The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is the only nationally recognized accrediting agency for physical therapist and physical therapist assistant education programs. CAPTE is recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) for this purpose.
In addition to assuring the quality of physical therapy education programs, CAPTE also:
CAPTE does not rank programs or help you decide which program to attend.
Attending a CAPTE accredited physical therapy program is important for several reasons.
First, CAPTE accreditation assures that, among other things, the program is provided by qualified faculty, has appropriate resources to support the educational program, has acceptable outcomes, and provides accurate information to students and the public about its mission and outcomes.
Second, attending a CAPTE accredited program ensures that you will receive an education that has been determined to meet the educational expectations for entry into the physical therapy profession.
Third, attending a CAPTE accredited program assures that the program is being offered by a legitimate institution that holds institutional accreditation from a recognized agency.
Fourth, and probably most important, graduation from an accredited program is required in order for you to sit for the licensing examination. All 50 states require physical therapists to have a license to practice and 48 states require physical therapist assistants to hold a license and CAPTE is the only accrediting agency recognized by the state licensing boards.
Because of the link between graduation from an accredited program and eligibility to sit for licensure, ALL legitimate physical therapy (PT or PTA) programs are accredited by CAPTE, or, in the case of new programs, are seeking accreditation from CAPTE. Unfortunately, there are some institutions that purport to offer physical therapy programs that are not legitimate. CHEA provides general information about institutions/programs that may not be legitimate.
CAPTE does not rank programs. Students interested in attending a physical therapist (PT) or physical therapist assistant (PTA) program should go to the American Physical Therapy Association's resources for Prospective Students, which includes the CAPTE database of accredited programs, plus additional information about the admissions process and PT and PTA careers.