Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the PATHS program?

The PATHS program is a certificate training program to prepare students for a career of Direct Support Professionals (DSP-G), Direct Support Para-Professionals (DSP-P) and Child Care Professionals (CCP.) After completing two semesters at the Center on Disability and Development, participants earn a certificate that combines classroom instruction with practical career building experiences. 


Are there any prerequisites to participate in the PATHS Program?

The Bridge to Career program takes place the summer before entering in the fall semester. This 4-week program is a prerequisite to participate in the PATHS Program. This program serves as a college boot camp of sorts. During this 4-week summer semester, students are learning how to navigate independently within the Texas A&M community, acquire basic study skills, self-advocacy skills, self-determination skills, and learn about supports available to them.


How is admission determined?

Admissions to the PATHS Program is competitive.  It is not determined on a "first come, first served" basis.  There is no waiting list.  Not all students who apply are accepted.  Not all students who are accepted graduate.  The program curriculum is rigorous.  Because students are trained to work with some of the world's most vulnerable populations, high expectations are placed upon students who are admitted.  Students must first fill out the online application and submit the appropriate items (see application checklist online).  Applications are then graded according to a rubric.  The highest scoring students are then invited for an interview where they are scored again.  Decision letters will follow when interviews are complete.


Can I access the presentation from the PATHS Open House?

The PATHS Presentation can be viewed or downloaded as a pdf from this link.           PDF


What is a Direct Support Professional - General (DSP-G)?

Direct Support Professional (DSP) is a title for a person who works in a community setting to support people with disabilities and older people to live in their communities. The term represents a broad range of employment options that may also be titled Personal Care Attendants, Direct Care Staff, Respite Workers or Community Support Specialists. People in any of the above mentioned positions work to support people with disabilities and older people to ensure their ability to live independently in the community. A DSP-G may be employed by a private community provider agency for people with intellectual disabilities, a home health agency, the family of the individual receiving services, or directly by an individual with a disability. 


What is a Direct Support Professional - Paraprofessional (DSP-P)?

A student in the Direct Support Professional - Paraprofessional (DSP-P) career track is trained to support teachers and students in the classroom.  A DSP-P can be employed by school districts or other educational facilities.


What is a Child Care Professional (CCP)? 

Child Care Professionals work with children ages 0-5 years old in a child care setting (e.g. daycare, pre-school, or in-home care.) Students in this track learn about child development and how to support the children in their care using this knowledge. They practice creating and developing lesson plans.  


How long is the PATHS program?

The PATHS program consists of two semesters. The first semester starts late August, when students will attend classes on campus and learn core and advanced knowledge of being DSP-Gs, DSP-Ps, or CCPs.  The second semester is either a paid internship or volunteeer practicum. Students will either be hired and paid to work in the community or volunteer with one of our practicum provider partners. Students will graduate from the program in May.


Can I apply for the PATHS program if I have a disability?

The PATHS program is an inclusive program which train students with and without disabilities to become DSPs and CCPs.


What will I learn in the PATHS program?

Students will learn both essential and advanced knowledge and skills in the program. Core classes include the Role of a Direct Support Professional or Childcare Professional, Contemporary Best Practices, CPR and First Aid, Abuse/Neglect/Exploitation, Confidentiality, Documentation, Medication Management, History of Disability, Self-Determination and Disability Rights, Basic Computer Skills, etc. Advanced classes include Person-Centered Thinking and Planning, Community Inclusion, Community Resources and Services, Assistive Technology, Support Communication, Support Friendships and Relationships, Positive Behavior Supports, Crisis Prevention and Intervention, etc.


What post-secondary educational support will I receive while I am in the program?

PATHS program has a comprehensive support system for students who have difficulties in reading and/or writing, or who need accommodations in learning. First, we apply the Universal Design of Learning in the instruction. All instructional materials will be accessible to students in the forms of presentations, videos and/or sounds. Students can choose to use multiple means to demonstrate their knowledge, such as written, presentation, and demonstration. We also provide assistive technology training to students who need accommodations, such as the screen reader and speech to text training. In addition, tutoring will be provided at least twice a week and mentoring will be provided on a daily basis.


What are some other activities in the first semester beyond classroom learning?

Students are encouraged to attend social, cultural, and volunteer activities in the community. Students may also attend various practicum site observations where they can get to know more about future job settings and decide their preferences for practicum placements.


What are the practicum sites?

Examples of practicum sites for DSP-Gs include residential settings for people with disabilities (e.g., small group homes and individual homes), activity centers (e.g., Day Habilitation centers), and residential settings for older people (e.g., individual homes, nursing home and rehabilitation centers). Examples of practicum sites for CCPs include local Head Start programs, daycares, and preschools. Examples of practicum sites for DSP-Ps include local school district classrooms to support teachers and students.


What are the requirements for students to graduate?

For the first semester, grades will be assigned based on performances on online content quizzes, classroom assignments, site visit observations, Person-Centered Thinking tools, final presentations, professionalism, etc. For the second semester, students will need to pass the mid-term and final evaluations by their employers before graduation. Additionally, 135 practicum hours are required in the Spring semester, along with passing grades in their Field-Based Experience (FBE) and Content classes.


Do you provide housing during the PATHS program?

No. Students will live on their own outside the program. The PATHS program only provides resources for housing options. Many of our students stay in private dorms with other college students. Some stay in the apartments and some stay with their family.


Do you provide personal attendants during the PATHS program?

No. We are not responsible for providing personal attendants to students. We can provide resources for students to find their own personal attendants, if requested.


What is the cost to attend the Bridge to Career (B2C) program?

Currently, the total tuition and fees for the Bridge to Career program is $5,660. This price covers the cost of training and fees, materials, housing, and 3 meals per day for the duration of the program. Prices are subject to change as program costs increase.


What is the cost to attend the PATHS program?

Currently, the total tuition and fees for the PATHS program is $9,200 ($4,025 for fall and $5,175 for spring) which can be paid per semester or on a payment plan. This figure does not include housing or meal costs.  These are separate costs; however, some off-campus dorms include meals with their cost.  Prices are subject to change as program costs increase.


Is there a payment plan for those who are not receiving support from an outside organization? 

Yes, we have a per semester payment plan and a monthly payment plan. Please contact Jessica Dees at jdees@tamu.edu. if you would like to set up a payment plan. For details on the 2018 PATHS Program payment plan click here


We have signed up for a payment plan, how do I make my payments? 

 Payments may be made online with a credit or e-check or you can send a check/money order by mail. Checks are made out to Texas A&M University and are mailed to:

PATHS Program
Attn: Jessica Dees
4225 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-4225 


What are the financial resources for the cost of the program?

Some students fund themselves with private scholarships and personal savings. Students who have TWC counselors can visit with them to see what expenses they can help cover. For many of our students who stay in the dorms, TWC  may be able to pay for their tuition, housing, and meals. 


Can I get a job after I graduate from the program?

During the practicum, students will make plans for their employment after graduation. For those who want to stay in Bryan/College Station, we will support with the initial search for housing and continuing employment with current employers. For those who want to leave Bryan/College Station, we will assist students in working with our practicum partners – some major statewide service providers, to identify employment placements near where they want to live, and support their job applications.  We cannot, however, guarantee job placement.  Some students choose to continue their education beyond the PATHS program depending on their educational goals.  If so, we assist the student with applications to other colleges/universities in which they choose to apply.  Students may or may not get a job immediately upon graduation in their chosen field of study.  We encourage students to apply to at least three places of employment related to their track, however, if they do not get a job in their field right away, we do encourage students to go to work outside of their field and to continue applying to places that pertain to their field.  The skills students learn in the PATHS Program are transferrable and can be generalized across other job environments.


What course credits will I earn from the PATHS program? 

You will not receive regular college credits from PATHS. Our curriculum and coursework are customized for DSP-G, DSP-P or CCP training. Upon graduation, you will receive a PATHS certificate in recognition of your successful completion of the program.  Some courses are nationally recognized by the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).  For more information, you can visit the NADSP website at https://nadsp.org/.