Equivalency in Physical Therapy Program

Students and alumni explain the Equivalency Program

Equivalency in Physical Therapy (PT) Program

The Equivalency in Physical Therapy Program is offered by the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy (SPOT), and is designed for internationally educated physiotherapists (IEPTs) who are seeking to obtain a physiotherapy license in Quebec.  This is an individualized study program tailored to address each individual needs according to the recommendations issued by the Board of Directors of L’Ordre professionnel de la physiothérapie du Québec. The Program provides the IEPT students with complementary knowledge and academic and clinical skills specific to the practice of Physical Therapy in Quebec and Canada, thus facilitating their integration into the Quebec/Canadian healthcare workplace.

At McGill, the IEPTs are integrated into the main stream PT program, where they join a cohort of third year undergraduate (U3) and qualifying year (QY) students who are completing their physiotherapy degree. Being immediately immersed in the regular physiotherapy program which is a very engaging, motivating and culturally diverse learning environment enables the building of lifelong friendships and a strong professional network. The program can be completed either fulltime or part-time.

Obtaining your licence in Quebec or Canada

The Ordre professionnel de la physiothérapie du Québec (OPPQ) is the organization responsible for the licensing of Physical Therapists in Québec. Information on how to register as a Physical Therapist is available on OPPQ website. There are 3 pathways (path A, B, or C) an individual can take to obtain a physiotherapy (PT) license. For a quick overview of your chosen PT licensing pathway, see Figure 1.

NOTE: In order to be eligible to register as a Physical Therapist you must successfully complete a Physiotherapy Equivalency Program.  The French language exam, required and delivered by the Office Quebecois de la Langue Française, must also be successfully-completed in order to obtain your OPPQ permanent license. (See section x for more detail)

PATH A : Apply directly to the Ordre professionnel de la physiothérapie du Québec (OPPQ)

NOTE: OPPQ equivalency applications can be filed from outside Canada and present the advantage of allowing you to continue working in your profession while awaiting OPPQ’s decision. In addition, any information required can be added to your file as it becomes available.

Step 1: Read the Guide for applicants trained outside Quebec who wish to practice Physiotherapy in Quebec, which provides information on the process to obtain a license to practice physiotherapy in Quebec (see DIPLÔMÉ HORS CANADA page 5. https://oppq.qc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/VF_Fev2015_Guide_pour_candidats_etrangers.pdf

Step 2:  Prepare your documents and apply to OPPQ (see page 10, Annexe 2 in link below) https://oppq.qc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/VF_Fev2015_Guide_pour_candidats_etrangers.pdf

Step 3:  Wait to receive a letter of recommendation from the OPPQ Board of Directors presenting the decision.

Step 4:  Student should contact and meet with McGill Equivalency Program Coordinator and/or associate coordinator for orientation to the equivalency process and program, please contact us.

Step 5:  Student meets with the McGill Equivalency Program Coordinator to develop the individualized study plan and start SPOT application process.

Step 6: Apply to McGill University through Enrolment Services, Admission officer (Mrs. Joan Nachaty at: joan.nachaty [at] mcgill.ca.

This step requires the following documents:

  • Proof of English Proficiency
  • Copy of the OPPQ Letter
  • The Decision Form Signed by SPOT Equivalency Program Coordinator
  • Add/Drop Form: Plan of courses signed by the applicant

Step 7: Take a placement test, if applicable. (This is to assess your level for certain PT domains)

Step 8: Equivalency Program orientation.

Step 9: Student starts equivalency program courses and/or clinical practica.

Step 10: Student receives McGill certificate and confirmation letter for completion of equivalency program from the McGill Equivalency Program Coordinator.

Step 11: Equivalency Program Coordinator sends confirmation of program completion to OPPQ. Student may proceed to apply at OPPQ for Quebec PT Licence.

NOTE 1: This path does not lead to a degree per se, but students that have successfully completed all the OPPQ requirements obtain a SPOT Certificate, which serves as proof of completion of the McGill Physiotherapy Equivalency Program.

NOTE 2: Student must provide proof of English proficiency prior joining the McGill Equivalency Program.  It is recommended that you complete the English proficiency examination before coming to Canada in order to avoid any program registration delays. For more detailed information see: English proficiency requirements


PATH B:  Apply directly to the Master of Science, Applied, in Physical Therapy Program (M.Sc. A. PT)

NOTE: If you are interested in obtaining a Professional Master of Science in physiotherapy you can apply to the Masters of Science Applied PT or OT programs. This program is 7 semesters long and leads to a M.Sc. A. PT degree.

Step 1: Read the M.Sc. A. PT program description  by clicking on the link below (see also the Curriculum and Important Dates Tabs under the Physical Therapy Program- on the left side menu) https://www.mcgill.ca/spot/programs/pt/professional-masters

Step 2: Read the admission requirements and procedures for the Qualifying Year for Entry into the MScA-PT here: https://www.mcgill.ca/spot/files/spot/2016_qy_for_msca_pt_admissions_document_1.pdf

Step 3: Prepare your documents and apply according to the procedure listed here: https://www.mcgill.ca/spot/files/spot/2016_qy_for_msca_pt_admissions_document_1.pdf

For questions regarding this program, please contact Professional Masters Student Affairs Coordinator. Mr. Thomas Mills:  profmasters.spot [at] mcgill.ca

PATH C:  Apply via the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators 


L'Ordre Professionnel de la Physiothérapie du Québec conducts its credentialing assessments for applicants seeking to work in Québec. However, if interested in obtaining your Canadian PT Licence one may choose to apply to the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators. 

Step 1: Read the Assessment of Educational Credentials and Qualifications (Credentialing) Overview, which will provide information on the process to obtain a license to practice physiotherapy in Canada. http://www.alliancept.org/becoming-credentialled/credentialling-overview/

Step 2:  Read “Applying for an assessment” and all other pertinent information on the left side menu: http://www.alliancept.org/becoming-credentialled/credentialling-guide/

Step 3: Apply for an assessment: http://www.alliancept.org/becoming-credentialled/credentialling-forms/

Step 4: Courses and clinical practica recommended by the ALLIANCE may be completed at the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy (SPOT), McGill University.

Step 5: Student should contact and meet with Ana Maria Moga,  the Equivalency Program Coordinator for orientation to the equivalency process and program.

Admission & Application Conditions

What is the eligibility criteria to apply for  the McGill Physiotherapy (PT) Equivalency Program?

To be eligible to apply for the McGill Equivalency Program, the following are required:

  • OPPQ Decision Letter.
  • Provide proof of landed immigrant status, permanent resident status, or Canadian citizenship status.
  • Hold a degree in PT from a university outside Canada that has been assessed and recognized by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion du Québec.
  • Provide proof of international education transcript and CV.
  • Provide proof of English Language Proficiency.
  • Interview with the Chair of the Advisory Commitee for the Equivalency in Physical Therapy (ACEPT) or its delegate.
  • Time Commitment

Applicants must be available to:

  • Complete the clinical courses on a full-time basis
  • Complete the required academic courses on-campus, part-time or full-time

What are the Application Deadlines?

The application deadlines are at least 6 weeks before the first week of classes for both the fall and winter sessions. The physiotherapy courses are offered during the regular academic schedule with courses starting in either September or January.

Are there any extra requirements for Equivalency Program students?

Yes, there are health requirements to consider:

  • Students will be required to comply with the Faculty Immunisation and Infection Risk Policy and recommendations and procedures, to enable them to proceed through the clinical placements with an acceptably low level of risk. 
  • While in the program, students will be provided with detailed written information and information where the immunization can be completed
  • All students must accept responsibility for having up-to-date immunisations before commencing the clinical placements. Recommended immunisations will include diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis B. 
  • McGill University is required to inform placement organisations of the immunisation status of all students. If a student does not satisfy the placement organisation's immunisation requirements, it may refuse to accept the student for a placement.

I hold an assistant physiotherapy degree that has been obtained in another country.  Am I eligible to apply to the McGill Equivalency Program?

No. You are not eligible to apply to the McGill Equivalency Program.  Individuals who hold an assistant physiotherapy degree from other countries can request a professional assessment of their file as a foreign trained “physical rehabilitation therapist – college-level degree”. For more information, please see link: https://oppq.qc.ca/en/become-a-member/obtaining-a-license/international-graduates/

Clinical Education

What is clinical education?

  • Clinical education is the practical application of academic knowledge in real life clinical setting under the guidance and supervision of a licenced physiotherapist. 
  • One clinical placement is 7 or 8 weeks full-time hands-on clinical experience performed in a McGill University affiliated public or private facility.
  • A clinical placement will enable you to not only apply and consolidate your theoretical knowledge and practical skills, but also to understand the Quebec healthcare system and the PT practice, as well as acquire Quebec clinical experience.
  • Prior to Clinical placements  students must demonstrate practice readiness by having successfully complete the required professional course(s) according to the university and SPOT Standards:
    • In any course that includes both theoretical and practical evaluation components, each student must achieve a passing grade of C+ (60%) in each of these components, as well as in the overall course, in order to receive a passing grade for the course. If the overall course mark is a failure, the student may be permitted to write a supplemental exam in this course or retake the course.
    • For further information please read EQUIVALENCY PROGRAM RULES AND REGULATIONS (please see section C,  Evaluation and Progression).


Where do students receive their clinical education?

The clinical training can occur in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practice, community centers, CLSCs, rehabilitation centers, and long-term care facilities. The clinical practice can cover the entire lifespan, from pediatrics to geriatrics and palliative care, and cover any area of practice such as: orthopedics, cardiac, pulmonary, neurology, pelvic floor, and cancer rehabilitation as well as amputees etc., in both inpatient and/or outpatient population.

Once admitted to the equivalency program at McGill University, internationally trained PT students will have the opportunity to complete their clinical practica at one or several clinical sites, which are within the McGill teaching network, for example:


  • Constance Lethbridge Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Jewish General Hospital
  • Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Saint-Mary’s Hospital
  • Montreal Rehabilitation Institute Lindsay-Gingras
  • McGill University Health Centre:
  • Montreal Chest Institute
  • Montreal Children's Hospital
  • Montreal General Hospital
  • Montreal Neurological Institute
  • Royal Victoria Hospital
  • Shriner's Hospital
  • As well as in private physiotherapy practice,   which  have a contract with SPOT such as:
  • Action-Sports Physio
  • Concordia Physio Sport
  • Kinatex
  • Réadaptation Universelle


Do students pay for the Clinical Practice?

YES. The clinical practica are actual courses that the student must register for, just like the academic courses. The clinical practica courses are each 7 credits, are graded, and last between 7 to 8 weeks.

NOTE: Please refer to the following website for direct course links: https://www.mcgill.ca/spot/programs/pt/curriculum

How many courses and/or clinical placements do I have to take?

There is not a fixed number of courses or clinical placements a student must take. Together with the McGill Equivalency Program Coordinator you will develop your individualized study plan according to your OPPQ decision letter requirements. However, most McGill Equivalency Program students complete on average 4-5 courses from the U3/QY curriculum, including a mandatory course on the Quebec health care system and legislation (i.e.: foundation of professional practice POTH 563, or an equivalent course HCS_LAP approved by the OPPQ).

In general, most McGill Equivalency Program students complete on average two full time 7-week clinical placements. More clinical placements may be required depending on the individual past experience and their adaptation to the Quebec healthcare system.

What type of placements do I need to complete?

Your individualized study plan is designed according to the OPPQ decision letter requirements to enable you to acquire experience in the areas of physiotherapy that you need training. These areas may include musculoskeletal, cardiorespiratory and/or neurology.

Do I get a grade for my clinical placement?

Yes, your clinical supervisor will make recommendations to the McGill Clinical Coordinator, who will assign you a final grade.

Will I be paid for working on clinical placement?

No. In fact, as each placement is a university 7- credit course, regular course fees will be charged for each course. See tuition fees for detail. https://www.mcgill.ca/student-accounts/tuition-charges/fallwinter-term-tuition-and-fees/undergraduate-fees

Length of overall program, courses and placements


How long will it take to complete the Equivalency Program requirements?

The period of time needed varies according to the number of courses and /or clinical practica required for you to complete as well as your time availabilities.  In general, 5 seats per course are reserved for Internationally-Educated PT students completing their equivalency.

Figure 2: Equivalency in Physical Therapy Study Plan

How many hours a week will a course require?

The time required to read, analyze, study, and write assignments will depend on the student's commitment, time management and overall motivation. The amount of time spent on a course will therefore fluctuate from student to student. Nevertheless, for a course of 7 credits - an average of 15 - 20 hour work per week is expected, time enough to become familiar/comfortable with the materials, complete assignments and read the required texts.

Can I complete the Equivalency Program on a part-time basis?

Yes, you can study your required courses on a part time basis. However, the clinical placements requires full time attendance.

Is it realistic to work part-time while following the program?

The course load is generally heavy. It all depends on your time management and organization skills. However, please note that even students who are taking one 7 credit course find it sometimes difficult to work more than 10 hrs per week.

How long is a course and what are the academic session dates?

All Equivalency program courses last for a session (15 weeks), for example in the Fall session the courses start the first week of September and end the third week of December, whereas in the Winter session, the term starts the first week of January and ends in mid-April. The clinical courses, which are seven weeks long each, may be in the summer semester, the winter, or the fall semester.

NOTE: Please refer to the following website for direct course links: https://www.mcgill.ca/spot/programs/pt/curriculum

Language Requirements

What are the English Language Requirements?

a. Applicants whose mother tongue is not English and who have not completed an undergraduate or graduate degree in English from a recognized foreign institution must submit proof of competency in oral and written English (e.g., TOEFL) to ensure you meet the McGill University English Language Proficiency requirements. For more details click here.

b. This requirement is specified in order to ensure that the academic progress of students is not hindered by language difficulties while studying at McGill.

c. Appropriate exam results must be submitted directly from the testing office. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their scores are sent to the admission officer at enrolment services to:

Joan Nachaty
Enrolment Services
3415 McTavish St., McLennan Library Building
Montreal, Quebec H3A 0C8

I am going to take an English test later in the year, can I still apply now?

Any offer to the McGill Equivalency Program would be made conditional on obtaining the English Proficiency proof at least one month before the classes begin.

Tuition Fees and Financial Questions

How much do I have to pay for the courses I have to take ?

a. Students are responsible for paying McGill application fee and tuition fee.

b. In addition to McGill tuition fees, plan for approximately $500 for textbooks or resources. The university also has many of the books used in the program in the McGill  Life Science Library https://www.mcgill.ca/library/branches/lsl and/ or in Schulich Library of Science and Engineering https://www.mcgill.ca/library/branches/schulich.

c. For an approximation of the associated tuition and fees that you will need to pay for a full-time semester, please check the link https://www.mcgill.ca/student-accounts/tuition-charges/fallwinter-term-tuition-and-fees/undergraduate-fees. Students are considered full-time when they take 12 credits or more. Students supporting a child under 6 years old, may be considered full-time with taking only 6 credits.

NOTE 1: As an Equivalency Program student you will pay undergraduate fees. To obtain an estimation of your tuition and fees please select the academic year you are taking classes for (e.g. Fall/Winter); select Degree: Bachelor of Science (Physical Therapy) (non-practicing); then select residency: Quebec (if you are/ or planning to become a Quebec resident) https://www.mcgill.ca/student-accounts/tuition-charges/fallwinter-term-tuition-and-fees/undergraduate-fees

NOTE 2: Tuition and Total Fees are calculated typical as annual fees based on 30 credits taken during Fall and Winter terms. Your Total Fees will be calculated according to the number of credits you are taking, which is typically less than 30 credits/year, plus all the service fees.

Can I get a Scholarship and Financial Assistance?

There are various alternatives:

  • Financial assistance based on need may be arranged through the Student Aid office. For more details please see : https://www.mcgill.ca/student-accounts/awards-assistance 
  • A limited number of entrance scholarships are offered to students entering the Equivalency Program. The Equivalency Program Coordinator can provide you with additional information.

Additional Questions

What is the difference between a clinical practicum and a mentorship?

The clinical practicum is a university course, which students need to register for and for which they receive a grade. This clinical practicum requires an onsite licensed physiotherapy supervisor with a minimum of one-year experience. The mentorship is a clinical program not linked to the university. The mentorship requires a licensed physiotherapist with a minimum of 5 years of experience.

How are courses graded at McGill University?

Can I study by distance learning?

No. It is not possible to study the Equivalency Program by distance learning or online.

What happens if I am unable to take an exam due to illness or other personal reasons?


Are there any regulations that I have to comply with while being an Equivalency program student?

Is there a way I can get a head start on my preparation for the Equivalency Program?

  • Yes. We offer online resources for anatomy and physiology. It is especially useful to review these materials because that will enable you to be ready to start your required courses. Please refer to the Anatomy Resource List, found on the right hand side menu.
  • You can complete the English Language Proficiency requirements

Am I automatically enrolled in a Health and Dental Insurance Plan as a student in the Equivalence Program?

Please note that part-time students are not automatically enrolled in the PGSS health and dental plan but have the option to enroll during the change-of-coverage period. The Change-of-Coverage Period is: Aug. 23 - Sept. 29, 2015. http://ihaveaplan.ca/rte/en/McGillUniversitygraduatestudentsPGSS_ChangeofCoverage_ChangeofCoveragePeriod

However, you can enroll yourself by paying the applicable fee. See Health & Dental Plan self enrollment http://ihaveaplan.ca/rte/en/McGillUniversitygraduatestudentsPGSS_ChangeofCoverage_SelfEnrolment

Where do physiotherapists work?

Fifty percent (50%) of physiotherapists work in the public sector (hospitals, community centers, CLSCs, rehabilitation centers, specialized schools) and 50% work in the private sector (350 Private clinics exist in Quebec). Physiotherapists can also work as researchers, professors at the College level (CEGEP) or University level, consultant for government agencies and local community agencies, as well as the regulatory body.

Is studying in a physical rehabilitation program at the College level (CEGEP) the same as studying in a Physiotherapy program at a University level?

No. The physical rehabilitation program at the College level (CEGEP) leads to the title of Physical Rehabilitation Technician, whereas a physical therapy degree at a University level leads to the title of Physiotherapist.


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