Program Reference Requirements

The reference requirements vary across programs, and not all programs require references. Review the PTCAS Directory to determine the number and types of evaluators required by each program. PTCAS will not determine if you have met the reference requirements for a particular program.

Request References Early

As stated in the Checklist, enter the contact information for your evaluators on the application soon after your create your account, so these individuals have adequate time to submit a reference on your behalf before the deadline. You are encouraged to contact your evaluators in advance to confirm they are willing to submit a letter of reference on your behalf and to obtain their preferred email address. Alert your evaluators to watch for an email from PTCAS that describes how they will login to the PTCAS Reference Portal and the 2-part reference process. Paper and emailed references are not accepted.

important icon PTCAS emails are sometimes caught in spam or junk email folders. Advise your evaluators to change their email security settings to permit messages from

After your evaluators create a PTCAS Reference Portal account, they will complete a 2-part process:

  • Part I: Complete questions and evaluation ratings via the PTCAS Reference Portal.
  • Part II: Upload letter of reference via the PTCAS Reference Portal
References Section of Application

Enter up to 4 references (evaluators) on your application.

Are you requesting a committee evaluation?

Some programs will accept a committee letter, a composite letter representing a compilation of letters, or a single letter with the collective thoughts of a group. If a program to which you are applying does accept such references, the individual who uploads the committee or composite reference letter must also respond to the question on the PTCAS Reference Portal. PTCAS will accept a college pre-health profession advisor in lieu of the evaluators. All reference letters must be submitted via the PTCAS Reference Portal.

Reference’s Information

Enter the evaluator’s first and last name and email address.

Due Date

Specify the date by which you need this reference to be submitted to PTCAS. You are advised to use a date no later than your earliest program deadline.

Personal Message/Notes

You may use this text box to enter a short personal note to your evaluator regarding the reference request that will be included in the PTCAS Reference Portal email.

Waiver of Reference

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) gives applicants the right to access written letters of reference, unless they choose to waive their right of inspection and review. Prior to requesting a reference from an evaluator, you are required to indicate whether you wish to waive your rights. PTCAS will release your decision to waive or not to waive access to your evaluator and your selected programs. Programs may interpret references as more honest and candid if you waive your right to see them. If you retain access, you must contact the evaluator or the admissions office directly to view the references, and you may be asked to explain your reasons for your choice during the interview(s).

Your waiver decision on the PTCAS application serves the same purpose as a legal signature and is binding. If you decide to change your waiver decision, you must login to your PTCAS application to edit your selection online. Once your reference is received, you cannot make changes to your waiver decision.

Permission to Contact Reference

For PTCAS to process your letters of reference, you must certify the following statements: “I hereby give permission to contact this reference via email to request the completion of the reference form and letter of reference. If my reference does not submit an online reference form in response to the email request, it is my sole responsibility to contact the reference directly to ensure all references required by my designated schools are received by the deadline.”

Permission for Schools to Contact Reference

For PTCAS to process your letters of reference, you must certify the following statement: “I understand that the schools to which I am applying may contact the reference either to verify the information provided and/or for further clarification of the information provided, and I hereby give permission for the schools to do so.”

Reference Process Part I

Your evaluators will respond to the following questions through the PTCAS reference portal:

  • How long have you known the applicant?
  • How well do you know the applicant?
  • Select the role that best describes your primary interaction with the applicant.
  • If you selected “Instructor/Professor” above, list all courses in which you have had the applicant.
  • Approximately how many references do you submit on behalf of physical therapy applicants each year?
  • Are you a licensed physical therapist?
  • If you are a physical therapist, please indicate the physical therapy institution from which you graduated.
  • If you are a physical therapist, please indicate the state in which you are licensed.
  • If you are a physical therapist, please enter your PT licensure number.
  • Evaluation Ratings (5 = Excellent, 1 = Poor)
    • Commitment to Learning                                                                                             
    • Critical Thinking                                                                                               
    • Empathy                                                                                             
    • Ethics                                                                                   
    • Interpersonal Skills                                                                                          
    • Leadership                                                                                         
    • Oral Communication                                                                                     
    • Professional Demeanor                                                                                
    • Response to Criticism                                                                                     
    • Responsibility                                                                                    
    • Stress Management                                                                                       
    • Team Skills                                                                                         
    • Time Management                                                                                         
    • Written Communication                                                                                               
    • Overall Recommendation (select one)
      • I highly recommend this applicant
      • I recommend this applicant
      • I recommend this applicant with some reservations
      • I am not able to recommend this applicant
Reference Process Part II

Evaluators must upload a letter of recommendation on institutional or organizational letterhead via the PTCAS Reference Portal. Accepted formats for uploads are .pdf, .doc (Microsoft Word), .rtf (Rich Text Format) or .txt (ASCII Text File) files only. Uploaded letters must be less than 5MB in size.

Check Status of References

PTCAS will automatically email you after each reference is received. After you submit your application, login to check the real-time status of your references. PTCAS will not notify you about missing references.

Missing or Late References

Arrange for PTCAS to receive all of your references by the earliest program deadline. Programs might not consider applicants who submit late materials; however, PTCAS does not enforce reference deadlines and will release your references to your selected programs, even if they arrive late. You can submit your application before all of your references are received.

Changing References

If 1 or more of your evaluators is unresponsive or declines your invitation to submit a reference on your behalf, you may request a reference from a new evaluator. You cannot delete a reference once PTCAS receives it.

Extra References

Do not submit more than 4 references to PTCAS. Send any additional references directly to your designated programs, if the program requires them. Unless required, programs might not consider extra references.