Physical Therapist Assistant

The physical Therapist assistant is an important member of the healthcare community, playing a vital role in wellness, prevention and rehabilitation under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.  It is believed that the PTA program plays an imperative role in producing rehabilitation professionals that demonstrate values that reflect positively on themselves, their profession and their community. Throughout this program knowledge and experience are acquired within a liberal arts environment which emphasizes honesty, civility, and personal and social responsibility. Each quality reflects outwardly on the strong character required to become a fundamental part of the physical therapy profession. 

The faculty believe each student is an individual with varied past experience and learning styles.  Similar to clients in a clinical setting, each student will need to be approached with this in mind. This will assist the student in finding success in his or her academic and clinical endeavor.  The faculty will utilize various contemporary and conventional teaching styles with the goal of meeting the needs of a diverse student population.  The faculty will strive to model professional attitude and behavior to exhibit the qualities that reflect positively on the program, university and profession.   

The curriculum for the PTA program is designed to meet the needs of the physical therapy profession and follow closely the guidelines set forth by Commission for Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association. The curriculum is geared to sequential mastery of didactic material and practical skills.  The integration of evidence based learning and application to case based scenarios facilitates development of sound critical thinking and decision making skills readily applicable to clinical practice.  It is believed that this curricular format in conjunction with an environment of mutual respect, honesty, accountability and promotion of interaction between students and faculty, will allow for successful outcomes for both the student and the program at large.  

Each faculty member offers a unique clinical and educational background, thus broadening the scope from which successful students will draw insight. The faculty are facilitators of the education process.  Students are expected to play an active role in their educational experience, seeking additional learning resources and opportunities to encourage independent thinking and the development of the professional attribute of lifelong learning.  Students are encouraged to engage peers in discussion, idea exchange and demonstrate an overall ability to interact respectfully with each other, faculty, clinical staff and patients. Students are provided with hands on laboratory experience and clinical affiliations that will encourage not only recall of information, but proficiency in transfer of knowledge to the skills essential for successful transition to post graduate employment.

Accreditation Status

The Physical Therapist Assistant program at Central Methodist University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave Suite 100, Alexandria, VA 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 660-248-6640 or email

Program Goals & Objectives

Program Goal 1: The PTA program provides a curriculum that includes content and learning experiences that prepare graduates who are competent and safe in the provision of skills essential for carrying out the established plan of care under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist in the current healthcare environment.

Program Goal 2: To provide the effective resources and mentorship for program graduates to successfully complete the NPTE for PTAs, and obtain gainful employment. 

Program Goal 3: To graduate knowledgeable entry-level professional physical therapist assistants who are well-versed in the PTA’s point of entry into the patient/client management model, and who communicate effectively to meet the needs of a variety of health care settings.

Program Goal 4: The PTA program provides an environment that encourages students to pursue leadership roles and life-long learning opportunities, with the ability to contribute to the betterment of the profession and community in which they live.

Program Goal 5: The PTA program graduates physical therapy assistants who demonstrate sound critical thinking skills utilizing acquired knowledge, evidence based resources and clinical skills.

Program Objective 1: Be prepared to achieve licensure and practice effectively as an entry-level physical therapist assistant under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist.

Program Objective 2: Demonstrate the necessary skills and professional behaviors to practice as an entry level physical therapy assistant, including competence in performing assessment techniques and treatment interventions from within the physical therapist’s plan of care for patients across the lifespan

Program Objective 3: Demonstrate appropriate, culturally competent communication with patients/clients, families, colleagues, and other health care providers.

Program Objective 4:  Demonstrate a commitment to professional growth, service to others and lifelong learning

Non-Discrimination Policy

Central Methodist University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sexual preference, religion, sex, national origin, age or federally defined disability in its recruitment and admission of students. The university's educational programs, activities, financial aid, loan and scholarship programs are made available to all qualified students without regard to race, color, sexual preference, religion, sex, national origin, age, or federally defined disability.  The university complies with all federal and state non-discrimination requirements.  

Admissions Requirements

Applications will be accepted between January 1-March 15.  Late applications may be considered for qualified applicants if seats remain available beyond the March 15 deadline.  

    1. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences;
    2. Applicants submit an application for admission to the PTA program;
    3. Applicants submit an ACT with cumulative score of 20 or above or ATI TEAS score of 60 or above;
    4. Applicants who have earned a bachelor degree are eligible for consideration for acceptance into the program without submitting an entrance exam score.
    5. Applicants submit a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher and/or 2.75 cumulative GPA for college level coursework;
    6. A grade of C or higher in Human Anatomy is recommended.
    7. Applicants obtain and submit two (2) references. References can be from an employer, educator, coaches, organization leaders, individuals who can attest to the students’ professional and organizational skills.  A form is available as part of the application to the PTA Program.
    8. Applicants must complete a minimum of 24 hours of observation in a physical therapy setting supervised by a licensed PT or PTA. It is recommended that the applicant obtain these hours in a variety of health care settings.  Hours completed and signature of supervisor is required. A form is available as part of the application to the PTA Program.
    9. The top 25 applicants, based on a predetermined scoring system, will be invited for a group interview process if necessary.
    1. Students must provide vaccination records for Rubella, Tetanus, Mumps, Polio, Chicken Pox, and submit proof of or waiver of Hepatitis B vaccination
    2. Students must provide proof of physical examination to ensure that they are physically capable of performing the required minimum physical standards of the physical therapist assistant student
    3. Students are required to be CPR certified as a Healthcare provider prior to clinical affiliations
    4. A criminal background check must be completed-students will be notified via mail or email regarding the process of completing this requirement. Students are responsible for the cost of this process. *
    5. A drug screen will be completed prior to clinical participation- students will be notified via mail or email correspondence regarding the process of completing this requirement. Students are responsible for the cost of this screen. * 
    6. Students are required to be covered by a personal health insurance

Consideration for admission to the program will be based on applicants meeting the above requirements.  In the event that the number of applicants exceeds the number of positions available in the program, the best qualified applicants will be determined based on an established rubric.  A wait list will be created for qualified applicants.  Wait listed students will be contacted in order placed on the list in the event an accepted student gives up their spot in the cohort.

*An unsatisfactory result on the criminal background check or drug screen may result in an individual's inability to participate in clinical education experiences.  Clinical education experiences are required for successful completion of the program.

Additional Cost 

In addition to tuition, housing, books/supplies, and transportation costs students in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program will incur additional expenses. 

A full list of PTA student expenses can be viewed on the CLAS Health Profession Program Fee page.

Immunizations are required to be up to date. Cost of updating immunizations status will vary greatly dependent upon student needs and provider charges. Students are responsible for all charges related to updating immunization status. Each applicant should work with his/her primary care physician for updating and or to verify the immunization status.  Details regarding these expectations and requirements will be enclosed in the letter of acceptance to the program and is included in the student handbook. 

Program Fee

Liability Insurance: $50 for duration of program. This is a requirement for participation in clinical labs and practice and is to be paid by the student at the start of the program. 

Grading/Program Progression

Graduation Criteria*

Students must earn a 75% in all PTA courses to pass the course and remain in the PTA Program.  PTA specific courses are only offered one time per year.  Failure to pass the course with the required criteria will result in dismissal from the program.

Lab practical examinations will be given in PTA courses introducing technical skills.  All lab practical examinations must be passed with a minimum of 75%.  If a student is unsuccessful on the initial attempt remediation will be provided.  The student must earn a minimum of 75% on the second attempt.  75% will be recorded as the score regardless of score achieved on second attempt.  Failure to achieve the 75% required minimum score on the second attempt will result in failure of the course and withdrawal from the program.

Clinical performance will be evaluated using the Clinical Performance Instrument for the Physical Therapist Assistant © APTA.  Additional assignments will be required as noted in clinical education syllabi.   Clinical grades will be recorded on a pass/fail basis, with consideration for CPI and assignment completion.  Failure of a clinical will result in dismissal from the program. 

Students that are able to complete the designated general education and PTA technical courses totaling 69 credit hours and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.75, or greater, in program related courses will be awarded an Associate of Applied Science Degree-Physical Therapist Assistant. 

Licensure Requirements:
Following graduation of the PTA program, each student will apply to sit for the National Physical Therapy Assistant Licensure Exam (NPTE).

Majors and Minors

Major Minor

AAS in Physical Therapist Assistant
Last updated: 08/07/2023