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.

Registering Now for Introduction to Physical Therapy Mini-mester

Courses beginning March 18, 2019!

PTHA 1409.AF2 on the NAH Campus and PTHA 1409.GZ1 remote learning for the Starr County Campus.

Contact the PTA Program at 956-872-3161

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.AF2 Introduction to Physical Therapy course is NOW offered at the NAH McAllen Campus.
  • HESI A2 Assessment are accepted to register for PTHA 1409 course.
  • For more information, contact Mari Vargas at 956-872-3161 or email
  • Start: A new program class begins every Fall Semester
  • Delivery: Daytime, Full-time
  • Application Deadline: July 10, 2019 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

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: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 956-872-3152 or email

Program Outcomes

  • Graduation Rate: 73.2% of students graduated from the Program (2 year average – 2017, 2018).

  • Licensure Examination Pass Rate: 100% of the graduates passed the licensure exam (2 year average – 2017, 2018).

  • Employment Rate: 100% of program graduates have obtained positions as PTAs within 12 months of passing the licensure exam (2 year average - 2016, 2017).

Program Application Data

Year # of Applications submitted # of students offered slots (accepted) # of students who entered program (matriculated)
2016 48 25 18
2017 50 21 21
2018 55 22 21

Apply Competitive Entry Process Career Exploration Resources In the Spotlight

Application Requirements

All applicants must:

  1. Participate in the required Prospective Student Information session. For the session schedule, access the information online at or contact the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at 956-872-3161.
  2. Be admitted to the college as a high school graduate or GED equivalent
  3. Meet TSI College Readiness Standards, or meet TSI exemption standards (view testing requirements).
  4. Complete all prerequisite courses with a minimum grade of "B" as listed in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program degree plan. BIOL 2401 Anatomy and Physiology I must be completed within the past five years and PTHA 1409 Introduction to Physical Therapy must be completed within the past two years
  5. Complete the HESI A2 (Admissions Assessment) Exam as follows: Achieve an English Language Composite Score of 75% or higher, a Science (Anatomy & Physiology) Score of 75% or higher, and a Math Score of 75% or higher.  Scores must be current within the last 2 years. HESI A2 Exemptions are not permitted (click here for testing requirements).
  6. Earn a minimum grade of “B” in “Introduction to Physical Therapy” course within the last two years. Required HESI A2 English Language Composite, Science, and Math test scores are needed to register for this course.
  7. Earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in all courses, including transfer courses, and those completed at STC.
  8. Pass a criminal background check, 10-panel drug screen through approved providers, and complete all required immunizations including Hepatitis B series. Students with criminal histories must provide proof of licensure eligibility from the Executive Council of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Examiners (ECPTOTE). This process may take up to 6 months to complete. For more information contact the NAH Clinical Affairs Specialist at 872-3022.
  9. 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.
  10. Meet Technical Standards as stated by the Physical Therapist Assistant Program.
  11. Submit a completed Program application by stated deadline. For more information contact the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at 872-3161 or access the information online at

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.

Competitive Entry Selection Process

The PTA Program selection process is based on a Point System evaluation. Points are awarded for the following selection criteria: GPA of PTA Program prerequisite and general education courses, HESI A2 Exam scores, volunteer/experience forms, interview scores, and optional points which may be obtained from items listed on the Application Form (for example, completion of CSFH 0101 College Success for Healthcare course with a B or better, etc.). Qualified applicants are numerically ranked based on the number of acceptance points earned, and are either accepted, placed on an alternate list, or not accepted. Due to program size limitations, a number of applicants who meet the additional program application requirements may not be admitted to the program. The typical number of new positions available on an annual basis is 20; the final number is dependent upon available resources. Should any of the accepted applicants decline admission, an alternate will be offered acceptance to the program. In the case of tied applicants, finalists will be chosen based on the date of application.

A new applicant pool is established for each admission period. Applicants who are not admitted for the current application period must re-apply to be considered for a later application period. PTA Program applications are available annually from the PTA Program Department. The window for submission of completed applications opens on the second Monday of June and closes on the second Monday of July of the current year. Selection of students is made one time a year during the summer. Newly selected students attend program orientation in the summer and begin program classes in the fall semester.


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 A-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 A-331
Garcia, Diana - Licensed Lab Asst. dgarcia_2490 956-872-3016 NAHC 326
Garcia, Michael - Licensed Lab Asst. 956-872-3038 NAHC 326