Why apply to the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program?
“When a hand cannot grasp, one cannot hold another.” Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) have the rewarding opportunity to make a positive difference in the quality of people’s lives. Their work involves extensive contact with both patients and other health care professionals. PTAs work under the supervision of a physical therapist in implementing treatment programs specific to the plan of care.  PTAs work in hospitals, private physical therapy offices, community health
centers, corporate or industrial health centers, sport facilities, research institutions, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, schools, pediatric centers, colleges and universities. Learn More: http://www.apta.org/AboutPTAs/

How does admission to the program work?

Admission to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program is a highly competitive and merit-based process and includes some minimal basic standards that must be met in order for an applicant to be considered for admission. These standards are as follows:

  • Completion of all required remedial and/or ESL courses as indicated by the college placement test.
  • Completion of all pre-requisite courses with a grade of “C” or higher. Only two of the three pre-requisites may be repeated to achieve this grade. Each course may only be repeated once. The three pre-requisites courses are: BIO 121 Anatomy and Physiology I (4 credits), ENG 101 College Composition I (3 credits), and PSY 101 General Psychology I: Personality & Social Aspects (3 credits). If courses are being transferred, they must completed by the fall semester preceding application.
  • The student must have a college GPA of 2.5 or higher in those courses required by the PTA program. Note: Grades in co-requisite general education courses completed prior to admission will also be applied to establish the applicants’ GPA.
  • Submission of the online program application (applications are accepted from the beginning of the Spring semester through March 15th of each calendar year).
  • Completion and documentation of 50 required volunteer or work hours in a physical therapy department or facility submitted with the online program application by the March 15th application deadline.
  • Completion of the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) with a passing score of 50 by the deadline of the first Friday in May of each calendar year.  Note:The TEAS may only be taken once per application and a passing score does not guarantee admission to the program. Students should not register to take the TEAS until all other application requirements listed above have been met.

The merit-based admissions process works as follows, when the above minimum qualifications have been met:

TEAS ScorePoints Awarded

Program applicants are ranked according to their Total Admission Score (TAS), with the top 30 applicants being offered admission.  The TAS is calculated by adding points for TEAS scores to the applicants’ GPA in courses required by the program.

E.g. Applicants GPA is 3.0, TEAS score is 73. TAS is 5 (3.0 GPA+ 2 points from TEAS).

Note: BIO 121 Anatomy & Physiology I and BIO 122 Anatomy & Physiology II transcripts older than 5 years will not be accepted for transfer to the PTA major. Credit for Anatomy & Physiology successfully completed within the last 5 years will only be granted for those courses taken at ECC or accepted in transfer.

Note: Students are responsible for the accuracy of information they provide on their program admissions application.

Is the PTA program accredited?

Yes, the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)*, and has been so since 1973.  In order for your degree to be recognized for licensure purposes, graduation from an accredited program is necessary.  The program is in the middle of a 10-year accreditation, which is a highly regarded accomplishment, and this accreditation runs through 2027.

You can view our CAPTE accreditation information by clicking HERE:

* The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is the only accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education.

Do I need to be licensed to practice as a PTA?

After graduation from our program, you must pass a state-administered national exam to obtain licensure or certification required in most states, including NJ. Other requirements vary from state to state according to physical therapy practice acts or state regulations governing physical therapy. You can visit the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) Web site for more information about PTA licensure/certification requirements.

Source: http://www.apta.org/PTACareers/Overview/

Does the ATI TEAS-Allied Health have to be taken when I apply and, if so, when should I schedule it?

The TEAS examination is part of the application process and can be taken either before or after submitting your application and supporting documentation.  Since there is a separate fee payable upon registering for this exam, we strongly suggest that students not register for the TEAS before assuring that they will meet all other application requirements in order to avoid any unnecessary expense.  The exam should taken in the Testing Center (Room 4152 in the Green Area) at Essex County College, to both reduce the expense of taking the exam and to facilitate score retrieval by the program. If the exam is taken at a different location the applicant will be responsible to assure that their scores are sent to the PTA program.  

See www2.registerblast.com/essex/Exam/List for information on how to register for the TEAS exam at Essex County College. Students must take the MATH, READING, ENGLISH, and SCIENCE sections with an overall average of AT LEAST 50% based on a grading scale of 100% in order for their application to be considered. Scores above 61% are awarded points as per the table and process described above on this page. Note: The TEAS may only be taken once per application and a score above 50% does not guarantee admission to the program. Deadline for registering and taking this test is the first Friday in May of each calendar year. For more information about this exam please visit www.atitesting.com. You will find information about purchasing study guides or other resource materials on this page as well.

How long will it take for me to complete this program?

If you do not need developmental courses and have completed the prerequisite courses for admission, the program should be completed in five academic semesters.  In the event you have a college degree(s), it will still take five semesters to complete the program; however, your course load will be lighter as you will not have to re-take those courses previously accepted in transfer.

Is there a specific form that must be completed to document the required volunteer hours?

No, we do not require a specific form to be submitted for this purpose.  Facilities will generally provide a letter, on their letterhead, verifying that at least 50 hours have been completed, either as a volunteer or employee.

Is the Physical Therapist Assistant program a day, weekend or evening program?

All core courses for the program are scheduled during the weekday.  There are some required general education courses (i.e. English, Math, etc.) that are available in the evenings and on weekends. Scheduled class time varies each semester and increases with advanced course work. In addition, as the curriculum progresses, full-time clinical affiliations are scheduled 5 days per week, 35-40 hours per week.

What is the cost of the program?

Information regarding tuition rates and fees is located on the college website at bursar-office.

Is financial aid available for the program?

Information regarding financial aid is located on the college website at financial-aid.

Is there a waiting list for admission to the program?

No, the program does not create or maintain a waiting list.  The program limits enrollment to the program on the basis of available space, staff and clinical sites.  We select students from the pool of applicants on the basis of performance and volunteer/work experience.  It is common, however, for students to decline admission to the program, thus creating an opening for another student.

When can I apply for admission to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program?

The program begins annually in the fall semester.  You can apply from January 1st to March 15th for the fall semester of that year.  The application deadline is March 15th. If you are a transfer student, you must first apply to the College and receive your Essex ID # prior to submission of the PTA Program Application.

Application for the program is located on the college website or by clicking HERE.

If I am accepted to Essex County College, am I automatically accepted into the Physical Therapist Assistant Program?

No. All students must follow all instructions to Apply to the College and declare a General Science (0603) major before applying to the PTA program with the Physical Therapist Assistant Program Application.

Admission to the program is not automatic.    If you are already enrolled as an ECC student, you must still submit an application to the program.

 If I applied to the program previously and was not accepted, do I need to re-apply?

Yes.   We do not save the applications from year to year.  In addition to re-submitting an application, you are also required to re-submit a copy of your competed volunteer hours.

Can prerequisites be completed at a school other than Essex County College?

If you are a Transfer Student and are taking the pre-requisites at another college, you must submit official transcripts from the other institution(s) with your application to the college and unofficial transcripts with your online application to the program. All official college transcripts must be submitted directly from the Institution (where you are transferring credits from) to Essex County College’s Enrollment Services (e-mail  [email protected] , Phone (973) 877 – 3100). Transfer applicants are responsible to ensure that all transcripts are received by the required deadline.  In addition, transfer students must complete the three prerequisites: BIO 121 (Anatomy & Physiology I), ENG 101 (English Composition I) and PSY 101 (General Psychology) by December 31stof the preceding the year in which they seek admission to the PTA program. In the event you transfer in one or two pre-requisites, and want to complete an additional one or two pre-requisites at Essex County College, you would need to do so in the spring semester in which you are applying to be eligible for admission for that year.

Anatomy & Physiology I must be successfully completed within the last 5 years at Essex or another institution to be accepted. (Anatomy & Physiology II is not a prerequisite, but like A&P I it will not be counted toward your degree if it was taken more than 5 years ago.)

Prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or higher. Only two of the three prerequisite courses may be repeated to achieve this grade. The courses that are repeated can only be repeated once.

Can I work during the program?

Some students are employed while they are in the program.  Given the rigorous academic demands, it is not recommended to work full-time.  The decision to work in an individual one, but it should be noted that whether or not you work, the program is challenging and will require significant time in academic and clinical preparation.

Can I choose where I attend my clinical affiliation?

The selection of clinical sites is done according to the educational needs of each student.  The Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education (ACCE) within the program will select your clinical sites primarily on this basis. All efforts will be made to accommodate these needs, with due consideration given to geographic location of students.  Transportation to the clinical sites is the student’s responsibility.

Do I need a criminal background check?

Yes, a criminal background check is required as a condition of placement in clinical sites. In addition, some clinical facilities require that you pass a drug test prior to placement in their facilities. Clinics reserved the right to refuse admission of students who fail either or both of these requirements.

Learn more: www.CastleBranch.com

Do I need to have my own health insurance?

The college does not provide health insurance for students.  All students enrolled in the PTA program must secure their own medical insurance.  Some clinics will not accept students as clinical affiliates unless they provide proof of medical insurance. In addition, some clinics may require the student to have their own liability insurance.

Is there a mandatory Physical Therapist Assistant program orientation?

Yes.  The program mandates that all new students attend an in-person PTA program orientation prior to the beginning of classes, usually in late August.  Admitted students will be notified of the exact date and time of the orientation in advance.

When I complete the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, can I transfer my credits to a college or university?

The physical therapist assistant curriculum differs from that of a physical therapist curriculum. Under most circumstances, this degree is not transferable; however, our program has an articulation agreement with Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry, NY).  This agreement allows successful applicants to Mercy to apply credits from the Essex PTA program toward the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. There are also other accredited programs designed to allow experienced physical therapist assistants to continue working while attending a physical therapist doctoral degree program on the weekends.

PTA student Financial Fact Sheet 2021-2022