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Pre-Physician Assistant Application Process

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  • ADVISING | Meet with a pre-health advisor ASAP to map out your plan toward PA school admission.  Plan to meet with your pre-health advisor consistently throughout your journey.
  • RESEARCH | Determine which PA schools you are interested in. A good place to start is the PAEA website, where you can find information on many physician assistant programs and their timelines. 
  • PREREQUISITES | Research each school to understand and begin work as soon as possible on their application requirements including courses, GPA, shadowing, patient care, etc. 
    • It may be a good idea to bookmark the admissions page for each school you are interested in applying to.
    • Don't be afraid to reach out to your schools of interest and ask for clarification of their requirements if you have questions.
  • TIMELINE | Know the application start date and deadlines for each school you are interested in. Application cycles for PA programs can vary, but the CASPA Centralized Application Service typically opens in April. 
    • Application deadlines vary, and some schools have early decision deadlines or conduct rolling admissions policies. Please plan accordingly and do not wait until the application deadline. 
  • CASPA | Familiarize yourself with the CASPA application site.  For detailed descriptions of each section, information on fees/fee waivers, and other FAQs, visit the CASPA Applicant Help Center.
    • If a PA program is not a member of CASPA, they will have their own individual application process and procedures.  Please review each program's official admissions website for full details and instructions about their application process.  
    • View CASPA Participating Programs and Eligibility
  • EXPERIENCE | Start early with shadowing, volunteering, and working with patients. Research and strive to exceed the number of hours each program of interest requires.
  • INVOLVEMENT | Be involved in meaningful activities such as research, community service, work, and extracurriculars that are meaningful and unique. Well-rounded applicants are more competitive.
    • Consider being involved in regular community service.  Admissions committees like to see a committment to a specific cause or organization.
    • Quality is usually better than quantity.  Taking on leadership positions and heading initiatives for one organization means more than being somewhat involved in many different clubs and organizations.
  • RECOMMENDATIONS | Determine what types and how many references your schools of interest prefer and begin early building relationships with potential letter writers.
    • A few PA schools require a committee letter of evaluation along with your letters of recommendation.  To learn more about the difference between a letter of evaluation and a letter of recommendation, as well as to review the process for obtaining a committee letter, please visit the Committee Evaluations page.   
  • GRE | Check to see if your programs of interest require the GRE. If so, study for the GRE at least 3 months prior to attempting the test. Register 60-90 days prior to taking it and take it at least 6-8 weeks prior to application start date.
    • It is highly recommended that you register for a test date and site as early as possible because prime test dates and sites will fill up quickly.  Be sure to plan ahead!
  • PERSONAL STATEMENT | Start to write your personal essay months prior to the application in a word document. Be sure to edit it carefully and have peers and faculty review and critique as well.  
  • TRANSCRIPT | Transcripts must be sent to CASPA from all institutions you list in the 'Colleges Attended' section of your application, even if the courses later transferred to another institution. Your application cannot be processed until all of your transcripts have been recieved.
  • SUBMIT APPLICATION | Get all material ready a month prior to the application open date, fill it out, double/triple check for errors, and then submit!
    • Plan to apply early in the application cycle, as the CASPA verification process may take awhile. Additionally, some programs may have early decision deadlines and/or conduct rolling admissions policies.
  • SECONDARIES | After receipt of materials from CASPA, each PA school will notify the applicant directly for the need of any additional materials ("secondaries").  Return the secondaries promptly, this shows motivation and genuine interest in that school.
  • INTERVIEW | If chosen, you will be asked to come to campus for an interview (any costs for travel is paid by the applicant).  While a good sign, an interview does not guarantee acceptance.  The interview allows the school to see the person behind the application and how you handle interpersonal situations.  It is a last chance to sell your qualifications.


Another great resource is the Ultimate Checklist for Applying to PA School.

Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 2/23/24