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Residency and fellowship programs provide postprofessional education through one-to-one mentoring, structured curricular experiences, and guided learning designed to increase the quality of patient care and practitioner knowledge in specialty and subspecialty areas through best practices.

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A residency program is a postprofessional planned learning experience comprised of a curriculum encompassing the essential knowledge, skills, and responsibilities of an advanced physical therapist within a defined area of practice. When board certification exists through the American Board of Physical Therapist Specialties for that specialty, the residency program prepares the physical therapist with the requisite knowledge and skill set needed to pass the certification examination following graduation.

ABPTRFE currently accredits clinical physical therapist residency programs in the following areas:

  • Acute Care
  • Cardiovascular & Pulmonary
  • Clinical Electrophysiology
  • Geriatrics
  • Neurology
  • Oncology
  • Orthopaedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Sports
  • Women's Health
  • Wound Management

ABPTRFE also accredits nonclinical physical therapist faculty residency programs.

Many programs utilize RF-PTCAS for their admission process.

For programs that do not participant in RF-PTCAS, please contact them directly for their admission process.

A fellowship program is a postprofessional planned learning experience comprised of a curriculum encompassing the essential knowledge, skills, and responsibilities of an advanced physical therapist within a defined area of subspecialty practice.

A clinical fellowship candidate has either completed a residency program in a related specialty area or is an American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties board-certified specialist in a related area of specialty.

ABPTRFE currently accredits clinical physical therapist fellowship programs in the following areas:

  • Critical Care
  • Hand Therapy
  • Movement System
  • Neonatology
  • Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy
  • Performing Arts
  • Spine
  • Sports Division 1
  • Upper Extremity Athlete

ABPTRFE also accredits nonclinical physical therapist fellowship programs in the area of Higher Education Leadership.

Many programs utilize RF-PTCAS for their admission process.

For programs that do not participant in RF-PTCAS, please contact them directly for their admissions process.

Admissions

Program participants must be eligible to practice based on state requirements. Applicants should contact those programs they are interested in applying to for the programs' specific admissions policies.

Attention foreign-educated individuals, educated outside of the United States.
Your eligibility to participate in a residency program is dependent on the program in which you received your physical therapist education. Access more information at APTA's licensure page.

Access Online Program Directory


Helping You Thrive

Preparing you for the next step in your career.

Completion of an ABPTRFE-accredited residency program is one of the ways you can qualify to sit for APTA's Specialization Certification examination. Historically, those with residency training demonstrate higher pass rates than non-residency trained individuals. Access supporting data.

APTA Membership

Participants of accredited residency and fellowship programs are eligible for the discounted postprofessional student APTA membershipReview information and details on this membership category and its benefits.

Student Loans

For information regarding federal loans, please review the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Opportunities for Physical Therapists. Information regarding forbearance and deferment can be found on the Department of Education website.

With respect to loans from private lenders, contact them and see what options they offer. Bear in mind that upon residency completion, you will receive a certificate from the program. In addition, should you sit for and pass the board certification exam through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, you will earn credentials following your residency training. Some private loan lenders may require you to verify either or both.

APTA offers financial solutions for student loans and debt, plus other financial information and resources. Learn more.

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