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Physical Therapist Assistant Associate's Degree

Overview: Physical Therapist Assistant Associate's Degree  

Becoming a PTA will give you an exciting and rewarding hands-on career, in which you are a major part of the individualized treatment a patient receives. In following the Physical Therapist’s plan of care, you will play an influential role returning your patient to their maximum level of physical function after an injury or illness. In less than two years, you can earn your Associate degree and make an immediate difference in peoples' lives as an integral member of the interdisciplinary and rehabilitation teams.

During your PTA education from Nebraska Methodist College, you'll gain experience by practicing physical therapy procedures in a clinical setting and learn to provide care specified by a Physical Therapist. You will be exposed to many different specialties, be taught by Clinicians who are experts in their fields, and work with cutting edge equipment and technologies. You will also graduate with an additional certification to make you more marketable. We ensure you are set for success before you leave.

Our faculty is here for you from the minute you walk through the door, and continues to support you after you walk across the stage, pass your national exam and get your first job. Once you become a part of the NMC PTA family, you remain part of our family  for as long as you need.

We want you to love your career as a PTA, and recognize that part of loving your career is making a good living.  How much does a physical therapist assistant make? The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the U.S. median physical therapist assistant salary in May 2022 was $62,770 per year, with a much faster than average projected job growth of 19 percent between 2022 and 2032. Read more about a day in the life as a PTA on the APTA career page

Want to learn more? Watch our most recent Virtual Information Session.

Program Perks
  • Students receive a free certification and alumni receive discounted CEU's
  • Over 8 of the last 10 years, the Program has an overall pass rate of 100% on the national certification exam.
  • CAPTE-accredited Associate of Science degree program that can be completed in 21 months.
  • Combines 710 hours of clinical experience with hands-on classroom instruction. Clinicals are located in the Omaha metro area as well as surrounding communities. 
  • Utilizing state-of-the-art equipment, students learn how to teach movement, strength and coordination exercises; train patients to use crutches, canes and walkers; administer massage therapy and use ultrasound and electrical stimulation.
  • Student focused Program designed for the visual and hands-on learner
  • Read our Testimonials

Accreditation & Licensure

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Nebraska Methodist College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: (703) 706-3245; email:; website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call (402) 354-7104 or email

Graduates must pass National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE)

Admissions Information for Physical Therapist Assistant Associate's Degree


Applicants are evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:


To be considered for admission, the following items must be submitted to the Admissions Office:


Prospective students may apply anytime and are accepted from deadlines throughout the year. Applications will be reviewed upon receipt, and students will be notified of their application status by letter or phone.

Starting Term - Fall 2024

Standard Deadline - Deadlines for Fall 2024 have been extended. Please contact admissions for more details.

Costs & Financial Aid

NMC is committed to helping you find every avenue to finance your education. View the Tuition by Program & Degree page for a comprehensive list of all fees. | PTA Student Financial Fact Sheet

Cost Per Credit Hour


NMC Scholarships

NMC Scholarships consist of funds generously provided by the Methodist Hospital Foundation to assist our students.

Student Grants or Loans

Visit our Financial Aid page to learn more about what's available and how to apply.

Employee Education Benefits

Employees of Methodist Health System can find details on the MHS Intranet.

External Scholarships

Visit our Scholarships page to learn more.

Calculate Your Net Price

Nebraska Methodist College Net Price Calculator.


The program requires a minimum of 75 credit hours. All students are required to complete specific coursework. This list should only be used as a curriculum guide. Course listings and required curriculum are subject to change. 

Included within this list is the Educated Citizen Core Curriculum. All students seeking to complete an undergraduate degree at Nebraska Methodist College must complete this set of Arts and Sciences requirements. As an educated citizen, NMC graduates are competent practitioners and respond productively to the complex dynamics of the world, utilizing a diversity of disciplines and perspectives.

First year - First Semester

COM 101
This course provides instruction and practice in writing, with emphasis on the recursive processes of generating, drafting, revising and editing. Students develop skills in producing and evaluating written communications in private and public contexts.

PTA 100
Students learn about the history of the field of Physical Therapy, and the role of the PTA. Expectations for professional behavior and ethical practice within the field are made explicit.  The role and scope of members of the physical therapy team are examined, and major areas of practice are explored.  Roles of other members of the healthcare team are presented, along with team approaches that exist in healthcare.  Communication and human relations, including individual and cultural differences, are discussed as they relate to the healthcare field.  The course also introduces the topics of confidentiality, quality assurance, licensure, applied medical terminology, documentation, basic research procedures, evidence based practice and current issues affecting the field.

Prerequisites: Admission to the PTA Program.

PTA 105
The student is introduced to the essentials of functional anatomy as related to the study of muscle origin, insertion, action and innervation.  Basic terminology and concepts of applied kinesiology and physics are covered. Laboratory experiences include visualizing cadaver dissections and obtaining a working knowledge of applied surface anatomy.

Prerequisites: Admission to the PTA Program.

PTA 115
The student explores the principles and practices of physical therapy including but not limited to: positioning and draping, body mechanics, transfers, infection control, wheelchair management, ambulation aids and self-care instruction.

Prerequisites: Admission to the PTA Program.

SCI 116
This course will introduce students to terminology used in the healthcare professions. The origins of medical terms will be studied with an emphasis placed on understanding the suffixes, prefixes, combining forms, and root words used in healthcare terminology to be able to properly communicate issues related to their profession using appropriate terminology.

SCI 200
This course will build the basics of the human body beginning with the structure and function of the cell. The course will highlight brief foundational aspects of chemistry, physics, embryology, and histology as they pertain to the human body. Learners will explore key anatomical and physiology concepts of the nervous, skeletal, muscular, integumentary systems, special senses; cardiovascular, respiratory, lymphatic, digestive, renal/urinary, endocrine, and reproductive systems. Laboratory experience will include a multi-modal approach and will include cadaveric study.

First year - Second Semester

HUM ---
Students may choose a World of Ideas elective course. The course must be categorized within one of the following three sections: The World of Ideas: Human Connection The World of Ideas: Historical Perspectives The World of Ideas: The Arts See All Humanities Course Descriptions for specific course information.

HUM 150
There is a strong relationship between thinking clearly and expressing thoughts in formal writing and public speaking. Using the skills of logic and critical thinking, students will examine ideas, analyze and evaluate the arguments of others, and advocate for their own ideas. Students will be introduced to the NMC Portfolio process. HUM 150 is to be taken in the first semester, unless designated in the second semester by the program of study.

PTA 120
The student is exposed to foundational principles and practices of physical therapy including but not limited to: posture awareness, manual muscle testing, range of motion measurement and exercise, stretching and strengthening techniques, joint integrity and mobility, soft tissue mobilization, pulmonary physical therapy techniques, PNF patterns and pain measurement.

Prerequisites: PTA 100, PTA 105, PTA 115, SCI 200, SCI 116

PTA 130
Students examine the theory, principles and application of physical therapy modalities including but not limited to: therapeutic heat and cold, traction, biofeedback, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, hydrotherapy, iontophoresis, and laser. Theory and principles of diathermy, infrared, ultraviolet, and compression therapies are taught.

Prerequisites: PTA 100, PTA 105, PTA 115, SCI 200, SCI 116

SCI 206
This survey course begins with a major focus on cellular function and pathology, including inflammation, infection, immune response, metabolism, and fluid disequilibria. These concepts serve as the foundation for the course as alterations in various bodily functions are examined. Alterations in body fluid and electrolyte homeostasis, fluid acid/base balance, gastrointestinal, urinary, respiratory, cardiac, endocrine, and neurological functions are emphasized. The student will be introduced to pharmacological principles and utilize critical thinking to explore the relationship between those concepts and commonly used classes of medications.

Prerequisites: SCI 200 or BIO 226

First year - Third Semester

COM 255/267
Access to healthcare is greatly affected by one's command of language. Students in this course engage in the exploration of language and culture then apply these concepts to the healthcare environment through service-learning and community engagement. Students develop practical communication skills that enable effective cross-cultural work with health professionals and clients with backgrounds different from their own. This course lasts over the entire semester.

PTA 190
This clinical course entails 12 hours of orientation at the clinical site assigned for Clinical II. Students will become acclimated to clinic policies, procedures, equipment, patients, responsibilities of staff and expectations for student performance.

Prerequisites: PTA 120, PTA 130

PTA 200
This course provides clinical observation, application and practice of physical therapy procedures under the direction and supervision of the Clinical Instructor. Students hone skills practiced in the first year of the Program, and take a more active role in patient treatment, education, and communication with members of the healthcare team in the clinic and with their peers through discussion board assignments.  Tools used in the clinical setting for quality assurance are explored in a formal paper.

Prerequisites: PTA 190, SCI 206

SSC 235
This course explores the ways in which human beings make and remake the meaning of their social world through the production of culture. It employs sociological methods to explore the construction of the dominant, white subculture in the United States. The same methodologies are employed to examine the construction of subcultures in the United States, including those based on race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

Second year - First Semester

PSY 215
The Lifespan perspective involves several basic contentions: development is life-long, multidimensional, multi-directional, plastic, historically embedded, multi-disciplinary and contextual. Three imperative developmental issues are explored: maturation and experience, continuity and discontinuity and stability and change. Students study how humans develop and how they become who they are.

Prerequisites: As determined by program

PTA 210
This course includes classroom and laboratory instruction on rehabilitation of patients with surgical and non-surgical orthopedic injuries.  General surgical protocols, medical imaging techniques, taping techniques, orthotics, breathing exercises and other techniques for optimum physical performance are covered.  Students apply and modify therapeutic exercise techniques for the orthopedic patient.

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of all technical & clinical coursework to this point in the curriculum

PTA 215
Neurological Disorders and Treatment
Students learn about assessment and treatment of patients diagnosed with neurologic dysfunction. Concepts include: fundamentals of nervous system operation, motor control and motor learning, components of sensory, motor and functional data collection, and application and progression of mobility training and therapeutic interventions for neurologic patients.

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of all technical & clinical coursework to this point in the curriculum

PTA 220
This course covers a variety of topics relevant to the practice of physical therapy.  These topics include: cardiopulmonary responses to exercise, aquatic therapy, ergonomic assessment, industrial rehabilitation, wellness, core strengthening, advanced stretching and strengthening techniques, gait analysis, goal setting, balance training, joint mobilization, and soft tissue injury, repair and remodeling.

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of all technical & clinical coursework to this point in the curriculum

PTA 228

This course covers a variety of topics relevant to the practice of physical therapy. Some of these topics include: rehabilitation for patients with burns, wounds, amputations and cancer. Students are exposed to varying specializations such as women’s health, athletic rehabilitation, geriatrics, workers compensation and vestibular therapy as well.

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of all technical & clinical coursework to this point in the curriculum

Second year - Second Semester

PTA 230
This course includes classroom instruction, group discussion and case studies in legal and ethical issues affecting the practice of physical therapy.  In addition, various administrative topics, for example, patient confidentiality, proper documentation for demonstration of skilled services, as well as how documentation drives compliance and reimbursement will also be covered. The importance of professionalism, professional communication, both written and verbal, will also be stressed throughout this course. **This course begins one week earlier than the traditional spring term.

PTA 240
This course includes clinical observation, application, and practice of physical therapy procedures under the direction and supervision of the Clinical Instructor.  Knowledge from coursework to date is applied in the clinical setting. Students explore evidence-based practice and produce a formal paper on treatment for a patient seen in the clinical setting. 

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of all technical & clinical coursework to this point in the curriculum.

PTA 260
This course follows PTA 240 and provides continued clinical application and practice of physical therapy procedures in a clinical setting different from PTA 240.  Knowledge from previous arts and sciences and PTA courses is applied under the direction and supervision of the Clinical Instructor. Students apply communication skills learned throughout the program in the presentation of a formal in-service at the clinical site.

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of all technical & clinical coursework to this point in the curriculum.

PTA 280
This course covers topics used to help the entry-level PTA pass the national exam, gain employment, increase knowledge of licensing requirements and develop within the field of Physical Therapy.

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of all technical & clinical coursework to this point in the curriculum.

Meet the Faculty

Our physical therepist assistant faculty are highly experienced and credentialed in their own fields, giving you constant real-world insight you can use.

While any instructor can recite from a textbook, ours go a step further and draw from vast personal experience. Instructors here care as deeply about their students as they do the subject matter and it shows.

Meet the Faculty

Additional Information

PTA Mission, Goals & Objectives

NMC Mission Statement

As a health professions institution, Nebraska Methodist College provides educational experiences for the development of individuals in order that they may positively influence the health and well-being of the community.

PTA Mission Statement

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program provides educational experiences in a learner centered environment to develop competent physical therapist assistants who are prepared for entry-level employment. Our graduates enter the workforce as educated citizens with the mindset, heartset and skillset to meet the diverse needs of the individuals and communities that they serve.


The philosophy of the Associate Degree Program for the Physical Therapist Assistant is reflective of the values and beliefs from which the NMC Mission and Core Values were formulated. The NMC Physical Therapist Assistant Program is dedicated to providing dynamic, high quality, integrative learning opportunities utilizing educational technology, didactic, laboratory and clinical experiences. The foundation for the education of the PTA students is based on criteria and performance expectations set forth by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The PTA program promotes opportunities for lifelong intellectual, professional, career and personal development.

Program Goals

The Goals of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program are to:

  1. Develop competent physical therapist assistants who are prepared for entry level employment, prepared to pass the national certification exam, and prepared to uphold professional ideals.
  2. Develop an educated citizen with skills as Reflective Individual, Effective Communicator and Change Agent.

Program Objectives

Graduates of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the role and scope of practice of the physical therapist assistant.
  2. Explain and demonstrate the use of manual tools and modalities as practiced by the physical therapist assistant.
  3. Demonstrate professional verbal and written communication skills when interacting with colleagues, patients and peers.
  4. Implement treatment planning techniques under the supervision of a Physical Therapist.
  5. Be sensitive to cultural, ethnic, gender and life style differences among patient populations.
  6. Respect patient confidentiality at all times.

PTA Licensure

Graduates are prepared for an entry-level physical therapist assistant position and to sit for the national certification examination through the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

NMC PTAs have an overall pass rate on this exam of 100% over the past eight years.

Graduates are also required to pass a state licensure exam in most states. All physical therapist assistants must work under the direction and supervision of the physical therapist.

An individual who works as a physical therapist assistant in a jurisdiction where licensure or regulation is presently unavailable is required to be a graduate of a physical therapist assistant education program accredited by CAPTE.

Written Statement

Please develop a thoughtful and organized response to the questions below. Your response should be approximately two paragraphs for each question. The admissions committee is looking for responses that are not only well supported but that also use appropriate style and grammar. Be sure to include your name and program on the document itself. You may attach the responses to an email sent to the Admissions office at

When drafting your written statement, please cite any sources using APA format if applicable. Also know that instances of plagiarism within an applicant's written statement will disqualify them for acceptance to Nebraska Methodist College due to the College's commitment to academic integrity and stringent plagiarism policies.

If you send your responses through the mail, please type your responses and send them to:
NMC Admissions
Nebraska Methodist College - The Josie Harper Campus
720 N. 87th Street
Omaha, NE 68114

  1. Please share what or who has influenced your decision to pursue a degree in healthcare.
  2. Describe any special skills or traits you possess that will help ensure your success in a challenging healthcare program curriculum.
  3. Please address any grades of D's or F's listed on your transcripts. Also, please address withdrawals or other discrepancies on your transcripts. If you do not have any D's, F's or W's please respond: Not Applicable.

Technical Standards

Technical Standards for Performance

It is your responsibility to understand the duties, responsibilities, skills and abilities required of your chosen program/profession. In addition to the technical standards as described below, please review the information regarding the Physical Therapist Assistant profession on the O*NET website.

As part of your application, you are asked to complete the Career Awareness Questionnaire to verify that you understand these standards.

Behavioral and Social Skills

Students should: possess qualities of motivation, compassion, integrity, empathy, honesty and good interpersonal skills; have the ability to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, colleagues, and physicians; be able to tolerate physical and emotional stress as well as adapt and be flexible; maintain overall good health and self-care as to not jeopardize the health and safety of classmates, self, instructors and patients; maintain high ethical standards in compliance with the American Physical Therapy Association; demonstrate professional behaviors and a commitment to didactic, clinical and lifelong learning.


A PTA student must be able to communicate effectively using speech, reading, and writing. He/she should be able to observe clinical staff and patients in order to elicit information, perceive nonverbal communication, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and recognize and respond to an emergency situation. Students must be able to communicate quickly, effectively and efficiently in both oral and written English with classmates, instructors, patients, families, physicians and any other member of the healthcare team. Students must also have the ability to take part in lectures and discussions in didactic as well as clinical settings.

Motor and Functional Abilities

Students must be able to: freely move about the laboratory and clinic; move quickly in an emergency situation to protect the patient; stand for prolonged periods of time while in clinical experiences (up to 8 hours) as well as sit for prolonged periods during didactic work (2-10 hours); safely and effectively resist, guide, facilitate or inhibit movement of another person's body part(s) to illicit a desired position or outcome; lift or transfer another person's body weight using proper transfer techniques (30-100 lbs); detect changes in patient's muscle tone, skin quality, joint play, temperature and kinesthesia; engage in tasks requiring manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination as well as occasional pushing and pulling of up to 50 pounds, holding, manipulating, extending, rotating, kneeling, stooping and manually adjusting equipment found in a clinical setting.
Students must be able to see notes written on a whiteboard, videos and slide show/overhead presentations. They must be able to gather visual information from patients regarding movement, posture, body mechanics and gait to compare to normal standards as well as gather visual cues from the patient regarding tolerance of interventions.


Students should possess critical thinking and problem solving skills. They must be able to receive, interpret, remember and use information to solve problems as well as adjust patient's daily treatment within their plan of care when necessary. You will be required to have the knowledge to operate a variety of physical therapy modality and exercise equipment in a safe manner. Students must be able to comprehend information as well as accept constructive criticism and exercise sound judgment in the classroom and clinic.
In addition to the technical standards stated above, students must be able to successfully complete all required components of the curriculum consisting of tests and evaluations as well as clinical assessments.
It is the student's responsibility to notify the department if there is any reason they cannot meet these standards for the Physical Therapist Assistant Program with or without reasonable accommodation.

Requirements: Clinical facilities require that Nebraska Methodist College perform drug testing, and background checks on all students. Students are also required to show proof of required immunizations before they are allowed to participate in clinical experiences. Therefore, students will be required to have a background check performed and submit to drug screening before being allowed into clinical practice.



“The PTA program here at Nebraska Methodist College is incredible. The teachers in the program truly care about you and your success and will go to great lengths to help you achieve your goals. More importantly the group of people you will meet and the bond you will create is something you will cherish for a lifetime. The people in my program are now and will be my best friends for a long time. The community with past graduates, current graduates and people in the program is something no other school has.”

- Sydney Braithwaite, 2021 NMC Graduate

"I had an amazing experience at NMC! I was so lucky to be with my classmates and our wonderful program director, Shannon. As I was an international student, I sometimes needed extra help but I always had someone who I could ask. Whatever you need, they are always there for you."

- Haruka Ikeda (Roo), 2021 NMC Graduate

“Applying to the PTA program at NMC was one of the best decisions I could have made. I truly enjoyed my time there and the program set me on a path that I could not be happier with. “ 

- Jeff Swanson, 2018 NMC Graduate

“I found the PTA program at NE Methodist College to be a once in a lifetime experience that helped me grow as an individual and medical professional. The program pushed me in ways I didn’t know possible, and left with me a better sense of identity and purpose. The staff and students became lifelong friends; as they believe in building a sense of community along with the skills needed to be a successful Physical Therapist Assistant.” 

- Beth Fern, 2016 NMC Graduate

“As an adult student, seeking a new career, I found the program at Nebraska Methodist College to be both challenging and rewarding. The classes prepared me for clinicals, which then prepared me for the profession. I had a job upon graduation. The instructors were helpful and really cared about the students. The campus is modern and easy to navigate. Overall, a great experience and the anatomy/physiology classes were my favorite.”  

- Kim S. 2015 NMC Graduate

“My experience at Nebraska Methodist College was beyond extraordinary and one of the best decisions I have ever made. Shannon Struby does an amazing job not only as the program director, and as a teacher, but as a friend and mentor who helped me excel in life and my studies to become a PTA. The PTA program at Nebraska Methodist is the best that I found when I was researching and visiting potential colleges that had PTA programs." 

- Brian Wellenstein, 2014 NMC Graduate

Guidelines for Clinical Observation

Clinic observation is strongly recommended for the NMC Physical Therapist Assistant Program for admission. This is your opportunity to weigh your interest in the field and to learn more about the physical therapy profession. Therapists or assistants within the clinic who are providing you the opportunity for this experience will need to verify your participation in writing by signing an observation form. Ten hours (10) of observation is recommended. We encourage applicants to arrange observation experiences within an inpatient setting and outpatient setting, if possible. It is YOUR responsibility to arrange this observation. You may fulfill the hours at more than one facility.

  1. Call ahead to the clinic of your choice to arrange an appointment for your observation. Explain your interest in the physical therapy profession and your intention to apply to PTA school.
  2. Expect that it may be one to two weeks before the observation time can be scheduled. Be prepared to only be able to observe one to two hours at some clinics due to busy PT/PTA schedules.
  3. Dress professionally, it is best to ask what the dress code is for the particular clinic you are observing. Even though you are not a part of the program at this time, you will still be viewed as a representative of Nebraska Methodist College. Clinical sites do have the right to send you home if they feel you are dressed inappropriately. If there is not a specific dress code here are some things to consider: No jeans, low rise pants or low cut/midriff tops Wear low heeled, closed toe non-slip shoes and dress pants Shirts should be neat and tucked in No perfume (potential allergies) Cosmetics and jewelry in moderation
  4. Notify the clinic if you will be late or absent. Be sure to speak directly with the program personnel or leave a message with the clinic office. Reschedule as soon as possible. Avoid canceling at the last minute.
  5. Be ready to ask questions. However, if the therapist or assistant is involved in treatment, you may be advised to hold questions until treatment is completed.
  6. Follow any policies or directions given by clinic personnel without question. You may be asked to leave a treatment area if necessary. Wait in a non-treatment area and ask questions at a later time. The patient is always the therapist's first responsibility.
  7. Be familiar with HIPAA policies and observe patient confidentiality at all times. Most clinics will request that you sign a confidentiality form; this must be done to complete your hours.
  8. When observing, be sure to keep interactions related to the scope of physical therapy. If you become involved in a situation that is uncomfortable for you, seek supervision immediately.

Download the Physical Therapist Assistant Observation Log



Assessment/ Measurement

Program Enrollment
Enrollment (At Start of Program)

Academic Attrition

Personal Attrition

Graduation Rate

150% Graduation Rate




2 Year Average






2 (15%)

2 (15%)


1 (8%)

4 (31%)








Assessment/ Measurement

Percent Taking Exam (opt)

First Time Pass Rate
FSBPT Results

Overall Pass Rate
FSBPT Results




2 Year Average














Assessment/ Measurement

Employment 6 Months after passing exam




2 Year Average