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It is important to understand the PTCAS application process and required steps prior to starting your application. Applicants are encouraged to visit the Starting Your PTCAS Application and PTCAS Quick Start Guide and FAQ’s in the PTCAS Applicant Help Center as well as to review the PTCAS Policies and PTCAS Applicant Responsibilities sections of this page prior to starting their application.

Application Checklist

Follow These Steps First

Complete Next Steps, If Required by Selected Programs

  • Enter all Graduate Record Examination(GRE) scores on the application and arrange for ETS to send your official test scores.
  • Complete the Reference section, so your evaluators have adequate time to respond.
  • Complete the Observation Hours section, so a licensed physical therapist can verify your experiences.
  • Submit supplemental materials directly to your selected programs.

Helpful Tips

  • Do not enter your coursework from memory—Use your transcripts!
  • Do not wait for PTCAS to receive all materials before submitting your application.
  • Do not wait for PTCAS to receive all of your materials before you submit your application.
  • Complete the "Colleges Attended" section of the application first. PTCAS cannot post transcripts to your application until this step is done.
  • Login to check status of your transcripts, references, GRE scores, and PT observation hour forms.
  • Arrange for all materials to arrive by the deadline.
  • Check your email daily for important messages from PTCAS and programs.
  • Review your application for accuracy before submitting the application.
  • Print a hard copy of your application for your personal records.
  • Do not apply to a program unless you meet its admission requirements.

PTCAS has several policies and requirements applicants should be aware of prior to completing an application. The list below comprises the most important of these policies and requirements and is not meant to be all-encompassing. Applicants are encouraged to review the content in the PTCAS Applicant Help Center for an exhaustive list of all application requirements.

CAS Application Cycle: Dates and Deadlines

There are many important dates for applicants to be aware of throughout the PTCAS application cycle each year. Review the full list of Important Dates for Applicants at the bottom of this page. 

Below are the most important dates applicants should be aware of in the current application cycle.

  • December 15, 2022: Academic Update Opens
  • February 15, 2023: Academic Update Closes
  • April 14, 2022: Spring 2022 APTA Doctor of Physical Therapy Virtual Fair (Tentative)
  • May 31, 2023: PTCAS Application Closes

Getting Started: Application Requirements

Account Creation

Applicants are required to create only one PTCAS account and use this single account to apply to all PTCAS programs to which they are interested in applying. Applicants discovered to have multiple PTCAS accounts will have duplicate accounts suspended.

Colleges Attended

Applicants are required to enter on their application all postsecondary colleges and universities attended, regardless of whether courses completed at the institution were used to obtain a degree, are required for admission to their selected DPT education programs, or were transferred to another institution. This includes any international institutions, nondegree programs, community colleges, and dual-enrollment programs during high school in which college credit was earned. Each institution should be entered only once regardless of gaps in attendance or number of degrees earned.

Official Transcripts

Applicants must arrange for PTCAS to receive an official transcript from every postsecondary college or university attended in the United States, as well as from each English-speaking institutions in Canada. Applications will not be considered complete or processed until all official transcripts are received. Electronic transcripts are preferred, though hard copy transcripts sent directly by the registrar to PTCAS are accepted.

International (Foreign) Transcripts

Applicants who have attended international institutions must follow the requirements specified by each of their selected DPT education programs as laid out on their PTCAS Directory page. PTCAS does not accept original international transcripts other than those from Canadian institutions provided in English. All Canadian transcripts in French, as well as all transcripts from other international institutions regardless of whether they are in English or not will not be accepted by PTCAS. Applicants may be asked to send original or certified translated transcripts from international institutions directly to the DPT program to which they are applying or to have a World Education Service (WES) foreign transcript evaluation sent to PTCAS. PTCAS only accepts "course by course" foreign transcript evaluations with grades from WES; all other foreign transcript evaluations will not be accepted.

Coursework Entry

Applicants must enter every attempt of postsecondary courses taken at U.S. or English-speaking Canadian institutions on their PTCAS application, regardless of whether the course was required for a degree or will be used to meet the prerequisite requirements of a DPT program to which they are applying. All attempts of all courses must be entered including those that were attempted but not completed, failed, repeated, withdrawn, or taken on a pass/fair or credit/no credit basis.

Grade Point Averages (GPAs)

PTCAS calculates a standardized set of GPAs to help programs evaluate applicants using uniform criteria. PTCAS GPAs may differ from those calculated on applicant transcripts due to the grade standardization process. DPT programs are not obligated to the PTCAS provided GPAs and may calculate their own GPAs for use in the application review process. PTCAS GPAs include:

  • Courses from postsecondary colleges and universities in the United States, as well as English-speaking Canadian institutions
  • All attempts of courses completed for a grade, regardless of whether they were repeated for a better grade or not.
  • Study-abroad courses if they are reported on a U.S. transcript with a grade.
  • Failed courses.
  • Courses with a grade of "Withdrawn Failing" or "WF" (calculated as an "F").

PTCAS GPAs do not include:

  • International (foreign) coursework.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) coursework.
  • College Level Exam Placement (CLEP) coursework.
  • Audited courses.
  • Deferred courses.
  • Courses where credit was earned by completion of an institutional or departmental exam.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) coursework.
  • Incomplete courses.
  • Courses taken on a "Pass/Fail" or "Credit/No Credit" basis.
  • Withdrawn courses.

Deadlines

PTCAS deadlines are all posted in Eastern Time. The application for each program will close at 11:59 p.m., ET on the stated deadline date without variation or exception for alternate time zones. Applicants are advised to apply early as processing occurs in chronological order of when applications become complete and enter the queue for processing. Processing takes, on average, up to two weeks to complete. Applicants will receive notification once their application has been processed.

A program may deny your application if your transcripts or other materials arrive late. If you submit your application prior to a program's deadline, PTCAS will process and release your application to the program even if your materials arrive after the deadline. PTCAS is not responsible for any materials lost in the mail, or for delays caused by the U.S. Postal Service, third-party shipping companies, or institutional registrar offices. Express or certified mail does not guarantee expedited processing, nor does sending documents via these methods guarantee receipt by PTCAS. PTCAS does not accept documents in person in our offices under any circumstances.

Application Fees and Fee Waiver Program

PTCAS charges an application processing fee of $160 for the first program applied to, and $60 for each additional program. The application fees for each program are paid at the time of submission via debit or credit only, and must be paid through our online payment system. Payments cannot be accepted over the phone. Note: Some programs may have an additional supplemental application fee charged outside of our system. PTCAS has no control over these fees, and does not set, monitor, or collect any program-specific supplemental fees.

Application Fee Waiver

Beginning at the start of each application cycle, a limited number of fee waivers are provided to qualified applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. Each fee waiver covers the initial application fee only. Approved applicants wishing to apply to additional programs are responsible for the remaining balance due for each additional program to which they apply. If an applicant has previously received a fee waiver during a prior application cycle, they may still apply for a new fee waiver during in the current cycle. 

More information on PTCAS Fee Waivers, including the low income levels for each application cycle, can be found in the PTCAS Application Fees and Fee Waivers section of the PTCAS Applicant Help Center.

Waiver Requirements

To qualify for a fee waiver, you must have either:

  • Filed Federal Income Tax Return Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ in the most recent tax filing year which shows an adjusted gross income that falls below the Low Income Levels listed on the PTCAS Application Fees and Fee Waivers page, or
  • Been listed as a dependent on a Federal Income Tax Return Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ filed in the most recent tax filing year showing an adjusted gross income that falls below the Low Income Level listed on the PTCAS Application Fees and Fee Waivers

Note: If an applicant was claimed as a dependent by a parent or guardian on their most recent Federal Income Tax Return, PTCAS requires the applicant to use that individual's Federal Income Tax Return instead of their own. 

Additionally, applicants must request a fee waiver before submitting their application. Requests received after an application has been submitted will not be honored. 

Applicants approved for a fee waiver must submit their application within 14 days (including holidays and weekends). Extensions will not be granted. Failure to submit the application on time will void the fee waiver and the applicant will not be allowed to reapply for an additional waiver during the current application cycle.

Admissions Decisions

PTCAS does not share final admissions statuses or decisions with applicants at any time. Each individual DPT program to which an applicant applies will share any admission status updates with the applicant directly.

PTCAS Applicant Responsibilities

Applicants to Doctor of Physical Therapy education programs through PTCAS are expected to abide by certain rules and requirements as a part of the application process. These expectations are laid out in each of the sections below.

Professionalism and Core Values

Applicants are expected to act professionally in all of their dealings with PTCAS staff and their physical therapist education programs. Applicants must properly follow all instructions and meet all deadlines. Responsibility, respect, good judgement, and cooperation are qualities valued by the physical therapy profession; applicants are expected to demonstrate these qualities beginning with the application process.

In addition to acting professionally, APTA has identified seven core values that define the critical elements of professionalism in physical therapy. These core values are listed below in alphabetical order with no preference or ranking given to them. The seven values identified were of sufficient breadth and depth to incorporate the many values and attributes that are part of physical therapist professionalism.

  • Accountability
  • Altruism
  • Compassion/Caring
  • Excellence
  • Integrity
  • Professional Duty
  • Social Responsibility

Applicants are encouraged to read more about each of the seven core values by visiting the APTA webpage devoted to the core values. Doing so will help applicants to understand the definition and sample indicators for each core value, including a description of what the physical therapist would be doing in practice, education, and/or research if these core values were present.

Additional Applicant Expectations

In addition to the expectation that applicants act with professionalism throughout the application process, applicants are also expected to meet the additional expectations listed below:

  • Act with honesty and integrity throughout the admissions process.
  • Communicate professionally and promptly with PTCAS and DPT programs when requested.
  • Be responsible and accountable for your actions.
  • Research the admission prerequisites and requirements for each selected program prior to applying.
  • Abide by all deadlines posted by PTCAS and selected programs.
  • Create only one PTCAS application.
  • Enter accurate and comprehensive data into the PTCAS application.
  • Compose a personal essay without assistance from others.
  • Arrange for PTCAS to receive all required official transcripts promptly upon account creation.
  • Arrange for all additional or supplemental materials to be provided to PTCAS or the program, as required.
  • Download and save a copy of your PTCAS application for each program upon submission.
  • Frequently check the receipt status for of all materials sent to PTCAS by logging in to your application and notify PTCAS promptly of any missing items.
  • Frequently check for notification from PTCAS in the email account used to create your PTCAS account, as well as directly in your PTCAS application.
  • Promptly enter any changes to your name, contact information, residency information, or visa status into your PTCAS application.

American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT) Applicant Traffic Rules

In an effort to improve the efficiency of the admission process, the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT), a component of APTA, approved in 2015 and amended in 2020 a set of admission traffic rules for both Doctor of Physical Therapy education programs and applicants. While all programs and applicants are expected to abide by these rules, they are not a product of APTA or PTCAS, and neither can comment on or enforce them. Applicants with questions or comments on the ACAPT Admissions Traffic Rules are advised to contact ACAPT directly at acapt@acapt.org.

PTCAS Certification and Authorization Statement

Prior to submitting the PTCAS application, individuals will be required to indicate their understanding and acceptance of the terms described below:

  • I certify, as required in the application, that I have read and understand all application instructions, including the provisions which note that I am responsible for monitoring and ensuring the progress of my application.
  • I certify that I have read and will abide by all program-specific instructions for my designated physical therapist programs.
  • I certify that I have read and understand the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT) Admissions Traffic Rules for Applicants.
  • I certify that all the information and statements I have provided in this application are current, correct, and complete to the best of my knowledge.
  • I certify that my personal essay and the information on my application represent my own work.
  • I understand that withholding information requested on the PTCAS application, or giving false information, may be grounds for denial of admission to a program participating in PTCAS or may be grounds for expulsion from the institution after I have been admitted.
  • I acknowledge that a program that makes an offer of acceptance to me will also know the number of offers I have received and accepted at other programs in PTCAS. While the admissions cycle is open, my designated programs will not know the total number of programs I selected on the application or other (non-acceptance) admission decisions made by other programs in PTCAS.
  • I acknowledge that if I start classes at a PT program, my other designated programs in which my application is still under consideration will be able to view matriculation status, if reported to PTCAS.
  • I acknowledge that in October after the end of the PTCAS admissions cycle, only my designated programs will be able to view to what other programs I applied via PTCAS and the final admission decision reported by each program.
  • I agree, understand and consent to PTCAS and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) releasing my de-identified application data that does not contain personally identifiable information, as set forth in the PTCAS privacy statement, and admission decisions submitted to PTCAS by my designated PT programs to third party health and education organizations for educational research purposes (including surveys). Such educational research is conducted for the purpose of improving PT education and admissions.
  • I acknowledge and agree that my sole remedy in the event of any proven errors or omissions related to the handling or processing of my application by PTCAS is to obtain a refund of my PTCAS application fee.
  • I am aware of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)'s accreditation status for each program to which I am applying. I understand that if I apply to a program with a "developing" status and that program ultimately does not receive "Candidate for Accreditation" status, I have no recourse with PTCAS to obtain a refund or any other form of compensation.

PTCAS Criminal Background Check Program by Certiphi Screening

PTCAS facilitates a centralized background check process for accepted applicants through Certiphi Screening Inc. Each program participating in PTCAS chooses whether or not they use the PTCAS centralized background check process. Not all PTCAS programs require a background check as a part of the application process, nor do all programs requiring a background check use the PTCAS centralized background check process. Additional information on Criminal Background Checks can be found in the sections below.

Program Options for Criminal Background Checks

The following are possible approaches that DPT education programs might take to securing background checks from applicants or incoming students:

  • Require accepted applicants to complete a background check through the PTCAS partner, Certiphi Screening Inc. To determine if a background check is required by a particular PTCAS program, visit the PTCAS Directory (list is subject to change).
  • Require accepted applicants to complete a background check through a different provider.
  • Require students to complete a background check after they enroll (in lieu of or in addition to the PTCAS background check process through Certiphi).
  • Require or help students to complete a background check, if required by a clinical education site, after matriculation.
  • Not require a background check at any point.

If an applicant's responses to the PTCAS felony question or related criminal questions differ from the background check results, this may jeopardize their application.

PTCAS Criminal Background Check Logistics

If a program to which an applicant has applied participates in the PTCAS centralized background check service, when the offer of acceptance is made, PTCAS will automatically send that applicant's information to Certiphi Screening to begin the background check process. The applicant will receive an email from Certiphi letting them know they have been conditionally accepted to one or more PTCAS programs that utilize this process, but will not reveal the name of the program.

Applicants will then have access to enter their additional required information into Certiphi's system directly, consent to the process, and pay the fee of $77.75 to Certiphi. The background check is typically completed within one week of the applicant providing their information, authorization, and payment to Certiphi.

Once the report is complete, Certiphi will allow the applicant to review their results before they are released to their PTCAS program(s) that requested the report. Applicants will have ten calendar days to verify the accuracy of the report before it is made available to the appropriate PTCAS program(s). If an applicant does not review the report within the allotted time, Certiphi will release the report to the program(s) on the eleventh day.

Neither APTA nor PTCAS will receive or hold personal information provided to or gathered by Certiphi. APTA may receive deidentified aggregated data from Certiphi, upon request, for research and statistical purposes only.

PTCAS Criminal Background Check Process

Below is a description of checks conducted by Certiphi. The results of the background check do not include juvenile records.

  • Social Security Number: A search of credit report header data to help confirm the applicant's identifying information such as name, aliases, current and prior address(es) and residence(s), and Social Security Number.
  • County Criminal Records: A direct search of county courthouse records for any felony or misdemeanor criminal history. All records are researched to help ensure positive identification.
  • Statewide Criminal Records: A search conducted through statewide criminal records repositories or court systems for any felony or misdemeanor criminal history.
  • Federal Criminal Records: A direct search of federal courthouse records for any felony or misdemeanor criminal history.
  • National Criminal Database: An instant, multijurisdictional private database search covering more than 194 million criminal records collected from across the country. All database "hits" are verified directly through the source of information to ensure that records reported are current.
  • National Sexual Offender Database: A search of a national private database that contains sex offender data collected from across the United States.
  • US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General List of Excluded Individuals/Entities: A search of this federal agency database that provides information about parties excluded from participation in the Medicare, Medicaid, and all federal health care programs.
  • Dishonorable Discharge from the Armed Forces: Military records are verified either through telephone interviews with the applicant's former commander or by obtaining the applicant's DD-214 form. Verification generally includes applicant's name, service number, rank, dates of service, awards and decorations, and place of entrance and separation.
  • Sanctions Base Screening: A search covering sanctions and disciplinary and administrative actions taken by hundreds of federal and state health care regulatory authorities, including FDA, NIH, GSA, OFAC, terrorist watch lists, and more.