Criminal Background Checks

PTCAS facilitates a centralized background check process for accepted applicants. The purpose of the process is, in part, to ascertain the ability of a student to meet the requirements of clinical education sites and to become licensed physical therapists. Each program participating in PTCAS chooses whether to use the PTCAS background check vendor, Certiphi Screening Inc. Not all programs conduct a background check process through PTCAS via Certiphi.

Program Options for Background Checks

Following are possible approaches that different programs might take to securing background checks:

  • Require accepted applicants to complete a background check through the PTCAS partner, Certiphi Screening Inc. To determine if a background check is required by a particular PTCAS program, visit the Certiphi website (list is subject to change).
  • Require accepted applicants to complete a background check through a different provider.
  • Require students to complete a background check after they enroll (in lieu of or in addition to the PTCAS background check process through Certiphi).
  • Require or help students to complete a background check, if required by a clinical education site.
  • Not require a background check at any point.

If your responses to the PTCAS felony question or related criminal questions differ from the background check results, you may jeopardize your application.

Certiphi Email Notifications

If you accept an offer of admission from a program that uses the PTCAS background check, Certiphi will email you a link to a secure online form that will request additional information and your consent to initiate the background check process.

Certiphi Fees

The background check fee is $75 per applicant and is payable by the applicant to Certiphi Screening Inc. The fee includes all record search fees charged by states and counties. If you are accepted by multiple programs that require a background check through Certiphi, you will only undergo a single search and pay a single fee.

Certiphi Results

Once you have provided consent, Certiphi will begin the background check process. Results are typically completed within 1 week. Once the report is complete, Certiphi will allow you to review the results before they are released to the PTCAS program(s) that requested the report. You will then have ten (10) calendar days to verify the accuracy of your report before it is made available to the appropriate PTCAS program(s). If you do not review the report within the time allotted, Certiphi will release your report to the program(s).

Sharing Certiphi Results

If you consent to the background check process through PTCAS, Certiphi will release the results to the PTCAS program(s) whose offer of admission you accepted. Neither APTA nor PTCAS will receive or hold personal information gathered by Certiphi. APTA receives deidentified aggregated data for research and statistical purposes only.

Description of Certiphi Process

Below is a description of checks conducted by Certiphi. The results of the background search do not include juvenile records.

Social Security Number

A search of credit report header data to help confirm the applicant’s identifying information such as name, aliases, current and prior address(es) and residence(s), and Social Security Number.

County Criminal Records

A direct search of county courthouse records for any felony or misdemeanor criminal history. All records are researched to help ensure positive identification.

Statewide Criminal Records

A search conducted through statewide criminal records repositories or court systems for any felony or misdemeanor criminal history.

Federal Criminal Records

A direct search of federal courthouse records for any felony or misdemeanor criminal history.

National Criminal Database

An instant, multijurisdictional private database search covering more than 194 million criminal records collected from across the country. All database “hits” are verified directly through the source of information to ensure that records reported are current.

National Sexual Offender Database

A search of a national private database that contains sex offender data collected from across the United States.

US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General List of Excluded Individuals/Entities

A search of this federal agency database that provides information about parties excluded from participation in the Medicare, Medicaid, and all federal health care programs.

Dishonorable Discharge from the Armed Forces

Military records are verified either through telephone interviews with the applicant’s former commander or by obtaining the applicant’s DD-214 form. Verification generally includes applicant’s name, service number, rank, dates of service, awards and decorations, and place of entrance and separation.

Sanctions Base Screening

A search covering sanctions and disciplinary and administrative actions taken by hundreds of federal and state health care regulatory authorities, including FDA, NIH, GSA, OFAC, terrorist watch lists, and more.



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