Physical Therapist Assistant

Applications for Fall 2017 are CLOSED. Applications for Fall 2018 are accepted Sept. 1, 2017 through Feb. 1, 2018.

Physical Therapist Assistant

Students must apply and be formally accepted into the Physical Therapist Assistant program prior to enrolling in any PTA courses.

Entrance into the PTA program is competitive.

Requirements to apply:

More Information

Review the menu below for a career overview, program overview and additional information.

Career Overview

Job Description

Southwestern Illinois College's Physical Therapist Assistant program prepares students to work as skilled health care providers, who under the supervision and direction of a physical therapist, treat patients of all ages with medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.

Physical Therapist Assistants:

  • Monitor and report patient status
  • Provide selected interventions
  • Modify care within a therapist's plan
  • Document treatment
  • Work with other health care professionals
  • Supervise physical therapy aides or technicians
  • Educate the patient, care giver, family and community in the management of health care problems and preventative measures

Career Resources

The American Physical Therapy Association website provides career and licensure information.

The SWIC Career Activities and Employment Center offers a Career Mentor program, including job shadowing.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook provides additional information regarding the PTA field.

Job Opportunities

Physical Therapist Assistants work in a variety of settings including:

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Home health environments
  • Nursing homes
  • Schools
  • Sports facilities
  • Fitness centers
  • Industrial/occupational settings

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor 2014-24 Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment is expected to grow by 40 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations.


Median Income

The median income for PTAs with one to three years experience is between $37,000 and $42,000 annually, depending on the type and location of the health care facility.


Application Requirements

Materials Needed to Apply

Students must apply and be formally accepted into the Physical Therapist Assistant program before beginning program courses.

Applicants must submit the following to the Enrollment Services Office:

1. Physical Therapist Assistant application:

  • Applications are available between Sept. 1 and Feb 1 each year for fall start.
  • Supporting documentation (transcripts, test scores, etc.) must be on file by identified deadlines.
  • College course grades supersede high school grades when both appear on official transcripts.
  • The most recent grades in courses meeting these requirements will be used.

There are two tracks of application requirements. The track a student is evaluated against is determined by number of the program's college general education credit hours are completed by the application period:

Track One - For students with less than 12 credit hours in the program's general education courses. The following criteria are evaluated:

Track Two - For students with greater than or equal to 12 credit hours in the program's general education courses. The following criteria are evaluated:

  • GPA - based on program general education courses - minimum of 3.0 required
  • Credit/units achieved with a "B" or better in general education courses

2. Official transcripts:

  • Official high school transcripts or proof of GED.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges, universities or accredited schools of Physical Therapist Assistant attended.
  • SWIC transfer credit evaluation form, a requirement for the transfer of credits from another institution.

3. Test Scores:

  • ACT (for Track One)
  • The SWIC placement test identifies skill levels in math, reading and writing. Students must score high enough to be eligible to enroll in ENG 101 and above MATH 97. If placement test results are too low, students must complete required developmental courses prior to enrolling in ENG 101, BIOL 105 or MATH 94.


For an individual review of your application, contact the Health Sciences coordinators' assistant.

Prepare to Apply

Fill out the Planning Guide

Entrance into the PTA program is highly competitive. The PTA Planning Guide explains application requirements and offers suggestions on how to maximize points in each section and increase chances of being accepted to the program.

Meet with an Academic Advisor

Call or visit the SWIC Academic Advising/Counseling Center for more information on entrance requirements for the PTA program.


For an individual review of your planning guide, contact the Health Sciences Coordinators' Assistant.

Applicant Selection

Application Point System

Applications for the PTA program will be rated on a point system. See PTA Planning Guide for details.

Notification of Acceptance:

Applicants will receive an email notification of their status regarding admission as quickly as possible, typically late March or early April depending on the number of applications received.

View the email notification timeline.

More Candidates than Seats Available:

In the event that there are more qualified applicants than spaces available in this program, applicants residing outside the SWIC district or in a district that does not have a joint agreement with SWIC for this program will not be eligible for consideration or admission if there are more applicants than positions to be filled. Search the college catalog for Interdistrict Cooperative Agreements. Resident status is determined by address on file with the Enrollment Services office by Feb. 1.

The admission procedures for the PTA program are in accordance with Illinois law. The law requires that programs with insufficient space and resources to accommodate all applicants will accept the best qualified applicants using rank, ability and achievement scores as guides, with preference given to students residing in the district. Out-of-district students will be considered as in-district status for this application process if their community college has an Inter-district Cooperative/Career agreement with SWIC. Search the college catalog for Interdistrict Cooperative/Career Agreements to see if your college is listed.  To qualify for the application process, the student must submit paperwork from their home district to SWIC Enrollment Services by the application deadline. Contact the secretary of the Board of Trustees at your home district school to get the required paperwork.      


Fewer Candidates than Seats Available:

In the event that there are fewer qualified candidates than there are spaces available, applications will continue to be accepted until the program’s maximum capacity has been reached or through the first week of classes during the fall semester.

The college reserves the right to fill the program in those years when there are fewer applicants than spaces available by whatever means it deems necessary to assure both academic integrity and fairness in the selection process.

Other Requirements

The following criteria are required of accepted applicants and all information will be explained in detail at program orientation meetings:

Orientation & Performance:

Applicants accepted to this program must attend all required orientation sessions and be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. Applicants or enrolled students are encouraged to contact the Disability & Access Center to discuss potential issues associated with meeting these requirements.

Health Insurance:

Health insurance is required during clinical education courses. Students are responsible for any costs incurred for injuries occurring during their clinical experience.

Medical Requirements:

These requirements do not have to be fulfilled until they are explained at the orientation meeting. PTA students will be required to show proof of medical examination, health insurance and all applicable test, immunizations, and vaccinations before beginning any clinical experience.

Background Checks and Drug Testing:

  Background checks and drug testing are required.

  • A list of disqualifying convictions is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health website. Students with convictions must possess a waiver from the IDPH to participate in the program.
  • Drug testing will identify illegal and prescription drugs. If results are positive, the student must provide proof of prescription in his or her own name in order to pass the drug test. Medical marijuana, which is not FDA approved, is also considered a positive drug testing result.


Graduation Requirements:

Applicants admitted to the program must follow the requirements for graduation at the time they are admitted and must meet all specified course, program, degree and sequencing requirements. Students are responsible for program policies as listed in the PTA student handbook. Students who fail to meet program specific requirements will be dropped from the program and may be required to reapply and compete for admission in the succeeding application period.

Program Overview

Course Sequence

Acceptance to the program is required before an applicant will be permitted to register for PTA courses.

Physical Therapist Assistant Degree

Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science Degree (0027) Course Sequence

This is a 71-credit-hour, two-year accredited degree program, which can be completed in five semesters, including one summer, and includes:

20 credit hours of general education courses
51 hours of physical therapist assistant courses

The curriculum includes biological and social sciences, PTA technical courses and assigned clinical experiences.

View the PTA Mission and Goals.

Course Information

General Education Courses

General education courses can be completed prior to admission. These courses can be taken at the Belleville, Sam Wolf Granite City, Red Bud campuses or online. If general education courses are not completed prior to admission, they must be completed during the semesters indicated above.

Physical Therapist Assistant Courses

The PTA program courses begin each fall for those applicants accepted into the program. These courses are only offered at the Belleville Campus during the day. View a sample course schedule.

Clinical Education Experiences

Students are assigned a four-week, full-day clinical experience in the summer semester of the first year and two six-week experiences during the final spring semester. Clinical experience courses are completed off campus in various settings. Students may be required to travel outside of the college district for clinical experience and must pass background checks and drug testing prior to starting the clinical experience. Specific clinical placement cannot be guaranteed.

Program Capacity

Belleville Campus

The PTA program generally accepts 20 students each fall semester at the Belleville Campus.

Program Location

The Physical Therapist Assistant program consists of general education courses, PTA pre-fix courses and assigned clinical experiences. Specific locations depend on the course type.

General Education Courses

The required general education courses can be taken at the Belleville, Sam Wolf Granite City, Red Bud campuses or online.

Physical Therapist Assistant Courses

The PTA program courses are only offered at the Belleville Campus during the day.

Clinical Education Experiences

Students are assigned a four-week, full-day clinical experience in the summer and two six-week experiences during the final semester. Clinical experiences are completed at hospitals/clinical facilities within the district or in the St. Louis region. Students may be required to travel outside the college district for clinical experience courses. Background checks and drug testing are required prior to clinical experiences.

Program Cost

Physical Therapist Assistant Degree program

For details, see the PTA Degree cost sheet.

Financial assistance is available!

SWIC Financial Aid Office

Financial aid is available subject to financial need and satisfactory academic progress requirements set by the college.

The student work program does not require financial aid eligibility.

SWIC Foundation

The SWIC Foundation offers more than 200 scholarships based on residency, enrollment and GPA criteria.

The Brenda Smith Memorial scholarship is specifically designed to benefit second-year PTA students.

Time Commitment

View the Self Assessment of Readiness to determine your readiness to complete the program.

PTA courses are offered only during the day. The program can be completed in five semesters, including one summer. It is highly recommended for those who are employed to complete general education courses required for degree completion prior to entrance into the program.

During Clinical Experience I, scheduled in the summer semester between the first and second year, students must be available 40 hours per week for the four weeks of clinical. The daily schedule will vary to mirror the schedule of the clinical instructor. Clinical Experience II is scheduled for the final spring semester of the two-year program. Students complete two six-week clinicals at 40 hours per week.

More Details

Program Accreditation

Physical Therapist Assistant at Southwestern Illinois College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:


The program's curriculum is guided by the standards required and helps to assure the public that our curriculum will graduate competent clinicians. It allows SWIC PTA graduates to take the licensure examination in any state that requires a license to practice as a physical therapist assistant.

Public Comment Policy   Program Statistics

Licensure Requirements

National Physical Therapy Examination

Upon successful completion of the PTA curriculum, graduates are awarded an Associate in Applied Science degree and are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination for the PTA.

Employment Requirements

PTAs are licensed, certified or registered in most states. Illinois and Missouri require licensure to work as a physical therapist assistant. To practice in the state of Illinois, graduates must be licensed by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation.

Licensure Pass Rate

SWIC’s current two-year-average Ultimate Licensure Pass rate from 2015-2016 is 100 percent.



For more information about this program, please contact:

Coordinators' Assistant Candice Rodgers

618-235-2700, ext. 5355

Academic Advising/Counseling Center

618-235-2700, ext. 5206