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Review these instructions for applying to a physician assistant program.

Submitting Your Application

More than 85% of physician assistant programs participate in the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA).

PA applicants should thoroughly review the CASPA Instructions and FAQs. 

CASPA Coursework Instructions

PA applicants must convert their Northwestern credit units to quarter hours for each Northwestern course they enter in the CASPA coursework section. One Northwestern credit = 4 quarter hours.

If a direct or supplemental application requires you to list your Northwestern coursework in terms of semester hours, use the following conversion: One Northwestern credit = 2.7 semester hours (if they require 2 decimals places, then one Northwestern credit = 2.66 semester hours). The Northwestern course unit conversion can always be found on the back page of your official Northwestern transcript.

Personal Statement and Experience

CASPA requires a 5000 character limit (including spaces) personal statement that will be sent to all schools. Your health professions advisor will be happy to offer guidance to pre-PA students as they develop their personal statement.

CASPA has an Experiences section with the following categories:

  • Employment
  • Research
  • Volunteer
  • Patient Care Experience
  • Health Care Experience
  • Shadowing
  • Leadership Experience
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Teaching Experience

Direct and Supplemental Applications

Non-CASPA schools will require you to apply directly to their programs. CASPA participating schools may also require additional materials and supplemental applications sent directly to their institutions.


Because PA programs vary by their start date, PA applicants need to check each PA program in which they are interested for that program’s specific application deadline.