Physician Assistant Studies Program
October 22, 2016


FAQ's edited 04/30/2013



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Updated 04/10/15

Disclaimer:  The questions and answers provided on this page may be udpated without notice. Continue to check this page frequently for additions, subtractions and changes.


  1. How can I schedule a meeting with a faculty advisor to discuss my application?  Answer: Due to increased demand and time constraints, faculty are not readily available for individual advising. Interested applicants should attend an Open House event, the Graduate Fair, and/or attend one of our Virtual Open House webinars to ask individual questions that are not answered on this webpage.
  2. How many applicants are accepted to the program?  Answer:  Currently, the program accepts 50 students.
  3. How do I apply?  Answer:  complete both the CASPA and Apply Texas applications + materials
  4. What does it cost to apply?  Answer:  cost of CASPA + Apple Texas + official transcript(s) to CASPA  + any travel/lodging for interviews.
  5. Can you help me with questions on the CASPA application?  Answer:  No.  All CASPA questions are handled by CASPA customer service.
  6. Can you help me with questions on the Apply Texas application?  Answer: Yes & No. Some questions we can help with at a departmental level.  Most questions, especially those regarding international status and application should be directed to the Graduate Office.
  7. What are my chances of getting accepted?  Answer: This question is very difficult to answer if not impossible. Applicants should review out Admssions Stats page to compare their own credentials to those of applicants accepted in previous cohorts.
  8. Does the program make early admissions decisions?  Answer: No.  All applicants are considered at once and compared to the rest of the applicant pool.
  9. Does the program follow a rolling admissions process?  Answer:  No.  All applicants are considered at once.
  10. Does the program offer advanced placement for coursework taken at other PA programs?  Answer: No.  See Advanced Placement Policy
  11. What degree do I need to apply?  Answer: The program accepts any Bachelor's degree, however, applicants with science degrees are most successful. 

Special Requirements

  1. Does the program require Spanish language fluency?  Answer: No
  2. Does the program require the GRE?  Answer:  Yes, beginning 2016 - 2017 cycle
  3. Does the program require any entrance examinations?  Answer:  No
  4. Does the program accept nurses (RN's)? Answer: Yes


  1. Does the program require direct patient care experience?  Answer: Although there is no minimum required, the admissions committee highly recommends direct patient care experience.  The most successful applicants have more than 500 hours of direct patient care experience.
  2. Does the program require shadowing?  Answer: Yes, a minimum of 50 hours of shadowing are required. Shadowing is accepted from MD/DO, PA, and/or NP. The most successful applicants have more than 200 hours of shadowing.
  3. Can I shadow a nurse?  Answer: The "nurse" must be a nurse practitioner in order to be accepted as shadowing.
  4. I shadowed a chiropracter. Does that count?  Answer: No
  5. I shadowed a dentist. Does that count?  Answer: No
  6. How many providers do I have to shadow?  Answer: There is no set number but variation is better.
  7. How many specialties do I need to shadow?  Answer: There is no set number but variation is better.
  8. Do shadowing hours have to be completed by the October 1 deadline?  Answer:  Yes.
  9. Can the program help me find someone to shadow? Answer: Unfortunately, the program cannot offer any contact information for shadowing.
  10. Does the program require community service and/or extracurricular activities?  Answer: Although there is no minimum requireed, the admissions committee highly recommends community service and extracurricular activities.  The most successful applicants have many hours and many type of services and activities.


  1. Does the program accept Calculus for the statistics prerequisite?  Answer: No
  2. Does the program accept Sociology for the psychology prerequisite?  Answer: No
  3. Does the program accept online courses?  Answer:  Yes, as long as they are from an accredited institution.
  4. Does the program accept online lab courses?  Answer:  Yes, as long as they are from an accredited institution.
  5. Do the prerequisites have to be a certain age?  Can they be be more than 5 years old?  Answer: No and Yes.  The program does not have an expiration date for coursework.  
  6. Does the program accept community college coursework?  Answer:  Yes
  7. Does the program accept science courses taken for non-science majors?  Answer:  No
  8. Do all prerequisites need to be completed by the October 1 deadline?  Answer:  Yes
  9. Does the program "waive" any prerequisites?  Answer: No
  10. I attended medical school in the USA.  Will the program give me credit for those courses?  Answer: No.  See Advanced Placement Policy
  11. All applicants must have taken AT LEAST 15 semester credit hours of coursework in the United States within the last 5 years (beginning 2016 - 2017 cycle)


  1. Do I have to send official transcripts?  Answer: Yes, to CASPA.
  2. Where do I send official transcripts? Answer: Send official transcripts directly to CASPA
  3. Do I send transcripts to the PA program?  Answer: No
  4. Do you accept unofficial transcripts?  Answer: No
  5. Do I need to submit transcripts from every school I attended even though I transferred coursework? Answer: Yes. Transcripts from all schools attended are required regardless of transfer coursework.
  6. I have a degree from the USA and a degree from a foreign country.  Do I need to submit my foreign transcripts?  Answer:  Yes.  All transcripts from all schools attended are required.  FCSA evaluation may not be required for foreign transcipts for applicants with degrees from the USA although the admissions committee may still ask for an FCSA. 
  7. I attended another professional graduate school (medical school, dental school, etc.) but did not complete the degree.  My Bachelor's degree is complete.  Do I still have to sumbit the incomplete graduate school coursework transcript?  Answer:  Yes.  All transcripts from all schools attended are required.
  8. My transcript shows academic probation and/or academic dismissal.  Will I still be considered for admission?  Answer:  Yes but be prepared to discuss either in detail.

GPA & Coursework

  1. What is the minimum GPA needed to apply?  Answer: The minimum overall GPA needed to apply is 3.0.  This GPA is calculated by the CASPA system. It included ALL courses taken at ALL institutions.
  2. What GPA's does the program consider for application?  Answer: The program considers the overall GPA, science GPA and last 30 hours GPA.
  3. How does the program calculate GPA's?  Answer:  GPA's are calculated by CASPA.  
  4. Does the program use the "most recent" grade for a repeated course to "replace" older grades?  Answer: The program follows CASPA policy.  CASPA includes ALL grades for ALL courses taken regarless of repetition.
  5. What does the program look for on transcripts?  Answer: Besides good grades, the program looks for trends in performance, drops, repeats and academic rigor just to name a few things.
  6. How many semester credit hours should I be taking per semester?  Answer: The most competitive applicants take 15+ semester credit hours per semester.  The least competitive applicants take <9 semester credit hours per semester.
  7. I worked full-time while I was enrolled in courses.  I could not take 15 hours every semester.  Does the program take working into consideration?  Answer: Yes
  8. I attended a quarter/trimester school. How do I convert my courses to meet UTPA's requirements? Answer: CASPA converts all coursework automatically. Please see the CASPA website for details.

Foreign Applicants

  1. Does the program accept foreign medical graduates?  Answer: Yes
  2. Does the program accept any other foreign transcript evaluations besides FCSA?  Answer:  No
  3. The program will begin accepting WES evaluations in the 2016 - 2017 cycle.
  4. Can foreign medical graduates get advanced placement for coursework?  Answer:  No.  See Advanced Placement Policy
  5. Can the program review my foreign credentials to determine if I am qualified to apply?  Answer: Yes. All advisements for foreign credentials must be done on campus by appointment.  Copies of all credentials and a completed FCSA are required.  Materials are not accepted electronically or by fax. Advisements cannot be conducted by phone or online unless arranged by individual faculty advisors.

Letters of Recommendation

  1. Are letters of recommendation required to apply?  Answer: Yes. Three letters of recommendation are required to apply.
  2. How do I submit my letters of recommendation?  Answer: Letters are accepted through the CASPA system only.  Please follow CASPA instructions for submission.
  3. Who can write letters of recommendation for me?  Answer:  Anyone of your choosing. The program prefers letters from health care professionals you have shadowed or worked with, employers or supervisors and professors.  Letter from friends and family members are highly discouraged.
  4. What should the letters of recommendation contain?  Answer:  The letters of recommendation are standard format from CASPA.  Please follow CASPA instructions for letters of recommendation.
  5. The CASPA system is asking me to "waive" my right to see the letters of recommendation. What should I answer? Answer: It's up to you, but the standard is to waiver your right to see them.  Many people will not write your letter without your waiver.
  6. I sent requests to all 3 of my references, but only two returned the letters to CASPA.  The deadline has passed. What should I do?  Ultimately, it's the applicant's responsiblity to make sure the entire application/submission process is complete.  The program does not make exceptions for lack of responsibility on the part of the applicant.


  1. How are applicants selected for interviews?  Answer: Program faculty and admissions committee members review each applicant's file in detail.  Those with the best combination of more favorable characteristics are invited.
  2. How many interview invitations are sent out?  Answer: There is no set number. The number of invitations varies every year.
  3. How can I prepare for my interview?  Answer: Search online for interview tips and techniques. Dress to impress in business formal attire.
  4. How many interviews will I have?  Answer: Currently, the program uses two, 20-30 minute interviews per applicant. Each interview has a different focus.
  5. How much does the interview count toward the admissions decision?  Answer: There is no set measure to answer.  The interview is a crucial part of the admissions process.

After Acceptance

  1. Can I work while I'm enrolled in the program?  Answer:  The program does not allow students to work while enrolled in the program.
  2. Does the program require a security deposit if I get accepted?  Answer: Not currently
  3. Can I enroll in the program part-time? Answer: No. The program is offered only on a full-time basis.
  4. Is a criminal background check required?  Answer: Yes. A criminal background check is required of all accepted applicants BEFORE the first class day.
  5. Do I need to have a clean criminal background? Answer: Yes.
  6. What if I do not have a clean criminal background? Answer: The program will not have access to the reason(s) of any failed background checks. All failed background checks will be referred to the Texas State Board of Physician Assistant Examiners for consultation and recommendation.
  7. Will my criminal background affect my ability to gain admission into the program?  Answer: No. The admissions committee does not use the criminal background to make admissions decisions.
  8. How often do I need to get a criminal background check?  Answer: Yearly while enrolled in the program.
  9. Are drug screens required?  Answer: Drug screens are required in order to rotate through certain facilities and clinical sites.
  10. Are there any special requirements once I am accepted?  Answer: Yes. All accepted applicants must undergo a complete pre-partcipation medical examination.  
  11. Are any immunizations required by the program?  Answer: Yes. All accepted applicants must have a current PPD negative result, Hepatitis B series or proof of immunity, Meningitis vaccination if <30 years old.  A flu shot is required yearly.  Other vaccine recommendations are listed in the instructions sent to all accepted applicants.
  12. If I am accepted and have an emergency, can I defer my decision?  Answer: Yes. You may defer your admissions decision for one year under extenuating circumstances. Deferrals must be approved by the program director.  See Admissions Deferral Policy



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