PA Program FAQs

Get answers to your questions about the Physician Assistant Studies program.

General Application Prerequisites


General Program Questions

Does your Program provide housing for PA students?

No, housing is not provided.

How long is the Program?

The program is 28 months long, divided into 15 month didactic and 13 month clinical phases. Classes are in session year round.

Is the Program accredited?

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the University of Saint Joseph Physician Assistant Studies Program sponsored by the University of Saint Joseph.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

What academic degree will I achieve at the completion of the Program?

Students who successfully complete all program requirements will earn the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) degree. 

Will I be able to work during the Program?

Due to the rigors of the PA curriculum, students are strongly discouraged from working while enrolled in the program. Under no circumstances will students be permitted to alter their academic schedule or be granted excused absences to accommodate work schedules. Students who are placed on academic probation may be prohibited from working as a condition of that probation.

Is there financial aid available to help fund my PA education at the University of Saint Joseph?

Financial aid in the form of federal student loans and private loans may be available to students meeting eligibility criteria.  Please contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have further questions.

Will there be an Information Session held on campus?

Please continue to check back for future information on USJ PA Studies Program Information Sessions.

How many students do you accept into the Program each year?

The program has enrolled 50 students for the class of 2022.

Why should I consider the University of Saint Joseph PA Program over other programs?

USJ’s PA Studies Program has developed a unique modular curriculum, the only program of its kind in the region. Students will enroll in one course at a time, allowing for complete focus on mastery of clinical sciences specific to each organ system, with opportunities to begin integrating and applying concepts embedded throughout the curriculum. The knowledge and critical thinking skills developed during the 15-month didactic curriculum will prepare students to excel during the 13-month clinical phase of the program when they will complete nine, 5-week Supervised Clinical Practice Experiences and participate in activities designed to prepare them to enter clinical practice.

The University of Saint Joseph has been educating students in pre-professional and professional programs for almost eighty years, and is pleased to announce the development of our Physician Assistant Studies Program (PA Program). The University first enrolled students into the 28-month program leading to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree beginning in Jan., 2017.

Rigorous academic preparation, coupled with a strong focus on ethical values, personal integrity and a sense of responsibility to meet the needs of society, guided by the core Mercy values at the center of a USJ education, will position our graduates for success as they practice medicine at the heart of patient-centered medical teams.

I don’t know if I have met all the application requirements. Will the program review my transcripts prior to applying?

Please note we are unable to provide a global review of transcripts before an individual applies to the program. It is the applicant’s responsibility to consult the most current application and admission requirements prior to applying. The program however, will respond to questions regarding a specific course. Please email course questions along with course syllabi to [email protected].

I have applied in past application cycles but was not accepted. Can I meet with someone and/or can the program re-review my application and tell me how to improve for the next application cycle?

Due to the volume of requests received, faculty and staff cannot meet individually with applicants or re-review applications. If you have a specific question regarding a particular area of concern, we will do our best to respond to your question via [email protected].


Application Questions

Can I send additional letters of recommendations beyond what is required?

No, the program will only review and score 3 letters of recommendation for each applicant.

When does the next application cycle begin and how do I apply?

The CASPA 2020-2021 application cycle will open April, 2020 (date TBD). To apply, please visit caspa.liaisoncas.com/.

The verified application deadline for the USJ PA Studies Program, 2020/2021 application cycle is October 1, 2020. All CASPA applications need to be verified and the USJ PA Studies Supplemental Application Fee paid by the October 1, 2020 deadline in order to be reviewed. Please go to the following link to pay the supplemental application fee.

Click Here to Complete Payment

When is the application submission deadline?

The verified application deadline for the USJ PA Studies Program, 2020-2021 application cycle is October 1, 2020. All CASPA applications need to be verified and the USJ PA Studies Supplemental Application Fee paid by the October 1, 2020 deadline in order to be reviewed.  Please go to the following link to pay the supplemental application fee.

Click Here to Complete Payment

The USJ PA Studies Program will utilize a rolling admissions process. As such, there is a competitive advantage to submission of verified application as early as possible in the application cycle. It is possible the class will be full prior to the application deadline.

Do I need to submit my GRE, MCAT or PA-CAT scores?

No, neither the GRE, MCAT nor PA-CAT scores are required or considered for application.

Is the TOEFL required and can it be waived?

A minimum score of 100 (internet based) on the TOEFL, taken within the last 2 years, is required of any applicant who has earned a degree outside of the US. This requirement cannot be waived, regardless of having completed coursework or living in the US for any length of time. 

What are the requirements for an international student?

International applicants must meet the same admission criteria as non-international applicants. In addition, they must submit a course-by-course evaluation of their transcript and degree from a professional organization. Additionally, if they have earned their degree at a non-US institution, they must submit TOEFL scores from within the last 2 years with a score of 100 or better (internet based). 

Can I transfer into the University of Saint Joseph PA Studies Program?

No. The PA Studies Program does not accept transfer students. All students must meet all application requirements and begin classes with a cohort at the beginning of the program.

Do you give preference to University of Saint Joseph students?

Yes. We currently extend preference in the form of a guaranteed interview to any student who meets all application requirements and has earned a degree from and completed 60 credits or more of their college study at USJ. No points will be added to the applicants file scoring. In the event a preferential candidate is not granted admission, they will not be offered preference in subsequent application cycles.

Does your Program offer advanced placement?

No. The USJ PA Studies Program does not grant advance placement/standing within the program curriculum based upon previous coursework or educational/work experience.

Regarding pre-requisite coursework, students having earned a 4 or 5 of Advance Placement tests in a subject meeting a pre-requisite requirement will be considered to have met that pre-requisite, however that course will not be counted in their pre-requisite GPA. 

How and when do you decide who will be interviewed and who will be accepted into the Program?

We utilize a rolling admission process. Applications will be reviewed and scored as they are received. Students will be invited for interviews and admission to the class throughout the summer into the early fall if they meet certain scoring thresholds. Students meeting minimum requirements for admission, but falling below the established thresholds for the application cycle will be placed on a waiting list. 

Student applications are rank ordered by score. As we utilize a rolling process, we are not able to provide applicants with information about their position on the waitlist for interview or admission, as that information is constantly changing depending on activity within the applicant pool. Should an opportunity for interview or acceptance arise, it will be offered to the first individual on the waitlist at the time the respective opportunity becomes available. 

Students will only be notified by the program once their application is received. If you are selected for an interview you will receive notification from the program. You will also be notified by the program if you are found not to meet the minimum admission requirements and once the class is full. Students who have not received any communication from the program since the acknowledgement of receipt of their application should consider themselves on the waitlist for an interview opportunity.  

What type of Bachelor’s degree is required to be eligible to apply to the Program?

Any Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution will meet the requirement. International applicants must submit a course-by-course evaluation of their transcripts and degree to ensure they meet US equivalences. 

Will taking more upper-level science courses strengthen my application?

Review of every applicants file involves evaluation of the student’s transcripts. Performing well in upper-level science courses and in credit heavy semesters demonstrates strong academic aptitude. However, we do not specifically award points based upon grades in upper-level science courses alone nor are these courses required for application to the program beyond those required by the pre-requisites.

Where can I find the Supplemental Application?

The USJ PA Studies Supplemental Application is not a separate application. Within your CASPA application, information which is marked “required” (by the USJ PA Studies Program), must be completed before you will be allowed to submit  your application to the Program.  This information cannot be edited after the application is submitted.

Once the University of Saint Joseph Physician Assistant Studies Program has been selected in the “Add Program” section of your CASPA application, the “Program Materials” and “Documents” tab will become visible in which to download specific materials and documents required by the Program. You will choose your prerequisite courses in the “Prerequisites” tab for the admission committee to review, answer “Custom Questions” specific to the Program, complete the USJ PA Studies essay, and make the Supplemental Application Fee payment via an online payment link.

Click Here to Complete Payment

How can I pay the PA Program Supplemental Application fee?

Please go to the following link to pay the USJ PA Supplemental Application Fee.

Click Here to Complete Payment

<!– Make an online payment for the Physician Assistant Program Supplemental Application Fee. –>Please Note: The Supplemental Application Fee is in addition to the CASPA Application Fee. Please visit the CASPA website for information on their fees.


Prerequisite Questions

Can I apply before I complete all the prerequisites?

Yes, you may apply with no more than 2 prerequisite courses planned or in progress. Any outstanding coursework must be complete by December (date TBD) of the year prior to matriculation. If you were to be offered acceptance into the program with in-progress coursework, this offer would be contingent upon completion of that coursework according to guidelines outlined in your letter of acceptance.

If I took a prerequisite course 7 or more years ago, will you still accept that course?

Courses must be completed within 7 academic years prior to matriculation. For the January 2021 cohort, courses taken in Fall 2013 or later may be considered.

Course Waiver Request Form

I am a medical professional, and my prerequisite courses are past the 7-year requirement. Can you waive the courses or do I need to re-take the required courses?

Consideration for a waiver of prerequisite coursework completed prior to Fall 2013 will be done on a case-by-case basis. The Admission Committee will evaluate the applicant’s coursework and professional work history to determine if a waiver can be granted. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have been working in a field where they have been utilizing the course content in order to be granted a waiver.

Regardless of past education or work history, applicants must have taken all prerequisite courses at some point in their academic history. We cannot accept work history in place of a prerequisite course.

Course Waiver Request Form

I still need to take a few more prerequisite courses. Can I take them at a community college? Can I take them online?

We will accept coursework and labs completed at any regionally accredited college or university, including community colleges and online coursework.

Can any prerequisite courses be waived?

No. All applicants must have completed all prerequisite courses to be considered for admission to the program, regardless of educational or career history.

Should I repeat prerequisite courses to improve my grade?

We will accept repeated coursework to satisfy prerequisite course requirements. The most recent grade will be used in your prerequisite GPA calculation. Both attempts at the course are calculated in your overall GPA.

Can I still apply with a prerequisite GPA that is less than 3.0?

No. Applicants must have a 3.0 Overall and Prerequisite GPA, as calculated by CASPA, at the time of application. In the event an applicant is still completing courses after application, upon completion of that coursework, their GPAs must remain above 3.0 to be considered for admission.

Why is my GPA from my undergraduate institution different than the CASPA calculated GPA?

Many institutions use varying scales to calculate GPA. To maintain consistency among applicants, we utilize only CASPA Verified GPA calculations. If you have questions about how CASPA is calculating your GPA, please visit their website for more information.

I have over 2,000 hours of paid and volunteer experience. Since the Program requires 250 experiential hours, will it be to my advantage to submit the 2,000+ hours, and will I need to complete and obtain supervisor signatures for each experience?

No. The program requires verification of only 250 hours of experience to ensure that every applicant has met the threshold. When scoring an applicant’s file, we will review and consider ALL experiences listed by the applicant in CASPA. There is no advantage to submitting USJ verification forms demonstrating greater than 250 hours.

Experience Verification Form

Do non-medical experiences paid or volunteer, count toward the 250 required experiential hours?

Yes, any volunteer work can be used to meet the requirement.

Experience Verification Form

Do you accept Pass/Fail grades for prerequisite requirements during COVID-19?

In recognition of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the USJ PA Studies Program will accept Pass/Fail grades to meet pre-requisite requirements for courses taken in the Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 semesters. This decision will be re-evaluated over the summer months to determine if the policy will be extended into the Fall 2020 semester.

In situations where students are given the option by their institution to select traditional letter grades or Pass/Fail grading options, selecting traditional letter grades provides the Admissions Committee with the most complete opportunity to assess an applicant’s academic ability.

The USJ PA Studies Program reserves the right to not accept Pass/Fail grades from institutions whose grade policies would allow a “Pass” grade to be issued for a course with an earned grade lower than “C”, in keeping with published admission guidelines.

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