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Physician Assistant Program
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
- 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
- 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
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
Step 3: GRE
- 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
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
- August 2014: Deficient coursework and bachelor's
degree must be complete. PA classes begin at the end of August.