Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership

Program Description

The APTA Academy of Education Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership (FHEL):

  • Is a blended learning program intended for current and aspiring directors and leaders in physical therapy education programs. The 52-week program is delivered across a 13- month time frame.
  • Allows fellows to connect theory with practice and enables direct application of knowledge learned through the Fellowship to their everyday work in physical therapy education.
  • Provides mentoring by high quality, experienced physical therapy education academic administrators, taught by qualified content expert faculty, and peer networking and support to provide a community of educational leaders.


The mission of FHEL is to develop a community of visionary, innovative, and influential directors in physical therapist and physical therapist assistant educational programs to advance the health of society.

Fellowship Program Goals

The Fellowship will:

  1. Provide consistent curriculum delivery over time by recruiting and retaining quality faculty/mentors.
  2. Prepare graduates who provide advanced management and leadership skills in their real world leadership contexts.
  3. Offer a high-quality, contemporary curriculum and operations.
  4. Produce successful graduates.
  5. Establish a professional community whose members support each other's development after graduation.

The Fellowship mission, goals, and objectives determine the structure of the program and its curriculum.

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 welcomed its 13th cohort for 2024-2025.

Applications and nominations for the 52-week fellowship program will open in October. Accepted candidates will begin the fellowship in July 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 FHEL 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 (July-July). Three, 1.5-day, immersive sessions are provided in October, 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 2024 application cycle.

Time Commitment:
APTA Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership is a 52-week curriculum delivered over a 13-month period (July-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 12-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

Financial Fact Sheet:

Applications open on RF-PTCAS on October 1, 2023 and will close on March 1, 2024.

  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.

For any additional questions about the FHEL and the application process, please email fellowshiphighered@aptaeducation.org.

Apply for the APTA Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership on RF-PTCAS. The final deadline for submission is Wednesday, March 15th.

Note that if you plan to apply for the ACAPT Faculty Diversity Award in the "Financial Support" section on the Nomination Form.

Once accepted into the fellowship program, ACAPT will select scholarship recipients based on the applicant's leadership goals, connection with ACAPT's mission and how the fellowship will help a candidate's future role at their educational institution and within ACAPT.

To learn more about both APTA's fellowship program and the ACAPT diversity award - including tips on applying, listen to this recorded webinar.

Criteria to receive the ACAPT diversity grant:

  1. Applicant must be an individual member of ACAPT and be employed full-time by an ACAPT member institution.
  2. Applicant must be accepted into the APTA Academy of Education Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership.
  3. Applicant must identify as a member of an under-represented minority as defined by the ACAPT Diversity Task Force.

All applicants eligible for the grant from ACAPT will be required to submit:

  • A copy of the letter of acceptance to the Fellowship from APTA.
  • A copy of their CV.
  • A response of not more than 500 words to address the following:
    • Tell us about your plans for your professional trajectory in academia.
    • Share your intent for involvement in ACAPT.
    • How will the Fellowship in Higher Education Leadership assist you in meeting these goals?
Fellowship in Higher Education Graduation rates for the past 2 years:
    • 2022-2023 cohort was 90%*
    • 2021-2022 cohort was 89%*

*= All Fellows who did not complete the year-long program are reflective of voluntary withdrawals for medical or personal reasons.