College of Health Sciences

Physical Therapist Assistant

Learn the necessary skills to help those in need at any stage in life

The goal of the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Finlandia University is to enable the graduate to function effectively as a physical therapist assistant in any practice setting.

Teach-Out Information & Resources for Students



Finlandia is proud to offer the only PTA program in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our fully equipped PTA lab focuses on hands-on learning and gives you the opportunity to work with modalities you would see in a clinical setting. Even with the distinction, Finlandia’s PTA program boasts a 6-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring you are taught using proper techniques and form when working with patients.

The healthcare industry in the U.P. is growing. Home health agencies are proliferating due to the large elderly population. Acute-care hospitals are changing to “systems”, which provide physical therapy at all levels. Nursing homes are seeking (often through contracts) skilled rehabilitation services.

Physical therapy is a profession within the healthcare industry which promotes optimal human health and function. The licensed physical therapist assistant applies scientific principles to prevent, identify, alleviate, correct, or reduce acute or prolonged movement dysfunction.


The accelerated PTA program gives exceptional students the choice to complete their degree in five semesters; two semesters of general education classes and three semesters of PTA technical training.


In addition to academic coursework, clinical education is a significant part of the physical therapist assistant’s education, helping you to apply the learned skills, professional behaviors and academic knowledge to the practice of physical therapy.

The FinnU PTA program has a strong clinical education component with an emphasis on rural healthcare experiences and flexible clinical locations. During clinical education, PTA students complete 14 weeks of full-time clinical experience at three different clinical affiliation sites, totaling 560 hours of on-site clinical experience before they graduate. You are required to gain exposure to diverse physical therapy settings and patient populations as well as multiple pathological conditions.

Alumni Spotlight: Catlin Siegel


Students interested in advancing their associates degree into a bachelor’s degree, like Catlin, have the opportunity to enroll in Finlandia’s 2+2 completion degrees.

Healthcare Management or Sports Management

Tailored for students who have completed an associate degree in the physical therapist assistant program, the two-year BBA in either Healthcare Management or Sports Management builds a solid business background. This is a great option for student-athletes looking to compete in a sport while furthering their education.

Liberal Arts with a Focus in Pre-DPT/Pre-Med

This 2+2 program was designed specifically for students who are interested in continuing their education to obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy or Medical Doctor license. It has been carefully crafted so you can complete all pre-requisites for a DPT or Medical program while at Finlandia, saving you time and money. See the degree requirements here.


“The learning environment is great because the small class sizes really help you not feel overwhelmed and the lab gives you the chance to work hands-on while the teachers give you one-on-one attention. Those are the big advantages of this program.”

Amber Rude (’19), PTA at UP Rehab Services


Other PTA programs place students on a waitlist. Currently, the physical therapist assistant  program does not have a waitlist. Once the January 1st application deadline has passed, we accept students on a space-available basis for the upcoming year. Interested students will then be placed on a one-year or two-year track provided all admission requirements have been met.


Another great benefit of a physical therapist assistant degree is the range of patient interaction experienced in the workforce. Unlike athletic trainers who work closely with athletes, physical therapist assistants tend to work with athletes and individuals of all ages with varying injuries and illnesses. Athletic trainers must also pursue a higher degree than a physical therapist assistant, which means a PTA degree can be completed in a shorter amount of time.


Teach-Out Institutions
Finlandia University Teach-Out Institutions

May 16, 2023

Updated May 16, 2023

On Thursday, March 2, Finlandia University’s Board of Trustees announced that FinnU will not enroll students for the 2023-2024 academic year. Announced Tuesday, March 14, the University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to dissolve the institution and wind up affairs in an orderly manner.

Finlandia has finalized eight Teach-Out Agreements with Adrian College, Bay College, Michigan Technological University, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Northern Michigan University, University of Dubuque, Waldorf University, and Wartburg College. Several non-partnering institutions have […] Read More

Relive Graduation Day 2023 at Finlandia University | Photo Gallery & Livestreams

May 11, 2023

Finlandia University held its final Spring Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 7, honoring 92 graduates in the Class of 2023. Following commencement, a commendation service was held for Finlandia University students, staff, faculty, alumni, neighbors and friends, commending the University and its 126 years of service.

Full High-Res Photos from Spring 2023 Commencement:


On-Demand Livestream of Spring 2023 Commencement:

Full High-Res Photos from Service of Commendation:

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Hirvonen Hall exterior
Finlandia honors legacy, Class of 2023 with final commencement and commendation ceremonies

May 10, 2023

Founded in 1896 as Suomi College, Finlandia University held its final spring commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 7, honoring 92 graduates in the Class of 2023. In March, the University announced the decision to dissolve the institution and not enroll students for the 2023-2024 academic year.

View PhotosWatch On-Demand

President Timothy Pinnow congratulates student at FinnU’s Spring 2023 Commencement Ceremony.

Delivering the welcome address was Board Trustee Stephen Nikander, whose great-grandfather founded the institution and whose grandfather served […] Read More

Best Value School

2 Year Progress Sheet

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3 Year Progress Sheet

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PTA Handbook 2022-23

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PTA Handbook for Clinical Educators

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The Classes

Course Descriptions


Upon successful completion of the PTA program at Finlandia University, the PTA graduate will demonstrate the values and behaviors recognized by the APTA that most influence the PTA in providing safe, effective patient care as a member of the physical therapy team for the following:

  1. PTA Concentration: Succeeds in qualifying for licensure/certification/registration where required by state law.
  2. Creative Insight: Integrates knowledge of basic sciences and physical therapy (PT) theory to appropriately apply and modify selected PT procedures to diverse populations under the supervision of a physical therapist.
  3. Communication: Communicates effectively with patients, supervisors, support personnel, and other health care team members using suitable verbal, non-verbal, and written skills. These skills will reflect:
    • Altruism, integrity, compassion and caring
    • The importance of PT/PTA collaboration in effective patient care delivery
  4. Analytic and Critical Thinking: Incorporates sound clinical reasoning and problem solving to interpret the plan of care prescribed by the PT.
  5. Personal Perspective: Possesses the necessary professional behaviors to practice as a physical therapist assistant in a variety of practice settings. These professional behaviors include the following:
    • Commitment to Learning/Use of Constructive Feedback
    • Interpersonal Skills
    • Communication Skills
    • Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving
    • Stress Management/Effective Use of Time and Resources
    • Professionalism/Responsibility
  1. Global Perspective: Demonstrates an understanding and appreciation for diverse cultures and individual differences when delivering care to patients and acknowledges social responsibility as a healthcare provider.

PTA Program Application Process

We make the application process as easy as possible. The entire process is completely free.

Step One: Your first step is to apply for admission by filling out the free application at finlandia.edu/apply.
Step Two: Once accepted, you must fill out this PTA Program application (PDF) and submit it to Anne Halgren.

Minimum Requirements for PTA Program

– Achieved a grade of 2.0 (C) (or above) in all prerequisite courses (listed below) completed to date (excluding BIO 171 & 172 or equivalent).
– Achieved a grade of 2.7 (B-) (or above) in BIO171 or equivalent and in BIO172 or equivalent.
– Achieved a cumulative 2.5 GPA in the required prerequisite courses completed to date.

Other notes

– Most incoming freshmen will complete the PTA application during their time as a student. Some transfer students complete this prior to starting at FinnU. Please work with your admissions officer / PTA staff to determine the right timing for you.
– You must meet the minimum requirements (listed above), or be in the process of completing the minimum requirements, for admission. Your application will be considered only if you have completed all the minimum requirements or have completed BIO 171 (Anatomy & Physiology I) or an equivalent course and are registered in the remaining courses.
– The deadline for this application is January 1 of the year that you intend to enter the technical phase of the PTA program, not before a student begins at Finlandia. Those interested should apply early as there are a limited number of positions available in the PTA Program.
– Prerequisite courses include BIO171 Anat. / Physiology I (4 credits), BIO172 Anat. / Physiology II (4), ENG103 College English I (3), ENG104 College English II (3) Religion/Finnish Elective (3), MAT144 Quantitative Reasoning (4) (or above), PHL212 Ethics: Theory & Practice (3), PSY101 Introductory Psychology (3), HSC112 Medical Terminology (1) *PTA101 Intro to P.T. (1) and **UNS115 Sisu Seminar (1).
– *PTA 101 Introduction to Physical Therapy may be taken concurrently with first semester PTA classes. However, because of the demands of the PTA program, it is highly recommended it be taken as a prerequisite.

** Required for students with less than 24 earned college-level credits


*Employment Rates are of graduates who sought employment that were employed (full-time or part-time) as PTAs within 1 year of graduation (2 year averages)
2021/202273%80% to date


Physical Therapist Assistant program at Finlandia University 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: accreditation@apta.org; website: http://www.capteonline.org.  If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call (906)-487-7368 or email melanie.thurmond@finlandia.edu.

CAPTE grants specialized accreditation status to qualified entry-level education programs for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. CAPTE is listed as a nationally recognized accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Specialized accreditation is a system for recognizing professional education programs for a level of performance, integrity, and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the educational community and the public they serve. Accreditation status signifies that the program meets established and nationally accepted standards of scope, quality, and relevance. Once awarded accreditation status, a program must submit reports regularly to the Commission ensuring continuing compliance with the evaluative criteria. Each program is formally reviewed every five to 10 years.



National Physical Therapist Assistant Exam
Based on information received from The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT)

PTA Program graduate passing rate NPTAE: (2 year average 2020/2021): 91%
First-time pass rate: 61%
Ultimate pass rate: (within 1 year of graduation): 91%


To file a complaint with the Finlandia University PTA program, please refer to procedures outlined in the document found here.

Faculty and Staff

Anne Halgren

Administrative Assistant, Physical Therapist Assistant Program, Medical Assistant Program, Medical Billing and Coding Program


Nicole Polakowski

Director of Clinical Education, PTA, Instructor


Melanie Thurmond

PTA Program Director/Assistant Instructor

FinnU will not enroll students for 2023-2024Learn More
Teach-Out Information