In Illinois, aspiring physical therapy assistants can look to various 2-year colleges and 4-year universities to find an associate degree in the field. Students participate in clinical internships and/or practicums as well as labs, seminars and lectures. Courses cover anatomy and physiology, medical vocabulary, patient care, therapeutic exercise and massage, orthopedics and kinesiology. Applicants may need to have successfully completed one high school science course from a list of approved courses.
Black Hawk College
Black Hawk College is located in Moline and offers a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science (AAS) program. Students complete five semesters, which include two clinical internships. Students are also required to complete courses in physical rehabilitative techniques, physical therapy science, therapeutic exercise, and physical agents, among other topics. Practicums and a seminar are also part of the program.
College of DuPage
The College of DuPage sits in Glen Ellyn, and students at the school can pursue a physical therapist assistant associate's degree. The program requires 69.5-71.5 credits and includes four clinical practicums. Course topics include kinesiology, patient care, therapeutic assessment, therapeutic exercise, orthopedic rehabilitation, and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation.
Elgin Community College
Located in Elgin, students at this community college earn 71-74 credits in completing the PTA associate's degree program. In addition to the didactic part of the program, which includes theory and lab practice, students take part in clinical practicums. Students learn about manual muscle testing, gait analysis, therapeutic exercise, and therapeutic massage, among other areas of study. They also interact with professional physical therapists and PTAs.
Illinois Central College
The 68-credit-hour physical therapist assistant associate's degree program at Illinois Central College in East Peoria includes general education courses covering math, humanities, child and adolescent development, and other course topics. Areas of study in the major include disease process, functional anatomy, adulthood and aging, and physical therapy assistant fundamentals. Three clinical requirements at area hospitals and medical facilities are also part of the program.
Students who pursue the physical therapy assistant degree program at Kaskaskia College in Centralia earn an AAS degree after completing 74 credit hours. Course topics in the first two semesters include human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, applied physics, kinesiology, and physical modalities. The majority of clinical internships occur in the second year, beginning in the summer session. Students also participate in practicums and clinical seminars as part of the program. This program prepares students for entry-level employment as PTAs, while also encouraging graduates to pursue further education.
Lake Land College
Located in Mattoon, Lake Land College features a physical therapist assistant associate's degree program. While students complete courses and lab work at the Lake Land Kluthe Center, clinical practicums take place at area hospitals and clinics. The program is five semesters in length, and prerequisites for the program include completion of one course with a minimum grade of C from a list that includes high school biology or the college's course in bioscience, among other options.
Morton College is located in Cicero. The college's physical therapist assistant associate's degree program prepares students for entry-level employment in the field. Students in the program learn how to follow a physical therapist's treatment plan and work with patients. The first clinical experience is four weeks in length, while the second and third are six weeks each.
Oakton Community College
Situated in Des Plaines, Oakton Community College prepares aspiring physical therapist assistants for careers after completion of a 69-credit-hour program. Topics covered include physical agents, therapeutic exercise, neurology, pathology, and basic health skills. Students are required to complete four clinical practicums. General education requirements are also included in the curriculum.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Located in Carbondale, Southern Illinois University offers a physical therapist assistant associate's degree program that consists of lectures, labs, and clinical requirements. Courses cover topics such as physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, physical agents, and pathology. Students also study exercise theory, human movement, and physical therapy science.
Southwestern Illinois College
Southwestern Illinois College, situated in Belleville, awards an Associate in Applied Science to graduates of the physical therapist assistant program. Through coursework, students study physical therapy science, patient care, physical agents, orthopedic interventions, kinesiology, clinical orthopedics, rehabilitation, and therapeutic exercise. Students are required to complete two clinical experiences and take part in a clinical seminar. Applications for 2016 are closed. Applications for Fall 2017 will be accepted starting September 2016.
In order to work as physical therapy assistants (PTAs) in the state of Illinois, individuals must be licensed after first graduating from an accredited program and passing a licensing exam. Licensing is granted by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The state also requires practicing PTAs to follow continuing education requirements to remain licensed.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Physical Therapy Assistant Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)|
|Black Hawk College||2-year, public; small city||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science|| $4,050 in-district,
|College of DuPage||2-year, public; large suburb||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science|| $5,275 in-district,
|Elgin Community College||2-year, public; midsize city||Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapist Assistant|| $2,868 in-district,
|Illinois Central College||2-year, public; large suburb||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science|| $4,050 in-district,
|Kaskaskia College||2-year, public; rural fringe||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science|| $4,192 in-district,
|Lake Land College||2-year, public; distant town||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science|| $3,459 in-district,
|Morton College||2-year, public; large suburb||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science|| $3,688 in-district,
|Oakton Community College||2-year, public; small city||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science|| $3,285 in-district,
|Southern Illinois University Carbondale||4-year, public; small city||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science|| $13,137 in-state,
|Southwestern Illinois College||2-year, public; large suburb||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science|| $3,420 in-district,
Sources: *NCES College Navigator.