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MU Home » Academics » School of Health Sciences » Physician Assistant Program

Step-by-Step Admissions Process

Below is a step-by-step guideline of what to do to apply, when to apply and what to consider prior to applying to PA school.

Step 1: Coursework Evaluation
Prospective applicants should review all official college transcripts to determine the following:

  • Will I complete my bachelor's degree by the time I enter the program?
  • What prerequisites am I missing for the program?
  • Do I have a letter grade of C or better in each prerequisite requirement? If not, do I have a plan to retake the requirement prior to the start date?
  • Have I taken all of my prerequisite coursework in the US? If not, please review the Foreign Graduate link.
  • Will I be able to complete deficient coursework by the time I plan to enter the PA program?
  • Will I be able to take the majority of biology and chemistry requirements in the classroom and at a four year institution? (Do want to know why you need ask yourself this question? Click here and refer to question #3)
  • Realistically, are my overall GPA and prerequisite GPA close to the recommended GPAs?

Notes about Step 1: Applicants may still be considered for an interview and be accepted into the program if they are in progress or have a plan in place to complete their bachelor's degree and deficient coursework by the late-August start date. It is strongly recommended applicants have completed a significant portion of coursework requirements when they apply. "Significant portion" can be defined as having completed the following requirements (but not limited to):

  • Biology courses like: A&P and 8 s.h. of Biology
  • Chemistry courses like: General Chemistry I & II, Organic I
  • College Algebra or higher and
  • 3 s.h. of psychology

Having a significant portion of our prerequisites complete allows for a more accurate representation of your performances in the sciences. A high percentage of applicants who have been accepted in previous cohorts have prerequisite coursework deficiencies at their time of acceptance. We do not make exceptions for coursework based on experience, do not waive requirements and do not accept substitutions for any coursework.

Step 2: Clinical Experience
Determine the number of direct patient contact hours you have accumulated.

  • If you have completed 500 or more hours of quality experience, this step is complete.
  • If you are exploring ways to accumulate hours it is recommended to refer to the list of acceptable hours listed in the hyperlink above.
  • If I'm deficient in hours, can I complete my hours by July 15th of the year I'm planning to enter?

Notes about Step 2: It is recommended applicants have at least half of the hours complete at the time of application to be competitive. If you have zero hours at this time it is recommended you consider delaying your application until the next cycle so you have time to accumulate hours. Documentation of hours is not required, but applicants are encouraged to keep a log of shadowing opportunities and/or pay stubs just in case documentation is requested. The program is not responsible for assisting applicants with certification courses or shadowing opportunities.

Step 3: GRE
GRE questions:

  • Have I studied for the GRE?
  • If I've taken the GRE within 5 years of applying, are my scores at the recommended score of 1050 (tests taken prior to 8/1/11) or 297-300 (tests taken after 8/1/11)?
  • Timelines about when to take the GRE are in Step 6

Notes about step 3: GRE scores must be received with your application before we determine if an invitation to interview with the program will be extended. If you are taking the GRE a few years out from applying, the program will file scores away until your application is received. Strong performances on the GRE and prerequisite coursework have proven to be strong predictors of success in the program and ultimately on the PA National Certifying Exam. Therefore, meeting the recommended score for the GRE is a selection factor that is weighed heavily. The program does not discount an applicant if he/she takes the GRE more than once.

Step 4: Application
Application to the program begins in the spring (mid-April) of each year for entry into the next August class-yes, an entire 16 months in advance. The program only accepts applications through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) and utilizes a March 1 deadline. Opening dates are listed on our website when available (CASPA opening days are usually not available until February of each year). Because the CASPA application is a time consuming process for both the applicant and CASPA*, qualified applicants who wait to apply later in the cycle may not be considered for an interview because they applied later. Invitations for interviews are sent to the most competitive applicants on a first-come, first-serve- basis. Information regarding the CASPA application can be found on their website by clicking here and then click on the FAQ link.

*Some applicants have reported it takes 20 hours to complete the application and it will take at least 4-6 weeks for CASPA to verify the coursework on an application.

Step 5: Finances/Support
Finances: Because of the demands of attending PA school, enrolled students do not work. Therefore, it is important for prospective students to consider the following prior to accepting a seat in our program:

  • PA school is a financial sacrifice so how will I finance tuition and living expenses? Expenses outside of tuition and living expenses for many students include, but are not limited to: books each semester, medical supplies, rent/mortgage, gas, existing loans (i.e. car payments, undergrad loans), daycare (if applicable), groceries, and cable/internet access. Expenses per student vary because everyone's situation is different.
  • Student loans are not a bad thing! The majority of our PA students finance everything through student loans. Most students will finance tuition and other expenses through the Federal Unsubsidized loan and the Federal Direct Grad PLUS loan. You may read more about these loans on our financial aid website.
  • Scholarships? Currently, the program has limited options for institutional and program scholarships, but encourage students to search for outside scholarships (i.e. National Health Service Corp or the Forgivable Education Loans for Service) to help reduce the amount paid out of pocket or through student loans.
  • Should I live close to campus or commute? The program strongly recommends a student make the decision to live in close proximity to the program. Rent expenses are the major expenses outside of tuition. The time lost to commuting is time that can and need to be utilized studying and staying ahead.

Support: Family, spousal and/or close friend support is very important in PA school. Many students currently enrolled in the program are married, have children of all ages or have aging family members who need care. It is important for prospective students to have worked out childcare/home health care arrangements with other family member or friends who can pitch in with caring for those who need care outside of you. A strong support system will make your transition to and journey through PA school less stressful if arranged prior to accepting a seat in any program.

Step 6: Timeline to apply to the MU PA Program
After you determine coursework and clinical experience deficiencies (steps 1&2) and make a plan to complete deficiencies by the designated deadlines the following timeline should be considered.

Hypothetical situation: Consider you are an applicant who plans to enter PA school at MU in August 2014.

  • Spring- early summer 2013: If applicable, take the GRE (step 3). This step can be completed earlier than 2013.
  • April 2013: Start the CASPA application. To ensure you'll be on time for consideration it's important not to start the application later than Oct.
  • August 2013-Feb 2014: Program interviews will take place on a monthly basis. Selected applicants will be contacted 3-4 weeks in advance if they are chosen for an interview. Interviews continue until the class and alternate list are filled.
  • July 15, 2014: Clinical experience hours must be complete
  • August 2014: Deficient coursework and bachelor's degree must be complete. PA classes begin at the end of August.
 

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