Physical Therapist Assistant



Earn your Associate of Science from Mercy College of Health Sciences and become a physical therapist assistant (PTA)! Learn to use a variety of exercises and equipment to help people with conditions limiting their ability to move and perform activities. As a PTA, you’ll work under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist.

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Median Wage1


Licensure Pass Rate (2019-2020)


Employment Rate (2019-2020)


Graduation Rate (2019-2020)


Projected Job Growth from 2020 - 20301



Our five-semester associate degree includes classroom instruction, practice in a skills lab, and clinical experience. You’ll learn the art and science of therapeutic treatment. Upon completion of your degree, you’ll have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to help physical therapists provide treatment to improve and restore mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or lessen physical disabilities. At the conclusion of this program, you will be eligible to sit for the Physical Therapist Assistant National Physical Therapy Exam. Licensure is required in Iowa and most states.

Clinical Experience

You will be immersed in direct patient contact through our integrated clinical education curriculum.  The program’s clinical partners are leading healthcare providers in central Iowa who are dedicated to hands-on learning and student success.




The Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant program at Mercy College of Health Sciences is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: (703) 706-3245; email:; website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call (515) 643-6614 or email

Our PTA team includes a full-time program chair and an instructor, as well as many licensed physical therapists and licensed physical therapist assistants. Our full-time liberal arts and science faculty members are PhD-prepared and adept at integrating their subject matters into a comprehensive health science curriculum. As a student, you will receive an exceptional level of personalized instruction from experienced educators dedicated to your success.

Meet Your Faculty


The PTA program at Mercy College challenges students to think critically, take responsibility for their own learning, and maintain professionalism.  The program prepared me with all of the necessary skills that I will need to be an entry-level practitioner and gives me confidence starting a career.

-    Physical Therapist Assistant Graduate, 2019

Physical Therapist Assistant student in the classroom

To be considered for admission to the Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant major, you must first be admitted to Mercy College of Health Sciences. Learn more about admission to Mercy College. Complete our FREE online Mercy College application. Early application is encouraged. Once admitted to Mercy College of Health Sciences, you may enroll in Core requirements prior to your admission to any academic major. If you are transferring credits, please visit our transfer page to learn more.

To be considered for admission to the Physical Therapist Assistant major, you must meet the following requirements:

  • First-Time College Students: earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale and an ACT composite score of 20 or higher
  • Transfer Students: complete nine (9) college credit hours with a minimum GPA of 2.7 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the last college attended
  • Demonstrate completion of one year of high school coursework or one semester of college-level coursework with a GPA of at least a 2.0 (C, not C-) on a 4.0 scale in each of the following required courses:
    • Algebra I
    • Biology
    • English Composition
    • Physics

Applications are accepted at any time during the year. Class size is limited. The PTA major uses a rolling admission model. The admission committee reviews completed applications in the order in which they are received. Once notified of conditional acceptance, you must complete all activities in Phase I, detailed below:

  • Provide documentation of a 24-hour observation in a physical therapy department(s) with a minimum of at least two levels of care (e.g. acute care hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health, and outpatient physical therapy clinic). Equivalent work experience in rehabilitation may be accepted to fulfill observation experiences. Observation forms will be provided by the program chair

  • Participate in a required program informational session

Once Phase I is completed, conditional applications continue to Phase II:

  • Complete the Intent to Register form

  • Submit background check documents

Phase II must be completed by August 5.

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The following courses are required to earn your Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant. Students admitted to the PTA program may use this recommended course sequence.

Semester 1 (Fall)
BIO 180 - Human Anatomy w/Lab (4 cr)
ENG 101 - English Composition I (3 cr)
MAT Elective - Elective (3 cr)
MED 101 - Medical Terminology (1 cr)
PTA 101 - Fundamentals of Physical Therapy w/Lab (3 cr)
PTA 103 - PTA Clinical I (1 cr)
SPE 105 - Small Group Communication (1 cr)
Semester 2 (Spring)
BIO 185 - Human Physiology w/Lab (4 cr)
ENG 102 - English Composition II (3 cr)
PSY 101 - General Psychology (3 cr)
PTA 130 - Kinesiology w/Lab (4 cr)
PTA 135 - Essential Skills in Physical Therapy I w/Lab (2 cr)
Semester 3 (Summer)
BIO 225 or 302 - Principles of Pathophysiology or Pathophysiology (3 cr)
PTA 160 - Physical Therapy Modalities w/Lab (4 cr)
PTA 162 - Therapeutic Exercise w/Lab (4 cr)
PTA 163 - PTA Clinical II (2 cr)
PTA 165 - Essential Skills in Physical Therapy II w/Lab (2 cr)
Semester 4 (Fall)
Humanities Elective - 100 Level or Higher (3 cr)
PSY 202 - Developmental Psychology (3 cr)
PTA 201 - Physical Therapy Interventions for Musculoskeletal and Integumentary Conditions Lab (3 cr)
PTA 202 - Physical Therapy Interventions for Neuromuscular and Cardiopulmonary Conditions Lab (3 cr)
PTA 204 - Professional Issues (2 cr)
SVL 285 - Servant Leadership (3 cr)
Semester 5 (Spring)
PTA 230 - Issues in Clinical Practice (1 cr)
PTA 232 - PTA Clinical III (5.5 cr)
PTA 234 - PTA Clinical IV (5.5 cr)
PTA 235 - PTA Seminar (1 cr)

The Physical Therapist Assistant major offers one start date per year in the fall. View our full academic calendar for exact semester start dates. Pre-requisites and Core requirements may be completed at Mercy College of Health Sciences year-round.

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Graduation Rate Licensure Examination First-Time Pass Rate Licensure Ultimate Pass Rate Employment rate within 1 year following graduation
64.7% 100% 100% 100%

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides. 

†Outcomes are reported using a two-year average from 2019-2020

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Next step before transforming into a life-saving hero: complete the form below. Our admissions team will get you all the info you need to know.

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Admissions: (515) 635-1133
General: (515) 643-3180

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Mercy College is a Catholic, accredited, nonprofit institution of higher learning.