CAPTE- American Physical Therapy Association Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education

Do you what is the American Physical Therapy Association Committee? Here is everything you need to about the CAPTE accreditation.

TCM Staff

13th October 2020

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE accreditation) is a national level accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of education and also recognized by the council for higher education accreditation to accredits institutions that offer programs on physical therapy to the students. The accreditation happens on a voluntary, non-governmental, peer-review scale.

This is the only agency recognized by the US Department of education. It accredits the physical therapist and physical therapy assistant programs. Since 1977, the commission has been recognized as an accrediting agency. The organization has also served as the only accrediting agency. It granted accreditation in physical therapy programs since 1983.

Today more than 200 physical therapist programs and almost 300 physical therapy assistant programs, along with the only physical therapist education program in Scotland has also been accredited by the CAPTE.

The committee consists of members of different job roles. It includes PTA clinicians, PTA educators, scientists, education administrators, and the public. To conduct onsite reviews, there are almost 300 trained volunteers. On-site visits of approximately 80 programs are conducted annually. The association also has membership in the association of specialized and programmatic accreditors.

Advancement in physical therapy education is the main aim of the commission. The masters and clinical doctor’s degree masters programs are accredited by the CAPTE. Physical therapy programs are recognized for their acceptance at the global level. However, for paraprofessional physical therapist assistant technical education programs. The accreditation is accepted in the United States only.

CAPTE Accreditation process

Like the other accreditation processes, CAPTE accreditation is also strenuous and difficult to understand. The different steps in the accreditation process are given below.

  • A program director has been hired to develop the program.

  • An application for candidacy is then submitted. The plans of the institution to obtain the accreditation are then documented.

  • After the candidacy application is submitted, an on-site review of the two members from the committee happens. A written report regarding the results of the visit is then documented. Candidate for Accreditation status is granted to the institution if in case, the standards and requirements are also met.

  • After the candidacy is granted, students are enrolled in the program and the curriculum is implemented.

  • The accreditation process is completed before the graduation of the first batch of students.

  • During the onsite visit, educational quality is assessed in terms of student performance, faculty, curriculum, clinical education sites, policies, procedures, resources, assessment, and outcome. The Self-Study is generated as a result of the findings of the on-site visit.

  • The generated report can be studied by the institution to raise questions on the suggestions made by the onsite-visit team.

  • Self Study Report, team’s report, and program response is viewed by the CAPTE to provide the accreditation.

  • For a newly introduced program, accreditation is granted for five years. For the other programs, the accreditation is granted for 10 years.

Importance of CAPTE accreditation

CAPTE Accreditation is not just for an institution and hence the granting of the accreditation is important.

  • The programs of physical therapy are recognized by CAPTE at two different levels.

  • Professional physical therapist programs are recognized at the clinical doctorate level.

  • At the associate degree level, technical physical therapist assistant programs are recognized.

  • The accreditation is an assurance for the students and the parents that the program imparts quality lessons for entry into the physical therapist profession.

  • The accreditation ensures that the program is enriched with services from the qualified faculty, with effective curriculum and up to date learning resources.

  • The accreditation council is an authority where the students can report about in case the institution fails to demonstrate its assured quality of work.

Beneficiaries of CAPTE Accreditation

The accreditation process is in a way helpful to not just those who are directly associated with the programs but to the general public as well. A few of the beneficiaries of the CAPTE accreditation are as given below.

  • The general public consists of the patients who usually use the physical therapist services, and their families. With frequent updates, continuous self-evaluation, regular reports, periodic external review, the public can be assured of the quality of services offered.

  • To practice physical therapy in almost 50 states, graduation from an accredited institution is more than efficient.

  • The credibility of the educational institution along with its, reputation increases and this is a motivation to improve the quality of the program.

Institutions with CAPTE accreditation 

The colleges and universities that fall under the American Association of Physical Therapy are:

Name of the Institution

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Harding University

University of Central Arkansas

Midwestern State University

Northern Arizona University

California State University, Fresno


CAPTE is an indicator of how efficient a physical therapy program is. CAPTE Accreditation is not a ranking system of how efficiently the program is accredited. It does compare one program with the programs offered at the other institutions. The standard of the program is cross verified with the standards set by the organization.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.Which are the authoritative agencies that have recognized the CAPTE?

    CAPTE is recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

  • 2.How frequently does CAPTE meet?

    CAPTE meets twice in a year - in April and October.

  • 3.Does CAPTE accredit fully online courses?

    Due to the nature of the physiotherapy program wherein,  practical sessions are mandatory in developing a successful physiotherapist, completely online programs would not be an efficient solution. However, there are programs that offer both online and practical sessions. CAPTE only recognizes those programs that have practical sessions associated with it.

  • 4.Are there any other accrediting agency for physiotherapy than the CAPTE?

    No, CAPTE is the only accrediting authority for physiotherapy programs.

  • 5.Since when was CAPTE granted the position of the sole-authority for accrediting physical therapy programs?

    CAPTE was granted the position of the sole-authority for accrediting physical therapy programs in 1983.

  • 6.When was CAPTE recognized as an independent agency?

    CAPTE was recognized as an independent agency in 1977.

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