Skip to main content

As much as you might look forward to taking your exam to become a certified clinical specialist, plans can change. When the unexpected happens, all certification candidates may defer their examination to the following year.

Deferring is a simple process done through your online application. But before you follow the instructions below, carefully review these guidelines to make sure of your decision to defer, as there are administrative and financial implications to deferring your examination. 

Applicant files remain active for only two consecutive exam administrations. If you are not already a reapplicant for the current exam cycle, you can defer for one year and be eligible for the streamlined reapplication process. If you don’t reapply and take the exam in the next cycle, you will need to submit an entirely new application and initial review fee.

There is a reapplication fee of $180, in addition to any outstanding balance from your initial application, and you will need pay the current exam fee of $810. (The fee you paid with your original exam application will be refunded to you after you submit your notification to defer; see “Four Easy Steps to Submit Your Deferment Request” below.)

To reapply, submit an online reapplication, which is an abbreviated version of the full application and for the most part involves you affirming that the demographic and contact information is still accurate. If all other elements of your current application were approved, the only new information requested of reapplicants is verification that your license to practice physical therapy is still current, updated direct patient care hours, and any other requested documentation. The APTA Specialist Certification Program must receive this documentation by the reapplication deadline for the next scheduled exam.

Reapplication deadlines: 

  • Reapplication submissions open in late June.
  • The reapplication deadline, including the $180 reapplication fee and any outstanding balance on the original exam fee, is Aug. 31.
  • The examination fee payment deadline is Nov. 30. (If you already paid this year’s examination fee you will be refunded 80% of that fee upon submitting your deferment request; see below.)

Four Easy Steps To Submit Your Deferment Request

  1. Go to Online Applications.
  2. Log into your application.
  3. On the top righthand side of the screen, click on your application status button. It will be either Pay for Testing/Defer (if you have not yet paid the exam fee) or Ready for Testing/Defer (if you have paid the fee). 
  4. Once you have read the deferment guidelines above and are certain you want to defer, click the Defer Exam button. 

You will receive a confirmation email, and, if you already paid the exam fee, a refund will be issued in six to eight weeks.

Eligible reapplicants will receive reapplication information by email directly from the APTA Specialist Certification Program.

If you have any additional questions about the deferment or reapplication process, contact the APTA Specialist Certification Program 800-999-APTA (2782), ext. 8520, or