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Physical Therapist Assistant

Associate of Applied Science Degree

Program Director: Brad Bechard
Program Faculty: Michael Hansell

Program Website

Program Application (Fall 2020 application available February 14th)

The formal portion of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program begins fall semester with a limited enrollment of 20 students. There are 32 credits of prerequisite courses, which may take one year or longer to complete. All prerequisite coursework must be completed with a grade of C or higher. The student must apply for acceptance into the formal portion of the PTA program and be accepted. A grade of 76% or Pass is required for all coursework within the PTA program after formal acceptance.

The formal portion of the PTA program is challenging and consists of fall, spring, and summer semesters, taking one full year. This time includes built-in clinical experiences, which may or may not be in the Great Falls area. Upon completion of the PTA program, the graduate is prepared to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination (NPTAE) provided by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and must receive a passing score in order to become a licensed PTA. Licensure is required to practice as a physical therapist assistant in Montana and is overseen by the State of Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.

The PTA program is designed to graduate individuals who are knowledgeable, competent, self-assured, adaptable, and service-oriented patient/client care providers performing their duties within the ethical and legal guidelines of the physical therapy profession as an entry-level PTA having successfully passed the NPTAE. Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of healthcare settings including acute care, outpatient, rehabilitation, and extended care.

The Great Falls College Montana State University Physical Therapist Assistant program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

PTA Program Goals

The Great Falls College PTA Program: Developing Quality Skills with Unwavering Ethics

Student Goals:

1. The student will develop an entry level skill set, who is prepared both didactically and clinically for passing licensure while demonstrating quality provision of services under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Developing Quality Skills

Student Outcomes:

A. 85% of students will maintain a 2 year average ultimate pass rate in the NPTE.

B. 100% of students will utilize peer review research within at least two assignments while in the program.

2. The student will identify evidence based practice to relate to their clinical decision making. Developing Quality Skills

Student Outcome:

A. 100% of students will utilize peer review research within at least two assignments while in the program.

3. The student will demonstrate commitment to the profession by serving the needs of the community through ethical practice and participation in service related activities. Unwavering Ethics

Student Outcome:

A. 100% of students will have participated in at least one service related activity within the community prior to graduation.

B. 100% of students will demonstrate through at least one assignment that addresses appropriate education, communication, and treatment towards various special populations in regards to their cultural, community, or individual need prior to graduation.

C. 100 % of students will demonstrate through at least one assignment that addresses an area of need within the PTA scope of practice utilizing audio and visual aids to accommodate different learning styles of the patient or community prior to graduation.

Estimated Resident Program Cost*

Tuition and Fees $8,544
Application Fee $30
Course Fees $856
Program Fee $123
Books/Supplies $2,880
Total $12,433


Fall 2019 MUS Student Health Insurance Premiums will be changing. Please check the Health Insurance website and/or Student Central for confirmed premium rates. Students will be charged an additional fee of $21 per credit for online/hybrid courses.

Many students need preliminary math, science, and writing courses before enrolling in the program requirements. These courses may increase the total number of program credits. Students should review their math and writing placement before planning out their full program schedules.

The Great Falls College PTA Program is a limited enrollment program, accepting a restricted number of students each year. Interested students are urged to contact the PTA Program Director or Advising and Career Center Advisors for student advising specific to admission requirements and criteria for program acceptance.


Background in basic sciences and proficiency in keyboarding are essential to success in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program.

Prior to fall admission into the PTA program students must:

  • Have completed high school physics AND chemistry with a C or better (students without high school coursework in these areas should consult the PTA Program Director as to the appropriate college courses needed to meet this requirement).
  • Provide proof of keyboarding completed at the high school or collegiate level with a C or better. If a formal keyboarding course was not completed, proof of a typing test with a minimum of 25 words per minute must be demonstrated via a certificate that provides your name and results of the test. If these courses are to be taken at the collegiate level, contact the PTA program director to ensure that you take the appropriate course(s) to meet the requirements for admission to the formal PTA program.
  • Be admitted to GFC MSU and be in good academic standing. Application information may be acquired at the College, or by calling Student Central at 406.771.4414 or toll free at 1.800.446.2698, or online at
  • Complete 40 hours or more of observation with a licensed physical therapist or physical therapist assistant. Please note that higher point values for admission to the PTA Program are awarded at 10 hour intervals. Refer to section “Observation Hours” in the application packet.
  • Earn a grade of C or higher in all pre-requisite courses:
AHMS 144Medical Terminology +3
AHPT 105Intro to Physcl Thrpist Assist (Prerequisite or corequisite with consent of program director) +3
BIOH 201Human Anat Phys I/Lab (= 301) **,+4
BIOH 211Human Anat Phys II & Lab(=311) *,+4
M 140College Math for Healthcare (OR any math course in the MUS Core) **,+3
PSYX 100Introduction to Psychology +3
PSYX 230Developmental Psychology +3
SOCI 101Introduction to Sociology +3
WRIT 101College Writing I **,+3
Select one of the following:
COMX 111Intro to Public Speaking +3
COMX 115Intro to Interpersonal Communc +3


Indicates prerequisites needed.


Placement in course(s) is determined by placement assessment.


A grade of C or above is required for graduation.

Program Course Requirements after Formal Acceptance

A grade of 76% or better is required to pass each class within the professional phase of the program:

First Year
AHPT 101 Physcl Thrpist Assist I / Lab *,+ 5
AHPT 205 Anat and Kinesio for the PTA *,+ 6
AHPT 206 Pathophysiology for the PTA *,+ 3
AHPT 210 Clinical Experience I *,+ 3
AHPT 218 Theraptc Exercise for the PTA *,+ 2

First Year
AHPT 201 Physcl Thrpist Assist II / Lab *,+ 5
AHPT 213 Neurorehab for the PTA *,+ 6
AHPT 215 Introduction to Orthopedics *,+ 4
AHPT 220 Clinical Experience II *,+ 3

First Year
AHPT 225 Semnr in Physcl Thrpist Assist *,+ 1
AHPT 230 Clinical Experience III *,+ 7
Total Credits45



Indicates prerequisites needed.


Placement in course(s) is determined by placement assessment.


A grade of 76% or above is required for graduation.