and palpitation, motor control principles and neuroscience.
This university is located in Galloway. It offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy program with two different tracks: entry-level or transitional. The entry-level program consists of one year of undergraduate and three years of graduate study, totaling about 115 credit hours of study. Classes in the program cover topics like musculoskeletal physical therapy, neuromuscular physical therapy and issues in health care. The program's curriculum also includes clinical experiences, research and a practicum.
The transitional track is also referred to as the 'post-professional' program. This program is designed for licensed PTs seeking advanced education and mainly consists of distance education. It includes coursework in physical therapy diagnostics, clinical decision making and health care in the 21st century.
Union County College
Union County College is situated in Cranford and enrolls about 12,000 students. It offers an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assistant that consists of five semesters of study. Students in this program complete coursework and clinical experiences totaling 68 course credit hours of study. Classes focus on topics such as physical therapy procedures, functional anatomy and independent living.
New Jersey requires that physical therapists and physical therapy assistants be licensed. The State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners is responsible for licensing PTs in New Jersey. To become a licensed PT, an individual must graduate from a physical therapy degree program accredited by an agency approved by the board and pass an exam. To become a licensed PTA, an individual must possess at least an Associate in Arts degree from an accredited institution, complete a 2-year PTA program accredited by an agency approved by the board and pass an exam.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Physical Therapy Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Essex County College||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$4,995 for in-district and $8,790 for in-state and out-of-state students*|
|Mercer County Community College||2-year, public; rural fringe||Associate in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant||$4,206 for in-district, $5,394 for in-state and $7,638 for out-of-state students*|
|Rutgers University - Camden||4-year, public; small city||Doctor of Physical Therapy||$14,835 for in-state and $30,613 for out-of-state students*|
|Seton Hall University||4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb|| Doctor of Physical Therapy,
Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Physical Therapy dual degree program
|Stockton University||4-year, public; midsize suburb||Doctor of Physical Therapy||$13,739 for in-state and $20,866 for out-of-state students*|
|Union County College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assistant||$5,140 for in-district and $10,280 for in-state and out-of-state students*|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator.