Jul 14, 2024  
NIACC Catalog 2020-2021 
NIACC Catalog 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physical Therapist Assistant, A.A.S.

The Physical Therapist Assistant program is designed to prepare individuals to work under the supervision of a Physical Therapist in the delivery of physical therapy services. Responsibilities include: implementing treatment programs according to the Physical Therapist’s plan of care, training patients in exercises and activities of daily living, administering modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and other treatment procedures, and communicating with the Physical Therapist on the patient’s progress.

Career Opportunities

Physical Therapist Assistants are employed at a variety of settings including but not limited to the following: hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, private practice clinics, rehabilitation centers, intermediate care facilities, residential facilities for children with disabilities, home health agencies, sports injury clinics, long-term care facilities, outpatient facilities, research centers, industrial settings, health maintenance organizations, academic institutions, and schools. Physical Therapist Assistants work with: prostheses (artificial limbs), orthoses (artificial supports); braces, canes, crutches, and walkers; wheelchairs; traction equipment, exercise equipment such as lifts, weights, and parallel bars; medical records.

Program Information

The program is two academic years in length including one summer. Students must attain a C grade in all PTA courses, achieve a “pass” grade in all clinical assignments, and a C grade in all support courses to progress through the program.

Although the program has specific requirements regarding the program completion, in order to be eligible for graduation from the College, all students must achieve a minimum overall cumulative GPA of 2.00. Upon successful completion of the PTA curriculum, the student is awarded an Associate in Applied Science Degree.

In order for the graduate to practice physical therapy, a state PTA license is required. Licensure application requires legal presence in the United States including a social security number, U.S. visa, or U.S. green card.

If you wish to provide feedback about the NIACC PTA Program, please read the NIACC PTA Program Public Comment Policy.

The PTA program at North Iowa Area Community College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, telephone: 703-706-3245, e-mail: accreditation@apta.org, website: www.capteonline.org. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please contact Susan Callanan, Program Leader at 641-422-4166 or susan.callanan@niacc.edu.

Entrance Requirements

The applicant must complete the application process through the health professions counselor located in the Student Development Office. Entrance requirements include the following criteria:

  1. Have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  2. Meet two of the three following criteria:
    1. Graduated in the upper half of the high school class.
    2. Graduated from high school with a minimum of a 3.00 GPA.
    3. Achieved an ACT composite score of 20 or higher.

      Applicants who do not meet the above requirements or those with a poor academic history may meet entrance requirements by successfully completing approved college courses with a cumulative GPA of 2.00. This should be discussed with the health professions counselor.
  3. Documented evidence of 12 hours of observation time in a physical therapy setting. When an applicant applies to the program, a required form will need to be used to document these hours. This form is available through Student Services.

Important Note: Due to the current circumstances of COVID-19, the program is waiving the observation hour requirement for students entering in the fall of 2021 until further notice. In place of the observation requirement, students can prepare an essay on a required form which is available through Student Services. If students complete the essay while this policy is in effect, the observation hours will be waived.

An applicant’s file will not be reviewed until all application criteria have been submitted.


The following courses must be completed with a grade of C or higher prior to entering the program:


  • Four semesters of high school/college preparatory math (e.g., Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry)


  • Two semesters of high school/college preparatory biology
  • Two semesters of high school/college preparatory chemistry or physics

The following NIACC courses must be completed in Term 0 with a grade of C or higher prior to entering the program.

  • BIO - 206 Anatomy and Physiology I (4 s.h.)  *
  • ENG - 105 Composition I (3 s.h.)  

*Note: BIO - 207 Anatomy and Physiology II , required after entry into the program, must be completed at the same institution in which BIO - 206 Anatomy and Physiology I  was completed.


After acceptance, a physical examination documenting current immunization and abilities to perform program requirements is needed. Students are also required to obtain CPR certification for the adult, child, and infant. CPR certification must be kept current while in the program. In addition, criminal background checks and adult/dependent abuse checks will also be required. Results of these checks will be used by contracted clinical facilities to determine clinical eligibility. Costs for requirements will be the responsibility of the student.

Students who withdraw from the program must make formal application for reentry and upon acceptance will be considered on a space-available basis. Readmission criteria is addressed in the PTA Student Handbook. A student may reenter the PTA program once. After being accepted into the program, a student may delay entrance into the program no more than two (2) years. A student will be required to reapply to the program after this period of time.

Further information regarding progression in the program and specific program policies is provided to the student in the PTA Program Student Handbook. Students are provided this handbook during the first week of classes. Students are encouraged to refer to this handbook throughout the program.

NIACC PTA Program Student Outcomes:

2018-2019 Ultimate Licensure Pass Rate 84.4%
2018-2019 First Time Licensure Pass Rate 81.3%
2018-2019 Graduation Rate 86.5%
2018-2019 Employment Rate 96.3%


Required Courses/Suggested Schedule

Total: 7 s.h.

(Both courses above must be completed with a C or higher grade)

First Year

Second Year

Total: 15 s.h.

Fifth Term (Spring)

Total: 13 s.h.

Total Program Hours: 71 s.h.

*Courses which may be taken prior to entering the program, but prerequisites may need to be taken. Note that Anatomy and Physiology must be taken within five years of beginning the program. Note that Kinesiology must be taken within three years of beginning the program. Students must earn a “C” or higher in BIO - 206 Anatomy and Physiology I , prior to taking Kinesiology.

++Once enrolled in the program, courses must be taken in the identified sequence with the exception of the following: Medical Terminology must be completed prior to Term III. Introduction to Psychology must be completed prior to Term IV. PSY - 121 Developmental Psychology  may be taken any time prior to Term V.

The student should be aware that clinicals necessitate travel to various hospitals and clinics and may necessitate housing expenses. Each individual clinical site may have specific requirements that vary (e.g., 10-hour days, background checks, drug testing, agency specific orientations, urinalysis tests). The student is responsible for all costs and must comply with clinical requirements in order to be provided with an affiliation.


The program has determined that its curriculum meets the state educational requirements for licensure or certification in all states, the District of Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands secondary to its accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, based on the following: 

CAPTE accreditation of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant program satisfies state educational requirements in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Thus, students graduating from CAPTE-accredited physical therapist and physical therapist assistant education programs are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination and apply for licensure in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information regarding state qualifications and licensure requirements, refer to the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy website at www.fsbpt.org.