• Effective January 1, 2015, residency and fellowship education programs seeking ABPTRFE accreditation must undergo new procedures, which include applying for, and obtaining recognition as a developing program followed by applying for and obtaining candidate status. Please review the ABPTRFE Rules of Practice and Procedure (.pdf) for details on the new accreditation procedures.

    Recognition of Developing Programs

    A program may obtain recognition as a developing program by:

    1. Adopting a name that meets the requirements set forth by ABPTRFE;
    2. Hiring a program director who meets the requirements outlined in the Evaluative Criteria;
    3. Submitting an application for recognition on the form prescribed by ABPTRFE, and
    4. Submitting a nonrefundable application fee.

    ABPTRFE will recognize the program if the program meets these requirements.

    Benefits of Recognition

    The benefits accorded to a program that has been recognized by ABPTRFE as a developing program will include listing on the ABPTRFE Directory of Developing Programs and consultation opportunities through the Program Services Council.

    Term of Recognition

    A program's recognition will terminate on the earlier of:

    1. ABPTRFE's granting the program candidate status, or
    2. Two years from the date ABPTRFE recognized it as a developing program.

    Application for Candidacy

    A program may apply for candidate status at any time. On and after January 1, 2015, in order for a program to be accredited as a physical therapist residency or fellowship program, it first must have applied for and obtained candidate status.

    A program must be a recognized developing program in order to be eligible to apply for candidate status. A program interested in obtaining candidate status must:

    1. Submit five (5) hard copies of its application on the form prescribed by ABPTRFE (the staff does not accept electronic copies of applications),
    2. Submit a nonrefundable application fee, and
    3. Demonstrate that the program director has taken the Residency and Fellowship 101 course located online in the APTA Learning Center.

    *PLEASE NOTE: A participant who enrolls in a program prior to ABPTRFE's granting it candidate status will not be deemed to have graduated from an APTA-accredited program even if ABPTRFE accredits the program before he/she graduates from the program.


    The purpose of requiring a program to attain candidate status is to ensure the program has done adequate planning and has the resources (e.g., leadership, faculty, mentors, budget, patient/client population, facilities, equipment, curriculum) necessary to implement a physical therapy residency or fellowship education program.

    The attainment of candidate status does not guarantee that ABPTRFE will accredit the program.

    Benefits of Candidacy

    Candidate status enables the program to have a formal, publicly recognized relationship with ABPTRFE. Programs who have been granted candidate status by ABPTRFE will obtain all benefits as accredited and probationary accredited programs, including but not limited to, listing on the ABPTRFE Directory of Candidate Programs, an invitation to participant in ABPTRFE-sponsored events for accredited residency and fellowship programs (eg, Career Development Reception at APTA's CSM), and enrollment in RF-PTCAS to assist in the recruitment of the program's first participant.

    Term of Candidate Status

    Candidate status will become effective on the last day of the month in which ABPTRFE decides to grant the status. A program's candidate status will terminate on the earlier of:

    1. ABPTRFE's granting the program accreditation (including a probationary accreditation) or denying the program's application for accreditation, or
    2. Two years from the date ABPTRFE granted the program candidate status.


    Any program granted candidate status will be enrolled in and must utilize the Residency/Fellowship Physical Therapist Centralized Application System (RF-PTCAS).

    Site Visit

    Upon enrollment of the program's first participant(s) following the granting of candidate status, APTA staff will choose a date for the site visit in consultation with the program and the site visit team members. The site visit will be scheduled no sooner than six months but no later than eight months after the start date of the program's first participant(s).

  • Last Updated: 12/3/2014
    Contact: resfel@apta.org