Are you ready to apply to a physical therapist assistant program to become a PTA?
APTA is developing a centralized application service for PTA programs. In the meantime, applications need to be sent directly to the PTA programs.
Preparing for the Admissions Process
You should research PTA programs to determine the ones that best meet your needs.
APTA does not rank PTA education programs. Programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, which assures quality in physical therapist education.
There are no standard admission requirements for PTA education, although many require a competitive grade point average, volunteer experience in a physical therapy clinic, and a letter of reference from a physical therapist.
To improve your chances of being admitted, maintain good grades and volunteer in two or more types of physical therapy clinics where you can get to know the staff and they know you well enough to speak to your aptitude in physical therapy.
Respectfully contact physical therapy clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, e.g., nursing homes, and other health care settings in your area to find volunteer or observation opportunities. (APTA cannot assist you in these efforts.)
PTA education programs may ask applicants to disclose any previous felony or misdemeanor convictions as part of the application process. A criminal record will not necessarily prevent you from enrolling in a PTA program; however, failure to disclose any past or pending charges may be grounds for dismissal. Criminal background checks and/or drug tests are used to verify your eligibility to participate in clinical education, confirm your eligibility for PTA licensure, and ensure patient safety. Contact PTA programs directly for institution-specific criminal background check policies.
PTA Before PT
One common question is whether to become a physical therapist assistant before becoming a physical therapist.
PTA programs are not considered to be a steppingstone to a PT education or career. The PTA curriculum differs from that of the physical therapist and does not provide the needed prerequisites required for physical therapist education. Fewer than 2% of enrolled DPT students were previously PTAs.