Physical Therapist Assistant (A.A.S)

Career Information

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Additional Information

The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Physical Therapist Assistant prepares students to apply to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination. A Physical Therapist Assistant can perform a range of physical therapy procedures specific to a patient's diagnosis under the supervision of a physical therapist. The Physical Therapist Assistant program is offered on the Morrisotwn Campus.

A.A.S in Physical Therapist Assistant Curriculum and Admissions Information

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PTA Integrated Curriculum Plan

PTA Program Applicant Ranking Form

Clinical Observation Form

Employment Experience Form

PTA Financial Fact Sheet




The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Walters State Community College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100,
Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085;

If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 423.585.6981 or email marisa.millerFREEWS

Current Accreditation Status :: Accreditation

Date of Initial Accreditation :: 04/90

Next Visit :: Fall 2025

Five-Year History :: Accreditation

Degree Conferred :: Associate of Applied Science

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 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 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


Program Outcomes



Graduation Rates

NPTE First-Time Pass Rates / Ultimate Pass Rates*

Employment Rates**

**Twelve month employment data

2024 88.9% 93.33% / Pending Pending
2023 72.7% 75% / 100% 100%
2022 84.6% 60% / 80% 100%



Program Two-year Averages


Graduation Rates

Ultimate Pass Rates 

Employment Rates

2023 - 2024 82.8% Pending Pending
2022 - 2023 79.2% 88.89% 100%
2021 - 2022 85.3% 89.7% 100%


General Information

The PTA program operates on a 0.5 + 2 academic model. All prerequisite courses must be completed prior to admission to the technical program. The technical portion of the PTA program is four semesters. Students are encouraged to take general education courses prior to starting the technical PTA courses. Students enter fall semester and graduate spring semester of their second year. Further program information and current admission requirements are available on the program's website.


Clinical Experiences

Each student is required to successfully complete 15 weeks of clinical education. Clinical sites are available primarily in east Tennessee but other locations may be arranged. The current availability of clinical sites provides a variety of clinical experiences. Students are responsible for transportation to and from the clinical sites, housing, meals, and other expenses incurred during clinical experiences. Clinical experiences include a full-time four week clinical during the third semester and full-time four and seven week clinicals during fourth semester.



There are 3 full-time faculty members and adjunct faculty as needed. The faculty-to-student ratio is approximately 1:22 in the classroom and 1:11 in lab.

Health Programs Faculty



Walters State Community College consists of four campuses with the main campus located in Morristown, Tennessee. Walters State Community College has a total enrollment of approximately 7,000 students among all four campus sites. The PTA program is conducted on the Morristown campus. The Physical Therapist Assistant Program admits a maximum of 22 students per class, one time each year (fall admission). The Physical Therapist Assistant Program is a limited enrollment program and does not accept out-of-state residents if there are Tennessee residents eligible for admission.



Students must apply, meet admission requirements, and be accepted by Walters State Community College (WSCC). 


Students are encouraged to:

  • Indicate Pre-Physical Therapist Assistant as their desired major.
  • Follow college advising policy.
  • Complete all required learning support courses. 
  • Successfully complete BIOL 2010 and 2011, BIOL 2020 and 2021, and MATH 1530 or 1630 no later than the end of spring semester of the year the student elects to participate in the selection process for the fall semester PTA class.


General Education Requirements

General education requirements are ENGL 1010, PSYC 2130, COMM 2025 and a HUMANITIES/FINE ARTS ELECTIVE. It is highly recommended that general education requirements be completed no later than the end of spring semester of the year the students makes application to the PTA program.


Observation Requirement

Completion of a minimum of 30 hours of observation in a physical therapy practice or employment in a physical therapy practice equivalent to three months of full-time hours is required. This observation must be under the supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant. Observation hours must be completed during the ninemonth period preceding the April 15 application deadline. Observation and employment evaluation forms are located at the top of this page. 


Standardized Testing Requirement

Applicants to the PTA program can elect to submit an ACT composite score of 19 or higher or HESI A2 score of > 80% in reading, vocabulary and math to obtain additional ranking points. All test scores must be less than 5 years old. Results of ACT or HESI A2 must be received by the health programs department no later than April 15 of the year the student elects to participate in the selection process for the fall semester class. Applicants can reach out to an advisor in the health programs division to obtain more information about the HESI A2 exam or ACT scores and ranking points. 


Set Class Size

The PTA admission process is grounded in the belief that excellence in academics along with an interest in physical therapy provides a solid foundation to build the PTA curriculum upon. The admission process is clearly outlined on the PTA webpage, in the college handbook and shared during professional advising sessions with all students who are interested in a career as a PTA. Current components of the admission and ranking process evaluate academic preparation, GPA, test scores (ACT/HESI-A2), completion of general education requirements and clinical observation and/or employment experience. The Program Director works with Health Programs Division Administrators to fairly apply the ranking process to all students who apply to the program. There is no deviation from the ranking form when determining which students are offered a seat in the program. If a student applied to the program and was not accepted ever felt their application was not ranked fairly, they should request a meeting with the PTA Program Director and Dean of Health Programs. Any student who is not accepted into the program is encouraged to speak with the Program Director about methods to strengthen their future application.

Program admission criteria are greatly focused on academic achievements which has historically led to the program meeting its goals and outcomes. The admission process is equitable and just as all applicants are evaluated by the same criteria and the program upholds the college’s non-discrimination policy. Program faculty work with all students who are admitted to the program and treat them with respect, fairness, kindness and cultural humility. PTA faculty support efforts to promote excellence in education, work to create inclusive, diverse and equitable learning experiences for all students enrolled in the program while meeting CAPTE outcomes related to NPTE pass rate, retention rate and employment.

Current college-wide recruitment activities that PTA core faculty participate in, include sharing information about all healthcare programs offered at WS with the public. These speaking opportunities occur at local high schools, career expos, virtual information sessions and both on and off-campus health/career fairs. PTA faculty collaborate with all WS Health Programs Division faculty to share program information with all prospective students, the public who has an interest with healthcare careers and enrolled students who have indicated a WS healthcare program as their major. These activities fall in line with the WS Mission and Vision related to student success, stewardship and equity.

The PTA program at WS has a set class size of 22 students. This class size is determined by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The PTA Program Director follows this guideline when admitting a new cohort of students each fall semester and does not admit more than 22 qualified students. Class size data is reported annually in the CAPTE Annual Accreditation Report which is monitored and tracked by CAPTE. Class size data is also reported and discussed during the annual ranking process and during the annual program evaluation held by the Dean of Health Programs. Twenty-two students is an effective class size which is reflected by the ability of the program to meet student needs related to college resources, offer students clinical placements with appropriate breadth, depth and variety, maintain stable PTA employment rates and employ an appropriate number of qualified program faculty. By following this set class size, the Program Director prevents over enrollment which would strain program resources, faculty workload, program budgets, clinical placements and could negatively impact employment rate.


Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid

Tuition is set each June by the Tennessee Board of Regents. Tuition and fees for the current academic year may be viewed on the Cashiers Office website.

Students admitted to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program will be assesed a non-refundable $25.00 per credit hour Allied Health Course Fee for the duration of the program. 

Four types of financial aid are available; federal, state, institutional and other sources. Students need to send FAFSA information to the college for consideration for state and/or federal money (lottery scholarships, Pell grants, etc.). WSCC is an eligible institution for Hope (lottery) scholarships. For specific information please contact the Financial Aid Office.




Student Life

The PTA program is conducted on the Morristown Campus. The Morristown campus is located on 134 acres in the beautiful Smoky Mountain region. There are many recreational areas nearby including boating, swimming, hiking and golf. Walters State is a commuter school with a 10 county service region. The college does not have any on-campus housing; however, off-campus rentals are plentiful.

Walters State is a member of the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association and National Junior College Athletic Association Region VII and is competitive in men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, and golf. There are a variety of student organizations available including the PTA Club. Morristown has a population of approximately 30,000 and is located 50 miles from Knoxville, Tennessee.


Housing and Transportation

The college does not provide housing facilities for students either on or off campus. Students must provide their own reliable transportation to and from clinical sites.


Estimated Expenses

In addition to the considerable intellectual and emotional investment you will be making, you will also incur financial expenses.

The basic college expenses for tuition and fees are outlined in the College Catalog. PTA students also have the expense of traveling to the college and assigned clinical facilities. A few of these facilities may charge a nominal parking fee.

Other expenses required for the technical courses for the Physical Therapist Assistant program will amount to approximately $4,900. Costs include but are not limited to:

Other Expenses



Required Texts $1,212
Professional Liability Insurance $40 Annually
Hepatitis B Series $150
Seminars/Conferences Varies
Uniforms (Shirt), Other as Required $40
College Fees $1,763
APTA Dues $80 Annually
Health Insurance (See Clinical Portion of Handbook) Cost Varies for Each Student
Physical $200
National Physical Therapy Exam for the PTA $485 and $90 Testing Center Fee
Background Checks $35.00 Annually
Drug Screening $54
TN Licensure Fees $200
Practice Exame (PEAT) $99
Costs Associated with Clinical (i.e. Gas, Flu Shot, etc.) Varies
Licensure Review Course $200
PhysioU App $54 Annually



Frequently Asked Questions

What courses should I take to be eligible for the PTA program?

You need to successfully complete BIOL 2010/2011, BIOL 2020/2021, and either MATH 1530 or MATH 1630 plus all required developmental courses.


I live out of the area. May I complete my prerequisites and/or general education courses at another school?

Yes. Seek advisement by the faculty of that institution about what courses will substitute and have official transcripts from all colleges attended sent to the WSCC Admissions Office.


How do I get at least 30 hours of observation in a physical therapy clinic?

You must contact physical therapy clinics in the area, let them know of your desire to enter the PTA program, and ask if they allow observation. It is then the student's responsibility to set up the hours and have hours documented for the application process.


How do I have observation hours documented?

Download the "Clinical Observation Form" on the Physical Therapist Assistant web page (top of this page). This evaluation form should be completed by your supervisor during your observation hours. The observation form(s) must be in a sealed envelope with a stamp or supervisors signature written across the seal and submitted with the PTA application by April 15.


Do I have to complete the observation hours if I have been employed in a PT clinic as an aide or technician?

If you have had worked the equivalent of 3 full time months of employment in a physical therapy clinic, you do not have to complete additional observation hours. In this case, your documentation should be made on the "Employment Experience Form" which is located on the Physical Therapist Assistant web site (top of this page).


When do I apply for the PTA program?

Applications are available online beginning in mid-January. PTA applications are only submitted online via the Portal and are due by April 15 of the year you wish to be admitted to the program.


What is the process for admission after I have turned in my application?

After applications are received, they will be ranked according to the selection criteria. If you are in classes spring semester that are needed for the PTA program, your application will not be ranked until spring grades have posted. If selected into the PTA program, you will be notified in writing by the end of May. You can also check the online application portal for updates.


If I do not get accepted the first time, can I apply again?

Yes. There is no limit on the number of times you can apply.


If I have questions about the program or application process, can I talk with the faculty?

Yes. Contact the secretary for Health Programs for an appointment at 423-585-6981. You are encouraged to meet with faculty before you apply.


How much money does the average starting physical therapist assistant make?

In the upper east Tennessee area, a new PTA graduate would make approximately $30,000 to $45,000. Walters State does not guarantee employment after graduation, but assistance is available through the Office of Placement.


How many students are accepted into the PTA program?

Approximately 22 students are selected for the PTA program each fall. There is only one class selected for each academic year.

Additional information: Please refer to the Walters State Catalog or for more information on the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, or call Marisa%20Miller, Program Director at 423-585-6981.


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