Do I need to have all of the prerequisites completed in order to apply for the program?

No, as long as you complete the prerequisites prior to beginning the program, you can apply in the fall.  However, applicants having all prerequisites completed prior to applying will have a competitive advantage. 

How do I apply for the program?

Applications will be submitted online, and will be posted on the PTA web page. In the meantime, you can find application information on the  PTA Application Procedure webpage.

I see that there are observation experiences required for admission to the program. How do I find out where I can complete the experiences?

A minimum of thirty (30) hours of observation are required, with a minimum of 15 hours each in two different settings (outpatient, hospital inpatient, home health, rehab center, or long term care). You can find information about hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient clinics online or in the yellow pages. Someone in their Physical Therapy or Rehabilitation Department can assist you with arranging the observation experience.

How long is the program?

After completion of the prerequisite courses, the technical portion of the program is 12 months long and completed in three consecutive semesters. The program begins January 2015 and each spring semester (January) thereafter.

What are the differences between a physical therapist assistant and a physical therapist related to educational preparation, regulation and practice?

Educational Preparation: A physical therapist assistant's education typically results in a two year Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degree. UAA will award the Associate of Science to graduates of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program. Physical therapy entry-level education programs award either a Master's of Science or a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, depending on the program and its requirements.

Regulation and Practice: A physical therapist is required to have a license to practice in any state. Most states require a license, registration or certification in order for an individual to practice as a physical therapist assistant. The scope of practice of physical therapy by a physical therapist or the scope of work of a physical therapist assistant is described in each state's laws, however, the major responsibilities that are identified (in licensure regulations and professional and accreditation literature) as belonging to the physical therapist are the:

  • Initial evaluation of the patient
  • Establishment of a plan of care
  • Modification of the treatment plan

Why should I consider becoming a physical therapist assistant rather than a physical therapist?

There are several advantages to becoming a physical therapist assistant:

It is possible to enroll in the program, take the required courses, graduate in two years, become licensed or certified and begin working in the field. It now takes between 5 and 7 years of education to become a practicing physical therapist, due to both graduate and undergraduate educational requirements.

Because the physical therapist assistant works under the supervision of a physical therapist, the responsibilities and roles of the physical therapist assistant and physical therapist promote a work environment of support and guidance. Although physical therapist assistants have many opportunities for advancement and independence, the collegial relationship of the physical therapist and the physical therapist assistant is fundamental in patient care.

What are some of the Career Opportunities for Physical Therapist Assistants?

Certified/licensed physical therapist assistants work in settings that include hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, home care, school systems and outpatient physical therapy clinics. As the population (especially people of the Baby-Boomer generation) ages, the need for physical therapy services are expected to increase. The United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2010-2011 states that for physical therapist assistants: "Employment is projected to grow much faster than average. Physical therapist assistants should have very good job prospects; on the other hand, aides may face keen competition from the large pool of qualified applicants."

Is the UAA PTA Program accredited?

Graduation from a physical therapist assistant education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; phone; 703-706-3245; is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states.

The University of Alaska Anchorage is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist assistant education program from CAPTE. The program has submitted an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the technical phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in technical courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.

How many students will be admitted to the PTA program?

Twelve students will be admitted to the PTA program each Spring Semester.

What is licensure?

Most states require licensure, certification or registration of the physical therapist assistant. Graduates of accredited Physical Therapist Assistant educational programs are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for Physical Therapist Assistants in order to obtain licensure in the State of Alaska. Alaska state law requires licensure of physical therapist assistants. Physical therapist assistants are identified by the Statutes and Regulations for Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy (Section 208.84.190 "Definitions") as individuals who assist in the practice of physical therapy. These statutes and regulations delineate the roles and responsibilities of the physical therapist assistant. Performing the duties of a physical therapist assistant as an employee of an institution or facility without being certified is unlawful. It may also result in denial of coverage of physical therapy services by third party payers.

What if I want to be a PT after becoming a PTA or without becoming a PTA first?

Students may complete the DPT program prerequisite coursework and a Bachelor's degree with or without becoming a PTA. A practicing physical therapist assistant has the opportunity to pursue physical therapy education after or while practicing as a PTA.

Can you tell me about the facilities and laboratories used in the PTA program?

The program facilities, including classrooms and laboratories, are well-equipped with teaching models and state-of-the-art treatment equipment. The laboratory area and laboratory equipment will be reviewed on an ongoing basis in order to effectively use this space while having varied and current equipment available to students. The PTA Program will be located in the Professional Studies Building.The space for the program includes faculty offices, classrooms, and a dedicated PTA laboratory.

What is Clinical Education? Will I have to travel? Will I get to choose the clinical site? What are the clinical hours?

All students in the PTA program will complete 13 weeks of clinical education. Students are assigned to clinical sites by the Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education (ACCE) who will work with the student to find a desirable location for the student. Because of the number of available sites and the different requirements for experience, it cannot be guaranteed that a student will be placed at a facility of their choosing. Travel may be required and the student will be responsible for costs incurred for travel and housing related to clinical placement. Clinical Instructors at each clinical site will provide hands-on instruction with patients. Clinical time will generally be 8 a.m. to 5p.m. on Monday through Friday.  However, these hours can vary and students are expected to follow the schedule established by the clinical site.

Will the classes be offered online?

All PTA classes will be held on the Anchorage campus, with the exception of clinical rotations, which will occur at the facilities to which the student has been assigned. No online classes will be offered for this program.

Where will students complete the clinical component of the PTA education curriculum?

The UAA PTA program is in the process of establishing clinical contracts with many clinical sites in the state of Alaska. We plan to offer excellent and varied clinical experiences to include all of the places that a PTA might practice, such as nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, the school system and many more.


Please use the links to below to complete your application to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program.  The PTA Program will only be accepting applications submitted via the web; a sample application is available for review for applicants who wish to view the application questions prior to submitting the web application.  Not all questions available in the sample application will be available to all applicants depending on how applicants answer questions.

PTA Web Application
PTA Clinical Observation Form 
PTA Letter of Recommendation Form
PTA Sample Application