Frequently Asked Questions


How often will labs be held each quarter for the online/hybrid program?

Labs will occur about three times per quarter for two to three days each. Generally, the days will be Saturday, Sunday and/or Monday. The complete schedule will be given to you ahead of time for planning purposes. WCC does not have on-campus housing, so finding accommodations is your responsibility. The Bellingham/Whatcom County Tourism website ( is a good place to start.

How does the online program work?

This program is a hybrid program because only a portion of it is online. The remainder of the program (labs and clinical experience) is set up in the same way as our on-campus program, but with a different schedule. The online portion of the program requires that you have access to a computer and the Internet. Faster connections to the Internet are extremely helpful. To be successful in this program you must have the ability to perform basic computer functions like word processing, file management and email with attachments. Self-discipline, organization and time-management skills are especially critical for online learning.

Clinical affiliation experiences: How does that work for the hybrid program?

When possible, your clinical assignments will be held in your local area. However, depending on the availability of physical therapy experiences, you may have to commute or travel outside your local area. You will be expected to get experience in both inpatient (hospital, long-term care, etc.) and outpatient clinic settings the same as all other PTA students in our on-campus program. Students are not assigned to clinical sites for which they currently work.

Can I take my prerequisites online?

Yes! Many prerequisites are offered through Whatcom Community College, Washington Online and other colleges outside of Washington State. Check with the an academic advisor at or 360-383-3080, to make sure a prerequisite course will transfer to the PTA program.

What can I do next to learn more about online learning and whether this program may be a good fit for me?

  1. Check out the eLearning Student Tutorials and Resources for information on what to expect and how online learning works.
  2. Take the SmarterMeasure Survey for online learning. The login is 'WCC-Students' and the password is 'orca1'. Be sure to allow at least 30 minutes to complete the assessment.
  3. Contact academic advisor David Knapp for more information on Whatcom Community College's PTA program online. Dave can be reached by phone at 360-383-3080 or by email at

What is the cost of the PTA program?

Students are responsible for the usual tuition and fees charged at Whatcom Community College. In addition the PTA student will be responsible for the costs listed below. Information on financial aid is available in the Financial Aid Office.
  • Required PTA application fee - $50
  • Required lab supplies fee - $25 per lab course
  • Washington State Patrol Background Check - $10
  • Required PTA textbooks (based on approximate cost of textbooks) - $950
  • Watch with second hand - $25
  • Student Medical Malpractice Insurance - covered by college
  • APTA Student Membership (recommended) - $80
  • Transportation - Mileage to/from clinics (students are expected to provide their own transportation to assigned clinical facilities)
  • BLS (Basic Life Support) Healthcare Provider CPR through the American Heart Association and First Aid Certification - $30-$60
  • 2-Step TB Test - $15-$75
  • Hepatitis Immunization - $150 (required for all hospital-based affiliation sites)
  • Lab coat - $40 (some affiliation sites require a lab coat)
  • HIV/AIDS Training - $10-$35
  • Research Articles - These costs can be reduced if students use inter-library loans.
  • Various requirements for some affiliation sites may include updated immunizations such as measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox; proof of student's own health insurance; national criminal history background check (cost may be as high as $150); and drug screening (cost may be as high as $150).
    • Note: Requirements related to clinical education vary widely among facilities and are constantly changing. Specific questions or concerns may be directed to the PTA program coordinator for clarification.

Are there any special requirements for students in the PTA program?

The on-campus PTA program is full-time, very demanding and requires significant study time. It is highly recommended that students admitted to the program limit their outside obligations, particularly work hours. The first four quarters average 18 hours per week in the classroom with an expectation that students work up to 20 hours per week outside of class on homework assignments. The final quarter is full-time clinical affiliations scheduled at 40 hours per week. The online PTA program also requires significant time as well as having challenges specific to the on-line learning environment. Students should expect to spend 20 to 30 hours per week working on their courses in addition to the weekend labs.

Health care workers are required to have current CPR and First Aid certification, TB tests, measles vaccination and hepatitis immunization. Many students are also required to undergo drug screening and a national criminal history background check. Students are required to have these completed and current before entering into their clinical experiences.

Uniforms are not necessary, although some clinics require a lab jacket for clinical experiences. The student is responsible for dressing according to each clinical site's dress code. Information regarding dress codes will be available before the first day of clinical placement. A name tag and a watch with a second hand are also required for each clinical experience.

What are the standards to be successful in the PTA program?

Students of Whatcom Community College's PTA program must be able to meet these minimum standards (also called essential functions or skills), with or without reasonable accommodation, for successful completion of the program requirements. Students must be capable of meeting these skills requirements in a safe, reliable and efficient manner. There are no substitutes for these essential skills. The applicant must also be able to perform these skills throughout the course of the program. The Essential Functions include skills in five areas:
  1. Observation
  2. Communication
  3. Sensory and Motor Function
  4. Conceptual, Integrative and Qualitative
  5. Behavioral & Social Skills, Professionalism

It is the policy of Whatcom Community College to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified students with a disability so they can meet these required standards, if requested by the student. Whether or not a requested accommodation is reasonable will be determined on an individual basis and will be provided as long as it does not fundamentally alter the nature of the program, impose undue hardship, expense or difficulty or is unduly disruptive to the educational process. Reasonable accommodation does not mean that students with disabilities will be exempt from certain tasks; it does mean that WCC will work with students with disabilities to determine whether there are ways the college can assist the student toward completion of the tasks.

For additional information, please review this detailed essential functions or skills list.

Is the PTA program accredited?

Whatcom Community College is accredited by The Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. The PTA program has full accreditation status from The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education through the American Physical Therapy Association.

Does the PTA program transfer to a baccalaureate institution?

The prerequisite classes in the PTA degree will transfer to baccalaureate (four-year) institutions. However, few if any PTA-specific classes will transfer to a 4-year institution. Students planning a doctoral degree in physical therapy should consult an advisor to plan an appropriate selection of classes to ensure that all requirements of the transfer institution are met. Students are responsible for finding out the unique requirements of the college or university they plan to attend. Check the "Career Advancement" portion of this website for more information.

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