What is a Physical Therapist Assistant?

The physical therapist assistant is a skilled paraprofessional health-care worker who, under the supervision of a physical therapist, carries out the patient's treatment program. The extent to which the physical therapist assistant is involved in treatment depends upon the supervising therapist.

A planned patient-care program is carried out by the assistant, following established procedures. Duties of the physical therapist assistant include: training patients in exercises and activities of normal daily living; conducting treatments; utilizing special equipment; assisting in performing tests, evaluations, and complex treatment procedures; observing and reporting the patient's responses.

The other members of the rehabilitation team include the occupational therapist, nurse, speech and hearing therapist, respiratory therapist, recreational therapist, physician, social worker, chaplain, vocational counselor, dietitian, and psychologist. This team has as its objective the optimum functional restoration and rehabilitation of patients disabled by illness or injury.

The Profession

The field of physical therapy offers careers for men and women who are interested in medical science and who enjoy working with people. Physical therapist assistants are in demand. Graduates have a wide range of employment opportunities with medical groups, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, outpatient clinics, national and state agencies, and schools of physical therapy.

The PTA program at Loma Linda University

The physical therapist assistant program is 15 months in length and leads to the associate in science degree. The program begins with the sophomore year. Instruction begins in June; graduation is the following June. Program completion occurs when clinical affiliations are completed, usually by the end of September. 

Clinical experience

Supervised clinical experience is obtained in a variety of settings during the program. Students complete a two-week practicum and three major clinical assignments, each six weeks in length.

All clinical assignments will be made by the coordinator of clinical education or a designate (or program director). Because of the limited number of local facilities available, assignments cannot be made on the basis of the student's family/marital status or personal preference. Although the department makes an effort to accommodate the student's preference, the student agrees to accept the clinical assignment made by the department at any of the affiliated facilities, whether local or out of state. Clinical facilities may also require a background check and or fingerprinting and may have certain stipulations (ie, immunizations, CPR certification) that need to be met before the student is assigned. Costs for these requirements are the student's financial responsibility.


The Physical Therapist Assistant program at Loma Linda University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; (703) 706-3245(703) 706-3245 Email:; Website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 909-558-4634 or email

Loma Linda University is accredited by WASC.  Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Program Pass rates

See our current pass rate report provided by

CPR Certification

Students are required to have current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification for all scheduled clinical experiences.  We recommend you take this prior to starting the program.

Professional Registration

Satisfactory completion of the degree requirements and clinical affiliation qualifies the student to sit for the National Physical Therapist Assistant Licensing Examination. Licensure is not required in all states for the physical therapist assistant to practice. Information about licensure or registration in the state in which one wishes to practice can be obtained on the web at

Professional Association

Students and graduates are eligible for membership in the American Physical Therapy Association.
The objective of the association is to foster development and improvement of service and education.
This organization grants membership at a nominal cost to students of approved schools. Students are required to become members of this association while in the program. The national office of the American Physical Therapy Association is at 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.


To better your chances of acceptance, we encourage all interested PTA applicants to submit their completed application early in the enrollment process which opens in August of each year.  The next class will begin Summer 2017.

Subject requirements

To be eligible for admission, the applicant must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 in both science and non-science prerequisite courses and must have completed a minimum of 48 quarter units (or 32 semester units) at an accredited college or university. Admission is a selective process. Criteria used include: science and non-science, GPA, completion of subject requirements, interview, essay, recommendations, and work or observation/volunteer experience.

See school admissions page for further information and to apply for this program.

Prerequisite college course requirements for admission

Please complete the check sheet above and bring with you to your advising appointment. You are also encouraged to bring college transcripts from colleges where you have completed your prerequisites. Unofficial copies are ok initially, but official copies must be requested and supplied during the application process.


Deadline for PTA applications is April 1st prior to a June start date.  Classes may fill sooner than published deadlines based on early completed applications. Applications submitted early are given priority in the admissions process. We encourage students to apply early within the enrollment period, due to the popularity of this program.  Waiting or putting off submitting your application or not completing all admissions requirements early on, may decrease your chances of acceptance.

International students need to apply early for extended processing.  See International student information for further details.

PLEASE NOTE: GRADES OF C MINUS (C-) ARE NOT TRANSFERABLE FOR CREDIT. Credits must be from an accredited college.

Program of instruction


The program of instruction outlined below is for students who are enrolled  at Loma Linda University. Courses are taught during daytime hours and usually 4-5 days a week depending on the quarter of study. Class times may vary by quarter depending on instructor and classroom availability.

See course descriptions.

A minimum grade of C (2.0) is required for all courses in the program.

PTA Advising

If you have questions regarding our PTA program, feel free to call or email our department. You may also set up an appointment to meet with our program director (director's email) in person. This is a great opportunity for you to see firsthand what Loma Linda University has to offer. Please call or email us to plan your visit. We request that you bring a copy of your transcripts, the prerequisites sheet, and any questions you may have.

Contact us

Jeannine Stuart Mendes, PT, EdS
Assistant Professor
PTA Program Director
Phone: (909) 558-4634 (909) 558-4634