The Basics

While most programs do participate in CASPA, the application system for PA schools, there are some that do not. CASPA opens in April each year. Application deadlines will vary, depending upon the program. Read the instruction manual for CASPA and instructions for the programs you will be applying to before beginning the application process. You should consider applying early in the cycle due to application verification and rolling admissions. Programs with rolling admissions will typically provide decisions regarding interviews and/or admissions within a month of completing the application. 

Secondary applications or additional materials may be required by individual programs. This provides you the opportunity to further discuss your interest in a specific program. You may also be required to send additional materials to the programs. Do not delay in completing secondaries—schools want to learn more about you and your interest in their program. 

Entrance Exam

Physician Assistant programs require the GRE.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement is an important part of the application because it distinguishes you from other applicants. It is important to focus on expressing your motivation to become a PA. Keep your statement general as the same essay will be sent to all schools you will apply to. Consider the following questions when writing your essay:

  1. Why have you selected the field of physician assistant?
  2. What motivates you to learn more about physician assistant?
  3. What do you want programs to know about you that hasn’t been disclosed in other sections of the application?
  4. Reflect on the experiences you have had (student organizations, volunteering, research, clinical healthcare, study abroad). How have these experiences influenced you to become a physician assistant?

Your personal statement is also an area where you may address the following:

  1. Hardships, challenges or obstacles that have influenced educational choices
  2. Commentary on significant fluctuations in your academic record if it is not explained elsewhere on the application


You must enter information for a minimum of three references and may enter a maximum of five references in CASPA. Letters must be completed via the CASPA reference website by the evaluator themselves. You are responsible for determining the specific type of letters that are required by the programs you are applying to. Letters may be required from:

  1. Science Faculty (2)
  2. Non-Science Faculty (1)
  3. Physician Assistant
  4. Employer/Supervisor
  5. Research Mentor
  6. Volunteer Manager


You will need to request transcripts from all institutions you have attended (University of Illinois, community colleges, previous institution, etc.)


Physician Assistant schools may use interviews to evaluate applicants. If you are not sure what type of interview the program will be utilizing, you should contact the school for additional information. You are advised to spend time preparing for your interview.  The Career Center conducts mock interviews during the academic year. You can also schedule an appointment to discuss interview preparation.