The APTA Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership (FHEL), now managed by the APTA Academy of Education, provides current and aspiring directors in physical therapy education programs with the skills and resources they need to be innovative, influential, and visionary leaders who can function within a rapidly evolving, politico-sociocultural environment.

The award-winning fellowship was first accredited by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) in 2012 and reaccredited in 2017 through 2027. With over 160 alumni, the FHEL looks forward to welcoming its 12th cohort for 2023-2024.

Applications and nominations for the 52-week fellowship program will open in January 2023. Accepted candidates will begin the fellowship in June 2023 and take part in three trimesters of coursework, a mentorship program, and a leadership project.

The APTA Academy of Education looks forward to helping current and aspiring leaders in Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership achieve their professional goals and advancing the physical therapy education community.

Teressa Brown, DPT, serves as the FHEL Program Director.

Applicants must be:

  • A current APTA member who is licensed/registered/certified or licensure-eligible in the United States.
  • An aspiring or current leader in a physical therapist, physical therapist assistant, or residency/fellowship education program.

The fellowship is a 52-week curriculum delivered over a 13-month period (June-July). Three, 1.5-day, immersive sessions are provided in September, mid-March, and mid-July.

The fellowship curriculum addresses the breadth and depth of knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to function as directors within physical therapy education and leaders in higher education. Its nine on-line modules and immersive sessions are delivered in a trimester format and guided by content expert faculty, fellowship mentors, and the program director. The curricular outline is as follows:

Trimester 1:
  • Personal Leadership and Management
  • Institutional Leadership and Management
  • Immersive Session 1
Trimester 2:
  • Higher Education, Health Care Systems, and Society
  • Student Affairs
  • Legal and Policy Issues
  • Human Resource Management
  • Immersive Session 2
Trimester 3:
  • Resources/Financial Management
  • Program Development and Outcomes Assessment
  • Relationships, Influence, and Partnerships
  • Immersive Session 3

In addition, fellows have an opportunity to interact online with module faculty during virtual office hours. Module content is applied directly to physical therapy education during monthly mentor group e-community sessions.


Mentorship is an integral part of the APTA Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership experience. These individuals provide regular, timely, and close interactions with the fellows through coaching, advising, and thought-provoking questions. Fellows interact with two types of mentors: fellowship mentors and institutional mentors.

Leadership Project:

Based on a need within their academic institution, the fellow identifies a project topic that directly benefits the nominating institution. Throughout the fellowship, these projects are further developed and refined with feedback from peers, fellowship mentors, and institutional mentors.

The total cost of participation the APTA Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership is estimated to be $12,000.

Program Tuition:

Tuition is $7,000, and it is due upon acceptance into the program.

Other Costs:

Additional costs associated with this program include:

  • Residency and Fellowship Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (RF-PTCAS) application fee
  • Required texts and purchase of online articles (estimated cost: $1,500)
  • Travel to attend two, 2-day on-site sessions [October (associated with Education Leadership Conference) and July] situated throughout the United States, and one virtual 2-day session in mid-March
  • Hotel accommodations for on-site sessions (The APTA Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership program provides meals during on-site sessions)
Support and Grants:

  • The institution is strongly encouraged to provide financial support to the fellow, as it will directly benefit from the enhanced knowledge and skills of the individual. On the Nomination Form, please indicate what level of financial support the institution will provide the applicant.
  • To help cover costs, past fellows have also applied for internal grants at their institutions. These grants include travel, professional development, and other university scholarships.
  • Several fellows attending 2-year colleges have received Perkins Grants.
  • ACAPT is awarding two diversity grants for 2023 application cycle.
Time Commitment:

APTA Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership is a 52-week curriculum delivered over a 13-month period (June-July). The following activities represent major curricular and mentor time commitments for this program:

  • Self-directed learning of nine online modules in the American Physical Therapy Association's Learning Center during the fellowship year for approximately 450 instructional hours
  • Complete a two-hour virtual orientation and actively participate in the virtual office hours with each module's faculty
  • Required APTA Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership readings, activities, and discussion forums (averages 40-50 hours per module)
  • Participate in monthly calls with your small mentorship group
  • Three, two-day face-to-face sessions in a 13-month period, integrating content applied from each of the nine modules (requires approximately nine administrative leave days)
  • Develop and enact a leadership project that responds to a need in the fellow's institution
  • Ongoing meetings with your institutional mentor throughout program (average 1.5 hours/week)
  • Complete all program assessments and evaluations

Applications open on RF-PTCAS on January 1 of each year. The final deadline is March 15.

1. Download the nomination form and send it to your supervisor for signature.

2. Submit your application via RF-PTCAS with all required elements.

  • Upload your completed and signed nomination form.
  • Add your PT/PTA license and APTA member number.
  • Enter the contact information for three evaluators. (One evaluation must be submitted by the same individual who completed the nomination form.) Once you have entered the contact information, your evaluators should receive an email from RF-PTCAS with instructions on how to access the CAS Evaluator Portal, complete the evaluation, and upload a letter of reference.
  • Upload your current CV with evidence of past leadership activities.
  • Answer the following questions:
    • 1) A defining moment in your leadership journey, what has facilitated your growth as a leader, or your greatest leadership challenge.
    • 2) Your leadership career goals and how your career aspirations are consistent with the fellowship mission.
    • 3) Areas in which you hope to grow or learn through your participation in the fellowship.
    • 4) A need your institution is facing that could be addressed through a fellowship leadership project.

No more than one applicant per academic institution will be accepted per cohort.

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