Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical Therapist Assistants, or PTAs, are licensed skilled health care providers who work under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs assist the physical therapist to provide treatment programs to help restore or improve function, relieve pain, encourage independence, and educate patients and their families.

Applications are now available at the program office

Are you interested in pursuing a degree to become a Physical Therapist Assistant?  If yes, then for more information on the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, contact Mari Ponce-Vargas at 956-872-3161 or email at

NEW PTHA 1409 Minimester Course:

  • The PTHA 1409 Introduction to Physical Therapy course will now be offered at the STC Starr Campus. This course is scheduled to begin in March 2018.
  • The PTHA 1409 Introduction to Physical Therapy course will be offered at the STC NAH Campus (McAllen) starting in January and another course will start in March.
  • The PTHA 1409 course will be offered as an 8 week minimester course.
  • For more information, contact Mari Ponce-Vargas at 956-872-3161 or email
  • Start: A new program class begins every Fall Semester
  • Delivery: Daytime, Full-time
  • Application Deadline: July 10, 2018 for Fall Term
  • Advising schedule is as follows:
    Wednesdays at 10:00 am (Room 331)
    Note: For an advising appointment please email Mari Ponce-Vargas

ACT Registration Register EARLY for the ACT + Writing Exam

Accreditation CAPTE Accreditation

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at South Texas College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website:

Program Outcomes

  • Graduation Rate: 76.2% of students graduated from the Program (3 year average - 2015, 2016, 2017).
  • Licensure Examination Pass Rate: 100% of the graduates passed the licensure exam (3 year average - 2015, 2016, 2017).
  • Employment Rate: 100% of program graduates have obtained positions as PTAs within 6 months of passing the licensure exam (3 year average - 2015, 2016, 2017).

Program Application Data

Year # of Applications submitted # of students offered slots (accepted) # of students who entered program (matriculated)
2015 37 21 21
2016 48 25 19
2017 50 21 21

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Application Requirements

All applicants must:

  1. Meet general admission requirements to STC.
  2. Have a High School diploma or GED equivalent.
  3. Be deemed TSI complete (click here for testing requirements).
  4. New: Complete the ACT Exam including the Writing component. Achieve an ACT composite of 19 or above and a minimum of 16 in all individual areas (English, Math, Reading, and Science). ACT Writing domain scores must be a 6 or above in each individual area. Scores must be current within the last 5 years. ACT Exemptions are not permitted.
  5. Earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in all courses, including transfer courses and those completed at STC.
  6. Complete all prerequisite courses with a minimum grade of "B" as listed in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program degree plan. BIOL 2401 must be completed within the last five years and PTHA 1409 must be completed within the last two years.
  7. Submit Documentation of Experience Forms as evidence of a minimum of twenty-five (25) hours of volunteer or work experience under the supervision of a PT or PTA in two different settings, for a total of fifty (50) hours. One experience should be completed in an inpatient setting (hospital or nursing facility), and the other should be completed in a different type of setting such as an outpatient clinic or pediatric center. Home Health hours are not accepted. Therapists who supervise volunteer experiences cannot be a relative or personal friend of the student applicant.
  8. Attend an Early Program Information/Advising Session per program requirements. For session times and to schedule an appointment, contact the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at (956) 872-3161.
  9. Submit a completed Program application by stated deadline. For more information contact the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at (956) 872-3161.
  10. Pass a background check and drug screen through approved providers. Students with criminal histories must provide proof of licensure eligibility from the Executive Council of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy (ECPTOTE). This process may take up to 6 months to complete. For more information contact the Clinical Affairs Specialist at 956-872-3022 or visit NAH room 1.602.
  11. Meet Technical Standards as stated by the Physical Therapist Assistant Program..

Students who have met the above requirements may submit their application. Applications will be evaluated through a competitive selection process. Due to program size limitations, meeting application requirements does not guarantee admission into the program.

Work Environment

PTAs work in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, home health, schools, sports facilities, and more. Patients/clients treated in physical therapy range from newborns to the elderly and sample diagnoses include athletic injuries, back/neck problems, strokes, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, arthritis, and post-surgical conditions such as total joint replacements.

Care provided by a PTA may include:

  • teaching patients/clients exercises to increase movement and flexibility
  • helping increase a patient's/clients balance, strength and coordination
  • providing training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes, or walkers
  • use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation

Salary Data

National Average Wage: $25.63/hr. or $53,320/year (BLS, May 2013)
Texas Average Wage: $33.04/hr. or $68,730/year (BLS, May 2013)

Degree Plans Faculty Staff

Name E-mail Phone Location
Hernandez, Diana - PT, MEd - Program Chair dianah 956-872-3152 NAHC 323
Garcia, Arlene - PTA arleneg 956-872-3153 NAHC 324
Ruelas, Sayda - PT sruelas_6210 956-872-3154 NAHC 326
Polvado, Sharlene - PTA spolvado 956-872-3016 NAHC 325

For faculty not listed, please contact the department.

Name E-mail Phone Location
Ponce - Vargas, Mari marip 956-872-3161 NAHC 331
Garcia, Diana - Licensed Lab Asst. dgarcia_2490 956-872-3016 NAHC 326
Garcia, Michael - Licensed Lab Asst. 956-872-3038 NAHC 326