Physical Therapist Assistant
A Pathway for Physical Therapist Assistants to obtain their Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. Graduates will have the prerequisites for admission into the developing Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The program is primarily online and can be completed remotely except for a few onsite laboratory weekends.
HU hopes to increase the accessibility and affordability of career advancement for Physical Therapist Assistants.
The EXSC program received initial CAAHEP accreditation May 2023. Online and Virtual Reality format with asynchronous curriculum delivery, only only 4 on-campus laboratory visits, allow students the ability to continue to work in their current capacity. The EXSC PTA Pathway program is only available to Licensed/certified PTAs.
The Harrisburg University Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science Pathway Program is a degree-completion program for licensed Physical Therapist Assistants. The hybrid curriculum model meets the needs of a diverse student population by utilizing a cost-effective approach. The program combines distant, simulation, and experiential learning that facilitates optimal educational opportunities for the exercise physiologist.
Career Outlook for PTA Exercise Science Pathway Graduates
A bachelor’s in exercise science enhances the career of a physical therapist assistant by providing advancement opportunities in wellness, fitness, healthcare leadership, and other clinical pathways.
Exercise Science is the study of the effect of physical activity, diet, and health on human physiology. Exercise Science professionals are a part of a multidisciplinary team in health and fitness. Exercise Scientists help people improve their lives and perform at their maximum capacity through physical activity and lifestyle modification.
Graduate Career Options
- Fitness Director in a variety of settings
- Wellness Director in a variety of settings
- Exercise Physiologist
- Clinical Exercise Physiologist
- Strength and Conditioning Coach
- Healthcare Leadership
- Director of Human and Athletic Performance Center
- University/ Industry Research
This program offers a pathway for the pursuit of graduate opportunities in clinical healthcare programs and advanced leadership degrees such as
- Athletic Trainer
- Medical Doctor
- Occupational Therapist
- Physical Therapist
- Physician Assistant
- Master of Healthcare Administration
- Master of Business Administration
- Masters of Exercise Physiology
Streamlined Admissions Process
This program is designed for licensed PTAs. Students are automatically granted 53 credits upon admission. The Bachelor of Exercise Science Pathway Program is committed to offering advanced, career-focused educational opportunities to licensed PTAs.
The program recommends completing and submitting the application at least 30 days prior to the start of a session. This application process allows ample time to be accepted and to process financial aid applications (if applicable). To complete the process, an applicant should:
- Apply online at https://apply.harrisburgu.edu/apply/ or complete a paper application that is available from the Admissions Office.
- Submit all official college transcripts(s) for all college, university, or diploma schools attended (whether academic credit was earned)
- Provide the state and number of your current active PTA license
- Provide a video essay as part of the application process. (Video requirement found in application)
- Provide one letter of recommendation from either an employer or faculty member
- Provide a current resume and/or CV, including work experience and continuing education
GPA of 2.8 cumulative undergraduate recommended
Current PTA license
Successful completion of the review of application components, including:
- Video essay
- Reference letter
Lori A. Portzer, PhD, ACSM-EP Program Lead and Associate Professor for Exercise Science
Associate Professor Academic Program Lead Doctor of Physical Therapy
Jason Smith, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, COMT, DAC, FMS, Cert DN, CertDxUS
Director of Clinical Education; Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy
Students are required to complete 120 credits for the Bachelor of Science Degree. The following comprise the required core and experiential courses of the Exercise Science PTA Pathway degree program. Students will automatically transfer a minimum of 53 credits with 67 credits remaining for degree completion
MATH 120 – College Algebra I (3 credits)
This course is designed for the student with an elementary knowledge of algebra. Topics include properties of real numbers, problem-solving using equations and inequalities, algebraic functions, graphing, systems of equations and inequalities, polynomial functions and graphs, exponents and radicals, the binomial theorem, zeros of polynomials, inverse functions, and applications and graphs. Free on-line graphing and calculating utilities are used in lieu of a graphing calculator. This course meets a total of 4 hours per week to permit active learning activities each week driven by student interests or needs.
MATH 280 – Introductory Statistics (3 credits)
This course covers elementary topics from the probability and statistics of both discrete and continuous random variables. Topics include independence and dependence, mean, variance and expectation, and distributions of random variables. Statistics is applied to hypothesis testing. This course provides the student with a broad, general knowledge and understanding of statistics. The emphasis of this course is on the utility and practical application of statistics rather than on the mathematical derivation of statistical principles.
SEMR 200 – Steppingstone (1 credit)
This course prepares the student for the subsequent components of experiential learning. It develops the depth and range of academic and professional skills in areas such as goal setting, time management, communication, interviewing, career planning, and research. The student focuses on professional involvement, ethics and contemporary topics within a particular field of study. The student is shown the value of and processes to plan and obtain mentorships, projects, and internships. This seminar also emphasizes the development of the civic engagement competency, and advances the planning and construction of the student’s ePortfolio. At the conclusion of SEMR 200, the student should have a completed proposal for Project I and know how to plan for an Internship.
SEMR 300 – Keystone (1 credit)
This course focuses on the refinement of the student’s academic and professional identity. It emphasizes the importance of the university competencies, and the ways to measure, apply, and communicate the successful attainment of them. It further prepares the student for the Internship by reviewing the ways in which an external experience fits into the program of study. If needed, the student is guided through the process of securing an internship. Students advance through active learning in the areas of civic engagement and teamwork, and further develop presentation skills. This seminar facilitates the successful completion of many subsequent components in the experiential program.
SEMR 400 – Capstone (1 credit)
The senior capstone challenges the student to reflect on and integrate academic, experiential and co-curricular experiences in preparation for the workforce or graduate school. Assignments are designed to create a sense of culmination in the fourth year, and prepare students for the transition to life beyond the university. The student completes the ePortfolio to demonstrate the achievement of competencies and the program of study; this is of potential utility to employers or graduate schools as unique and specialized evidence of the individual student’s abilities.
EXPL 498 – Project II (3 credits)
The student should demonstrate application of the skills, methods, and knowledge of the discipline to solve a problem or answer a question representative of the type to be encountered in the student’s profession. As with Project I (EXPL 298), this is undertaken with the close mentorship of a faculty member and may involve an industry or community partner. The ideal project has a clear purpose that builds directly upon the learning that occurs within Project I (EXPL 298). Implementation of the project meets the requirement for an internship experience.
BIOL 102 – General Biology Lecture (3 credits)
This course introduces the student to the major themes of biology, including properties of living organisms, comparison of eucaryotes vs. procaryotes, patterns of inheritance, the central dogma, mitosis and meiosis, the diversity of life in both plants and animals, classification of organisms, evolution, metabolism, photosynthesis, cell structures, basic structure of the body, infectious desease, the Hardy-Weinberg principle, biodiversity, ecosystems, and the biosphere. A broad understanding of biology and living organisms in the biosphere is developed through hand-on, mulit-modal engages learning opportunities in both the classroom and the companion laboratory compenent.
BIOL 103 – General Biology Laboratory (1 credit)
Companion laboratory component that demonstrates the major themes of biology presented in BIOL 102.
CHEM 151 – General Chemistry I Lecture (3 credits)
This course provides a general introduction to atoms and molecules, stoichiometry, states of matter, solutions, reactions, kinetics and equilibrium which serve as a prerequisite for advanced courses.
CHEM 152 – General Chemistry I Laboratory (1 credit)
Companion laboratory component that illustrates the study of chemical principles presented in CHEM 151.
CHEM 161 – General Chemistry Lecture II (3 credits)
A study of chemical principles including acid/base chemistry, bonding, thermodynamics, and electrochemistry.
CHEM 162 – General Chemistry Laboratory II (1 credit)
Companion laboratory component that illustrates the study of chemical principles presented in CHEM 161.
PHYS 211 – Gen Physics I Lecture (3 credits)
This course provides an introductory treatment of classical Newtonian physics and covers kinematics in one and two dimensions, vector forces, Newton’s laws of motion, uniform circular motion, work, conservation of energy, momentum and angular momentum, rotational kinematics and dynamics, and simple harmonic motion. Emphasis is placed on the application of basic concepts through mathematical problem-solving. Applications of physics to problems in medicine are presented and medical technology is highlighted throughout the course. Applications of elementary and differential and integral calculus to physics are introduced. Offered Fall Semester, annually.
PHYS 210 – General Physics I (4 credits)
This course provides an introductory treatment of classical Newtonian physics and covers kinematics in one and two dimensions, vector forces, Newton’s laws of motion, uniform circular motion, work, conservation of energy, momentum and angular momentum, rotational kinematics and dynamics, and simple harmonic motion. Emphasis is placed on the application of basic concepts through mathematical problem-solving. Applications of physics to problems in medicine are presented and medical technology is highlighted throughout the course. Applications of elementary and differential and integral calculus to physics are introduced. Laboratory experiments provide experience with various measurement technologies and reinforce the theoretical concepts developed.
PHYS 260 – General Physics II (4 credits)
This course extends the study of classical physics and covers topics in electrostatics, magneto statics, electric circuits, electromagnetic waves, optics, interference and diffraction, and the quantum theories of atomic and nuclear physics. Mathematical problem-solving skills and applied problems in medical technology are emphasized. Applications of elementary and differential and integral calculus to physics are introduced. The course includes laboratory experiments to expose the student to advanced electronic and radiation measurement technologies and enhance the theoretical development of each topic.
EXSC 310 – Fundamentals of Exercise Science (3 credits)
Review course that allows students to demonstrate competent knowledge and skills in the foundational content areas of exercise science. This course covers normal and abnormal functions of major systems, associated fundamental measurements, and knowledge of human movement as it relates to function.
EXSC 315 – Health and Fitness Assessment * (4 credits)
This course is designed to develop the knowledge and skills associated with evidence-informed health and fitness assessment techniques for varied populations across their lifespan. Students will obtain the skills to select, implement, and interpret various tests for the four components of physical fitness including cardiorespiratory, muscular, body composition, and flexibility
EXSC 320 – Facility and Program Management in Exercise Science (2 credits)
The course is designed to introduce students to facility and program management for exercise scientists. Topics include facility design, safety, risk management, human resource processes, and financial management strategies.
EXSC 330 – Psychosocial Aspects of Health Behaviors Across the Lifespan I (3 credits)
The course is designed as an introduction to developmental psychology, behavioral science, and learning theories. It will consider the role of psychology in fitness and health environments for a variety of populations across the lifespan
EXSC 340 – Exercise Prescription and Implementation I (3 credits)
This course is designed to introduce students to evidence-informed techniques for prescribing and implementing safe and effective physical fitness programs for a variety of populations across their lifespans. Students will have the knowledge to create programs that address the four components of physical fitness including cardiorespiratory, muscular, body composition, and flexibility.
EXSC 360 – Exercise Physiology (3 credits)
This course is designed to examine skeletal muscle structure and function and the immediate and long-term physiological responses and adaptations to exercise of the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, and neuromuscular systems in a variety of populations across their lifespan.
EXSC 375 – Exercise Nutrition (2 credits)
Course designed to examine the interrelationship between nutrition, exercise, and wellbeing. Topics include efficacy of specific dietary regimens including macronutrients, micronutrients, hydration, and supplements. Students will be able to connect exercise and physical activity and nutritional plans for a variety of populations across their lifespan
EXSC 399 – Professional Practice in Exercise Science (2 credits)
The course is designed to introduce students to professional standards in exercise science. Topics include communication strategies, conflict resolution, team leadership, ethics, customer engagement, and marketing strategies.
EXSC 410 – Certifications in Exercise Science (2 credits)
Course designed to ensure student readiness for exercise science related certification examinations. Students will participate in case study modules and develop a patient-client program based on certification criteria and complete a practice exam in preparation for certification
EXSC 440 – Exercise Prescription and Implementation II * (4 credits)
This course is designed for students to develop advanced knowledge and skills of evidence-informed techniques for prescribing and implementing safe and effective physical fitness programs for a variety of populations across their lifespans. Students will have the ability to create, implement, and progress programs that address the four components of physical fitness including cardiorespiratory, muscular, body composition, and flexibility utilizing a variety of methods, equipment, and environments.
EXSC 460 – Psychosocial Aspects of Health Behaviors Across the Lifespan II (2 credits)
This course builds upon fundamental knowledge from EXSC 330. This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge of counseling skills necessary to guide clients in changing health behaviors. Students will gain knowledge in health behavior change theory and motivational interviewing techniques to guide clients in prevention and wellness strategies.
EXSC 490 – Comprehensive Review (2 credits)
Course designed to ensure student readiness for the ACSM-Exercise Physiologist exam, as a program requirement, prior to completing their degree in exercise science. Students will take a practice exam that focuses on ensuring student knowledge in domain-specific areas, after which they are eligible to register for and take the certification exam.
Courses with an * requires travel to campus for intermittent laboratory weekends
Exercise Science Degree Certification
Exercise science education prepares students for a variety of certifications in the health and fitness industry. Many of these certifications are available during and immediately following graduation from an exercise science program. Obtaining certification provides physical therapist assistants additional career opportunities and advancement. Suggested certifying bodies include:
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
- American Council on Exercise (ACE)
- National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
- National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
- Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA)
- Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
Take the Next Step
Get More Information
Questions about our programs? Reach out to a member of our team and get personalized answers.
Create an account and start your free online application to Harrisburg University today.