» Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Physician Assistant (PA)? 

PAs are licensed healthcare professionals who practice medicine with physician supervision (MD, DO).  PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical care and services to diverse patient populations in both the rural and urban settings.  Their main focus is patient care in the primary care setting, and their duties include, education, research, and administrative activities. 

How did the PA Profession begin? 

In the mid 1960’s, physicians and educators recognized there was a shortage of primary care physicians.  Dr. Eugene Stead of the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina selected four Navy corpsmen who had received considerable medical training during their military service and in Vietnam but who had no comparable civilian employment. In 1965 he put together the first physician assistant class and based the curriculum of the PA program in part on his knowledge of the fast-track training of doctors during World War II. 

What degree will I earn upon successful completion of the program?

Students who complete all requirements of the program will receive a Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MMSPAS).

When will the program start?

The first class is expected to begin in January 2017.

How long is the program?

The program is 24 months in duration.

I still have prerequisites that would be completed after the application deadline, can I still apply?

No, all prerequisites must be completed and the grade reflected on your transcript at the time of submission, otherwise your application would be flagged as “does not meet minimum requirements.”

How do I apply to your program?

All applications must go through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) https://portal.caspaonline.org/. Applications sent directly to the college will not be accepted.

What are the admission criteria?

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college prior to matriculation into the Chapman University MMS PA Studies Program;
  • Completion of all prerequisite coursework with a “C” or better;
  • Overall cumulative GPA minimum 3.2;
  • Cumulative science pre-requisite GPA minimum 3.2;
  • All applicants must complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).  No minimum GRE score is required, although your score will be taken into consideration in the overall assessment of your application.  The GRE must have been taken with the last 5 years from the application deadline (no later than October 1, 2011.  Chapman University’s institution code is 3681.  A department code is not needed.
  • TOEFL score must meet minimum standard requirement of 80 if English is not the first language.
  • Technical Standards: qualified applicants must have abilities and skills in the following areas:  observation, communication, motor, intellectual, conceptual, integrative, qualitative, and behavior/social.
  • Three letters of recommendation (one must be from a practicing PA or physician);
  • 1,000 hours of patient contact in a health care related work experience, voluntary or paid;
  • 100 observational/shadowing experience hours completed and documented by a licensed and practicing PA, MD, and/or DO is preferred.  Shadowing hours will not count towards the 1000 required patient contact hours. Applicants must enter any shadowing experience and the health care related area of the official CASPA application.  Observational experiences to be arranged by the student.  The PA Studies program will not arrange nor recommend observational sites.  Please check the following website on shadowing:  www.capanet.org/Students_Pre-PA/Information-on-Shadowing/  Clinical work experience as well as any formal health career training (EMT, CAN, LVN, RN, RT, PT, MT, etc.) cannot be substituted for observational/shadowing hours;
  • Personal statement/Narrative: Please describe your motivation towards becoming a PA.  5000 characters limit = approximately 625 words;
  • Personal interview: After initial assessment and screening of applications, selected candidates will be invited to interview on campus in Irvine, CA.;
  • Background Check: successful completion;

What are the prerequisite courses?

The minimum math and science prerequisites for the PA Studies Program are as follows:

  • Pre-calculus or Calculus (3 credits)
  • Intro to Statistics (3 credits)
  • General Biology I & II with Laboratory (8 credits)*
  • General Chemistry I & II with Laboratory (8 credits)*
  • Microbiology with Laboratory (4 credits)*
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II with Laboratory (8 credits)*
  • Genetics
  • Medical Terminology

Other Required General Courses:

  • English Composition (3 credits)
  • General Psychology (3 credits
  • Intro to Sociology (3 credits)

Recommended Courses:

  • Medical Ethics
  • Medical Spanish 

* Please note that human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, biology, microbiology, and genetics may not be taken by an online or correspondence format.

My GPA is below 3.0, what should I do?

It is recommended that you take additional courses in order to boost your GPA before you apply.

Is the GRE required for admission into the Chapman PA Studies Program?

Yes. No minimum score is required.  The GRE must be completed within the last 5 years from the application deadline.  A combination of the highest scores from separate sittings of the GRE exam will be accepted.  Chapman University’s institution code is 3681.  A department code is not needed.

When is the application deadline?

The deadline is October 1.  Applications received after this date will be considered on a space available basis.  You must apply through CASPA. 

Am I guaranteed an interview if I meet the minimum requirements?

No, you are not guaranteed an interview if you meet the minimum requirements.  Your chance of being invited to interview increases depending on how competitive your application is in comparison to the applicant pool that year.

I only have shadowing experience. Will that count towards the 1,000 required hours of Health Care Experience?

Shadowing a Physician Assistant is recommended and strongly encouraged, so that you may have an understanding of the role of a PA. However, it is not sufficient when it comes to Health Care Experience. You also must acquire direct hands on patient care experience.

If I meet all admission criteria, does that guarantee a seat in the PA Program?

Seats in the PA Program are limited. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee a seat in the PA Program. The PA Studies Program Admissions Committee will admit candidates who meet the admission requirements, have a successful interview, and present the best overall profile.

I have submitted my application to CASPA, and I would like the status, who can I contact?

To check your application status you may log into your application and check your status on the program status page. For transcript updates you may log into your application and check the status, or call 714-744-2190.

How will I be notified whether I am invited to be interviewed or not?

You will be notified by phone at the phone number you provided in your CASPA application.

After I have received the invite to interview how long do I have to pick a date?

Seats fill up quickly.  It is recommended that you select a date immediately, keep in mind dates cannot be changed once selected.

After I am interviewed, when should I expect a response?

Responses indicating whether you are accepted, waitlisted, or rejected will be sent as soon as possible.

Do I need a Bachelor’s degree to be eligible for admissions?

Yes, a Bachelor’s degree is required for entry into this program.

I only have an Associate degree can I still apply?

No, you need to have a Bachelor’s degree.

Is the Chapman University PA Studies Program Accredited?

Chapman University’s PA Studies Program has applied for provisional accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on the Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).  The visit for this accreditation status will be in March 2016, and the Program will receive results of this visit in the Fall of 2016.  Updates can be found on the Chapman University PA Studies Program website at http:/www.chapman.edu/physician-assistant.  The program will not commence in the event that Accreditation-Provisional is not received.

What is provisional accreditation?

Provisional accreditation, known as “Accreditation-Provisional” by the ARC-PA, is an accreditation status for a new PA program that has not yet enrolled students, but at the time of its comprehensive accreditation review, has demonstrated its preparedness to initiate a program in accordance with the Accreditation Standards.  Programs that have received “Accreditation-Provisional” status from the ARC-PA are considered to be accredited, and will receive future accreditation visits in the future to continue their accreditation as a program.

What happens if I am enrolled in the Chapman University PA Studies Program and it does not make full accreditation?

Students will only be enrolled in the PA Program if the Program achieves Accreditation-Provisional status from the ARC-PA.  Students who are currently enrolled in the program will be allowed to complete the program, and will be eligible to sit for the national board certification through NCCPA, even if the Program fails to attain full accreditation status on subsequent accreditation visits.  On their website, the NCCPA states that “To be eligible for PANCE, you must graduate from a program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) as a Physician Assistant Program. PA program graduates will be deemed to have graduated from an accredited program if their PA educational program was accredited at the time of their matriculation.”

What type of jobs in medicine can PAs perform?

PAs can be found in all areas and subspecialties of medicine.  These include, but are not limited to primary care, surgery, family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, orthopedics, psychiatry, pain management, and gastroenterology.  PAs can also be found in areas such as higher education, government, military, administration, and research.

Are PA shadowing hours a required part of the application?

No, although observational/shadowing hours are strongly encouraged and will be taken into consideration in determining whether or not you will receive an interview and potential admission into the program.  Shadowing a PA will provide the student applicant with valuable patient contact in various sub-specialties of medicine.  We want to be assured that you will understand the role of a PA as part of the healthcare team.

What are patient contact hours?

Patient contact hours are defined as an experience in a healthcare setting that involves patients, either paid or voluntary.

How many classes are there each year in the program?

There is only one class accepted into the program per year.

How many students are accepted in each class?

The first class (January 2017) is planned to have 25 students, the second class (January 2018) will have 35students, and every class after that will have 50 students.

Is there a part-time option?

No.  The program is a 24-month, full-time, year-round educational experience.  There is time off between each of the trimesters in both the didactic and clinical phases. 


What is the Bridge Program?
The Bridge Program allows highly qualified Health Science majors the opportunity to interview for acceptance into Chapman's PA program.

Who should apply to the Bridge Program?
Students who meet the high eligibility requirements who desire to become a Physician Assistant.

What degree do I earn upon successful completion of the Bridge Program?
A Bachelor's of Science degree in Health Sciences.

Am I guaranteed a seat in the Graduate PA Studies Program upon successful completion of the Bridge Program?
No, upon successful completion, you will be offered an interview in the Chapman PA Program.

Should I shadow a PA prior to applying to the Bridge Program?
No, although shadowing hours are strongly recommended.

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