Learn the CASPA application service and requirements you need to know. Want to ? Once you’ve researched and chosen your programs, you’ll need to complete a CASPA application. A majority of programs, from the to the , use the CASPA application. In this article, we’ll go over the list of PA schools that use CASPA, a step-by-step guide to completing the application and some samples to help you in crafting your own application.
CASPA is the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants and is the application service used by graduate physician assistant programs in the US. If you are applying to multiple PA school programs, or one of the many schools on the list above, you should get to know the CASPA application.
To start, review the common . Note that many schools will have additional requirements on top of these, such as supplementary essays or application questions. You will be prompted to complete these additional steps when you fill out your CASPA application, depending on which programs you choose.
You should also carefully review if your programs of choice require the GRE, the PA-CAT, the CASPer test and any other evaluations or tests. Not every PA school will require these, but you will need to know ahead of time if they are required so you can plan to include them in your application timeline.
The CASPA application portal opens on the last Thursday of April each year, and continues until the following April 1. The entire application cycle is therefore about a year long, but CASPA allows participating programs to choose from 10 different application deadlines:
- June 15
- July 15
- August 1
- September 1
- October 1
- November 1
- December 1
- August 1
- September 1
- October 1
- January 15
- March 1
- April 1
Most PA schools use and set their final deadlines in the fall, meaning it’s better to submit your application as early as possible, ahead of interview season, for the best chance of getting a spot before they’re all filled up. If possible, submit your CASPA application materials (i.e., the "blue deadline" materials as early as you can and make sure you submit the remaining requirements by the listed deadline.
If you’re still in your undergraduate studies, it’s best to start preparing for your CASPA applications in the fall of your junior year so you have time to complete all the admission requirements and submit your application nice and early. If you’re planning to take a gap year after you graduate or you’re a mature or non-traditional applicant, give yourself 12-18 months ahead of the program’s application deadline to prepare your application and make sure you meet all the requirements.
Once you’ve created a CASPA account and started your application, you’ll first be asked to complete the personal information section. It includes the following items:
- CASPA Release Statement
- Biographic Information
- Contact Information
- Citizenship Information
- Race & Ethnicity
- Family Information
- Environmental Factors
- Other Information
Note that most of these sections are completely optional, and you can choose what information you want to share with PA schools. Some PA programs require additional background checks for all applicants, on top of the criminal background check completed by CASPA. CASPA also verifies all the information you provide before submitting your application to programs.
- High Schools Attended
- Colleges Attended
- CASPA Transcript Entry
- CASPA Course Subjects
- Standardized Tests
You can order all your electronic transcripts while filling out this section, or mark that you are sending your transcripts to CASPA via mail.
For an additional fee, you can also ask the CASPA Professional Transcript Entry (PTE) service to enter all your high school and undergraduate coursework into the CASPA application. For 1-3 transcripts, the fee is $77. It takes around 10 business days for the PTE to fill out your transcript entry in your application.
CASPA Course Subjects
CASPA uses your transcripts to calculate several different GPAs, including your science GPA. Many PA schools evaluate your candidacy based on your cumulative GPA and your science GPA. Some programs may only look at your science GPA to determine your eligibility for their program. You can see how CASPA calculates your GPA .
Courses in these subjects are considered part of your CASPA science GPA:
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Other Science courses
Standardized Test Scores
In the standardized test score section, you can add both standardized test scores or tests you plan to take as part of your application to PA school. PA schools commonly require the GRE or PA-CAT, and a handful even accept the MCAT in lieu of these two tests.
You can add test scores to this section once you’ve completed a test, but you cannot remove old scores, so be sure to check for errors before submitting!
This part of the CASPA application includes the bulk of your qualitative materials, achievements and experiences. Here’s what the CASPA app includes in supporting information:
Here are some PA personal statement examples and tips!
The final part of your CASPA application is the Program Materials section, which includes the additional components unique to each PA program. They can include:
- Questions – These might be multiple-choice or short answer supplemental application questions. This can also include .
- Documents – Some PA schools may ask you to upload supplemental documents to your CASPA application.
- Kira Talent Interview – Some PA schools ask you to complete a separate from your CASPA application.
- Prerequisites – You may be asked to self-identify which courses you’ve completed or plan to take that fulfill a program’s prerequisite courses.
PA School Interviews
PA school interviews are not a part of your CASPA application, but they are nonetheless an important part of getting into your program. One of the best ways to prepare for your interviews is by using mock PA school interviews to rehearse your answers and polish your delivery. A unique part of the PA school application process is the —a surprise supplemental essay on the day of your interview! Be ready for anything.
- Why did you choose this program?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
- What do you feel you can contribute to our program?
1. What is CASPA?
CASPA is the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants, an application service commonly used by graduate physician assistant programs in the US.
2. Do all PA schools use CASPA?
Not all PA schools use the CASPA application, but a majority of the PA schools in the US do.
3. What are the CASPA requirements?
The requirements for a CASPA application can vary depending on the individual PA school requirements for admission, but in general they include the following:
- Bachelor’s degree and official transcripts
- PA school prerequisites
- Minimum GPA
- GRE or PA-CAT scores
- CASPer test
- Personal statement or admissions essays
- Letters of recommendation
4. How many letters of recommendation do you need for CASPA?
You need 3 letters of recommendation for your CASPA application, although you are allowed to submit up to 5 different references.
5. How long should my CASPA personal statement be?
Your CASPA personal statement should be under the 5,000 character limit. So, around 600-700 words at a maximum.
6. How long does it take to get CASPA verified?
It can take up to 4 weeks for CASPA to verify your information and documents once you’ve completed and submitted your application. Once the CASPA verification is complete, your official application will be sent to your designated PA schools.
7. How do you describe shadowing experience on CASPA?
Keep your entries brief, and include the dates, type of practice you observed and a brief description of the procedures or patient treatments you observed.
8. Which courses count towards my science GPA?
CASPA considers these courses as core science courses that count towards your science GPA:
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
CASPA also includes a list of “Other Science” courses that are counted towards your science GPA, mainly science electives.