Application Process & Timeline for Physician Assistant

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Candidacy Assessment

Your preparation for application to PA programs should always begin with assessment of your individual candidacy. Use the Pre-Health Pillars Candidacy Assessment as a guide to self-assess and plan to speak with a Pre-Health Advisor about your progress.


Pre-Health Pillars Candidacy Assessment


Centralized Application Services for Physician Assistants. This application opens for submission in April of each year. Program start dates vary (January, May, June, August, September), thus application deadlines vary widely. It is always advantageous to apply early, so reach school deadlines well in advance! 

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

The majority of programs require the GRE. Scores should be sent directly to schools for which an applicant is applying and should be less than 5 years old. The test consists of three sections:

1. Verbal Reasoning
2. Quantitative Reasoning
3. Analytical Writing

Test Preparation Resources

There are many types of test preparation resources that vary in cost and approach. Pre-Health Advisors do not endorse any of the providers below, but are happy to speak with you about how you might identify the style of preparation that best fits your needs.

Source Cost Level
Educational Testing Service (ETS) Free - Low
Khan Academy Free
Magoosh Low
McGraw-Hill Education Low
Clayborne Education Low - High
Princeton Review Low - High
Manhattan Prep Mid - High
NextStep Test Prep Free - High

Kaplan Test Prep

Free - High

Selecting Schools

It is essential to select schools that are not only a good fit for you academically, but also a good fit for your values, skills, interests, and that will help you become the professional you want to be. Take time to research programs prior to the application process. Here are some factors you should consider:

  • Admission requirements: coursework and clinical experiences
  • Institutions' mission, goals, curriculum, grading system
  • Size of cohort / class
  • Location. Where do you want to live? Where will you have a support network in place? What is the cost of tuition and cost of living?
  • Where will you complete your clinical rotations? What type of patient population will you serve (i.e. urban, rural)? Will this provide the experiences you hope to gain?
  • Does the school's mission and training focus align with your professional interests (i.e. research, personalized medicine, etc)?

Recommended Length of School List: 5 - 7


Guidelines for Making a School List
PAEA Program Directory

Letters of Recommendation (LORs)

You should provide 3 LORs and submit through the CASPA Electronic Evaluation Portal. Determine any specific LOR requirements from programs of choice. However, letters are most commonly required by: 

  • Science Faculty
  • Non-Science Faculty
  • Employer
  • Physician Assistant


Guidelines for Letters of Recommendation

Personal Statement

Your personal statement is a distinctive aspect of your application. It begins with reflection. Consider the following questions to begin:

  • Why do you want to become an physician assistant? Why is this the profession you have chosen instead of another?
  • Think back to your experiences volunteering, shadowing, researching, studying abroad. Can you provide a specific story that deeply impacted you and your decision to become a physician assistant?
  • What do you want the committee to know about you as a person or future colleague? What makes you a good fit for the profession?

The CASPA personal statement section includes a 5,000 character limit, including spaces. See CASPA for a formal prompt topic.



Request official transcripts from all institutions attended. Make sure to carefully follow CASPA instruction manual guidelines for specific details on transcript submission to the application service


UVA Registrar's Office

Interview Preparation

Pre-health mock interviewing is available to students and alumni preparing for or currently in the health professions application cycle. Interviews are one hour and include a feedback session aimed at increasing your readiness and confidence before an actual admissions interview. To schedule a mock interview complete the following steps.

  1. Schedule Your Mock Interview With an Advisor: Contact the UVA Career Center at 434-924-8900 and indicate you are requesting a Pre-Health Mock Interview or schedule online through your Handshake account.

  2. Come to the Career Center to be Interviewed: Please dress as if this were a real interview. By doing so, you can become comfortable with an interview situation dressed in professional attire. The Pre-Health Advisor will provide feedback as to appropriate interview attire. If you do not have interview attire at this time, please dress in the most appropriate outfit you have available.

Physician Assistant School UVA Applicant Statistics

*Historically, the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) only reported the number of applicants who chose to matriculate, not the applicants who were accepted. In 2016, CASPA began reporting number of accepted applicants.

  Number of Applicants Number of Accepted / Matriculants Percentage Accepted / Matriculated
2016 65 31 (accepted) 47% (accepted)
2015 Not Available Not Available Not Available
2014 57 31 54%
2013 71 30 42%
2012 40 16 40%
2011 38 18 47%

Application Timeline

The entire application process lasts approximately 18 months, which spans two academic years. Whether you plan to apply at the end of your 3rd year, 4th year, or after graduation, this timeline begins with preparation in the fall prior to your application submission in May.

  • Begin requesting LORs from faculty as well as PAs, employers, clinicians, volunteer managers, etc.
  • Attend all relevant application process meetings and workshops in preparation for May submission of your application
  • Attend all relevant application process meetings and workshops if not attended in October
  • Continue revising your Personal Statement Draft
  • Submit Interview Stream for Mock Interview Appointment
  • Research programs and schools. Review all application deadlines and program start dates very carefully on the CASPA application and PAEA program directory
  • Confirm preparation of all LORs for April submission to CASPA evaluation portal
  • Participate in a Mock Interview
  • Take GRE no later than February
  • Finalize your Personal Statement
  • Consider Mock Interviewing if not previously completed
  • Review CASPA application instruction manual 
  • Primary application (CASPA) opens mid to late April
  • Submit primary application, transcripts, and all LORs
  • If relevant, complete CASPA Academic Update 
  • Utilize Interview Stream and Mock Interviewing
  • Complete secondary applications within two weeks of receiving
  • Utilize Interview Stream and Mock Interviewing
  • Complete secondary applications within two weeks of receiving them
  • Interviews continue until spring
  • If relevant, complete CASPA Academic Update for fall term and send any other relevant co-curricular updates to schools in December
  • Make final choice of school based on CASPA traffic rules

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