Berkshire Community College (BCC) and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) have recently signed an articulation agreement creating a pathway for physical therapy assistants with associate’s degrees to earn their bachelor’s degrees.

Under the agreement, BCC students who have earned their associate’s degree as a physical therapy assistant with a concentration in pre-physical therapy will be able to matriculate into the program offered by MCLA to complete the final 2 program years and earn a bachelor’s degree.

“I think that we have a lot that we can do for our community,” says Michele Darroch, BCC’s PTA program adviser, in a news story from “If you look at the [US] Department of Labor Statistics, physical therapy is growing 30 percent faster than the average and that’s both for PTAs and PTs so we’re certainly doing something for our community.”

Physical therapists require a clinical doctorate to practice, which usually means 4 years of undergraduate and 3 years of graduate study. College officials say the BCC-MCLA program helps ease the cost burden because students will be licensed to work as assistants while they continue their studies. MCLA also has an articulation agreement that gives applicants from its pre-physical therapy program preferred admission to the Sage Colleges’ doctoral program, the news story continues.

“If you look at our history, our PTA students have always gotten grades higher on their national licensing exam than the national average,” Darroch adds. “And in the last eight years, 95 percent of our graduates passed the licensing exam on the first attempt versus an 85 percent pass-rate nationally.”

“This is really a great opportunity for BCC students to collaborate with MCLA and earn a bachelor’s degree and go on either to graduate school or into a health professional field,” states MCLA President James Birge. “This is the beginning for us. We think there are very many opportunities and partnership programs.”

Health sciences concentrations are pre-physical therapy and pre-occupational therapy (both eligible for preferred admission to graduate work at Sage) and pre-physician assistant and medical technology; biology also added concentrations in pre-medical professions and pre-veterinary. The community health education degree is also being eyed for an articulation agreement with BCC, per the news story.