Although not a huge number of schools in Wisconsin offer programs in physical therapy assistance, students do have a number of public and not-for-profit colleges and universities from which to choose. All available programs in the field lead to associate's degrees. In addition to classroom instruction and lab training, students will complete a minimum number of hours in a clinical setting, meeting practicum requirements under supervision. Some schools' programs are limited admission and availability and competition for entrance may be stiff.
The schools described below are all accredited by CAPTE. There is also a comparison table with the institutions' locations, program titles, and tuition costs.
Blackhawk Technical College
Located in Janesville, Blackhawk Technical College has an average student enrollment of 14,000 and sits on more than 80 acres. The Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science degree program consists of 70 total credits, and students typically complete the program in six semesters. Students enrolled in this program can expect to take courses in anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, rehabilitation and professional issues. Clinical experiences are an important part of the curriculum, and students are required to complete three while enrolled in the program. Two of the clinical experience courses are part time, and the final clinical experience course is full time and takes two months to complete. The sites where students will complete their clinical experiences are located within 90 miles of Blackhawk Technical College, and the opportunities allow students to apply what they have learned through their coursework in a professional setting.
Chippewa Valley Technical College
The Eau Claire campus of Chippewa Valley Technical College hosts an associate degree program in physical therapy assistance. The program can be completed in two years with an additional summer semester. The curriculum for this program includes courses in patient interventions, anatomy and physiology, therapeutic exercise, professional issues and musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Students also complete two part-time clinical experiences and one full-time clinical experience during their final year in the program. While participating in the clinical experiences, students have the opportunity to work with patients and learn the skills necessary to be successful physical therapist assistants.
Gateway Technical College
This college is located in Kenosha and offers degree programs to more than 25,000 students. The Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science degree can be completed in two years. As a student in this program, one can expect to learn how to use electrical stimulators and ultrasound machines, perform massage therapy and implement a variety of exercise programs for balance, strength training, posture and stretching. The curriculum for this program includes clinical experiences and laboratory work. During their clinical training, students will provide care to real patients and work under the supervision of an experienced professional. Due to the popularity of the program, students should check with the school regarding the availability of the program.
Milwaukee Area Technical College
The Milwaukee campus of this college serves nearly 20,000 students; 90% of its students attend part-time. Through the School of Health Sciences, students can pursue the Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science degree. The program requires the completion of 70 credits and includes courses in kinesiology, professional issues, therapeutic modalities, rehabilitation across the lifespan and therapeutic exercise. Students will also participate in three opportunities to practice clinical skills. From 2008-2010, 100% of graduates from this program successfully passed the required exam for licensure.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Located in Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College offers certificates, diplomas, degrees and apprenticeships to nearly 42,000 students. The college offers a physical therapist assistant associate degree that students typically complete in five semesters, including one summer session. In addition to coursework in patient interventions, professional issues, musculoskeletal rehabilitation and therapeutic modalities, students enrolled in the program will also participate in two part-time and one full-time clinical experience. These opportunities allow students to work in numerous practice settings and learn the skills necessary to work as physical therapist assistants. Students in their first and second year in this degree program can join the Physical Therapist Assistant Club, where they can learn more about the field and serve the community.
Western Technical College
Western Technical College in La Crosse offers a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science degree that admitted 24 students in 2012. Students enrolled in this program complete 70 credits over five semesters. The curriculum for this program includes lectures, laboratory work and providing care to patients at numerous clinical sites. During their final year in the program, students will participate in clinical experiences.
A license is required to work as a physical therapist assistant in Wisconsin. One must be a graduate of a school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and receive a passing score on the National Physical Therapy Exam to obtain the license. Physical therapist assistants must also take 20 hours of continuing education courses every two years for license renewal.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Physical Therapist Assistant Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)*|
|Blackhawk Technical College||2-year, public; small suburb||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science|| $4,364 in-state
|Chippewa Valley Technical College||2-year, public; small city||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate Degree|| $4,364 in-state
|Gateway Technical College||2-year, public; midsize suburb||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science|| $4,454 in-state
|Milwaukee Area Technical College||2-year, public; large city||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science|| $4,589 in-state
|Northeast Wisconsin Technical College||2-year, public; midsize city||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate Degree|| $4,479 in-state
|Western Technical College||2-year, public; small city||Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science|| $4,403 in-state
Source: *NCES College Navigator.