- What is a PA?
PAs (physician associates/physician assistants) are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Trusted, rigorously educated, and trained healthcare professionals, PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice. For more information visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).
- What types of PA programs are offered at GW?
GW offers two degrees that include PA training. The MSHS program is a two-year traditional physician assistant program that upon completion confers a Master of Science in Health Sciences. The MSHS/MPH program is a three-year joint degree program that allows the student to obtain the Master of Science in Health Sciences and a Master of Public Health degree. In the joint degree MSHS/MPH program, students take Physician Assistant and Public Health courses concurrently.
- When does the program begin?
Both the PA and PA/MPH programs are summer-entry only programs beginning in May each year.
- Which academic terms do students attend if they are enrolled in the program?
This is a full-time program meaning students are required to attend the Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters each year.
- Is it possible to work while in the PA program?
Because the program is a full-time commitment, outside employment is strongly discouraged. Classes in the academic phase are offered Monday through Friday with an occasional Saturday between the hours of 8am-5pm. Clinical phase students are expected to maintain the same schedule as their clinical preceptors, which may include clinical shifts on weekends, nights, and holidays. Typically, clinical phase PA students work 45–75 hours per week while on rotation. Students are not required to work as clerical staff for the PA program.
- How can I reach the PA admissions office?
Contact the admissions office by calling (202) 994-7644 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- I will be in the area and would like to meet with an admissions counselor. Is this possible?
Yes. Please call our admissions office to schedule an appointment with a counselor. Due to the high volume of applications to our program, we may not be able to schedule same day individual appointments during peak months.
- Does GW PA program hold admissions information sessions?
Information sessions are held either virtually or on-campus each month. Please see the sidebar for scheduled sessions.
Deadlines and Application Fees
- What are the deadlines for the CASPA and supplemental applications?
The deadline for all materials is October 1st. The CASPA application must be verified by October 1st and the supplemental application must be completed, paid, and received by this date.
- Do you have early decision?
No, we do not have an early decision option, however, we do operate on a rolling admissions basis.
- What are the application fees for the CASPA and Supplemental Applications?
CASPA application fees are dependent upon how many schools to which you apply. GW fees for the supplemental application is $60. If you wish to request a fee waiver for the GW supplemental application, please check the appropriate box on the supplemental application.
- If I am accepted to the PA program, what is the required deposit?
We require a $1,000 non-refundable tuition deposit to guarantee your spot in the program. Once a letter of acceptance is issued, you will have up to two weeks to return your enrollment form along with your deposit.
The Application Process
- Is it possible to have outstanding prerequisite courses when I apply to the program?
Yes, you may have a maximum of 2 outstanding prerequisites when you apply. This includes any in-progress or planned courses. At the time you apply, you must have at least four prerequisites completed. All prerequisites must be completed and final transcripts submitted prior to matriculation in the program.
- Can I use my AP (Advanced Placement) credits to satisfy prerequisites?
A grade of "Pass" on Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology examination score of 4 or higher with credits accepted from a regionally accredited institution are required. This is the only prerequisite for which Advanced Placement credit is accepted.
- Is it acceptable to complete the pre-requisites at a community college?
Yes, we do not have specific requirements about where the pre-requisites are taken as long as they are completed at a regionally accredited US college or university.
- Are "Pass" credits accepted to fulfill prerequisites?
Due to the educational disruption associated with COVID-19, the program accepts up to 2 prerequisite courses completed on a pass/no pass grading scale. This applies only to courses taken in 2020. The final course prerequisite(s) grade must be a “Pass” grade. Please note that courses taken for pass/no pass do not impact GPA calculation. Keep in mind, you are still required to meet the minimum science and overall GPA of 3.2 for your application to be considered.
- Can I use General Chemistry I & General Chemistry II to count as my two semesters of chemistry requirement?
No, in order to meet the prerequisite requirements, you must take at least one semester of Biochemistry or Organic Chemistry. Any Biochemistry, General Chemistry, or Organic Chemistry course that meets the 3-semester credit requirement fulfills the second chemistry prerequisite.
- When is the CASPA application available?
CASPA is accessible beginning late-April of each year. Please visit the CASPA website for the exact date.
- Is there a resource with helpful hints for completing the CASPA application?
PAEA has created a video that you may find useful. CASPA's website also features a character count calculator that may be helpful when drafting both your personal statement and responses to the short essay questions.
- Can I submit updates to my application post-submission?
No, we do not accept any updated application information unless offered conditional admission.
- Does GW accept non-verified applications after the October 1st deadline?
No, the October 1st deadlines is the latest date we will accept your verified CASPA and GW Supplemental applications. Keep in mind that it generally takes between 3-4 weeks for the program to receive a completed/verified application from CASPA.
- Where should I send original transcripts?
All official transcripts should be sent to CASPA. If you are selected for conditional admission, you will be required to submit official transcripts to GW once your degree has been granted and prior to matriculation. For transcripts to be considered official, they must be in signed and sealed envelopes that they are originally distributed in from the institution.
- When will I receive my admissions decision?
Applicants will be notified on a rolling basis about the status of their applications. All admissions decisions are typically finalized by late January and are sent through the GW supplemental application portal.
The Interview Day
- Is an interview required for admission to the program?
Yes, an interview is required. Interviews are conducted September through December. If you are chosen for an interview, you will be notified by email or phone. Students who are not offered an admission interview have been denied from the program.
- What criteria does GW evaluate during the interview process?
The interview process evaluates each candidate's communication skills, maturity level, alignment with the GW mission, and their understanding of the role of the PA in today’s healthcare environment.
- What should I expect on the interview day?
All interviews are conducted virtually. The interview process grants selected applicants the opportunity to meet prospective classmates, current students, faculty, and staff. Each interview day includes: multiple mini-interviews (MMI), a program overview, and a Q&A session with faculty.
- What is a MMI interview?
Using the multiple mini interview (MMI) format, applicants will complete 5 mini-interview stations where they will be given a scenario or question for discussion. Applicants are given time to review the scenario or question prior to providing a response.
- What are examples of MMI scenarios?
There are multiple scenarios that have been described and adapted across different health professional training programs. Examples can be found in journal articles describing the MMI process. There will be one standard interview scenario that will ask you to discuss with the interviewer why you have chosen to pursue a career as a PA.
Other scenarios, such as the following examples, have been cited:
Placebo (Ethical Decision Making). Dr. Cheung recommends homeopathic medicines to his patients. There is no scientific evidence or widely accepted theory to suggest that homeopathic medicines work, and Dr. Cheung doesn't believe them to. He recommends homeopathic medicine to people with mild and non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and muscle aches, because he believes that it will do no harm, but will give them reassurance. Consider the ethical problems that Dr. Cheung's behavior might pose. Discuss these issues with the interviewer.
Parking Garage (Communication Skills). The parking garage at your place of work has assigned parking spots. On leaving your spot, you are observed by the garage attendant as you back into a neighboring car, a BMW, knocking out its left front headlight and denting the left front fender. The garage attendant gives you the name and office number of the owner of the neighboring car, telling you that he is calling ahead to the car owner, Tim. The garage attendant tells you that Tim is expecting your visit. Enter Tim's office. (Eva KW, et al. (2004).
- Why does the GW PA program use this interview format?
Research has demonstrated that the traditional interview format may not be a valid and reliable way to assess certain non-cognitive factors that are needed to succeed in a healthcare profession. The MMI format is valid and may reduce bias in the interview; persuading the Admissions Committee to adopt this interview format beginning a decade ago.
Jones PE, Forister JG. Comparison of Behavioral and Multiple Mini-Interview Formats in Physician Assistant Program Admissions. The Journal of PA Education. 2011, 22(1):36-40.
Eva KW, Reiter HI, Rosenfeld J, Norman GR. The Eva KW, Reiter HI, Rosenfeld J, Norman GR. The ability of the multiple mini-interview to predict pre-clerkship performance in medical school, Acad Med. 2004, Oct; 79(10 Suppl):S40-2.
Eva KW, Reiter HI, Rosenfeld J. Norman GR, The relationship between interviewers’ characteristics and ratings assigned during a multiple mini-interview, Acad Med 2004, 79(6): 602-9.
Kumar, K., Roberts, C., Rothnie, I., Du Fresne, C. and Walton, M. (2009), Experiences of the multiple mini-interview: a qualitative analysis. Medical Education, 43:360-367. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03291.
- How can I prepare for the MMI?
Our best advice is to understand the basic structure, time limit, and number of stations. Listen carefully to any prompts directed to you. Reviewing a list of "practice" questions is not helpful because the MMI does not use the same questions you experience during a traditional interview. However, there may be a benefit to reflect on previous interview experiences or role play with a friend or family member because it might help to identify nervous habits and also help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Tuition & Financial Aid
- What is the cost of tuition?
Tuition and fees for the two-year PA (MSHS) and the three-year PA/MPH program can be found on our tuition page.
- Should I submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)?
Yes, it is recommended that you complete the FAFSA if you plan to apply for financial aid to finance your education.
- What are the sources of scholarships to finance my tuition?
The GW PA program offers a limited number of need-based and merit scholarships to students whose background and experiences align with the program mission. If the scholarships are renewed each term, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA.
In addition to university scholarships and grants, there are a number of other scholarships available through the Physician Assistant Foundation, PA Veteran's Caucus, local state chapters of the AAPA, and local and national philanthropic organizations.
The federally funded National Health Service Corps is a competitive scholarship program that also has generous loan repayment opportunities for health professionals who agree to serve in medically underserved primary care settings. If you are interested in programs such as these, we encourage you to research them to see if they may be applicable to you.
Competitive Applicant Profile
- What does GW consider to be a competitive applicant?
The competitive applicant reflects the mission of the GW PA Program, understands the role of the PA in today’s healthcare environment, and possesses a strong academic record. In addition, the applicant has superior communication skills and a high level of maturity. Please review the profiles of the PA Class of 2024 and the PA/MPH Class of 2025 for more information.
- What is the typical GPA of a competitive applicant?
The average undergraduate cumulative GPA of applicants varies from year to year. Historically, the average overall and science GPAs are 3.5 or greater.
- Is a bachelor degree in science required for admission?
No, we have students who have bachelors degrees in a variety of non-science fields.
- What is the average GRE score of a competitive applicant?
The GW PA program does not require, nor consider, GRE exam scores.
- What is the average amount of health care experience of a competitive applicant?
One thousand (1,000) hours of direct patient care are required.
- What are technical standards and how are they used to ensure successful completion of the PA program?
Technical Standards are skills and abilities a student must have in order to matriculate and complete the PA program. Technical Standards required for the PA profession include abilities in the following categories: Communication, Observation, Motor/Tactile Function, Intellectual-Conceptual/Integrative/Quantitative abilities, as well as Behavioral, and Social Attributes. PA students must possess these skills; surrogates, undue dependence on technology or trained intermediaries cannot be used to demonstrate the essential functions listed above.