Meet PTCAS, your new best friend! Most of the DPT programs in the U.S. utilize PTCAS. As stated in the photo above, “The Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) is a service of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). PTCAS allows applicants to use a single application and one set of materials to apply to multiple DPT programs.”. This is where all the magic happens!
With the 2018-2019 PTCAS application cycle opening pretty soon (July 5th!), here is a little “guide” to help you guys become familiar with PTCAS now, so that you can save time later! Personally, I didn’t know what to expect from the PTCAS application before applying, especially because last year PTCAS launched a whole new system/platform. I was very anxious, and I know that a post like this would have been perfect for me. Of course, you should visit the PTCAS website for the most up-to-date information (and for more specific details), as this will just be a brief overview of the application process/PTCAS system interface.
Okay now let’s learn about PTCAS!
Once you have created your PTCAS account, your application dashboard will look like this:
There will be four sections at the top of the application screen:
“My Application“will always be the default section opened when you log-in. Within this section, there are an additional four sections:
Below there will be a description of each section, along with what the section will entail:
This section is pretty self-explanatory.
Colleges Attended/Transcript Entry
Entering your transcripts into PTCAS should be the FIRST thing you do after creating your account. This can take a while, so you want to get it over with early. If you don’t want to enter the information yourself, PTCAS has a transcript service that will enter it for you ($55 for 1-3 transcripts, $100 for 4-6, and $150 for 7+). Just note that this is not available until after the Early Decision deadline (which is usually mid August). After entering this information, you will have to request for your official transcripts (from every US college/university you’ve attended) to be sent to PTCAS. They will then have to verify them, and this can take a few weeks depending on when you submit (the earlier you submit, the faster they should verify). Your entire application cannot be verified/sent to your prospective programs until your transcripts are received and verified, so this should be done ASAP. For reference, I submitted my application on August 1st and it was verified on August 3rd (I applied Early Decision).
Where you will enter your unofficial GRE and/or TOEFL scores.
Keep in mind that this information will be shared with every program you apply to.
Where you will enter your reference requests. PTCAS will accept up to 4 references. You will have to provide your reference’s information (name and email address), along with the reference due date and a personal message (500 character limit). PTCAS will not check to see if you have the correct reference types for your prospective programs, so make sure that you double check each program’s reference requirements.
Where you will enter all of your observation hours. For your observation hours you will have to include each facility’s name, address, setting type, and patient population. Your PT supervisor’s name/contact information, your start and end dates, whether the hours were paid or volunteer, and the number of hours you completed will be required as well. Lastly, you will most likely need to upload a signed form verifying your hours or request an electronic signature from your PT supervisors.
Where you will enter all of your extracurricular activities, employment (non-PT), volunteer work, etc. You will have to provide the experience type, the organization’s name and contact information, your supervisor’s name and contact information, the dates of the experience, and details of the experience (your title, the type of recognition, average weekly hours, number of weeks, and a brief description [600 character limit] of the experience along with your key responsibilities).
Where you will enter any achievements (awards, scholarships, dean’s list, honors, etc.). You will have to provide the achievement type, the name of the presenting organization, the issue date, and a brief description (600 character limit) of the achievement.
Licenses and Certifications
Where you will enter any licenses and certifications (CPR/First-Aid, ACSM CPT, etc.).
Where you will submit your essay (4500 character limit). I wouldn’t suggest you draft your essay in this spot though. You should type it up in some sort of word processing software, and paste it here when you are done.
This is where each program’s materials/information (usually their supplemental application, any required documents/records, supplemental fees, etc.) will be located. Only the specific programs you are applying to will see this information. A program’s supplemental application will usually have a few school-specific essays/questions that you will have to answer in addition to the main PTCAS essay. This is also where you will match your courses to the program’s prerequisite course requirements. PTCAS will not check to see if you have properly matched your courses, so it is your responsibility make sure that you have done so.
The next section at the top of the screen will be “Add Program“:
This is where you will add the programs that you want to apply to. You can sort this list by program start date or by state.
“Submit Application” will be the third section at the top of the screen:
This is where you will submit and pay for your applications. It is $145 to apply to your first program, and $45 for each additional program.
“Check Status” will be the fourth and final section at the top of the screen:
This is where you will check the status of your application materials, along with the status of your application at each program. The status will either be “In Progress”, “Received”, “Complete”, “Verified”, “Undelivered”, or “On Hold”. Below is a description of each status (straight from PTCAS). Your status at each program may differ:
In Progress: You have created an application but have not yet submitted it to PTCAS. Your programs will have access to your name, email address, and PTCAS ID number if you authorized PTCAS to release this information prior to submission.
Received: You have submitted your PTCAS application, but PTCAS has not yet received all required official transcripts or payment. Your programs have electronic access to your application.
Complete: You have submitted your PTCAS application, all required official transcripts, and fee payment to PTCAS, and your file is in queue for verification. You may still be missing other materials required by your programs, such as references. Your programs have electronic access to your application.
Verified: PTCAS has processed your complete application, and it is fully available to your designated programs, including GPAs.
Undelivered: PTCAS has released your application back to you to fix errors in “Coursework” or “Institutions Attended” sections. You must make corrections to your application and resubmit in order to continue processing. (Your programs do not have electronic access to your application while it is in this status.)
On Hold: Your application has significant omissions or errors that need to be addressed before PTCAS can take any additional action on your file. (Your programs do not have electronic access to your application while it is in this status.)
Your application will be considered “Complete” once:
Your PTCAS application is submitted
Your transcripts are received
Your application fee is paid (per program)
Once these steps are completed, your application will be ready for verification. This may take up to 4-5 weeks, so do not wait until the last minute!
ENTER YOUR TRANSCRIPTS ASAP ROCKY!
Make sure that you are keeping up with your email, as this is how PTCAS will be sending you updates/notifications.
Create a word document or excel spreadsheet NOW to start gathering the information for the “Supporting Information” section of the application. You should go ahead and write out contact information, your brief descriptions, dates, hours, titles, etc. for your Achievements, Observation Hours, References, and Experiences. Reference the sections above to see exactly what information you will need to get together. I wish I would have done this, because it would have saved me so much time.
Reach out to your references EARLY! You want to give them enough time to write you a strong recommendation letter.
Start thinking about your essay once the prompt is released. PTCAS usually releases the prompt on their twitter account toward the end of April.
Take your time when entering all of this information, and double check your responses. You can have someone proofread them if you’d like.
APPLY EARLY! The earlier you apply to programs, the better your acceptance chances will be (less competition)!
If you would like to know more about each aspect of the PTCAS application/how I approached them, feel free to check out my previous PTCAS posts (#dptwiththecc):
These posts are very detailed and in-depth, so I hope that they are a good resource! For more help/information about the PTCAS application, visit their Application Instructions page.
I hope that this post has helped you see what to expect from the PTCAS application. Now that you have this information, you should start planning (even if you aren’t applying this year). Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions or concerns! I am always happy to help!