Frequently Asked Questions

Due to COVID-19, the GW PA program has adjusted a few of its admissions requirements. Please see the program's main admissions page for responses to frequently asked questions during this pandemic.

 

General Information

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, you will be taking Physician Assistant and Public Health courses concurrently.

Which admissions terms are available?

This is a summer-entry only program. Therefore the summer term is the only admission term that is available.

Which academic terms do students attend if they are enrolled in the program?

Students are required to attend the Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters each year. The program is full-time and outside employment is discouraged. Classes in the academic phase are offered mostly during the daytime between the hours of 8am-5pm. Clinical phase students are expected to maintain the same schedule as their clinical preceptors, which may include working weekends, nights, and holidays. Typically, clinical phase students work 45–75 hours per week.

How can I reach the PA admissions office?

Contact the admissions office by calling (202) 994-7644 or emailing paadm@gwu.edu.

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 individual appointments during peak months. We strongly encourage applicants to take advantage of our pre-recorded information session.

Do you hold information sessions?

Information sessions are held on the main campus at Foggy Bottom. Dates for 2022 sessions are pending. Please check the right sidebar on this page for our on-demand information session.

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 fully 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?

The CASPA fee is dependent upon how many schools you apply to and the date upon which you submit your application. Please see the CASPA website for specific information regarding the fee schedule. GW fees for the supplemental application is $60. You can submit your application fee online by using a credit card or mailing a check or money order directly to the Health Sciences Admissions Office. Applicants who are GW alumni are exempt from the supplemental application fee; indicate "fee waiver" when prompted for payment.

If I am accepted into the PA program, is there a required tuition deposit?

Yes. 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 typically have up to two weeks to return your enrollment form along with your deposit.

The Application Process

Have there been changes to the application process due to COVID-19?

Yes, please see the Admissions main page for information on COVID-19 changes. 

Can I have outstanding prerequisite courses when I apply to the program?

Yes, you can have a maximum of two 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. For more information about prerequisites, please see the admissions website for program-specific requirements.

Can I use my AP (Advanced Placement) credits to satisfy any prerequisites?

AP credits are only accepted to fulfill the Psychology prerequisite. A score of four or higher must have been earned on the exam.

Are "Pass" credits accepted to fulfill prerequisites?

Due to the impact of COVID-19, the program will accept up to two (2) prerequisite courses completed on a pass/no pass grading scale. This applies only to courses taken in 2020 and spring 2021. All completed prerequisites must have a “Pass” grade. Please note that courses taken for pass/no pass will not hamper or increase GPA. Keep in mind, you are still required to meet the minimum science and overall GPA of 3.0 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 could then be used to fulfill the second Chemistry prerequisite.

What documents are required to apply to the GW PA program?

The CASPA and GW supplemental application are required. Your application is not complete until all items are received.

Where can I access these applications?

The CASPA application can be found at caspa.liaisoncas.com. You should submit an application to ONLY one of the programs (MSHS: 2 year OR MSHS-MPH: 3 year.) The Supplemental application is available online at https://gw.force.com. Please follow the instructions on the Admissions page.

If I only want to apply to the GW PA program, can I apply directly to GW and not through CASPA?

No, all applications to the GW Physician Assistant Program must include both the CASPA and GW supplemental application. We will not honor one without the other.

Are paper applications available?

No. The CASPA application and the GW supplemental application are only available online.

Where will I send my 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 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.

Will I be able to send the TOEFL directly to CASPA?

CASPA will accept standardized test scores directly. You should also identify GW as one of the schools to receive your scores. The GW institution code is 5246. No other program or department codes are needed.

When can I submit my CASPA application?

CASPA will be accessible beginning late-April of each year. Please visit the CASPA website for the exact date.

Can I submit updates to my application post-submission?

No, we do not accept any updated application information unless offered conditional admission. 

If schools have different deadlines, how will I know when to apply through CASPA?

You should apply to CASPA by the earliest deadline of those schools you are applying to. Deadlines are the latest date you can submit your CASPA application and your GW Supplemental application. Our application deadline is October 1, which may not coincide with the deadline of other schools. Make sure to submit your application as early as possible prior to the deadline. Keep in mind that it generally takes between 3-4 weeks to receive a completed/verified application from CASPA once they have received all of your required documentation. We will start reviewing as soon as we have received your completed application (both the CASPA and GW supplemental applications).

Can I be accepted at more than one school?

Yes, the CASPA is part of the application process, not the admissions process. If you are accepted at more than one school, you will have to make a decision about which school to attend. If you are accepted/deposited to the GW PA Program, but decide to attend elsewhere, please let us know as soon as possible so that another deserving candidate may take your place.

Does CASPA require me to include a CV or resume?

CASPA will prompt you to provide a detailed description of your work experience, which will be forwarded to the participating schools along with your application.

When will I receive my admissions decision?

Applicants will be notified on a rolling basis about the status of their applications. All decisions are typically finalized by late January. All decision letters will be sent by January through the GW supplemental application portal.

The Interview Process

Is an interview required to obtain admission to the program?

Yes, an interview is necessary. Students who are not offered interviews have been denied from the program. If you are chosen for an interview, you will be notified immediately by email and, in some cases, phone.

What occurs on interview day?

All interviews are conducted virtually. The interview process grants selected applicants the opportunity to meet prospective classmates, current students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Each interview day includes: multiple mini-interviews, a program overview, and a Q&A session with faculty.

If I am chosen for the interview process, what documents will I be asked to send prior to the interview day?

You will not need to send anything prior to the interview.

What criteria does GW use during the interview process?

The interview process is designed to evaluate each candidate's communication skills, maturity level, match to the GW mission, and their understanding of the role of the PA in today’s healthcare environment.

When will interview sessions be conducted?

Interviews will be conducted September through December. While interview days were held during the weekend in previous cycles, they will be conducted during the week starting September 2022.

What is an MMI?

In a multiple mini interview (MMI) format, applicants will complete five mini-interview stations. Applicants will have time to review the scenario or question prior to providing a response.

What might I expect to encounter in an MMI scenario?

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 reliable way to assess certain non-cognitive factors that are needed to succeed in a health care profession. Typical interviews can be influenced by bias, expectations, and perspectives of the interviewers. Significant research has been conducted on the use of the MMI format across many health professions, including physician assistants. The findings have been informative and convincing; persuading the Admissions Committee to adopt this interview format beginning with the 2012-13 admissions cycle.

What is the evidence for the MMI? Can I read more about the MMI and interviewing?

Suggested references include:

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) program can be found on our tuition page.

Should I submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)?

Yes. Whether or not you have heard back from all of the programs you have applied to, it is recommended that you complete the FAFSA if you plan to take out loans to finance your education.

Are there any programs that will finance my tuition?

The GW PA program is able to offer a limited number of scholarships to students. These renewable scholarships require students to 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.

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 around 3.5 or greater.

What is the average number of science hours completed by a competitive applicant?

The average number of science credit hours completed by students in the latest classes was between 65-85 hours. In general, the more competitive applicants have more science hours completed.

What is the average GRE score of a competitive applicant?

The GW PA program does not require, nor consider, the GRE for admission.

What is the average amount of health care experience of a competitive applicant?

One thousand (1,000) hours of direct patient care are required.

*Please see the demographic profiles of the most recent entering PA cohorts.

Technical Standards

What are the technical standards required to successfully complete the GW PA program?

Download the GW PA Technical Standards, (pdf).

The George Washington University Physician Assistant Program considers it essential for all physician assistant students to have the knowledge and skill to function in a variety of clinical settings and to provide a wide spectrum of patient care as required by the curriculum.  Therefore, every physician assistant student must master a common body of basic science knowledge and master the principles, knowledge, and procedures of the major required clinical specialty clerkships, including internal medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and primary (ambulatory) care medicine.  This requires that every student have sufficient capacities and abilities in: Communication, Observation, Motor/Tactile Function, Cognitive/Intellectual Function, and Behavioral and Social Attributes.

Completion of this program requires that each student independently demonstrates these capabilities continuously throughout enrollment. Surrogates cannot be used to accomplish the essential requirements. Students may not have undue dependence on technology or trained intermediaries. Students are required to acknowledge that they meet these technical standards (outlined more fully below) prior to entry into the Program and prior to beginning the clinical phase.

Communication includes the ability to speak, hear, read, and write sufficiently to achieve adequate exchange of information with other healthcare professionals, patients and their support network.

The student must have the ability to receive and process auditory information, and speak and write clearly for all communications with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals. The student must communicate effectively through written and electronic media. The student must be able to communicate sensitively with patients and their families. The student must be able to read sufficiently to comprehend complex medical literature, and convey this information in easy to understand terms. The student must be able to perceive forms of non-verbal interpersonal communications including facial expressions, body language, and affect.

 

Reasonable accommodations will be made for applicants with disabilities who can meet the requirements noted above. These accommodations must be accomplished without altering the essential requirements of the PA curriculum. Inability to meet the technical standards throughout Program enrollment will necessitate further review which may delay or terminate progression and/or enrollment in the Program.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

The student must possess emotional stability for full utilization of her/his intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to both didactic studies and patient care. The student must be able to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and their family members, staff and colleagues. The student must be able to work collaboratively and effectively as a small group member as well as a health team member. The student must have sufficient interpersonal skills to relate positively with people across society, including all ethnic backgrounds, economic levels, sexual orientation, and belief systems. The student must possess compassion and concern for others; interest in and motivation for service; and integrity. The student must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under mentally and emotionally stressful situations. The student must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. The student must behave in an ethical and moral manner that is consistent with professional values. The student must be able to accept constructive criticism and appropriately respond through modification of her/his behavior. 

Cognitive/Intellectual Function

A student must be able to demonstrate cognitive and problem solving skills in an efficient and timely manner in order to meet the Program Competencies.  Problem solving is one of the critical skills demanded of physician assistants.  It requires all of these intellectual abilities:

  • Comprehension of visual-spatial relationships.
  • Reading and understanding the medical literature and the patient’s chart.
  • Learning, measuring, calculating, retrieving, prioritizing, analyzing, organizing, assimilating, integrating, and synthesizing technically detailed and complex information and applying this information appropriately. 
  • A student must be able to execute movements reasonably required to provide general and emergency medical care to patients.  These skills require coordination of fine and gross motor skills, equilibrium and functional sensation.
  • A student must have the capability to manipulate equipment and instruments for the performance of basic laboratory tests and procedures. 
  • A student must have the ability to move oneself from one setting to another and negotiate the patient care environment in a timely fashion.
  • A student must have sufficient physical stamina to perform the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study.  This includes long periods of sitting, standing and moving which are required for classroom, laboratory, and clinical experiences.

Motor/Tactile Function

A student must have sufficient motor function to directly perform palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers.

Observation includes the ability to perceive, using senses and mental abilities, information presented in both educational and clinical settings.  Educational information will be presented through lectures, small groups and one-on-one interactions, as well as written and audiovisual materials. 

The student must possess sufficient sensory (visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory) and mental abilities to accurately perceive information provided in the educational settings. This includes written and audiovisual materials, laboratories, diagnostic images, microscopic and physical examination. The student must be able to accurately observe (using visual, auditory, tactile, and/or olfactory senses) a patient’s medical condition, including patient affect, up close and at a distance, with and without medical instrumentation.  This includes but is not limited to radiography, electrocardiograms, sonograms, monitors and other graphic images.