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Foreign Educated Physical Therapists

Credentialing Agency, Education Credentials, Coursework Tools (CWT)

In order to become licensed as a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant, your education must be deemed equivalent to a first professional physical therapy degree in the United States. You are responsible for coordinating a review of your education credentials. The information below will help you understand what you need to have an educational credentials review completed.

Credentialing Agency

An educational credentials review is a comparison of the foreign education curriculum to the current United States standards, and when appropriate, to previous standards to match the year of graduation. Credentialing is completed by organizations independent of FSBPT or jurisdictions. The physical therapist or physical therapist assistant applying for licensure is responsible for making arrangements to have credentials evaluated by one or more of the agencies. However, some jurisdictions specify which agencies reviews will be accepted.

Only two agencies, Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT) and the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), are recognized by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to issue Health Care Worker Certifications for visa purposes.

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Education Credentials Review

The purpose of an Educational Credentials Review (ECR), also known as a credentials evaluation, is to compare the applicant’s education to the first professional degree of a graduate of a U.S. physical therapy (PT) degree program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The ECR is a course by course comparison of the original source documents to a standard tool which defines substantial equivalency performed by independent credentialing agencies. The agencies collect the original source documents. They verify that the documents are authentic, that the school is recognized by the appropriate agency in that country, and that the school provided a Physical Therapy Degree at the time the applicant indicates attendance. The official syllabi are used to identify evidence of content in the educational program. When all content has been identified the education is determined to be substantially equivalent, if some required content is absent the education is determined to be not equivalent. The applicant is then able to provide supplemental educational coursework from an accredited college or university to meet the requirements.

Coursework Tools

The Coursework Tools for Foreign Educated Physical Therapists (CWT) and Coursework Tools for Foreign Educated Physical Therapist Assistants are owned and developed by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). The CWT is a standardized method to evaluate the educational equivalence of foreign educated physical therapists and assistants. (FEPT/FEPTA). Each CWT reflects the general and professional educational requirements for substantial equivalence at the time of graduation with respect to a US first professional degree in physical therapy. The CWT may be used to determine qualifications for an FEPT/FEPTA applicant to sit for the NPTE, as one component for licensure eligibility in US jurisdictions, and for physical therapists only- as a prescreening certification for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The CWT has been validated against the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) criteria for PT and PTA education by an objective, independent, outside organization. Agencies are not required to use any particular tool; however, they must provide an evaluation on a tool the customer (the board) will accept. The CWT is the most widely accepted tool with which to evaluate the educational credentials of an applicant.

Agencies licensed to use the Coursework Tools:

  • Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT)
  • International Consultants of Delaware (ICD)
  • International Education Research Foundation (IERF)

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