Steps to Develop an Education ProgramThe rules governing the development of an education program for the preparation of physical therapists (PT) or physical therapist assistants (PTA) are delineated in the Accreditation Handbook. These rules change periodically; it is the institution's responsibility to ensure that it is working from the most current set of rules.
In order to begin the preaccreditation process and establish a Candidacy Review Cycle, institutions MUST provide the required evidence delineated in Part 7.8 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure. This evidence includes, but is not limited to:
Notification of Program Director Employment, the next step in the pre-accreditation process is official (i.e., on institutional letterhead) notification that a full-time program director has been employed (not just hired) to develop and implement the program no later than eighteen (18) months prior to the due date for the Reconfirmation of Intent.*
*NOTE: Determination by staff that a program has met requirements for establishing and/or maintaining a Review Cycle (i.e., the Notification of Intent, Program Director Employment, and Second Full-Time Core Faculty Employment) does not mean that the program meets, or is making satisfactory progress toward compliance with, any one or more of the relevant Standards and Elements; such a decision is the purview of CAPTE.
There are two (2) Candidacy Review Cycles per year, which dictate:
A maximum of six (6) applications are reviewed by CAPTE per Candidacy Cycle.
Assignment to a Candidacy Cycle and acceptance of Applications for Candidacy will be based on the receipt date of the Developing Program Information Form. Developing Program Information Forms indicating the program’s intent to submit in a Cycle that has already met the cap will be rescheduled to the next available Review Cycle and planned student admission must be delayed accordingly. [See the Rules of Practice and Procedure (revised May 2018), Part 7, for a detailed description of Candidacy Cycles and timelines.] To view scheduled and available candidacy review cycles, access here: “Candidacy Review Cycle Availability”. Please be aware that review cycles are confirmed as required documentation is received/approved and this chart will be updated accordingly.
Institutions may not matriculate students into a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant program until Candidate for Accreditation status is granted by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. The rules governing this process are delineated in Part 7 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure found in the Accreditation Handbook. Institutions seeking to develop a PT or PTA program must submit an AFC that meets eligibility requirements established by CAPTE, as delineated in Part 7 of the Rules. Determination by staff that an AFC is eligible for further review does not mean that the program
meets, or is making satisfactory progress toward compliance with, any one or
more of the relevant standards/elements; such a decision
is the purview of CAPTE.
The AFC is a detailed, comprehensive report that describes progress toward and the potential for achieving compliance with the Standards and Required Elements. In order to develop an AFC, programs must follow the instructions and forms identified and provided by Accreditation Department staff after the program has established a Candidacy Review Cycle. To achieve Candidate for Accreditation status, CAPTE must be provided with sufficient evidence in the AFC that demonstrates readiness to matriculate students at the time of submission.
Program start dates must take into consideration that initial accreditation decisions are made by CAPTE only during their regularly scheduled meetings (Fall and Spring). The related on-site visit for initial accreditation decisions must occur no later than ten (10) weeks prior to the CAPTE meeting. Exceptions to this requirement will not be considered by CAPTE. Since state licensing laws require graduates to be from CAPTE accredited programs, it is not advisable to have students graduate from a program prior to the program achieving accreditation. Although CAPTE has the ability for its decisions to be retroactive to a date prior to graduation, not all states will accept retroactive accreditation. In addition, graduation prior to accreditation delays the ability of students to take the licensing exam and, therefore, begin employment.
WorkshopsAPTA's Accreditation Department holds two types of workshops 2 times a year: Developing Program Workshops and Self-study Workshops. Developing programs are required to send at least 2 individuals (the program director and an appropriate institutional administrator) to a Developing Program Workshop PRIOR to the submission of the Application for Candidacy. Program directors and administrators are strongly encouraged to attend the workshop early in the development process.
ConsultantsConsultant services are not required for institutions considering developing a new physical therapy education program, although some institutions have found them helpful. The Accreditation Department staff does not provide names of consultants for program development. A list of educational consultants, if desired, can be obtained from APTA at Academic Services. CAPTE and APTA do not investigate, examine or otherwise vet the credentials, services or quality of the consultants on the list. Past consultant performance does not guarantee future results. CAPTE and APTA do not receive any form of compensation (referral fees or otherwise) from the consultants.
A "Blueprint for Teaching Cultural Competence in Physical Therapy Education" and other resources to facilitate academic program curriculum development, review and enhancement are available to PT and PTA Educators.
Last Updated: 1/22/2020