Physician Assistant: CASPA
A physician assistant (PA) is a licensed health professional who practices medicine under the supervision of a physician as a medical team. A PA has many responsibilities that depend on the medical setting, the physician they work under, the laws of the state, and their own experience. The role of a physician assistant includes the development of treatment plans, performance of physical exams, evaluation of laboratory test, diagnosis and treatment of certain illnesses, preventative healthcare counseling, assistance in surgery, and writing up of prescriptions. PAs study general medicine and are educated with a primary care foundation, and may therefore be employed in numerous areas of medicine. PAs must have a license and supervising physician in order to work.
A PA program generally last two and a half years, as students work towards a Master’s Degree. PAs are required to complete more than 400 hours in basic sciences, 75 hours in pharmacology, 175 hours in behavioral sciences and around 580 hours of clinical medicine. 2,000 hours of clinical rotations are also necessary with an emphasis in primary care. PAs must graduate from an accredited PA program, pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), and be certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
Cal State Fullerton does not have a Physician Assistant Program. This page serves as a resource for students.
Before You Begin
Take a look at the CASPA website and find out exactly what is needed to apply using their centralized application. There is also valuable information pertaining to the application and step-by-step instructions on how to apply. All of this information can be found on the CASPA website.
- Applicants wishing to apply to the 2015 cycle may not create an account or send documents to CASPA prior to the opening date. This cycles dates are: April 16, 2014-March 1, 2015
A deadline will be released for the last day the HPAO will upload a committee packet. You are required to submit by the deadline:
- A copy of your CASPA application
- Any additional letters of evaluation not previously received
- We cannot stress this enough, apply as EARLY as possible!
- Each PA program has different requirements and prerequisites for entry, so please contact the schools to which you are applying directly to determine their specific entry requirements.
- Learn the PA program's starting dates because they all differ. To ensure you're filling out the correct application, CASPA advises you to contact schools directly.
Beginning the Application
Once you create an account with CASPA, you can access your application at all times in order to complete the required portions. To ensure you complete the application correctly, please read through ALL instructions and Frequently Asked Questions, as they will help guide you through each section of the application.
|Biology||One Year of Coursework with Lab (dependent on your major)||BIOL 151 & BIOL 152|
|Chemistry||One Year of Coursework with Lab||CHEM 120A & CHEM 120B|
|Genetics||One semester of Genetics may be required at some schools.||BIOL 273|
|Organic Chemistry||There are a few schools that may require one semester of organic chemistry. Contact individual schools for specific requirements.||CHEM 301A (LAB: 302A)|
|Anatomy||One semester is generally required.||BIOL 361|
|Microbiology & Physiology||One semester of each course is generally required.||
Microbio: BIOL 302
Physio: BIOL 310 (LAB: BIOL 310L)
|Mathematics||At least one semester of Math is generally required at most PA schools. College Algebra is the typical requirement. Some PA schools may also require Statistics. Contact individual schools for specific requirements.||
College Algebra: MATH 115
#1) MATH 150A & MATH 150B (Calculus 1 & 2)
#2) MATH 130 & MATH 338
(short course Calc & Stats)
**for stats: OR stats courses offered by your department for your major
|English||One year is required for most medical schools in the country. Please note: this can be integrated in upper-division science courses that fulfill writing requirements for major.||ENGL 101 & ENGL 301|
|Humanities/Social Science||PA schools typically require a course in General Psychology and/or Developmental Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, and/or Public Speaking. Contact individual schools for specific requirements.||PSYC 101, PSYC 361, SOCI 101, ANTH 101, HCOM 100/102|
If you have previously applied through CASPA (immediately previous application cycle only) and you are reapplying to any of the physician assistant programs, you are able to have your information rolled over to the new application using your previous login information used last year. Most fields will be rolled over, including your verified transcripts. However, CASPA STRONGLY advises you to compose a new personal statement. Letters of recommendation, payments, and transcripts containing updated coursework will NOT be carried over and must be resubmitted. New coursework must be entered into the application and transcripts must be submitted for any new classes taken.
Submit official transcript from EVERY U.S. and English-speaking Canadian institution you received college-level credit from, including colleges which granted you credit for high school work.
- We suggest that you request two copies of your transcripts, one to be mailed to CASPA and one to be mailed to you. The copy of the transcript mailed to you directly can be utilized to complete your CASPA application.
You are only required to send transcripts covering all of your completed coursework. CASPA does NOT require transcripts for coursework labeled as "planned/in-progress." Please note that when you do complete these courses, updated transcripts should be submitted directly to the schools to which you are applying
Please direct the Office of Registrars to send your transcripts to the following address:
CASPA Transcript Processing Center
P.O. Box 9108
Watertown, MA 02471
Report all coursework completed above high school level at U.S. and English-speaking institutions exactly as it appears on your official transcript. This includes withdrawn courses, repeats, test credits, and non-graded labs. Coursework must be reported under the actual school, and in some cases, the specific campus, it was taken at.
It is highly recommended that you also enter any courses that you are currently taking or plan to take in the near future. For instructions on how to enter Planned or In-Progress coursework, please see the "Planned/In-Progress Coursework" section of CASPA's FAQ page .
Having a copy of your official transcripts on hand may be helpful in completely this section of your application.
Letters of Reference
Letters of reference must come directly from your letter writer
CASPA does not accept Committee letters of recommendation/reference. The only assistance you can request from the Health Professions Office is to receive a letter of evaluation from the Chair
A Reference Request Form is required for each letter including the chair letter
You must enter information for THREE references. You are required to list three individuals even if the programs to which you are applying only requires two.
CASPA has NO requirements regarding the identity of references, but many of the PA programs do. Please contact the programs to which you are applying to determine what requirements, if any, your programs have regarding references' roles or relationships to you
All references must be sent to CASPA, NOT the schools to which you are applying
CASPA only accepts electronic submissions. Email request will be sent to all electronic references immediately upon clicking the save button.
- Advise your reference to monitor their junk e-mail and spam folders for messages from “CASPA Messenger”
- If your reference has not received their request within 24 hours, call or e-mail CASPA Customer Service to have the request resent.
- Do not delete and then re-add the reference in attempt to re-send the e-mail
E-MAIL REQUESTS WILL BE SENT TO ALL ELECTRONIC REFERENCES IMMEDIATELY UPON CLICKING THE SAVE BUTTON. Please advise your references to monitor their junk e-mail and spam folders for messages from "CASPA Messenger," subject heading "CASPA Reference Request," as these e-mails are automated and therefore sometimes filtered as spam. If your reference has not received their request within 24 hours, call or e-mail CASPA Customer Service to have the request resent. DO NOT DELETE AND THEN RE-ADD THE REFERENCE IN ATTEMPT TO RE-SEND THE E-MAIL.
- The only assistance you can request from the Health Professions Office is to receive a letter of evaluation from the Chair.
- Paper letters of evaluation and paper reference request forms cannot be accepted in a paper format; digital submissions only.
Using your own words, write a brief statement expressing your motivation or desire to become a physician assistant.
You are encouraged to save your work often in the event that you are timed out of the system
The essay should be no longer than 5,000 characters (NOT words).
The Writing Center in the Pollack Library is also another wonderful resource to aid students in composing and editing their personal statements. The Career Center can provide you with an additional review of your personal statement by their professionally trained counselors. Only current CSUF students are able to utilize the assistance of the Writing Center. Current students and recent alumni (less than one year since graduation) can utilize the experienced counselors of the Career Center.
After you have created and completed your application, you can e-submit it to CASPA for processing. Processing times vary, but can take up to FOUR WEEKS from the date your application becomes COMPLETE
Before submitting, PROOFREAD EVERYTHING!!!
After clicking "e-submit" and completing all of the steps, you will receive a confirmation e-mail and notification to you application message inbox that your application was submitted
Your application is considered "complete" when the following actions occur:
- All official transcripts are listed, EACH with a date received in your status menu under "transcripts."
- At least two of your references are listed as "completed" with a date completed in your status menu under "references."
- Your payment is marked as received with a date received in your status menu under "payments."
- You have received e-mail confirmation that you submitted the application
Monitoring Application Status
It is the applicant's responsibility to monitor the status of their application on a regular basis.
You can monitor the status of your application at any time by clicking on the appropriate heading (ex: transcripts, payment, etc.) under the status menu on your online application. Any updates made occur in real-time, so as soon as an item is received and shows up in the CASPA system, it will also show on your application.
You may monitor your mailing status under "Programs" in your status menu. Once your application has been mailed, a mailing date will appear next to each school name. Please note that applications are mailed once a week, and are sent both electronically and via paper mail
The CASPA website has many resources posted for its users. Please take a moment to explore the site to become familiar to the application process. For your convenience a link has been provided: https://portal.caspaonline.org/
Additionally, students can call 617.612.2080 and speak to an CASPA representative about specific questions pertaining to their applications. We strongly encourage you to always remain polite and professional when speaking to any member of CASPA (and HPAO) staff.