Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Physical Therapist Assistant, AAS Degree

Coming Fall 2021*

*Pending achieving candidacy status Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)

Informational Video


Program Overview

This program prepares students for a career in the physical therapy field as a physical therapist assistant. The program combines courses in general education and physical therapist assistant technical courses with off campus clinical education learning experiences. PTA technical courses must be completed in sequence. Students will master selected skills in data collection and interventions commonly used in different physical therapy settings. Graduates of the Associate of Applied Science degree program may apply to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for licensure as a physical therapist assistant.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession of physical therapist assistant is projected to have a much faster than average growth with a 41% growth from 2014-2024 with 5,470 projected annual openings. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the profession of physical therapist assistant is projected to grow 22.29% from 2014-2024. Data from the Local Workforce Investment Area provided by the Illinois Department of Employment Security indicates this profession to have a 20.92% growth in Cook County and 30.56% growth in Will County from 2014-2024.

Physical therapist assistants provide health care services to patients of all ages and health conditions in a variety of settings, including outpatient facilities, hospitals, skilled nursing, extended care, home health, schools, hospice care, industrial/workplace environments, fitness centers and sports training facilities.

Please note that the Physical Therapist Assistant program has special admissions requirements. The Prairie State College PTA program will admit 24 students each fall. Contact Sistina Taele Selective Admission Specialist, 708-709-3517,

PTA Program Mission

The Prairie State College Physical Therapist Assistant Program will empower students to develop the entry-level skills required to practice as a PTA in the physical therapy field. The educational foundation will foster critical thinking, skill competence, ethical and moral practice, cultural competence, global societal responsibility and life-long learning.

PTA Program Goals & Outcomes

Goal 1: Graduates will demonstrate competency in the entry-level skills of a physical therapist assistants.

  • 100% of students will receive a grade of “Pass” in PT-299 Clinical Practicum II.
  • Graduation rate will be at least 70%.

Goal 2: Graduates will successfully pass the required national licensure examination.

  • NPTE pass rate will be at least 85%.

Goal 3: Students will demonstrate safe, legal, ethical and culturally competent behaviors consistent with APTA core documents and state practice acts.

  • Students will be rated entry-level on criteria of the Clinical Performance Instrument that relate to safe, legal, ethical and culturally competent behavior upon completion of their terminal clinical experience.

Goal 4: The PTA program will promote the health and wellness of society.

  • Students will participate in one health and wellness activity prior to graduation.

Goal 5: The PTA program will reflect contemporary practice for the field of physical therapy.

  • Faculty will participate in one faculty development activity related contemporary practice in the area they teach annually.
  • Curriculum will be consistent with CAPTE accreditation standards and elements and FSBPT licensure exam content.

Goal 6: The PTA program will promote the importance of lifelong learning.

  • The PTA Program will host one continuing education course per year for program alumni.

PTA Program Accreditation

Graduation from a physical therapist assistant education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; phone; 703-706-3245; is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states.

Prairie State College is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist assistant education program from CAPTE. The program is planning to submit an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage, on March 1, 2021. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the professional/technical phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in professional/technical courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.

Prior to admission into the PTA Program, students must complete all admissions requirements including completing BIOL 221 Human Anatomy and Physiology I (4) and ENG 101 Composition I (4) with a grade of C or better.

Professional Licensure

Graduates of the Prairie State College Physical Therapist Assistant program will be eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) to practice as physical therapist assistants in for states where licensure is required, Illinois included. Licensure in the state of Illinois is controlled by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Professional Regulation, 320 West Washington St., Springfield, IL 62786, (217) 785-0800 or (217) 782-8556;

It is each student’s responsibility to determine whether he/she is eligible for state licensure. Graduation from this program does not guarantee a passing score on the NPTE for PTA. Please note that each jurisdiction reviews each licensure applicant and may refuse licensure to applicants with past criminal convictions.

This two-year associate in applied science program consists of five consecutive semesters of classroom and clinical education with a strong emphasis on professional standards. The program begins each Fall semester. The program is a blended program with the majority of lecture content and some labs being presented online while labs and skill assessments will occur on campus at designated times. Students will complete off campus clinical education learning experiences at physical therapy facilities in the greater Chicagoland area.

(All courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or higher)

View Program Prequisites


View First Year Schedule


View Second Year Schedule

Total Credits For Program: 74 Credits

  • Ability to push/pull and lift objects more than 50-100 pounds
  • Perform patient care for 8-12 hours; stand for prolonged periods of time
  • Ability to safely bend, twist, and lift to assist a patient moving from one surface to another.
  • Ability to participate in all aspects of therapeutic interventions.
  • Ability to perform chest compressions necessary for CPR.
  • Possess the coordination, balance, and strength to safely guard and protect a patient during all related physical therapy interventions.
  • Possess the agility to move quickly to ensure patient safety.
  • Possess manual dexterity to safely grasp, manipulate small objects and dials, feel pulse, muscle tone, bony landmarks and to hold and use a writing instrument for documentation.
  • Ability to effectively communicate in verbally and in writing in English.
  • Ability to read and understand technical and professional materials.
  • Ability to demonstrate sensitivity, confidentiality and respect when speaking with patients, peers, faculty and staff
  • Ability to participate in all aspects of therapeutic interventions.
  • Normal or corrected visual acuity sufficient to observe a patient’s response to treatment interventions, read or set parameters on physical therapy equipment, observe and assess the environment, gather information from medical records and professional literature.
  • Ability to hear and respond to monitors, calls for assistance, alert systems, and verbal directions.
  • Ability to concentrate on moderate to fine detail with frequent interruption.
  • Ability to attend to multiple functions and patients often for an extended period of time.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving ability sufficient for clinical judgement.
  • Ability to select and use technical principles, ideas, and theories in a problem-solving situation and adjust procedures accordingly.
  • Ability to work independently and as a team
  • Emotional and mental health necessary to effectively apply knowledge and exercise appropriate judgment.
  • Ability to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability.
  • Ability to practice legal, moral and ethical behavior and accountability.
  • Ability to self-evaluate.
  • Ability to accept feedback constructive criticism.
  • Ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Ability to interact effectively with patients, families, supervisors, and co-workers regardless of their race, sex, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, or disability.
  • Ability to portray professional behavior in all areas, including professional presentation, academic and professional responsibility, and commitment to learning.
  • Ability to recognize and respond appropriately to potentially emergent situations.

Applicants must be able to be perform all the essential skills described above. If you are unable to perform any of the skills listed, you should speak to the program coordinator to determine if reasonable accommodations can be made for on-campus course activities and activities performed during clinical experiences.

Required PTA Program Participation

The academic portion of the PTA program is the beginning of professional training for students desiring to enter the field of physical therapy. As part of their learning experience, PTA students are expected to fully participate in all laboratory activities related to PTA course work and will be required to participate in role playing activities/patient simulation in classroom and lab settings where they will be expected to play the role of both the therapist and the patient.

As a requirement of the PTA program curriculum, enrolled students will complete 600 hours of off campus learning experiences at facilities that offer physical therapy services. As a requirement to participate in off-campus learning experiences, all PTA Students must complete a drug screening, criminal background check and health physical with evidence of updated immunizations. All costs associated with off campus learning experiences are the student’s responsibility.

Criminal Background Check

If a student’s criminal background check presents a positive personal history a student may not be allowed to participate in required off campus clinical experiences and thus may need to withdraw from the PTA program. Please note some facilities may require an additional criminal background check. Cost of all criminal background checks will be at the student’s expense. Disqualifying offenses defined in Section 955.160 of the Health Care Worker Background Check Act is used to determine offenses that would prohibit admission into the program. Details of disqualifying offenses can be found at If the student believes that the information is in error, they may obtain a fingerprint background check, at his/her own expense, to refute or confirm the initial findings.

Felony convictions may adversely affect their ability to sit for the NPTE licensure exam and/or the ability to be hired as a licensed physical therapist assistant. It is recommended students review licensure requirements in the state they plan to seek licensure. Information on individual state licensing requirements can be found at

10-Panel Drug Screening

All students must successfully pass a 10-panel drug screening through CastleBranch as a condition for participation in an off campus learning experience. Authorization for the drug screen shall be furnished by the student and the student shall be responsible for the required fees. The drug screening must be ordered through CastleBranch, available locations to do the screening will be listed through CastleBranch. The student must complete the drug screening at one of those locations. The results are provided from the testing site to CastleBranch for documentation. In the event of a positive drug screen (not cleared by your healthcare provider), you will not eligible for participation in off campus learning experience and may have to withdraw from the program. If the initial drug screen is positive, the student may refute the positive results (legally prescribed substances only) and at the student’s expense, complete a more extensive drug test.

Following the initial drug screen students may be subject to random drug screening for reasonable suspicion, at the request of a off campus clinical facility, or if the student has been out of the program longer than one year.

If a random drug screen is positive without documentation of medical necessity, or a student refuses to complete a random drug screen, the student will not be allowed to continue in the program. If a second drug screen is positive without documented medical necessity or the student refuses to complete a second drug screen, the student will be dismissed from the program without opportunity for reentering.

Any student who fails a urine drug screen or refuses to complete a urine drug screen will be referred to counseling for follow-up.

Physical Examination

All students must complete a physical examination and demonstrate proof of immunizations and/or immunity as a condition for participation in an off campus learning experience. The physical examination must include the following:

  • A complete physical that verifies the student is capable of performing all essential skills of a PTA.
  • Evidence of completion of Hepatitis B immunization (series of three vaccines) or a signed waiver. If unable to verify the dates of the 3 vaccines, Hepatitis antibody titer to assess for immune status can be ordered by the provider. This titer should be at least 1-2 months after the Hepatitis vaccine dose #3.
  • Rubella Titer
  • Mumps Titer
  • QuantiFERON-TB Gold blood test (QFT-G) completed within 12 months of the start of the off campus learning experience
  • Rubeola (Measles) Titer
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox) Titer
  • Tetanus (if not updated in last 10 years)
  • Flu vaccine

PSC recognizes that some individuals may not have been vaccinated for a variety of reasons. It is the sole discretion of a clinical site to accept a student who does not provide evidence of vaccinations of immunity. The program will not guarantee an alternate placement if a student is rejected from a clinical site. If a student is rejected from a clinical site due to not having the required vaccinations or proof of immunity the student may be required to withdraw from the program.

The following tuition costs are based on in-district tuition rates. For additional information on PSC Tuition & Fees go to

View Full Tuition Information

Click Here To View Our Admissions Booklet

Application Procedure:

Items 1 through 5 must be completed by June 1, 2021*.

  1. If not already a Prairie State College student, complete and submit a PSC Admissions Application or in person in Enrollment Services. Application deadline is June 1, 2021.
  2. Submit the PTA Program Intent Form available on the PTA program website or from the PTA program Selective Admission Specialist to Enrollment Services by June 1, 2021.
  3. Submit official high school transcripts or GED certificate and any official college transcripts if Previous college coursework was not completed at PSC by June 1, 2021.
  4. Complete Placement Assessment Test or bring in ACT or SAT scores that are within the past five years by June 1, 2021. The Placement Assessment Test determines your placement in English, Math, and Reading. Applicants must meet the following requirements:
    • Reading & English: Placement in PSC's ENG101 or successful completion of PSC's ENG 099.
    • Math: Placement into PSC's MATH 095 or higher or successful completion of PSC's MATH 090.

    The following ACT and SAT scores are accepted as equivalent for placement:

    • Placement into MATH 095: ACT 19 or higher, SAT 460 or higher, or ALEKS 30 or higher
    • Placement into ENG 101: ACT 22 or higher in Reading and a 17 or higher on English, SAT 480 or higher
  5. Complete BIOL 221 (completed within the last five (5) years with a grade of “C” or better). A comparable biology at another institution will be considered after review of the curriculum. Students who wish to transfer Anatomy and Physiology credits can only do so if both semesters have been successfully completed at the same institution.
  6. In-district applicants are awarded 2 additional ranking points however proof of residency must be provided to the enrollment specialist by June 1, 2021 even if the applicant is an enrolled student at Prairie State College.Providing proof of residency for in-district students is optional. The applicant must live in the Prairie State College district at least 90 days prior to the application deadline date. It is the applicant's responsibility to demonstrate residency status by submitting two (2) proofs of residency. The following documents may be presented to verify residency and must be in the student's name: voter's registration card, property tax statement, income tax return, mortgage or mortgage statement, utility bills (gas and electric), bank statements, cell phone bill, medical billing statement, and car insurance statement. The proofs of residency must list the same address, and they must match the address shown on the student’s PSC records. If seats in the program are limited and students are otherwise equally qualified, preference will be given to in-district students. The applicant must provide current proof of residency every year they apply to the program.

Upon completion of items 1-6, an evaluation of the applicant’s records will be mailed approximately two to three weeks after submitting a PTA Program Intent Form. It is the applicant’s responsibility to contact the Enrollment Services Advisor if they have not received correspondence prior to the application deadline. It is also the applicant’s responsibility to notify the Enrollment Services Advisor of any change in address and/or phone number. Please retain the evaluation for future reference as it will serve as proof of submission.

Upon completion of items 1-6, qualified applicants will be notified of eligibility to take the HESI-A2 exam at Prairie State College. Applicants are required to take the HESI-A2 exam which is a readiness test for the healthcare curriculum. The exam consists of 4 sections: math, reading comprehension, vocabulary, anatomy and physiology. The applicant’s composite score is used as part of the ranking process for admission into the PTA program. Applicants must achieve a minimum cumulative score of 70 to be eligible for admission. A cumulative score of 70 or higher does not guarantee admission into the PTA program. The top 24 ranked applicants are accepted into the program. You may test only once per year. Test scores are good for two years. The most recent test scores will be used. Applicants will be notified in writing of eligibility to take the HESI-A2 exam. The letter will include date(s) of exam, cost and directions and deadline to pay for the exam. Applicants are required to present their receipt of payment on the day of their exam. The final selection of applicants takes place after all testing is completed. HESI-A2 exam scores from other colleges are not accepted for admission into the program.

*The deadline of June 1 is for the Fall 2021 cohort only. Application deadline for all subsequent cohorts will be March 1 of each year.

Ranking of Applicants

Applicants are ranked based on points awarded for prerequisite courses completed, general education courses completed before admission into the PTA program, composite score earned on the HESI-A2 exam, and residency in the Prairie State College, Illinois Community College District 515. A list of communities within District 515 can be found here. All courses in the ranking system must reflect a grade of “C” or better for admission into the PTA program. One additional point will be given for each course completed at Prairie State College with a grade of “C” or better.

Applicants accepted into the program will receive notification via US Postal mail. Notification will include time sensitive information on next steps in the acceptance process. It is the applicants responsibility to notify the Enrollment Services Office of any change in address, phone or email address during the admissions process.

Students are responsible for all costs associated with these clinical experiences which will include transportation, health physical, drug screening and criminal background check.

Preliminaries for Accepted Students Accepted into the PTA Program

1. Seat Deposit

After receiving the Acceptance Letter, a non-refundable deposit of $100 must be paid to the PSC Business Office by each applicant by the deadline date specified in the acceptance letter. This non-refundable deposit is applied toward the first semester tuition. Payment can be made in person or by mail.

Applicants will be dropped from the acceptance list if the deposit is not paid by the specified deadline date. Anyone who sends payment through the mail is encouraged to complete this requirement by certified mail for evidence of submission. Please be aware of legal holidays and act accordingly to ensure your deposit is received by the specified deadline date.

2. Mandatory Orientation

All accepted applicants are required to attend the mandatory orientation session. The orientation session will occur prior to the beginning of the summer session at PSC. The date, time and location of the orientation session will be included in the acceptance letter. Failure to attend without contacting the PTA program director will forfeit their seat in the PTA program and seat deposit.

3. Registration for PTA Technical Courses

Accepted applicants will be eligible to register for first semester PTA Technical Courses after attending the mandatory PTA orientation session.

Carol Fawcett PTA, BS, MEd

Assistant Professor/Coordinator

Physical Therapist Assistant