PTCAS Timeline: When to Apply?


So the PTCAS application timeline can be kind of confusing, I’m not gonna lie. When I was in undergrad, I didn’t really know anyone that went through the PT application process before me, so I had to pretty much figure out everything on my own. I didn’t know how the application cycle “worked”, and I wasn’t aware that you had to apply a year before you wanted to start school. I didn’t realize this until the summer after my junior year (2016), and at that point I still had 3-4 prerequisites to take, and 0 observation hours. I had already planned to take a gap year, and I thought that I was going to be able to get all of my observation hours during that time. Boy was I wrong! I would actually be spending that gap year applying, so I would need to have all of my observation hours completed before then. Thankfully everything still worked out, and I ended up obtaining 4 observation experiences (138 hours) between that summer and the beginning of the 2017-2018 application cycle.

General rule of thumb: you will apply a year before you plan to start school. So if you want to start school immediately after undergrad, you would apply the summer/fall of your junior year. If you want to take a gap year, then you would apply the summer/fall after you graduate. You would apply during the upcoming application cycle if you want to start school in the summer/fall of 2019.

PTCAS Deadlines

Here is the PTCAS calendar for this cycle:

Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 4.56.04 PMScreen Shot 2018-07-01 at 4.57.13 PM

All PTCAS deadlines expire at 11:59 pm ET.  Review the time zones to determine when the application will close in your area:

  • 11:59 PM (ET)
  • 10:59 PM (CT)
  • 9:59 PM (MT)
  • 8:59 PM (PT)
  • 7:59 PM (AKT)
  • 6:59 PM (HT)

Early Decision

The Early Decision program is a binding option for applicants who have decided that a particular PT program is their first choice, and they will enroll if accepted. If you choose to apply Early Decision, you must attend that specific program if you are accepted. If you choose not to attend that program, you will not be able to apply to any other PTCAS programs until the next application cycle. Your application will “lock” after you submit, and it will only “unlock” if you are not accepted into your Early Decision program (some programs may “defer” your application, and add it in with the regular decision applications). At that time, you will be able to apply to other PTCAS programs. Only apply Early Decision if you are 100% sure that you will attend that specific program if accepted. It is possible that programs participating in this process will fill their next entering class with Early Decision applicants before their regular deadline date passes. If so, the program might consider applicants in the regular pool for wait-list seats only. I actually applied Early Decision to my program. Click here to view PTCAS’s Early Decision instructions, and to see which programs participate in this process.

Firm Deadline

You cannot apply to the program after the deadline has passed.

Soft Deadline

You can still apply to the program after the deadline has passed, but the program may give less or no consideration to your file if you apply after the deadline.

Rolling Admission

Some programs have a rolling admission process. This means that they start looking at applications as soon as the application cycle opens, up until their deadline. Applications are reviewed on a first come first serve basis, so you are encouraged to apply early! The earlier you apply, the less competition you have! Admissions committees will usually meet once a month or once every few months to discuss the current applications, and interview invites will be sent out in “batches”.

Here is a general idea of how your application year will go:

Spring (March, April, May)

Use this time to ensure that you are ready to apply for the upcoming cycle. During these months, PTCAS usually releases the essay prompt on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can use this time to begin drafting your essay, so that you won’t have to stress about it when the application opens. Check out this post for personal statement tips and advice. You should also spend this time ensuring that all of your ducks are in a row, and you are actually ready to apply. Double check each program’s requirements, finish up your observation hour experiences, and participate in a few more volunteer opportunities if possible. This is your last chance to improve your application before the cycle opens, so do whatever you can!

My Experience

I graduated at the beginning of May (2017). I began my personal statement towards the end of May, and I also started studying for the GRE during this time. By the time the PTCAS application opened, my essay was pretty much completed (except for a few edits).

Summer (June, July, August)

This is when you will spend the most time working on your application. The PTCAS application will launch in late June/early July. As soon as it launches, the first thing you should do is send out your reference requests. People have busy lives, and you want to give your references enough time to write you a strong letter of recommendation. Continue working through PTCAS, making sure to double check each section for accuracy and completeness. If you are planning to apply Early Decision, you really want to work hard during this time, as the Early Decision deadline will be around August 15th. Some schools may begin conducting interviews in August, especially if they are rolling admission programs, or if they participate in Early Decision. APPLY EARLY!

My Experience

I worked on my application all summer since I was applying Early Decision. I sent out my reference requests as soon as the application went live. I also continued studying for the GRE, and I took the test at the end of July. In addition, I was finishing up my last shadowing experience at a pediatric outpatient clinic. My program doesn’t conduct interviews, so I didn’t have to go through that process.

Fall (September, October, November)

In September, Early Decision applicants will receive their admission decisions. This is also when most people will start receiving interview invites. Apply as early as you can, especially to rolling admission programs.

My Experience

I heard back from my program at the end of September! Once I was accepted, I was done with PTCAS. I continued working my retail job, and relished in the fact that I was going to PT school! It was nice to be done so early, especially since most applicants were just beginning to submit their applications, or just receiving interview invites.

Winter (December, January, February)

Interviews will continue during this time. Program deadlines will vary, so be sure to keep up with your specific programs’ deadlines. Many applicants will begin hearing back from programs regarding their admission decision. Sit tight and be patient!

Spring (March, April, May)

Interviews will still continue during this time, and admission decisions will continue to go out. If you have not yet heard back from your programs, don’t give up hope! You may still receive an interview invite!

Summer (June, July, August)

Most summer and fall semester programs will start during these months. How exciting!

My Experience

I will stop working my retail job at the end of June, and enjoy the rest of my summer before school starts. I will move at the end of July, and start my program in August!


Spring semester programs will begin.

And that’s basically how the PTCAS application cycle goes! Let me know if you have any questions! Leave me a comment letting me know when you plan on applying!

(Most of this information was found on the PTCAS website)



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