How to Apply to PA School

Drew Seibenmorgen
“When they went over the curriculum, it was nothing but excellent.”
-Drew Siebenmorgen, Little Rock, AR

When a student is considering applying for a physician assistant school, the very first step should be planning. This cannot be emphasized enough. Plan. Plan. Plan.

Students should begin by researching the different PA schools across the United States. There are currently 181 nationally accredited PA schools and approximately 60-80 more developing programs. 

Here are some basic guidelines for applying to PA school, but remember, every program is different:

1. Do your research about the different programs.

2. Select around four programs that you are interested in applying to and attending.

3. Start planning early in this process.

4. Make a list of what pre-requisite courses or entrance requirements are needed for need program.

5. Determine when the program starts. All requirements will have to be completed at the time of enrollment, if not before.

6. Formulate a plan to complete:

  • Degree needed for entrance
  • Pre-requisite courses
  • GRE or other entrance examination
  • Patient care experience
  • Shadowing
  • Other requirements specific to each school

7. Review the program’s website or contact the program with questions about pre-requisite requirements before beginning the process. Do not make assumptions about substituting courses or other requirements.

8. Apply to CASPA or the specific program if the program does notr participate in CASPA.

9. Identify individuals who will provide a good reference and contact them early. Do not ask someone to complete a letter of recommendation at the last minute.

10. Spend time on your narrative statements on the applications. Do not throw a narrative together at the last minute.

11. Complete a supplemental application from the individual PA Programs if required by the schools.

12. Follow-up and make sure that your letters of recommendation were submitted from your references. Do not make assumptions about this. This is your application and it is your responsibility to ensure that the references are completed.

13. Follow-up with the PA Program and make sure that you have submitted everything requested by the program for entrance. It is not the responsibility of the program to contact you when items such as letter of recommendations, official transcripts or GRE scores are missing or incomplete.

14. After submitting the application, keep the programs updated when you complete a pre-requisite course, you have a new GRE score or you have updated patient care experience. Again, this is your responsibility to update your application. It is not the responsibility of the program to request this information from you.

15. Prepare for the interview. Prepare, prepare, and prepare.

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