Accelerated Physical Therapist Assistant



Earn your Associate of Science from Mercy College of Health Sciences and become a physical therapist assistant (PTA), in just 1 year! 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


Year Professional Program, Full-Time


Licensure Pass Rate (2020-2021)


Employment Rate (2020-2021)


Projected Job Growth from 2020 - 20301

*For most recent student outcomes data, please refer to the outcomes section below



Our 1 year, three-semester, associate degree includes classroom instruction, practice in a skills lab, and clinical experience. Students are required to complete all general education requirements prior to starting the program (except for Servant Leadership and Pathophysiology) and are encouraged to do so at Mercy College. You’ll learn the art and science of therapeutic treatment during the professional year of the program. 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.

October is National Physical Therapy Month!

In celebration of National Physical Therapy Month, the Mercy College Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program would like to thank all of the clinical partners who offered placements or hosted students in 2023. We appreciate their contributions to student success!

  • 21st Century Rehab – Altoona
  • 21st Century Rehab – Boone
  • 21st Century Rehab – Dallas County Hospital
  • 21st Century Rehab – Story County Medical Center
  • Boone County Rehab Services
  • Broadlawns Medical Center
  • Champions Recovery Room
  • Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy
  • Madison County Hospital
  • MercyOne Physical Therapy Clinics
  • MercyOne Newton
  • MercyOne Rehab Hospital
  • MercyOne Riverside Rehab
  • Pella Regional Health Center
  • Select Physical Therapy
  • UnityPoint Health
  • VA of Central Iowa




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 PTA major applicants must meet the criteria below. Admission to the College does not guarantee admission to a major. Class size is limited. Students who have earned a previous Bachelor's, Associate of Arts (A.A.), or Associate of Science (A.S.) degree are considered to have met all Mercy College of Health Sciences Core requirements except for Servant Leadership. 

1. Complete the program application.

2. Successful completion of program prerequisites prior to the technical portion of the program and must earn a grade of “C” (not C-) or higher in the following college-level courses: 

  • Human Anatomy (with lab)
  • Human Physiology (with lab)
  • Medical Terminology
  • English Composition I
  • Developmental Psychology
  • College-level Math (College Algebra or higher) 

3. Grade Point Average on a 4.0 scale: 

  • Earn an extracted GPA of 2.8 or higher from the prerequisites listed above (Medical Terminology is not included in the GPA calculation). 

4. All Mercy College Core requirements must be completed prior to beginning the PTA major except for SVL 285, Servant Leadership, and BIO 225 or 302, Pathophysiology. 

5. Provide documentation of 24 hours of observation in 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). 

6. Participate in a required program informational session.

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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): 15-Weeks
BIO 225 or 302 - Principles of Pathophysiology or Pathophysiology (3 cr)
PTA 101 - Fundamentals of Physical Therapy w/Lab (3 cr)
PTA 130 - Kinesiology w/Lab (4 cr)
PTA 135 - Essential Skills in Physical Therapy I w/Lab (2 cr)
PTA 137 - Essential Skills in Physical Therapy II w/Lab (2 cr)
Semester 2 (Spring): 8-Week Term II
PTA 160 - Physical Therapy Modalities w/Lab (4 cr)
PTA 162 - Therapeutic Exercise w/Lab (4 cr)
PTA 163 - PTA Clinical I (1 cr)
Semester 2 (Spring): 7-Week Term II
PTA 201 - Physical Therapy Interventions for Musculoskeletal and Integumentary Conditions w/Lab (3 cr)
PTA 202 - Physical Therapy Interventions for Neuromuscular and Cardiopulmonary Conditions w/Lab (3 cr)
PTA 204 - Professional Issues (2 cr)
Semester 3 (Summer): 8-Week Term I
PTA 230 - Issues in Clinical Practice (1 cr)
PTA 232 - PTA Clinical II (6 cr)
Semester 3 (Summer): 7-Week Term II
PTA 234 - PTA Clinical III (6 cr)
PTA 235 - PTA Seminar (1 cr)
Total credits including required prerequisites courses is 63. Students without a prior degree may be required to complete additional Core requirements

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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To see an estimated cost breakdown for the PTA program, please view the 2023-2024 PTA Student Financial Fact Sheet.  


Graduation Rate Licensure Examination First-Time Pass Rate Licensure Ultimate Pass Rate Employment rate within 1 year following graduation
66.7% 100% 100% 100%

† Outcomes are reported using a two-year average from 2022-2023, with the exception of employment rate which refers to the 2021-2022 academic year.


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

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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

About Us

Mercy College of Health Sciences has been transforming students into healthcare professionals since 1899. Located in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, we offer master's degreesbachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, certificate programs, and continuing education courses.

Mercy College is the only private Catholic college in central Iowa and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), in addition to numerous programmatic accreditors.

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