Navigating the Physician Assistant Program Application Process

To apply to most physician assistant schools in the United States, you’ll use the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA®). which is the Physician Assistant Education Association’s (PAEA) centralized application processing service.

The online application opens in late April and closes in March of the next year. Most of our student submit the application in early summer. Program start dates vary (January, May, June, August, September), thus application deadlines vary widely. It is always advantageous to apply early, so reach school deadlines well in advance! For a list of deadlines for each CASPA-participating PA program, please see the following link.

You will be required to electronically enter biographical information, academic history, experiences, and to upload a personal essay.

All letters of recommendation are submitted to CASPA electronically. In this section, you must enter information for a minimum of THREE references, and you may now enter up to a maximum of FIVE references.

Schools often request additional information from applicants in the form of a supplemental, secondary application. A secondary application will likely require an additional application fee. Fees and required additional materials will vary from school to school, and it’s important to complete this step promptly. You may spend much of the late summer working on and submitting your secondary applications.

Most PA schools require an interview, though the process varies by school. Understand that not all students are granted an interview, but rather, those students who have presented themselves effectively in the earlier components of their applications.

Interviews are generally scheduled between the months of July and December.

The interview is your final chance to communicate to the admissions committee five crucial elements:

  • Your understanding of the roles and responsibilities of PAs
  • Why you desire to become a PA
  • How your previous clinical and non-clinical experience has prepared you for a career as a medical clinician
  • Your awareness of the intense level of training necessary to achieve such a responsibility
  • Why you should be accepted.

Want to practice your interview skills? Schedule a mock interview with the Pre-Health Sciences Advising Team.

Most applicants will be notified 2-4 weeks after the completion of the interview whether or not they have been accepted.