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Physical Therapist Assistant: Admissions Physical Therapist Assistant: Admissions

Physical Therapist Assistant: Admissions

The Physical Therapist Assistant program is a limited entry program. Admission to California University of Pennsylvania does not guarantee formal admission to the Technical Phase of the PTA program.

Pre-Technical Phase

These steps must be followed for admission to the Pre-Technical Phase (Pre-PTA status) of the Physical Therapist Assistant program:

  1. Gain admission to California University of Pennsylvania in Pre-PTA (Major Code 9601).
  2. Sit for University placement tests. As required by the results, complete all developmental courses with a grade of C or better, as needed. (Note: a student who needs to complete developmental courses may be delayed in entry and/or application into the Pre-Technical Phase of the program).
  3. If transferring in course credits, consult with a PTA academic adviser ( or to assure that your fall schedule is accurate.
  4. During the first week of the fall semester, attend the mandatory orientation meeting. Typically, this meeting is the first Tuesday or Thursday at 11 a.m..

Technical Phase

Formal admission into the Technical Phase of the Physical Therapist Assistant program occurs at the completion of the fall semester.

This admission is competitive: Only 26 students will be admitted into the Technical Phase, which begins with the subsequent spring term.

Students may meet or exceed all of the admissions criteria and not be formally admitted into the Technical Phase due to program size limitations. A maximum of 26 students will be selected based upon students’ grade-point averages (GPA) in the Pre-Technical Phase courses, which include: 

  • PTA 100, Introduction to Physical Therapist Assistant (C minimum)
  • PTA 101, Basic Physical Therapy Procedures (C minimum)
  • HSC 110, Human Anatomy and Physiology I (B- minimum)
  • COM 101, Oral Communications
  • PSY 100, General Psychology
  • UNI 100, First Year Seminar

The minimum acceptable GPA to qualify for ranking is 2.75 in the courses listed above. If a student meets the minimum 2.75 GPA, as well as the minimum grades listed above, the student is eligible for ranking.

Admittance is granted only to the top 26 students being ranked. Students will be informed of their admissions status within thirty (30) days of the completion of the fall semester courses in the Pre-Technical Phase.

Additionally, students must provide evidence of the following to be admitted to the Technical Phase:

  1. Verification of 10 hours of shadowing in a physical therapy setting.
  2. Verification of current CPR (adult BLS with AED) certification. Please note that a CPR course is available for students to take on campus during the fall semester to complete this requirement. The cost is approximately $15.

Clinical placement

Once a student is formally admitted into the Technical Phase of the program, he/she must provide evidence of all of the following for successful clinical placement:

  1. Verification of Act 33 (Pennsylvania Child Abuse History), Act 34 (Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record), and Act 114 (FBI Federal History Record) clearances. The total cost of clearances is currently $47.50.
  2. Evidence of physical and emotional health as indicated by submission of a University Medical Information Form completed by a licensed physician, including current immunization records for DTP, MMR I, MMR II, Hepatitis B vaccine series (3 doses), and chicken pox titer or history of the disease.
  3. Evidence of tuberculin skin test (2-step PPD by Mantoux method) during the semesters prior to clinical internships. Students will have the option of obtaining the 2-step PPD test on campus in the spring semester at the University Health Center for a cost of approximately $20. 
  4. Completion of a drug screening test prior to clinical placement if required by the clinical internship site. The test will be arranged by the clinical internship site requesting the test. Costs for drug testing are the sole responsibility of the student. Cost varies per facility, but typically ranges from $35-$75.
  5. Evidence of professional liability insurance prior to receiving a clinical assignment in PTA 150, Physical Therapy Clinical Internship I. This is arranged by the academic clinical coordinator of education. Current fee is $15.

***Academic Requirement for Continued Placement in the Technical Phase***

Students are required to maintain a grade of B- or higher in all Technical Phase PTA coursework to remain in good academic standing in the PTA program. 

In addition, at the end of the spring semester, each student is required to pass two benchmark criteria to remain in the Technical Phase of the program:

  1. A written Qualifying Examination that will test the student’s knowledge of content taught in previous and concurrent PTA and HSC coursework. The Qualifying Examination is designed to be a rigorous test of the student’s academic knowledge and problem-solving skills to assure that the student is competent to achieve continued success within the program.

    Students must successfully pass the Qualifying Examination with a score of 80% or better. If a student does not meet the 80% benchmark but scores 70% or higher, he/she will be asked to engage in remediation and re-take a new Qualifying Examination within the spring semester.

    Students scoring below 70% on the first attempt will not be offered a re-take and will be dismissed from the Technical Phase of the program.
  2. An interview with members of the PTA Advisory Committee. Students will be provided with the interview score sheet at the beginning of the spring semester to provide adequate time to prepare for the interview. The purpose of the interview is to assure that students are competent in verbal and non-verbal communication and self-reflection of strengths/weaknesses. 

Additionally during the interview, students will be required to demonstrate knowledge of the role of the PTA, convey a strong rationale for selecting PTA is their career choice, and provide evidence of campus/community service.  Students must successfully pass the interview to continue with program.

In summary, students need to earn an 80% on the Qualifying Examination and pass the interview to continue with the Technical Phase of the PTA program. If a student does not meet these benchmarks, he/she will be dismissed from the Technical Phase of the program.

Students who are dismissed because of subpar performance on the Qualifying Exam or interview are eligible to re-apply to the Technical Phase of the program at a maximum of one time. 

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