Arizona School of Health Sciences
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Physician Assistant

Physician Assistant

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1. What degree does the ATSU PA program offer?
Graduating students receive a Master of Science Degree in Physician Assistant Studies.

2. How long is the ASHS PA program, and when does it start?
The ASHS PA program is 26 months in length, with a new class beginning annually in June. The first 14 month component of the program is divided into five quarters of didactic and laboratory work, while the second 12 month component consists of clinical rotations. During the clinical rotation component, students complete a capstone paper.

3. What Courses Are Required For Completion of the PA Program and How Many Credits Does Each Course Carry?
Please refer to the class of 2016 curriculum or the class of 2017 curriculum.

4. Must I have a bachelor’s degree to enter the program?

5. How do I apply to the PA Program?
Completed applications must be submitted to the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants ( Please refer to the CASPA application instructions for specific details about completing the application, required documents, and processing time. The CASPA application cycle begins Mid-April of the academic year preceding the year in which the applicant plans to matriculate. Program enrollment is based on a rolling admissions policy. Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received, thus applicants are encouraged to apply early.

Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation from professionals to CASPA. (1)Employer or supervisor (2) Health Care Practitioner (Physician, Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner), and (3) Science Faculty Member. Please refer to the CASPA application instructions for specific guidelines and requirements for submitting letters of recommendation.

Once ATSU-ASHS receives a completed CASPA application and determines that minimum requirements are met, the applicant will be notified by email to submit a secondary fee for final processing. Upon receipt of this fee, the application is forwarded to the PA Program for consideration.

NOTE: Applicants are responsible for notifying the Office of Admissions of any changes in their mailing address or email address. All requests for withdrawing an application must be done in writing via email, fax, or letter. Applicants are encouraged to check all email folders in the rare event our email is filtered into a spam or junk mail folder.

6. When do you interview?

Interviews generally occur on select Thursdays between July and December.

7. Do all of my prerequisite courses need to be completed by the time I apply to the ASHS PA program through CASPA?
No. It is common for many of our candidates to be finishing one or two pre-requisite courses at the time of application. All prerequisites must be successfully completed before the ASHS PA program begins in June.

8. Where do I find out how to pay my secondary fee?

This information is emailed after the primary application is processed, assuming all minimum criteria is met. ATSU's secondary application deadline is October 1st.

9. Do you have a distance learning option for the entry level program?

10. What is the profile of a successful applicant to the ATSU PA Program?
The successful applicant to the Program will have combination of life, educational and work experience that shows a commitment to patient care, an understanding of the PA profession and the ability to perform in a demanding academic and professional setting. Competition is strong for entry into this program.

Although not required, healthcare experience is highly recommended.

Past educational performance, while not necessarily indicative of current abilities, can predict performance in the program. Every attempt should be made to enhance overall and science course GPA prior to application. The didactic training phase is extremely demanding and the applicant will benefit by taking courses that simulate this type of education.

11. Does it look better to take courses at a four year university vs. a community college?

It is recommended that you take the most rigorous coursework available to be as competitive as possible.

12. Can I take prerequisites at your institution?
No. ASHS does not offer undergraduate courses.

13. Does it make a difference for admission if I am from out-of-state?
No. Your state of residence does not impact your chances for admission.

14. Will taking the GRE make me a more competitive applicant?

At this time, we do not factor GRE into the decision for admission.

15. How will I be notified if I’m being invited for an interview?
The invitation will be made by email; therefore, it is important that you provide us with current contact information. A formal letter will be sent to you as well.

16. When will I be notified if I am selected to interview?

You will be notified if you are selected for an interview after your application has been reviewed. The application review process begins in August each year.

17. If I am selected to interview, how long does it take to find out if I am selected for the program?

We try to inform applicants within two to four weeks after the interview date.

18. What is the average GPA of students accepted to your program?
For the Class of 2016, the average overall GPA was 3.57. The average science GPA was 3.51.

19. Will I be able to work while I am in school?
Because the rigorous nature of the physician assistant course work, the PA faculty strongly discourage students from working. Typically, PA students are in class from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with an occasional required weekend or evening hours.

20. Does ASHS offer financial aid? Where can I find scholarship information?
Yes, we offer financial aid and scholarships to our students. Please click here for more information.

21. How many people apply to the ATSU PA program each year?
In recent years, the program has received over 2,500 applications. We traditionally interview approximately 200+ people. There is no guaranteed number of applications or interviews in any given year.

22. How many open positions are available in the ATSU PA program each year?
We anticipate 70 positions will be available each year with classes starting in June 2015.

23. How many hours of clinical experience do I need?
There is no set number. It is important that one is very familiar with the career in which the applicant is planning to make a commitment. We value the type of experience more than total number of hours. Clinical experience will enhance your application.

24. Is there housing convenient to the University?
Yes. Students find housing in many of the neighboring communities. There is no ATSU student housing.

25. Can I send my application directly to ATSU?
No. You must apply through the centralized application service called CASPA.

26. I do not work in the medical field. What type of experience should I get to accumulate hours for "Clinical Experience"?
Keep in mind that your goal is to become a physician assistant, therefore, your experience should provide you with as much exposure/experience as possible to the roles and responsibilities of physicians, PA's and other medical professionals, whose primary responsibility is patient care.

27. I have a letter of recommendation by a nurse practitioner, chiropractor or other health professional. Can this count for my healthcare letter of recommendation?

The required letter of recommendation from a healthcare provider must be from a physician, a physician assistant, or a nurse practitioner.

28. Can someone review my application, transcripts, reference forms, resume and personal statement before I turn them in?
No. Read the PA program's brochure, catalog and online material very carefully. Everything you need to know is explained in these documents.

29. Who's on the PA Admission Committee?
Committee members consist of program faculty and practicing physician assistants.

30. What are the costs in the PA program?
Please consult the ATSU website for the current tuition and costs of the PA program. Please note PA program costs are subject to change upon approval of the University Board of Trustees.

31. My college offers an introductory level course for one of your prerequisites. Is this adequate?

Variations of this question are common. We have established that course descriptions that include "vertebrate", "mammalian", "introductory", "comparative", "survey" and "fundamental" are acceptable terms within course titles and descriptions for prerequsites. In regards to the anatomy prerequisite, we believe anatomy coursework requires an overview of all bodily systems such as musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, digestive, etc. to meet our requirements. If these descriptions do not cover your specific circumstance, submit a formal waiver in writing (no phone calls or emails will be accepted) to the program director. This should include the course description and syllabus for each class involved and a copy of your final grades. The program director will then determine whether a waiver will be granted.

32. Can a course in “exercise physiology” satisfy the human anatomy & physiology pre-requisite?

33. Does your program offer advanced placement or accept transfer credits?


34. What can I do to make my application more competitive?

Nothing can replace good grades in the prerequisite courses and significant healthcare experience. For applications who have strong academic credentials, we suggest electives in the following areas: computer skills, immunology, genetics, communication skills, advanced foreign language and public health.

35. How do I prepare for the interview?

· Be yourself.

· Be prepared. Do your homework regarding the PA profession and ATSU.

· Practice by asking others to “mock” interview you.

· Be professional in your attire, but allow it to reflect who you are. Black and navy blue are not the only colors in the interview rainbow.

36. Will I still be able to take my Boards at the end of the program?
Yes. Access to Boards will be unaffected.

37. Will I still qualify for Stafford loans?
Yes. Access to Stafford loans will be unaffected.

38. Any further questions?
Contact the admissions office at or call 480.219.6000.