• 2016 Standards Adopted by CAPTE APTA.org New Icon
    The 2016 Standards and Required Elements for Accreditation of PTA and PT programs were adopted by CAPTE at its fall 2014 meeting. All programs with an accreditation or candidacy site visit after January 1, 2016, will be reviewed using the 2016 Standards. All Accreditation Workshops are now based on the new 2016 Standards. 

    Steps to Develop an Education Program
    The 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 all evidence delineated in Part 7.8 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure. This evidence includes, but is not limited to:

    • Evidence that the institution is an institution of higher education with degree granting authority, or has an executed formal agreement with an institution of higher education with degree granting authority;
    • The institution has state approval to offer the program/degree;
    • The institution has been deemed by its accrediting agency to be in compliance with all institutional accreditation requirements;
    • The institution has, or has applied for, approval to develop/offer a physical therapy education program/degree from its institutional accrediting agency;
    • The program has hired a full-time program director who meets all of the qualifications of Element 4G in CAPTE’s Standards and Required Elements for Accreditation; and
    • The institution/program has conducted an assessment that examines the need for a new program and includes, at a minimum, all information requested in the document, “Conducting and Writing a Needs Assessment”.

    There are three (3) candidacy review cycles per year*, which dictate:

    • The submission deadlines of Applications for Candidacy (AFCs) (March 1, June 1, and December 1);
    • The timeline for review of AFCs by the Commission (at the spring, summer, and fall meetings of CAPTE’s Central Panel); and
    • The earliest acceptable date for matriculation of students.

    A maximum of six (6) applications are reviewed by CAPTE per candidacy cycle.

    *Effective November 2016, the number of candidacy review cycles per year has been reduced from three to two.  The two review cycles remaining will have respective AFC submission deadlines of June 1 (Cycle A) and December 1 (Cycle B).

    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.

    The AFC is a detailed 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. View the number of available slots in future candidacy cycles (.pdf).

    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.

    Resource Documents

    • Accreditation Handbook
      Institutions interested in developing a PT or PTA education program are advised to carefully review the Accreditation Handbook and monitor it for updates. The Accreditation Handbook provides the Rules of Practice and Procedure by which CAPTE operates; it includes:
      • Procedures for Achievement of and Maintenance of Candidate for Accreditation (includes decision cycle timelines) (Part 7)
      • Procedures for Achievement of and Maintenance of Accreditation (Part 8)
      • Substantive Change Rules (Part 9)
      • Program Fees (Part 16)
    • Aggregate Program Data
      Includes demographic information about accredited PT and PTA education programs and the numbers of accredited and developing programs.
    • Additional Resources
      A list of useful CAPTE and APTA documents is provided, along with related webpages.

    APTA's Accreditation Department holds two types of workshops 3 times a year: Self-Study Workshops and Developing Program 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. In addition, the program director must attend a Self-Study Workshop prior to AFC submission. Self-Study Workshops are held to discuss CAPTE's expectations for specific elements, as well as to address general accreditation and self-study processes. Program directors and administrators are strongly encouraged to attend the workshops early in the development process.

    CAPTE recommends that developing programs engage the services of a consultant. The Accreditation Department staff does not provide names of consultants for program development. A list of educational consultants, if desired, can be obtained from Libby Ross, APTA Director of Academic Services.

    APTA Curriculum Resources for Educators

    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: 3/2/2017
    Contact: accreditation@apta.org