FAQs

Physician Assistant Studies (MS)

Application Deadline August 1st

Frequently Asked Questions

Course Prerequisites
Can I apply if I still need to complete a course prerequisite?

Applicants with outstanding degree completion and/or a single outstanding prerequisite course will be considered if successfully completed by June 15th prior to matriculation. If you are completing one final course, be sure it is listed under “Courses in Progress/Planned” on the CASPA application. It is your responsibility to send an official transcript directly to the PA Program as soon as the final grade/degree conferral is available. Electronic transcripts are preferred.

What should I do if I submit my CASPA application in the spring and still plan to take courses during the summer?

List all “in progress” and “planned” courses on the CASPA application. As soon as final grades are available, it is your responsibility to notify the program and promptly send an official transcript directly to the program so we can update your file. Electronic transcripts are preferred. We do not have early decision or rolling admissions, so there is no advantage to submitting your application early. If you are still taking courses in the spring and summer semesters, you might consider waiting to submit your CASPA application so that the final grades appear on your application. All applications will be considered as long as they are complete and are submitted by the August 1 deadline at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, verified by CASPA by August 31 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, and we receive the $75 Northeastern application fee by August 1 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Does Northeastern require any material in addition to the CASPA application?

We do not have a supplemental application. However, Northeastern does require a $75 Northeastern application fee in addition to the CASPA application fee. For instructions on how to submit the fee, please refer to the section entitled “Northeastern $75 Application Fee” on our web page under the “How to Apply” tab.

What if my Anatomy and Physiology courses did not include a lab and are only 2-credit courses?

An Anatomy and Physiology lab is not required. The Admissions Committee does not evaluate the Anatomy and Physiology prerequisite based upon course credits. Rather it is the course content that is important. Both the anatomy and physiology of the entire body from head to toe, including all body systems must be covered. Either a one semester or a two semester course courses is appropriate if as long as all systems have been included. All components of the Anatomy and Physiology sequence must have grades of solid B or better.

Will courses taken during the summer term fulfill prerequisites?

Courses taken in the summer will be accepted, if they are considered equivalent courses by the school offering them and they adhere to our guidelines regarding the type and content of the course.

Will I satisfy the biology or chemistry prerequisite if I earned a grade below a solid B in one biology or chemistry lecture course but earned grades of solid B or better in at least 2 other biology or chemistry lecture courses?

You need to have a minimum of 2 biology lectures plus 1 biology lab and a minimum of 2 chemistry lectures plus 1 chemistry lab all with grades of solid B or better to satisfy the biology and chemistry prerequisite. Any combination of basic and upper level biology or chemistry courses is acceptable. For example, if you took 5 biology lecture courses and earned grades below solid B in only 2 of them, you would still have 3 biology lectures with grades of solid B or better. Any combination of biology and chemistry courses (basic and upper level) taken at a regionally accredited 2-year or 4-year institution is fine.

Patient Care Experience
What does patient care experience mean?

The Admissions Committee defines patient care experience as working one-on-one with patients. Examples of patient care experience include, but are not limited to, taking vital signs, performing ECGs, drawing blood, changing bandages and dressings, splinting, casting, removing sutures, bathing and toileting, scribing, and mental health counseling. The job title of the position is not as important as the specific duties performed. Administrative work in a healthcare setting or caring for family members will not be considered.

Does volunteer work count as patient care experience?

Patient care experience can be obtained through paid and/or volunteer experience.

What if I have not completed the necessary hours of patient care experience by the application deadline?

Patient care experience should be completed prior to applying by the August 1 deadline. Strong preference will be given to applicants who have approximately 1000 hours of patient care experience prior to applying to the program. Stronger preference will be given to those with over 1800 hours of patient care experience prior to applying. Applicants with fewer than 1000 hours may also be given consideration depending upon the strength of their entire application.

Application Deadlines
Do you have early decision or rolling admissions?

No. All applications will be given full consideration as long as they are complete and are submitted by the August 1 deadline, verified by CASPA by August 31, and we receive Northeastern’s $75 application fee by August 1. Applying early does not necessarily mean that your application will be reviewed earlier. Notification about interviews is generally sent via email starting in late September and continues through October. Final decisions regarding interviews and acceptance are usually finalized by the end of the year.

Can I apply while I am still a senior in college?

The Admissions Committee will consider an application from a college senior as long as all of the course prerequisites (with the exception of a single outstanding course prerequisite which must be completed by June 15 prior to matriculation) and significant patient care experience have been successfully completed prior to the August 1 application submission deadline.

Will I still be considered if I submit my CASPA application by the August 1 deadline but the program does not receive it for another 2 to 4 weeks?

If your application is submitted to CASPA by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 1, it will be reviewed as long as it has been verified and sent to us by CASPA by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 31. However, even if your CASPA application is verified by August 31, it will not be reviewed unless your $75 Northeastern application fee (if applicable) is received by the program by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 1. Complete applications are necessary for further consideration. Remember that around the August 1 CASPA submission deadline, it can take over 4 weeks for CASPA to verify and forward the material to us.

Application Evaluation
What criteria are used to evaluate applications?

The evaluation of applications has two phases. Applications are initially screened to ensure that an applicant has satisfied the basic prerequisites (bachelor’s degree, minimum 3.0 overall and science GPAs, specific prerequisite coursework with minimum grades of solid B or better, academic rigor, and approximately 1000 hours of patient care experience). All components of the application are important. The next phase of evaluation involves comparing all applicants who meet the basic prerequisites with one another.

What is the profile of the ideal candidate?

There is none. The Admissions Committee reviews applications holistically. All application components are considered. Students accepted into the program have a wide array of personal backgrounds. The diversity of our classes creates an enriched learning environment for both students and instructors. The application pool varies from year to year making it difficult to predict what types of things an applicant can do to stand out. All basic prerequisites need to be at least minimally met in order to be considered.

How many applications are typically received?

Last year, the program received close to 1700 CASPA applications.

What is the average GPA of the most recently admitted class?

Focusing on an average GPA can be misleading. Students who are accepted into the program need to have both overall and science GPAs of at least 3.0. Applicants with the highest GPAs are not necessarily always more competitive. Many factors besides overall and science GPAs are taken into consideration. The Admissions Committee also considers specific grades in prerequisite courses, type and amount of patient care experience, academic rigor, clinically-related letters of recommendation, the application essays, and the personal interview. All of these criteria together are important, and one does not take the place of another.

What if my overall or science GPA is slightly below 3.0?

Application to the program is extremely competitive. Eligible applicants must have minimum overall and science GPAs of 3.0 in order to be considered for admission. The Admissions Committee will consider one of the following GPAs when determining whether both the overall and science GPAs have been met: baccalaureate GPA, graduate GPA, or post-baccalaureate GPA (10 courses or 30 credits).

How are GPAs calculated?

We use the GPAs as calculated by CASPA. Please refer to the Academics section on our website for more information.

If accepted, can I defer enrollment for a year?

No, we do not offer deferments. If an applicant is accepted but does not matriculate, they would have to reapply with no guarantee of future acceptance.

Student Schedule
What is the typical student schedule?

The program is a full-time day program. There is no part-time option. During the first year, students will have classes Monday through Friday, generally from 8:00 a.m. to at least 5:00 p.m. Occasionally, there may be a special evening lab or demonstration which students are made aware of well in advance. While on rotation during the second year, students will go to will go to various rotation sites and are expected to fulfill the hours required at different sites, including evenings, weekends, and on-call coverage.

Is it possible to work while enrolled in the program?

Working while enrolled in the program is not feasible.  The full-time didactic year curriculum is rigorous including mandatory class attendance as well as required reading and other course preparation outside of classroom time.  During the second year while doing clinical rotations, in addition to the hours you need to spend at the rotation site, you will be expected to do outside reading and may be given written assignments by some clinical preceptors. Some rotations require weekend, evening, or on-call coverage, thereby making it unfeasible to plan on having a regular schedule throughout the clinical year.

International Applicants
Do applicants who have a medical degree from another country have to take any additional courses before applying to the program?

No additional courses are required if you have completed all prerequisite courses with a U.S. equivalent grade of solid B or better. These courses must still have been taken within 10 years of applying. No exceptions are made.

Can I transfer credits or coursework into the program if I took equivalent courses at another school?

No. All students accepted into the program must go through the entire 2-year curriculum regardless of previous coursework or training. Advanced placement will not be awarded to any applicant to the Physician Assistant Program, regardless of prior education or experience.

Do I need to have patient care experience in the United States?

While the Admissions Committee may consider experience gained in another country, patient care experience in the United States is also recommended.

Dual Degree Options: MSPA/MPH and MSPA/MSHI
If I apply to a Dual Degree Option but am not accepted into the PA program, can I still be considered for the MPH or HI programs?

No. For either Dual Degree Option, you must first be accepted into the PA Program. Your application will then be considered by the MPH or HI Admissions Committee. If you are not accepted into the PA program but are still interested in either the MPH or MSHI Programs, you would need to apply to that program separately at:

MPH: Master of Public Health (MPH) | Northeastern University

MSHI: Masters in Health Informatics – Boston | Northeastern University

If I am accepted into a Dual Degree Option but later change my mind about enrolling in the MPH or HI portion, can I still enroll in just the PA Program?

Once you accept our offer to matriculate into either the MSPA/MPH or MSPA/MSHI option, you are automatically enrolled in that dual degree option. Written requests petitioning to drop one of the two programs in either dual degree option will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must be submitted to the Physician Assistant Program. Candidates may be requested to meet with the Admissions Committees of both programs. Permission to drop one of the programs in either dual degree option is not guaranteed.

If I am accepted into a Dual Degree Option, can I defer enrollment in either program until the next year?

No. If accepted into a Dual Degree Option, you must matriculate in both programs during the same calendar year. The MPH and HI Programs begin in January each year, and the PA Program begins in August of the same year.