• 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 selected applicants are invited to interview, and we choose a class of 24 students each year. The application is available each fall for a class to start the following fall (i.e., the application for Fall term 2023 admission will be on the program website on November 1, 2022).
    What are the academic prerequisites to apply to the program?
    There are several courses which must be completed by the application deadline in order to qualify for selection. At MHCC these courses are:
    • BI121 and BI122 or BI231 and BI232 (must include lab coursework), have a cumulative G.P.A of 3.00, and must be taken within the last 10 years. (If a student selects the 200 level Human Anatomy and Physiology sequence, the BI233 must be completed no later than spring term of the year the student is applying to the program.)
    • WR121
    • MTH065 or higher
    • PSY201 General Psychology*
    • MO111*
      *Due to changes in prerequisite requirements, students will be allowed to complete PSY201 & MO111 by end of Spring term June 2023 for Fall term 2023 admission. 
    If I took both BI121 & BI122 and BI231, BI232 & BI233, which course series should I use for my application?
    Use the series that give you the highest A&P GPA. So if you received all As in the BI100 series, but A & B grades in the BI200 series, then use the BI100 series for your application. Please note, this is the last year (Fall term 2023 admission) that BI121 & BI122 A&P series will be accepted. Applications for Fall term 2024 admission will require the BI231/BI232/BI233 series.
    If I have taken the prerequisites courses at other colleges, can the courses count toward the selection process or the PTA degree requirements?
    Yes, as long as the coursework is equivalent (or higher level) and you have provided an official transcript for that coursework.
    How do I know what my application status is after I submit my online application?
    Applicants may check on their application status in the MyMHCC student portal at the location where they filled out the application under the "Check application status" link.
    What is the selection committee looking for in a successful candidate?
    Class selection is done via a point system for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the application process. Phase 1 point system is published on the PTA Admission Details page and awards points for the following criteria: cumulative Anatomy and Physiology series, residency, prerequisite courses taken at MHCC and prior year accepted/alternate applicant status. Phase 2 point awarding is based on responses to verbal and written questions and a demonstrated ability to work effectively as part of a team during a group interview.
    I have a bachelor’s degree; is that considered as part of the selection process, or can it shorten the time it takes to complete the program?
    Completion of a bachelor’s degree is not part of the selection process itself. It will not shorten the length of time needed to complete the program, as PTA courses are only taught once each year and are sequential. You would have a lighter course load some terms, but it will still take 2 years to complete the program.
    Is there a wait list for those who don’t get accepted?
    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.
    What is the general timeline for the selection process?
    The application opens fall term. We accept applications until the end of winter term. Selection and notification will happen in the spring/summer 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. Talk with both PTs and PTAs, visit/volunteer at various clinics if feasible, and check out the website of our national association, the APTA at
    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?

    Program costs can be found at www.mhcc.edu/PTAprogramcosts.


    • Program costs are approximations and 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.
    • To view the current tuition rate, visit www.mhcc.edu/tuition.
    If I am accepted into the program, are there immunization, drug screening or other requirements I must follow?

    MANDATORY ORIENTATION: There will be a mandatory program orientation held after students confirm their spots in the program. Information about completing 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, COVID-19, 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 will be 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. 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.

    Does the PTA program allow for religious and medical vaccine exemptions?
    No, all PTA clinical sites require full vaccination, including vaccination for COVID-19. Therefore, we are unable to admit students who are unvaccinated for any reason.
    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.