• Physical Therapist Assistant Program Frequently Asked Questions

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Important Note: Some external links may be inaccessible. People requiring accommodations due to a disability should contact Accessible Education Services at 503-491-6923 or aes@mhcc.edu.

    What is a restricted entry physical therapist assistant program?
    Restricted entry means that we have an annual selection process in which applicants apply, selected individuals are invited to interview, and we choose a class of 24 students each year. Selection criteria are established each year and the application is generally available each summer for a class to start the following fall (i.e. application for Fall 2019 admission will be on the program website starting in July/August 2018)
    What are the academic prerequisites to apply to the program?
    There are 4 courses which must be completed by the application deadline in order to qualify for selection. At MHCC these courses are:
    • BI121 and BI122 or higher (must include lab coursework), have a cumulative GPA of 3.00, and must be taken within the last 10 years
    • WR121
    • MTH65 or higher
    If I have taken the prerequisites courses previously at other colleges, can the courses count as a part of the selection process or toward graduation requirements for the PTA degree?
    Yes, as long as the coursework is equivalent (or higher level) than we require and you have provided us with an official transcript for that coursework, MHCC generally will accept it.
    What is the selection committee looking for in a successful candidate?
    Class selection is done via a point system. While the point system is not published, it is largely based on the following 3 criteria which are fairly equally weighed:
    • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 for the Anatomy and Physiology series.
    • Physical therapy observation or work experience (a minimum of 20 hours but no more than 60 hours) in a variety of clinical settings in which physical therapist assistants commonly practice.
    • Response to questions in writing and verbally and work effectively as part of a team during a group interview.
    Please see the PTA Admission Details page for more information regarding these criteria.
    I have completed a previous bachelor’s degree; is that considered as a part of the selection process, or can it shorten the length of time it takes to complete the program?
    Completion of a previous bachelor’s degree is not a part of the selection process itself. It will not shorten the length of time needed to complete the program though, as PTA courses are only taught once each year and are sequential. You would have a lighter course load some of the terms, but it will still take 2 years to complete the program
    Is there a wait list for those who don’t get accepted?
    No, our program does not have a wait list. Besides the 24 students chosen, we choose an alternate list of individuals in case someone in the original class is unable to join the program, but that alternate list dissolves the 1st day of class in the fall. Individuals who remain interested are encouraged to re-apply, but are not placed on a wait list.
    What is the general timeline for the selection process?
    Our goal is to get the application up on the program webpage each summer and accept applications until the end of winter term. Selection and notification will happen in the spring for the class that begins later that year in the fall.
    What’s the difference between a physical therapist and a physical therapist assistant?
    There are significant differences, both in terms of education and responsibilities. It is important that you explore the answer to this question thoroughly and make an intentional choice that is right for you about the best level of the profession. Talk with both PTs and PTAs, visit/volunteer at various clinics, and check out the website of our national association, the APTA at www.apta.org
    If I want to be a physical therapist later, does this coursework transfer into a PT program?
    No, PTA programs are NOT designed to be stepping stones to PT school; none of the PTA coursework transfers, nor does it help your chances of getting into PT school. MHCC does offer pre-physical therapy coursework for those interested in PT school, but this program is not the route. Again, you need to do your research and make the right choice for you within the profession of physical therapy.
    How much does the program cost?


    • The estimated program costs are subject to change without notice. They are listed only as a guide for your financial planning.
    • Additional costs are required for some clinical sites (drug screen, other training requirements) and students are informed of those prior to making clinical selections
    What happens after I am accepted?

    MANDATORY ORIENTATION: A mandatory program orientation will be held in early June. Information about completing the requirements below (immunizations, training requirements, and criminal background checks) will be distributed at this time.

    IMMUNIZATIONS: Accepted students must complete a Measles Immunization Clearance Certificate for School Attendance Form. Students must provide documentation of Varicella, Hepatitis B, tetanus, and diphtheria immunization status before beginning their first year. In addition, students will be required to have an up-to-date TB test. Prior to clinical participation, students must meet all PTA Program immunization requirements. These requirements may change as requested by our clinical sites, and if they do, students are given adequate notice in order to be compliant for clinical participation.

    TRAINING REQUIREMENTS: Prior to students starting the program in the fall, students must complete a basic first aid course and professional level CPR/AED.

    CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS: All Students will be required to complete a Criminal Background Check upon acceptance into the program. In addition, some clinical sites retain the right to require an additional criminal background check. (Please note: the criminal background check requires a fee and the applicant's social security number.) Clinical placement may be prohibited for students with a criminal background history. Without successful completion of clinicals, students will be unable to complete the program, thus resulting in dismissal. The Health Professions Dean can provide further information on this matter.

    RESTRICTIONS: If you have been convicted of a felony, please be advised that this conviction may prevent you from placement in clinical training and from obtaining a license to practice within the field. A PTA adviser can provide further information on this matter.

    DRUG SCREENING: All students will be required to complete drug screening prior to clinical placement. Please note, this drug screening will check for drugs that contain, amphetamines, barbiturates, opioids, benzodiazepines and marijuana. If you are taking any prescribed medication that may contain these drugs you will need to meet with the program director before completing the drug screen. Program faculty will provide further information including when to have this done. A positive drug test may exclude you from clinical placement and make it impossible for you to complete the clinical competencies required for graduation from the PTA program. All students will be asked to complete a Consent to Test Form upon acceptance into the program.

    Do I have to be licensed to practice as a PTA?
    You must be licensed to practice as a Physical Therapist Assistant in all states. Successful completion of the PTA program and the licensing exam qualifies you to apply for licensure in the state in which you wish to work.
    Other questions?
    Please e-mail any other questions to the PTA Program Director at Kristin.kjensrud@mhcc.edu and/or plan to attend an information session. For information on the number of applicants, graduation rates, licensure pass rates and employment rates, please see the PTA program website under Admission and Outcome Statistics.