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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 2019 application available February 15th)

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).

Graduates are prepared to:

  • Demonstrate   a  combination   of critical thinking skills,  provision   of  skilled interventions, documentation, patient  safety awareness, confidentiality, and ethical guidelines under the direction  and supervision of a licensed  physical  therapist   as outlined in the Guide to Physical Therapy Practice.

 Effective Communication, Critical Thinking, Effective Citizenship, Workmanship.

  • Demonstrate  appropriate   education,  communication,  and treatment  towards various special populations  in regards to their cultural, community, and individual needs. 

Effective Communication, Technical Literacy, Critical Thinking. Engaged Citizenship.

  • Address an area of need within the PTA scope  of practice utilizing demonstration, audio and visual aids to accommodate different  learning styles of the patient or community. 

Effective Communication, Technical Literacy, Engaged Citizenship, Workmanship.

  • Apply the use of evidence based practice through current healthcare literature  and research studies to augment best practice standards. 

Critical Thinking Skills. Workmanship, Technical Literacy.

  • Display a commitment  to lifelong learning, ongoing professional development, and high quality care in the realm of physical therapy practice.

Critical Thinking Skills, Effective Citizenship, Workmanship.

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

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.

GFC MSU Additional Graduation Requirement

COLS 103Becoming a Successful Student1


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 or CAPP 131 completed at the high school or collegiate level with a C or better. 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 +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

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:

Plan of Study Grid
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
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
AHPT 225 Semnr in Physcl Thrpist Assist *,+ 2
AHPT 230 Clinical Experience III *,+ 6
 Total Credits45