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The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties coordinates and oversees the specialist certification process as the governing body for certification and recertification of clinical specialists. The board is composed of 12 individuals: board-certified physical therapists from nine board-certification specialty areas; one individual with expertise in test development, evaluation, and education; one non-physical therapist representing the public; and one non-physical therapist representing another health care profession.

Guiding the work of the program is a Glossary of Terms Related to Certification and Assessment. These definitions have been developed to delineate the terms used to describe certification, related activities, and impacted individuals.

ABPTS is a Proud Member of the Institute for Credential Excellence.

Mission & Vision

Mission — to advance the profession of physical therapy by establishing, maintaining, and promoting standards of excellence for clinical specialization, and by recognizing the advanced knowledge, skills, and experience by physical therapist practitioners through specialist credentialing.

Vision — to create, promote, and sustain a culture in which the highest-quality physical therapy is provided by therapists who attain and maintain certification in a specialty area.

ABPTS-ABPTRFE Joint Board Strategic Plan

Joint strategic plan for 2023-2025.

View the plan


ABPTS' responsibilities include the following:

  • Development of minimum requirements for certification and recertification to be used across all specialty areas, and approval of specialty-specific requirements developed by specialty councils.
  • Approval and recommendation to the APTA House of Delegates of the formation of proposed specialty areas.
  • Approval of formation of specialty councils in areas approved by the House of Delegates.
  • Approval and oversight of specialty council activities.
  • Approval of certification and recertification of qualified candidates for specialist certification.
  • Development, implementation, and revision of policies and procedures related to specialist certification and recertification processes.

APTA Specialization Purposes

The purposes of the APTA Specialist Certification Program are to:

  • Assist in the identification and development of appropriate areas of specialty practice in physical therapy.
  • Promote the highest possible level of care for individuals seeking physical therapist services in each specialty area.
  • Promote development of the science and the art underlying each specialty area of practice.
  • Provide a reliable and valid method for certification and recertification of individuals who have attained an advanced level of knowledge and skill in each specialty area.
  • Assist consumers, the health care community, and others in identifying certified clinical specialists in each specialty area.
  • Serve as a resource in specialty practice for APTA, the physical therapy profession, and the health care community.

List of PT State Licensing Boards Accepting ABPTS Specialty Certification for License Renewal Credit

Thirty-seven state physical therapy licensing boards issue CEU credit toward licensure renewal for initial certification, recertification, or both. Several other states provide credit as well, pending approval. View this .pdf to find out if your state accepts ABPTS certification or recertification for licensure renewal.

For the most up-to-date information, check with your state board.