Education for Foreign PTs and PTAs

Requirements for Entry-level or Postprofessional Education

Generally speaking, applications to study physical therapy in the US at the entry-level or postprofessional level are considered for admission based on merit on a case by case basis. To qualify for admission, international students may be required to submit their educational credentials for review to assess equivalency. The process for credentials review is determined by the individual school. Other requirements may apply, such as: the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and/or US licensure. Please note that while most schools in the US accept applications from any qualified student, given the demand for physical therapy education in the US, the admissions process for physical therapy programs at all levels is highly competitive, so you should be prepared for a rigorous application process.

The specific requirements for admission to PT and PTA education programs in the US at the entry-level and at the postprofessional level vary between academic programs and academic institutions. For this reason, you must contact the program or programs you are interested in directly to find out more about admission requirements and deadlines.

APTA's resources for Prospective Students include directories of PT and PTA education programs that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

APTA also provides a directory of postprofessional programs, including t-DPT programs.

Be aware that some postprofessional programs will require US licensure as a prerequisite. Following is a list of programs that may accept applicants without US licensure if the applicant is not intending to practice in the US. You may access more specific information regarding these programs through the link provided above.

Andrews University (Michigan)
Drexel University (Pennsylvania)
D'Youville College (New York)
Loma Linda University (California)
Nova Southeastern (Florida)
St. Augustine University (Florida)

We are also aware that the University of Pittsburgh is offering a clinical masters program geared toward internationally educated physical therapists with a concentration in orthopedics/sports and neurology/geriatrics.

Again, you must contact the program(s) of your choice directly in order to obtain all details regarding the admission requirements for international students.

Clinical Residency

If you are seeking a clinical residency in the US, please note that postprofessional clinical residency programs for physical therapists (PTs) all require licensure in the state in which the residency program is located. Other requirements for application and acceptance into a residency program vary by program. APTA's Residency & Fellowship information includes a directory of APTA-credentialed clinical residency programs.

APTA does not have any list of clinical internship sites. If you are a student and seeking a clinical internship in the US as part of your coursework, please note that for insurance liability reasons physical therapy facilities in the US will generally only consider offering clinical practice opportunities to students enrolled in US-based Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredited programs. Therefore, we recommend that such a clinical practice arrangement be requested and arranged through the physical therapy program you attend. You can consult with staff at the physical therapy education program you attend to see if they are aware of already established institutional affiliations in the US. If none exist, you can work with staff at your program to formally request such an arrangement with a PT education program(s) in the US.

If you are looking for a clinical internship because the need for such an experience has been identified through a review of your educational credentials and/or a US licensing authority is requiring such an experience as a prerequisite to sitting for the licensure exam, consider the following options:

  • Contact the Planned Learning Assistance Network (P.L.A.N.) - P.L.A.N. is a program offered by the Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT) that is designed to assist foreign-educated individuals whose educational credentials have been found to be not equivalent to the first professional degree in physical therapy in the United States or who have not met specific requirements in a licensing jurisdiction. To find out more about this program you may visit this Web site - http://www.fccpt.org/forapplicants.html#PLAN, and work with the staff there directly to see how/if this program might be able to assist you.
  • Contact the Academic Coordinators of Clinical Education (ACCE) - the persons who coordinate student clinical placements in academic programs in the US, in the PT programs in the state where you are trying to become licensed to see if they can assist you. Programs give first priority for clinical internship slots to students enrolled in their program. A directory of the CAPTE-accredited PT education programs can be found on APTA's Web site.

If you are a foreign-educated PT, not currently licensed to practice in the US, and you are looking for a clinical internship for reasons other than as a prerequisite to sitting for a US licensure exam, it is suggested that you wait until you are licensed to pursue a clinical internship. Once you are licensed, your opportunities for such an experience would include - finding an employment opportunity that has or is willing to offer a mentoring component as part of their new hire experience, applying for clinical residency or another postprofessional clinical program, and/or becoming an APTA member and accessing the APTA mentoring program and networking with colleagues through chapter and section and national-level meetings.

Fulfilling Educational Deficiencies

If a credentials evaluation/review identifies educational deficiencies, consider the following resources:

The Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT) offers a program called the Planned Learning Assistance Network (PLAN), that is designed to assist foreign-educated individuals whose educational credentials have been found to be not equivalent to the first professional degree in physical therapy in the United States or who have not met specific requirements in a licensing jurisdiction. This program is designed to assist applicants to identify appropriate educational coursework to meet the minimum requirements for US educational equivalency. To find out more about PLAN, you should contact FCCPT at help@fccpt.org.

In addition, the following PT education programs may offer the courses you are seeking and need to meet the requirements for US licensure:

AT Still University
Lori M Bordenave, PT, MEd
Acting Chair
AT Still University
Arizona School of Health Sciences
5850 East Still Circle
Mesa, AZ 85206
Phone: 480/219-6000
Fax: 480/219-6100

Florida Gulf Coast University
Ellen K Williamson, PT, MS
Chair and Assistant Professor
Department of Physical Therapy and Human Performance
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Ft. Myers, FL 33965-6565
Phone: 239/590-7531
Fax: 239/590-7474

MGH Institute of Health Professions
Maura Daly Iversen, PT, MPH, SD
Professor and Associate Director
MGH Institute of Health Professions
Charlestown Navy Yard
36 First Ave
Boston, MA 02129-4557
Phone: 617/724-6446
Fax: 617/724-6321
Programs for international students 

New York Institute of Technology
Karen Friel, PT, DHS, Chair
Department of Physical Therapy
500 Building, Room 501
Old Westbury, NY 11568-8000
Phone: 516/686-7651
Fax: 516/686-7699
 

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