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The physician assistant school application process takes nearly a full year to complete. Therefore, excellent planning and organization are essential. The P.A. school application timeline below lists the steps and schedule of the application process to help keep you on track. Staying on schedule is especially important because most PA programs have rolling admissions. Rolling admissions means that applications are evaluated as they are received. Schools may begin interviewing over the summer, and as spots in the class fill up, it becomes more difficult to gain admission.
Most PA programs use The Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) as their primary application.
In addition to submitting a primary application, most PA schools require a supplemental (“secondary”) application. The final step in the application process is an interview.
Here is a timeline for applicants who plan to enter PA school in fall 2024 to help you with your planning:
- Become familiar with the application process and PA schools. Good sources of information are the CASPA site, PA school websites, and your pre-health advisor.
- Confirm that you are on track to complete the pre-requisite courses for PA school.
- Continue to gain patient care and community service experience throughout the next year.
- Request letters of recommendation from faculty and PAs individually or obtain a committee letter per your undergraduate institution’s protocol. Note that the letters cannot be uploaded to CASPA until April when the cycle opens. However, it is still important to ask early as some letter writers only write letters for a particular number of applicants and may fill up. This is especially true of academic letter writers (professors).
- Consider taking the GRE in winter or early spring. Register for the GRE on the ETS site at: https://www.ets.org/gre/test-takers/general-test/register.html
- CASPA opens in late April.
- Submit transcripts to CASPA after spring grades have posted. Submit transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended.
- Aim to submit CASPA by the end of May.
- Register to take Casper, a situational judgement exam, if it’s required by any of the program’s you’re apply to. Registration is through Acuity Insights (formerly Altus Assessments) at https://takealtus.com Aim to take Casper in May if possible. If not, take it by the end of June so schools have your results early in the cycle.
- Begin receiving supplemental applications from programs after CASPA has been received by programs. Note: some schools have secondary application questions within the CASPA application in the “Program Materials” section. Those must be completed at the time CASPA is submitted to those schools.
- Take or retake the GRE.
- Continue receiving supplemental applications.
- Interviews begin as early as June at some schools.
September 2023-Spring 2024
- Interviews continue.
- Stay in contact with schools you are waitlisted at to update them about your activities and accomplishments.
- Begin PA school!
120 thoughts on “Physician Assistant (PA) School Application Timeline for 2023-2024 (for applicants planning to start PA school in fall 2024)”
I am unable to take microbiology with lab during spring 2020, but I want to apply during this year’s cycle to (if accepted) attend PA school in fall 2021. If I take microbiology with lab in the summer of 2020, can I still apply for PA school?
Most PA schools are fine with an applicant having one or two courses that are left to be completed after the application has been submitted as long as they are done before the student begins PA school. However, check the admissions pages for specific PA schools to check their policies.
Hello! Hope you are well. I noticed in the timeline that we can begin compiling our LORs before beginning the CASPA. I have individuals (previous professors, supervisors, etc) that will write the letters. However, how would I obtain them prior to having access to CASPA? This is my first time applying. So do I submit the letters myself or do the evaluators submit them directly to CASPA on my behalf?
You should request the letters from your letter writers early because some letter writers, particularly science professors at large schools, may get multiple requests for letters and have a maximum number they write and “fill up” for the cycle. However, that doesn’t mean that the letter writer will submit the letter immediately. Ask if the letter writer will write you the letter, but tell them that they won’t need to upload it until CASPA opens in April. The letters must be uploaded directly by the letter writer to CASPA.
Hi! I am currently in my second semester as a sophomore (spring 2020 semester). I do not want to take a gap yea, meaning I want to attend PA school right after my senior year of college. I am confused as to which cycle I would be applying to. I would be applying at the end of junior year… so I am thinking I would apply during the April 2021 cycle? Is this correct? Can someone people clear this up for me?
If you would like to start PA school immediately after graduating, and you are graduating in May/June of 2022, then you will be applying for the cycle that opens in April 2021.
I am graduating May of 2021 and I do not want to take a gap year so I would technically be attending PA school by Fall of 2021. I am confused though as to when I should start the application process. Can someone please clarify. Thank You.
If you want to begin PA school in Fall 2021, the you need to apply during the application cycle that will open in April 2020.
Hi! I want to start my application process in 2023 for the following year (class starting in 2024) but my 5 year expiration date for my anatomy and physiology class will be December of 2023. Since I will already have my application thoroughly underway at that point I don’t need to take another class of it do I? Or if I do need to refresh it could I request to get it waived on the basis of me working in healthcare for the last two (at that point it’ll be 3) years?
Not all schools have a 5-year expiration date on anatomy and physiology, so check each school’s policy individually. The same is true of policies regarding waivers for applicants working in healthcare. It would definitely be easier if there were a universal policy, but you’ll need to create a list of schools and check the websites for each school and perhaps follow up via e-mail if needed to clarify.
Hello! I am currently a Senior in college and will be graduating in March of 2021. I still need Microbiology along with biochemistry nor have I taken the GRE. I do have 1800 hours of patient care experience as a CNA. I don’t have any shadowing hours, but plan on doing that this summer. Is it possible that I could start PA school fall of 2021 or is my best bet 2022?
Most PA schools will consider applicants who have one or two required classes pending as long as those are completed before the applicant starts PA school. I recommend checking the admissions pages for specific schools you’re interested in regarding their policies for completing prerequisite coursework. 1800 hours of patient care experience is a good number. If possible, though, try to do the PA shadowing prior to submitting your application as those experiences may help you write a stronger personal statement explaining your interest in the PA profession. I can’t advise you specifically about whether to apply this year or next as there are many factors that go into being competitive. For example, some students have GPAs that are too low to be competitive and need to take a year of post-bac coursework before applying.
I want to apply this year (my junior year) so that I can start right after I graduate in 2021. Im wondering when you typically hear back from PA schools that start in June-Sept and also when you have to put your deposit down/ confirm enrollment? Since there are so many different start dates I imagine it makes things complicated.
I was working on a timeline and wanted to make sure I had it correct. I will graduate in May 2021 & wanted to take a gap year (maybe 2 if I join the peace corp). If I take one year off this is the timeline I created:
April-May 2021: Take/retake GRE & Apply
June-August 2021: Supplemental Applications & Interviews
Sep 2021 – Spring 2022: Interviews
Fall 2022: PA school starts
Is this correct? I get confused a little with the timeline.
Yes, that schedule is correct. If you apply in April/May 2021, you will begin PA school in fall 2022.
Hi Dr. Eaton. I want to start PA school in Fall 2023, I just requested a LOR on CASPA from my manager, but I heard from people that the LOR will expire when the next cycle opens in April 2022. Is that true? Your timeline says to request LOR in Feb-March of 2022 but those will just expire in April once the current cycle ends and the next one begins. Could you verify?
Although you should ask the letter writers for the letter now, you don’t actually have the letter writers upload them until April. The “request” refers to asking your letter writers if they will write you the letter, but tell them to wait to upload them until the new cycle opens.
Hello! I graduated from a school that does committee letters last May, however, the pre-health advisor/coordinator from this school is somewhat of a nightmare, does not know me well, and does not use email (seriously), and I am afraid a letter compiled by her would be incompetent. My question is, is it acceptable NOT to include a committee letter even if you have one? Or would that look poorly?
First, make sure that you check the websites for each school you plan to apply to about their policies regarding letters of recommendation. If they don’t state that an applicant has to obtain a committee letter if one is offered by the applicant’s college, then obtaining individual letters of recommendation instead of the committee letter is fine.
I graduate May 2021 and will have all my prerequisite courses done. I definitely started late on getting shadowing hours and direct patient care hours and will begin getting them this summer 2020. I do plan on taking a gap year to continue to get my hours. My question then would be my gap year would start May 2021 and plan on working full time to get my hours. Would I still be able to apply in the fall of 2021 to begin PA school fall of 2022 even if I do not have all my hours done? Or do I have to wait to have all my hours and should wait and apply in the fall of 2022 to start PA school in fall of 2023, which would mean I would take 2 years off?
Some PA schools require a certain number of patient care hours (e.g. 500) completed at the time of the application, whereas others are more lenient and the hours are a “recommendation” or “preferred” or they are a requirement that needs to be completed by a particular date, but not necessarily by the time the application is submitted. Therefore, there’s no blanket answer as it’s school dependent, so you need to look on the websites for each school you’re interested in or contact them directly.
I plan to graduate in May of 2021 and complete a gap year as either an ED tech or a PCA. I was suppose to graduate with 1000 hours of clinical experience but due to COVID19 my clinical co-op has been delayed for now, and I am not sure how many hours I will have. Will PA schools take into account how many hours I will supposedly have after completing my gap year in a clinical setting? I want to make sure my hours are competitive, so I hope they take those into account if there is a place in the application to explain what I am doing for my gap year.
Hello, I have a weird question. I was originally planning to apply to medical school however plans change and I realized it was not the correct path for me. I was wondering if I am eligible to apply to PA school with my medical school application materials (letters of recommendation referencing medical school and an mcat score). I do have ~2000 clinical hours, a good gpa, and very diverse clincial and research experiences. Thank you for your time and patience.
Hello I am sure this has been answered a million times but I am just frustrated. So I just found out that you have to have your BS before you are able to enter into PA school, sure fine and understandable. I am frustrated at the fact of the matter that I will obtain my 4 year degree in may 2021….apply in caspa in april 2021 but won’t be able to attend THAT fall 2021…. I would be allowed to enter for 2022…. just sucks. Any clarification as to why this is so?
You can apply for PA school while you’re still in college. You just need to have your bachelor’s degree before you start P.A. school. Therefore, you could apply this cycle (April 2020) and potentially be accepted for fall 2021 entry. Since PA schools put a lot of emphasis on hands-on patient care experience, many PA applicants take a gap year, so they apply for PA school at the end of their senior year, but if you have sufficient hands-on experience for the programs you’re interested in you could apply this cycle. Some P.A. schools don’t allow pending prerequisites, others allow one or two at the time of the application, so if you’ve got more prequisites to complete your senior year, check on the PA programs’ websites to see if they are okay with in-progress or future prereqs.
I have been preparing to fill out my application, and have all but finished my CASPA application. The only part that I am missing is that I did not have my emails for letters of recommendation entered into the supporting information section by the closing date of April 1st, 2020. Is there any way to submit my letters of recommendation externally/separately from the app?
You will need to check with individual PA programs to see if they accept letters of recommendation directly, rather than via CASPA.
My name is Stefania and I am a junior at University. I would like to to apply to PA school during the 2020-2021 cycle, however I will not complete my bachelor’s until fall 2021. I have completed ALL pre-requisites wanted by PA schools along with over 3,000 of hands on clinical hours, 3 PA shadowing experiences and 500 hour volunteer hours. Should I just wait and apply in 2021 for the 2022 cycle? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you for you time.
Since you have all the prerequisites and a significant number of clinical hours, you could apply this cycle even with your bachelor’s degree in progress. Programs typically just want the degree completed before you start the program, not at the time of the application. However, I can’t say specifically what you should do as that also depends on factors such as overall and science GPA (if either of those are weak than waiting a year would give you your senior year to strengthen your academic record) as well as the quality of the clinical experiences.
Carleen Eaton, MD
I did my MD in Pakistan , worked for IHC 7 years as a medical assistant in family practice , Instacare ,sleep medicine . My credentials had been evaluated from CASPA in 2010 . I did all pre- requisition from SLCC in 2008. I need to know do I have to take Anatomy and Biology again on line and what is status of my evaluations by CASPA . Another thing I completed my Labs in SLCC at that time . Now due toCOVID -19 how can I take those labs. I want to apply for next year PA program and needs to know what things I need to renew. I worked as pediatrician back home for 4 years and my residency was in OB/ GYN and pediatrics. Medicine is my passion. Would you please update me what I need to do? Thanks
I work as a medical assistant and I shadow the Physician I work with. I plan on attending PA school soon. I am currently taking my prerequisites as I have a bachelor’s degree already. Do you know if PA schools allow classes taken at a community college.
Most PA schools do allow prequisites to be taken at a community college, but if there is a school that you are particularly interested in then check their website specifically about that issue.
Hello Dr. Eaton,
I am going to graduate in spring 2021 and planning to take a gap year. I am planning to apply for PA school in May 2021 so that I can attend in August 2022. So my question is that will the hours I get after I apply to PA school count or they won’t?
So i am supposed to graduate spring 2021 but i am thinking of switching my major so i can take 3 of the pre-requisite courses with financial aid so i will be graduating fall2021 is it still possible to apply for PA school fall2022? Or am i screwed…i am taking my GRE in september. i already work as a medical assistant for 3 1/2 years so i have more than 1000 hours. i have a 3.2GPA currently. DO I have any hope for fall 2022? will schools accept me?
Hello, I am set to graduate December 2020 and I am about to begin gathering my PCE. Most schools I am looking at require 1000 minimum hours. Do you think I will be able to apply April/June 2021 or is that cutting it close, because I really would like to attend PA school by 2022.
First, check this page on CASPA or the program’s websites or contact them to find out if the October 1st deadline in the date that CASPA has to be submitted by or if it actually has to be verified by then as it differs by program. You can then also contact CASPA to see how long verification is taking at this point. In my experience, a few weeks is sufficient time for verification at this time of year, but it can vary, especially with COVID impacting nearly everything. Best wishes to you in your application to PA school!
I will be finishing all of my pre-requisites during my Fall Semester of 2022. Basically, I will be graduating within 3.5 years. When is the earliest I can apply to PA School?
Some PA schools allow applicants to apply with prerequisites in progress as long as those will be completed by the time the student begins PA school. You’ll need to check the webpages for each school to determine that or contact the schools. If they allow that, then you could apply for the cycle that opens April 2022 to start in Fall 2023. The application process is long, so you actually apply the spring or summer prior to the year you want to attend PA school. However, PA schools place a lot of emphasis on patient care experience, so your readiness to apply will also depend upon if you’re able to get enough patient care hours to be competitive for the schools you’re aiming for.
Some P.A. schools allow students with pending requirements to apply, but you’ll have to check the admissions pages for individual schools to determine that. For those that do, you could apply in spring 2022 and begin P.A. school in fall 2023. However, depending on how many and which courses you have pending you may need to wait until spring 2023 to apply and then begin P.A. school in fall 2024
So I am a current 4th year at CSULA as a Public Health Major. I will attend a 5th year so technically I will be graduating Spring of 2022. By that time I have finished all the requirements but my only problem is if my classes from 2019 Spring and Fall will still valid once I apply for PA School? I want to Apply PA School by FALL of 2024. I was planning to do Medical Scribe throughout the 2020 Summer but I didn’t get to because of the current Pandemic we are in right now. I need volunteering/ Patient Clinical Experience. What volunteering /Patient Clinical Experience should I apply to. I need to apply by 2024. I know maybe confusing but I need help.
Regarding expiration of prerequisite courses, courses are usually valid if they are taken within the past ten years. There are some exceptions, so check individual programs sites as well. For patient care hours, medical assistant, EMT, and certified nurse assistant (CNA) are all means of getting patient care hours and are something you may be able to do part time while still in school and then full time during a gap year. There are medical assisting jobs that don’t require a certification. Ask any connections you have with physicians/PAs if they know of openings as well as go on career websites and check the listings and apply to those that don’t require an M.A. certification. Some will train on the job and various applicants I’ve worked with have successfully gone that route to get patient care experiences. Scribe is accepted by some programs, but others don’t consider it hands-on enough and prefer M.A., C.N.A. EMT etc. Start the clinical experience as soon as you can do so without impacting your grades by juggling too much at once. Some programs have no minimum number of hours, some have 500 and some have 1000 or more. The more competitive programs have higher minimums.
Also since I am graduating from my undergrad on Spring 2022. I was thinking of applying to a 1 year program for Medical Assisting that will start on FALL 2022 and ends in SUMMER 2023 because I need the clinical hours to build up. But I wanted to start the PA Program for the FALL 2024. When should I start my clinical experience? What should I do to gain hours without attending a 1 year program? And where can I exactly get my hours paid or unpaid while im in my undergrad and by the time I get my diploma without spending 1 year of attending another program to supplement my hours?
Hello Dr. Eaton! I am the only person in my family to pursue a medical degree of any kind so this entire process is completely new to me. I am graduating in the fall of 2022 and plan to have my clinical experience hours done by then as well, so I would like to start PA school in 2023. My top school says their application deadline is Nov. 1 since they start in May so I am confused as to when I should plan to take the GRE and when to start my application and I just can’t get a good overall timeline going. Thanks in advance!
I am currently a junior in college. I will be starting my health care hours in January of my Junior year and working all the way up until graduation. Would I be able to accumulate enough hours to go straight to PA school from graduation or would I have to take a gap year?
If you would like to go straight to PA school without a gap year, then you’ll be applying to PA school in late spring spring or early summer 2021. The application cycle opens in April and a good time to apply is after your grades come out in the spring semester. At that point, you’ll only have been working for 5 months. However, some schools take into account your planned patient care hours. Also, it will depend on how many hours a week you’re working as you could be just working 10 hours a week or it could be 40, which would make a big difference in how many hours you have by May or June. Finally, programs vary a lot in the number of hours they want. More competitive ones may want 1000 or more, while some want 500, 250 or even have no requirement. Keep in mind, though that hitting the minimum may not be sufficient as the average number of hours accepted applicants at a school have is often much higher than the minimum.
Is this a similar timeline to follow for the upcoming PA school application cycle? I just finished my last semester of undergrad courses and am trying to make a plan that won’t require me to take a gap year if I don’t have to. Thank you for all your help!
Yes, the 2019-2020 timeline for P.A. school is similar to the one for this coming cycle 2020-2021. I’ll be posting a new one soon!
Hello, I am an undergrad I am set to graduate in fall of 2021. If I want to get into a fall 2022 program, and knowing I have two semesters left of undergrad…am I still eligible to apply this spring?
Whether you are eligible to apply while still in college depends on which courses you have remaining as well as the policies of particular schools. Some programs require that all prerequisite coursework be completed prior to applying, while others may allow one or two courses to be pending. Therefore, if the classes you are taking during your final year of college are not required classes for P.A. school, then you should still be eligible to apply. However, it’s important to check with each school specifically. That information is usually listed on the “requirements” section of the admissions pages for a school. If it is not, or if it is unclear, then call or e-mail the program
Hello, I am currently a senior. I will be graduating in May 2021 (Spring semester). I am planning to apply for PA schools when CASPA will be open during April 2021. I have taken almost all the prereqs and completed my patient care hours also and planning to take GRE before April 2021 (CASPA open). My question is today I have created my CASPA account and it asked me “I plan to start a program: _____ .” I do not know should I put Fall 2022, Spring 2022, or Fall 2021 as I am applying in April/May 2021.
If you’re applying this April/May 2021 then you’ll be starting a P.A. program in Fall 2022, so that is the correct date to put.
Hi, I am currently a senior in college and I graduate May 2021. I want to take one gap year but I am still unsure about how the timeline works. When would applications be due if I only want to take one gap year? Thank you.
If you would like to take one gap year, then you should apply to PA school in spring/summer 2021. You’ll then take a gap year as you go through the application cycle. The application cycle is such that you apply more than a year in advance of when you want to start PA school. If you apply in the spring/summer of 2021, you’ll start PA school in fall 2022, which means you’ll have one gap year.
Hi Dr. Eaton,
I am a Junior and planning to apply to PA school this spring in hopes to start a PA program directly following graduation with my bachelor’s degree. I recently found out that a few of the schools I was planning to apply to do not accept AP credits from high school. Two of my prerequisite courses (General Chemistry and Statistics) have been completed through AP courses in high school. For these schools, should I not bother applying anymore or would I be able to take these courses after applying? Would it work the same was as if they were my pending courses that would only need to be finished before starting my PA Program? Thank you!
Many P.A. schools do allow one or two prerequisite courses to be pending at the time of application, but it is school specific. Visit the admissions pages for each school on your list and check under the application requirements or FAQs section. If you can’t find the answer there, then e-mail or call the admissions offices directly.
Hi Dr. Eaton,
I am planning on graduating in fall 2022 and would like to go straight into PA school in 2023. I am confused on when to start the application process. Thank you for your time and help.
The application cycle is such that you apply more than a year in advance of when you want to start PA school. Therefore, to begin PA school in fall 2023, you’ll apply to PA school in spring of 2022. The application cycle begins in April.
Good luck on your journey to PA school!
I’m graduating this May 2021 and plan to take a gap year before PA school. I see many programs such as GW have application deadlines of October 1st, not April. So if I applied October of 2021, when would be the start date? Do most schools have applications in April or October? Lastly, do most schools begin in the fall or in January?
You are correct that the deadline for applications is in the fall, such as October 1, for many programs; however, the application cycle opens in April and it is to an applicant’s advantage to apply early in the cycle because admissions at most P.A. schools are rolling. “Rolling admissions” means that a school will evaluate, interview, and admit applicants throughout the cycle, rather than waiting for all the deadline and then reviewing all the applications together. That means that those who apply earlier in the cycle are typically at an advantage, and sometimes a significant advantage because interview spots can fill up on the earlier side and as those spots become fewer, the remaining spots can be more competitive to get. This holds true for acceptances as well. Therefore, I advice applicants to aim to submit the application by the end of June.
So if I plan on graduating a year early (Spring of 2022) and want to go to PA school in the fall of 2022 what should my timeline look like this year, am I too late to achieve this?
If you would like to attend PA school in fall of 2022, then you should submit your application in 2021. The application cycle opens in April 2021 and I recommend submitting the application by the end of June 2021. That will put you on track to attend PA school in fall 2022, so it’s not too late.
Hi, Dr. Eaton,
I am currently a senior in college and I graduate May 2021. If I submit My CASPA in April once the application opens and uplaod the transcript befor hand before my grades are inputted will that be a problem? Will I have to resend my transcipt because two of the main Science courses will be still in the process of being graded.
I recommend waiting until after you receive your grades in May to apply. At that time, you can submit your CASPA application and immediately request your transcripts to be sent to CASPA. Grades can be updated via CASPA, but grade updates can only be submitted after the application is verified by CASPA, which means that you’d be submitting your application in April and marking the spring 2021 grades as “in progress” and sending transcripts right away. CASPAS will then verify the application (meaning that they compare the grades you enter on the application against what your transcript says) with the in progress classes having no grade. It’s possible that you could even receive your grades in May while the application is still pending verification and then may have to wait until verification is done to submit the update. If you have two main sciences classes without grades, it won’t really speed up your review by the PA programs to submit the application before those come in anyway, as they’ll want to see those. My advice is to just wait for your spring grades to come in and then submit the application. May is still excellent timing and early in the cycle. If the grades aren’t posted on your transcript until early or mid-June, that’s still fine as well. You can also call CASPA to ask how the logistics of this situation could best be handled, but I do think that waiting would be optimal.
Hi Dr. Eaton,
I feel like my GPA overall aftering graduating this spring semester 2021 won’t be the best. I barely meet the minimum for most of the PA schools I’m applying to. I have about 700 hours and more to come this summer. Would I have a chance or do you have any advice? I’m worried about my GPA and I am thinking about doing a 2yr Master’s to try to get it up or better my chances.
WHile I can give you my general thoughts about remediating a GPA and the importance of the GPA in admission, I can’t specifically advise you about your chance of admission as that is dependant on numerous factors including not only the overall GPA, but also science GPA, GRE scores (for some programs) quality of patient care experience (in addition to the number of hours), how an applicant may add to the diversity of a school’s student body, and the competitiveness of the schools to which one is applying. A master’s program that is geared toward pre-P.A., premed, etc. students trying to improve their GPAs, especially in the sciences is a good route to increase competitiveness for P.A. school. However, there are many programs like that (“academic enhancer programs”) that are one year, so you may not need a 2-year program. Some applicants take coursework independently of a structured program through extension/open enrollment courses at a local university that offers that option to non-matriculated students. That approach can be more cost effective, but a master’s can provide more structure and the opportunity to prove yourself at the graduate level, just as P.A. school is. See if you can make an appointment with the admissions office of a P.A. school you’re interested in, or even a few schools to get their insight about if you will be genuinely competitive for their programs with your GPA and if they recommend a master’s or some other coursework.
Good evening Dr. Eaton,
I am currently in my sophomore year of undergrad and I am hoping to matriculating to PA school right after graduation. I would greatly appreciate any assistance with figuring out the application timeline. From my understanding, would I apply April of 2022 to matriculate fall of 2023? Lastly, do all PA schools require the GRE? Thank you sincerely for all your help!
Yes, you are correct. If you would like to matriculate into P.A. school in fall of 2023, the you would apply during the cycle that opens April 2022. No, all P.A. schools do not required the GRE.
My apologies, I also wanted to ask when would you advise taking the GRE exam? Thank you!
If possible, take the GRE in the spring you apply (spring 2022). That way, you’ll have your score available when you submit CASPA and your application will be complete and ready for review. However, if that’s not feasible, and you need time to study when you’re not in school, take it in the early summer of 2022. Or, if your initial score is not where you need it to be, then you can retake in the summer.
Hi Dr. Eaton,
I am interested in studying abroad my senior year of college. I would like to go during the fall semester, but I am concerned that this might interfere with PA school interviews. Would this be an issue? Thank you!
You don’t say what year you currently are in college, but if you’re a junior now, and your senior fall will therefore be this coming fall 2021, there’s a chance that interviews could still be remote due to COVID or at least that applicants have the option for remote. If interviews go back to being fully in person, though, then being abroad would be an issue. I don’t recommend going abroad fall of the application year, but it’s too early to know if this year will be an exception. You could try contacting programs individually to see if they know yet if interviews will be in person or remote for this coming fall.
Hi Dr. Eaton,
I am applying to PA school this 2021 cycle, and I will have 1000 hours of PCE by April, meeting many school’s minimum hours. Is it better to apply in April right when applications open or wait a few months until I can get more hours?
I typically recommend applying earlier in the cycle even if the number of PCE are lower as long as the minimum has been hit. Also, if an applicant has hit the minimum for some schools or not others, the application can be submitted to some schools earlier and the ones with higher minimums later. Finally, there are other factors to considering in terms of timing of submission such as if one is still in school and waiting for grades from spring semester or if a new, very hands-on position is starting in May or June for example, and the applicant wants to wait until he or she has had some time there so that activity can be included and described on CASPA.
Hi Dr. Eaton,
I am supposed to graduate in the fall of 2021 and during my final semester I will be finishing up my last 2 required courses for PA school and I want to apply and hopefully attend right after I graduate. It says the CASPA application for 2021-2022 cycle opens in April 2021. Is that the application cycle I use?
Yes, if you would like to start PA school the fall after you graduate, then you should apply for the cycle that opens in April 2021. A small number of PA programs have January start dates, which means you could start in January 2022 if you’re graduating in Dec 2021, then you could apply to those as well as the ones (most programs) that start in fall 2022.
Sorry I also have another question,
If I apply during April 2022 my application isn’t submitted till around September (even though I still have two pending classes) which is the deadline for some schools correct?
Many schools allow students to apply even if they have one or two prerequisite courses pending as long as the courses will be completed before the student starts PA school. The policy regarding pending courses differs from school to school, so you need to check the admissions pages for each under the section about application requirements to find their policy.
I recently graduated from university 2021, and am looking to take two gap years and planning to hopefully start PA school fall 2023. However, I want to retake some courses that I did not particularly do that well in. If I take the courses spring of 2023 and finish by May 2022, can I still submit these grades to PA school in CAPSA after April? Thanks.
Although you can update your grades on CASPA after you submit the applications, the new grades will not be factored into your CASPA GPA. Therefore, the schools will be able to see the new grades, but your CASPA GPA won’t change. Therefore, you may want to consider waiting to apply until after you receive your grades in May. That is still early in the cycle, and it may be worthwhile to wait the additional month in order to have a higher CASPA GPA, especially if your GPA could fall below minimum cutoffs for overall or science GPAs that some programs have.
god bless your soul for making this timeline. It’s so confusing knowing when apps open for the cycle I want to apply for, and knowing that I’m not missing a deadline is such a relief. Thank you
I’m glad you found this so helpful!
Hello Thank you for all you are doing to help us lost pre PA students. I unfortunately graduated December 2020 with a 2.8 GPA and now I am getting a masters to hopefully help raise my GPA. However, it still does not take away from me not having a 3.0 science GPA as I’m scared that even after my masters, my application will not be satisfactory as my science GPA is not above 3.0. However, if I had C’s in my undergrad, and lets say I retake my science classes and get an A, it will average out to a B. Just how many classes will I have to keep retaking to get at least a 3.0 science GPA. I am so lost as the other aspect of my application are satisfactory.
If the master’s you are getting is science-focused, then that GPA may be sufficient and could override the lower undergrad GPA, but it depends on the program. I recommend that you contact the programs you’re interested in to find out if that is the case for them so that you don’t spend time retaking a bunch of classes you don’t need. The time you invest in doing that research with programs will be very worthwhile. The most beneficial master’s in terms of overcoming a low GPA and especially low science GPA are those that include biological science courses relevant to medicine versus such as an academic enhancer program (often known as a “special master’s program” or “SMP”). If that is the type of program you’re in, it should suffice for a good number of programs as the point of those is to prove that you are ready for the rigor of a PA program. Regarding raising your undergraduate GPA from a 2.8 to a 3.0, that depends on how many credits you took to get the 2.8 and would have to be calculated out. I know overcoming a low undergrad GPA can be daunting, but it is very possible.
Thank you reaching back out to me I really appreciate you taking your time to help me with my question. I’m more than half way done with my masters, however, it is in healthcare administration, so I assume that it would not count towards my science GPA. Thus, I would have to go back after I complete my masters to retake science courses from my undergrad, which at this point feels very defeating and far away. However, lastly, I am not sure where to check my science GPA. Does CASPA generate the science GPA for me? I assumed it was under a 3.0 because my overall is also below a 3.0. Just so I can have an idea of how many classes I have to retake or I have do a science related post-bac
This page on CASPA contains instructions about how the various GPAs,including the science GPA are calculated on CASPA. The Course Subjects page here provides more details about which courses are considered biology, chemistry, physics, etc. so you can determine which course you took would count as “science.” Also, depending on how long ago you took your undergrad courses and exactly what your grades were , the best path may not be to repeat those, but instead to take fresh science courses to demonstrate that you can achieve high grades on the first try. However, if the grade is below a C in a required science course, then that should be retaken. If you would like specific advice on your situation, you can e-mail us at: email@example.com or call 626-768-2154 to schedule a free, initial 20-minute consultation.
I want to apply for Sept 2022. When should I start my application process. And what are minimum TOEFL scores required.
Application deadlines have passed for fall 2022 entry for most of the schools; however, there are a small number of schools that have January deadlines. Applications for fall 2023 will be opening in April as the PA application cycle is long, so you need to apply a full year before you plan to enter PA school for most schools. The minimum TOEFL score varies by school.
Hello, I am graduating from college in 2022 and would like to start PA school in hopefully the fall of 2023. I am still in need of patient care hours and will not meet the requirements by the application deadlines. Am I able to put anticipated hours on applications or is it possible to start PA school in the Spring rather than the fall?
Some schools will accept additional patient care hours after the application is submitted. This is sometimes accomplished by asking about projected hours in the school-specific supplemental applications. However, other schools only count the number of hours that are completed at the time CASPA is submitted. Therefore, you need to check the website for each school to find that information or contact the schools if they do not state if they will count anticipated hours. Most PA schools start in July, August, or September. However, there are some that start in January (spring semester), so yes, it is possible to start spring semester rather than fall semester.
So I am applying to this upcoming cycle (April 2022), and I just wanted to get my timeline right since it is Jan 2022 now. If you could confirm that my timeline is correct that would be great! Thanks in advance!
Jan – March 2022: Write personal statement and request recommendation letter
April 2022: Make an account and CASPA application open
May 2022 – Spring 2023: Completing supplemental and interviews
Fall 2023: Start PA School
Does this look right? I have already taken the GRE Sept 2021, so I do not need to worry about that. I also have all the pre-requisite classes for the schools I am interested in applying to so that is also not a problem. Another question I have is, what is the school has a weird start date? Such as how Mercer starts their PA program in January?
Yes, that is correct! The application timeline can be confusing because it is so long, and you apply over a year before you actually start P.A. school for most programs. I’m not sure which school you’re referring to with an unusual start date. There are multiple schools with January start dates. One I know of is Chapman University. Others have summer start dates, and still others are in the fall.
Hi For one of the schools I applied to I got waitlisted on 11/16/21. I have not heard back from that school yet. Is there still a chance for an interview? Should I contact them?
Some schools interview as late as February or even early March, so it may be possible for you to still be interviewed at the school. Some schools state on the admissions pages of their website the end date, or at least the end month, of interviews. One step is to write a letter to the school (via e-mail) expressing your continued interest in the program, briefly explaining why the program is a good fit for you, and updating them on your recent activities, such as growth you’ve had in your job. However, if the school expressly says on their website not to send a letter of interest, then don’t. Most schools are open to communication, but some discourage letters of interest. Taking that extra step can show the program your high level of interest and potentially help you to secure an interview.
Hello, I am graduating from college in spring 2023 and would like to start PA school in hopefully the spring of 2024. I am still in need of patient care hours. I am confused as to which cycle I would be applying to. Will I be applying to the April 2023 cycle?
Most PA schools start in the summer or early fall If you would like to start PA school in summer/fall of 2024; however, there are a small number that start in the spring, which is when you mentioned wanting to start. For any of those (Spring/Summer/Fall 2024 start date), you would apply in the cycle opening April 2023. When you say “spring” if you mean spring semester, there are schools that start in the spring semester (January 2024 start date). For those you would also apply to the April 2023 cycle.
So I am applying this coming 2022-2023 cycle when CASPA opens in April. My concern is the fact that I have 1 pre-requisite I am currently taking right now this spring semester. The schools I am looking at all have rolling admissions and I have checked with all 8 schools to see if I should apply right when CASPA opens in April or wait until I get my final grades with the last pre-requisite I am taking which would be mid-May. I called or emailed to discuss this and half of the schools told me to wait for final transcript and the other half said I can send it when opens in April. Am I able to somehow do both to accommodate all the schools I am applying to or do I need to make a choice? If I need to make a choice, which would be the better option for me especially since rolling admissions?
It is important to apply early with rolling admissions; however, mid-May is still quite early in the cycle. Since CASPA opens April 28, 2022, if you apply in Mid-May, you will only be a few weeks after the opening of the cycle. That is still excellent timing and, although I am not personally advising you so I don’t know your full situation, my advice is generally to wait until the transcript for spring coursework is available before applying, especially if there are prerequisites pending. There is not a way to accommodate both, because, although you can update coursework on CASPA, the updated coursework and grades won’t be verified by CASPA.
Hi! I want to start PA school in fall 2023 when are applications due for that? In April of 2022 or April of 2023
To start PA school in Fall 2023, you will apply during the cycle that opens in April 2022.
Hi, I am planning to start PA school after spring 2023 (which is when i finish undergrad) and I have 1 outstanding pre-req which is genetics and could be medical term for some schools tool. My stats are cumulative 3.9 GPA, currently 1000 PCE hours, 100 shadowing hours, leadership experience, and community service experience.
My timeline looks like:
March 2022: research schools and pre-reqs
April 2022: open caspa application to familiarize with it + request LORs
May-July 2022: Study for GRE and increase PCE hours and (? –>) take medical terminology course
August 2022: submit CASPA and other apps
Does this sound okay?
Because admission at many PA schools are rolling, applying earlier in the cycle is better. However, that has to be weighed against some schools not accepting pending prerequisites. Therefore, to decide on a specific timeline, you’ll need to compile your list of schools and determine if the schools allow pending prerequisites, which ones, and how many as it may be possible for you to apply before genetics and medical terminology are completed. The same is true of the PCE hours. If you have enough to apply and be competitive for the schools you’re aiming for earlier in the cycle, then you may want to apply earlier. Some schools allow you to add PCE hours after you apply, but others “lock” the number of hoursat what you have at the time of application. I can’t comment on your exact plan above as I am not working with you on as your advisor and don’t have all the information to say if it work for you to apply earlier, but my general advice is to apply by the end of June if possible.
Hello, I am currently a sophomore and plan on graduating in Spring 2024. I would like to begin PA school in Fall 2024, not June or July after I Graduate. So when would I apply? is it even possible to start in the fall and not the summer after I graduate?
Programs vary in their start dates, but there are programs that start in August or September. I collaborated with colleagues to create a database of PA programs that includes the starting semester of each, so you can use it to find programs that start in the fall https://prehealthadmit.com/
You will be applying during the cycle that opens in April 2023 in order to start PA school in Fall 2024
I am a post-traditional student–I have a BA but am completing science pre-requisites for PA school. I am enrolled in Microbiology for the summer and then Genetics and General Biology II in the fall. I only have about 600 hours of PCE but about 1500 hours of HCE. I also only have about 15 hours of shadowing. I do have over 100 hours of volunteer experience. My GPA is over 3.9 (general and science). Would you recommend applying this cycle or would you recommend waiting until I have finished my prerequisites and have more PCE? Or do you think it would be school-dependent?
Thanks so much.
Some schools will accept pending prerequisites and others will not, so you need to check with the schools for that. Regarding, PCE, check the average number of PCE hours for admitted applicants at the schools you’re aiming for to get an idea if the number of hours you have is likely to be competitive. Your high GPA, the quality of the PCE, and the HCE could offset the lower number of PCE hours to an extent. I can’t give a specific recommendation for your situation though as I am not advising you and don’t have all the details.
Hello, I am a non traditional student that did okay in school 3.3/3.4 gpa for my BS. I graduated in 2019 and have been working as an MA and registration/ admissions in a hospital/clinic setting. I am planning on taking Anatomy/ Phys at a college since I did not take it previously.
I need advice on how and when to apply.
It sounds like you’re on track for the career switch to P.A. getting the courses you need and patient care experience as an M.A. The registration/admissions experience may count as “healthcare” as some schools but not necessarily “patient care” depending on what your exact responsibilities are. For assistance with the application process, please e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 626-768-2154 to schedule an initial, free 20-minute consultation with one of our advisors. After that, you can sign up for in-depth advising if you’re interested.
Hi there! I plan on taking a gap year and I had a few questions on logistics and timelines regarding the CASPA window. I am scheduled to graduate Spring of 2023 and want to take a gap year where I gain more direct patient care experience as well as volunteering. If I wanted to take a full gap year, would I still be okay for the window to attend PA school Fall of 2024 or would it need to be Fall of 2025, and if so, for Fall 2024 would it be this upcoming cycle that opens in April of 2023?
If you will need the hours from your gap year to have enough direct patient care experience to apply, then you’ll be applying to enter P.A. school in fall 2025. You’ll graduate this spring 2023, start your gap year in summer 2023 and work/volunteer throughout the rest of 2023 and into 2024 and then apply in April 2024 for the cycle that starts in fall 2025. To start PA school in fall 2024, you’d have to apply this spring, and if you don’t think you’d have enough direct patient care hours by this spring (2023), then you would have to hold off to apply until the following year.
hello Dr EATON iam from the gambia west africa, iam a medical doctor and i have 6 years of experience patient care.
i have a recommendation letter from my hospital and the gambia medical and dental council. I also have a valid practsing lencense. so question is if i can apply PA schools through CASPA 2022 to 2023. thank you.
Good afternoon , I hope all is well.
I graduate spring 2024 , and I want to take a Gap year. When should I apply for for PA school.? I dont understand how the cycle works
Since you’ll be taking a gap year after graduating in spring 2024, you’ll be aiming to start PA school in Fall 2025. Therefore, you’ll apply to PA school during the cycle that opens in April 2024.
Hey so I’m currently a Junior and I will be graduating in May 2024. I was considering taking the GRE this spring but after looking over my course load idk if that’ll be possible especially with working part time too. Could I start studying for the GRE in late summer and take it in september/October? Would that time frame work? I don’t want to have to take a gap year. Thank you!
For some schools, taking the GRE in September or October will be within their deadline, but other schools have earlier deadlines, such as September 1. Also, even for schools that have later deadlines, because admissions are rolling at many PA schools, it is beneficial to have all your application materials submitted early as that will improve your chance of admission. There are quite a few schools that don’t require the GRE, though, so your application would be complete at those schools earlier in the cycle. For the others, you need to check the individual GRE deadlines.
Hi Dr, I am a little confused on how to practice for my Gre exams or when or how to take the exam since I’d be done with my bachelors by spring 2024.
Since you are completing your bachelor’s degree in spring 2024, if you would like to go to PA school right after you graduate (enter in fall 2024), then you’ll be applying to PA school this coming cycle (the one that opens in April 2023). Therefore, you will need to take the GRE this spring, if possible, and if not then in the summer. The spring would be better since you would then have your GRE scores early in they cycle, however, since you’re still in school, it may be difficult to study for the GRE while balancing your regular college coursework. You can submit the application without your GRE scores (so submit the application in May 2024 or whenever you have your spring grades and are ready to apply) and then prepare for and take the GRE in the summer. Some PA schools don’t require the GRE, so make sure youcheck to see if the ones you’re applying to require it. Also, check the deadlines to ensure that you have the GRE done and your scores submitted by program deadlines. Some programs recommend taking it by August 1 at the latest, but it depends on the specific program deadline. Since admissions are rolling, earlier is better, but not to the point of compromising preparation.
The ETS website is a good starting point for GRE prep as they have some free and low cost practice materials. You may find that you need to supplement these with materials from test prep companies and some test takers do better by taking a prep course or with tutoring, but that is highly individualized.
Hi Dr. Eaton, I am hoping to begin PA school in the fall of 2024, but I only have around 80 clinical hours as of now. I am currently working as a physical therapist aide, but I want to become an EMT. My only issue is that I would not be able to complete an EMT course until June of this year. At that point would it be worth it?
You should continue to accrue clinical hours even after you submit your application to PA school this spring or early summer. Some schools won’t count hours added after the application has been submitted, but others let you add hours, and even those that don’t still want to know how you’ll be spending the months/year while you’re undergoing the application process. I can’t specifically advise you about what to do since I’m not working with you as your advisor and don’t know you’re full background, but it’s not just about the hours of clinical experience, but also the quality, and EMT may help to diversify out your experience beyond what you see as a PT aide, especially if you can get a job responding to 911 calls (versus strictly doing interfacility transport). I also don’t know how many more hours oy’ull be working as a PT aide between now and when you’ll apply, but if you accrue a health number of hours (at least 500) then switching to EMT could give you diversity of experience. Also, if you would prefer being an EMT to being a PT aide, that needs to be taken into account as well.
I am a student at Stony Brook University, currently in my second semester of sophomore year, but I am hoping to graduate a year early by spring of 2024. My goal is to go to PA school, but I am confused on which cycle would be best to apply for. I understand if I want to start PA school right after graduating, starting in fall of 2024, I would be applying to the application cycle starting April 2023. However, I am confused how this works since many school’s deadlines are September to submit the application, but I would still have almost a year of classes to still be taking so how will these show and count towards my application for PA school in addition with still needing to acquire patient care hours and shadowing experience throughout my junior year which would be my last year of undergrad? Since I will still need my last year through fall of 2023 and spring of 2024 to acquire these hours and experience is it best to wait until the following application cycle to start fall of 2025 or do PA schools account for the fact students are still acquiring these hours and pre-reqs even after the application deadline is due?
You can list planned classes on CASPA, so the programs will be able to see the classes you intend to take your during your last year of college. However, each school has its own policy regarding if they allow pending (planned) prerequisite coursework. Some PA programs allow applicants to have pending ( prerequisite coursework at the time of application, and others do not. The number and type of classes of pending coursework permitted also vary. For example, some schools allow one or two prerequisites to be pending , others allow only non-science prerequisites to be pending and some allow none. Many schools want the patient care hours to be completed at the time of application, although some will allow applicants to update their hours. There are some PA schools with no, or fairly low (250) patient care hour requirements, but applicants are still competitive even at those schools if they have more. Therefore, many applicants apply at the end of their last year of college to allow an extra year to accrue patient care hours. That crates a gap year between graduation and PA school. Some applicants take two gap years so they have a year to dedicate to gaining patient care hours full time before applying. I can’t advise you about your specific situation but a gap year is generally advisable if then number of patient care hours disqualifies an applicant from many schools or key schools an applicant is aiming for.