Physician Assistant Studies Admission Criteria

The GVSU PAS program uses CASPA for the application process.  CASPA is a service of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) and has been established since 2001.  The CASPA application process is designed to simplify the PA school application process by allowing students to apply to several programs with only one application.  Currently 95% of accredited PA programs across the country use CASPA to process applications.


Important Dates for the 2019/2020 Application Cycle

CASPA Application opens:  April, 2019

Application Deadline:  September 1st, 2019 (for classes starting August 2020, Class of 2022)

  • Applicants may apply to the Grand Rapids OR Traverse City Campus. Applicants are NOT permitted to apply to both campuses.
  • CASPA applications must be COMPLETE by September 1, 2019. An application is considered complete after the online application is completed and all supporting documents have been received by CASPA. 
  • VERIFICATION is the process CASPA uses on completed applications to match courses on the official transcript with completed courses listed on the ‘Transcript Entry’ section of the application in order to calculate numerous GPAs. Verification may occur after the application deadline of September 1, 2019.

Admissions Academic Request Form Deadline:  July 15, 2019

  • Who needs to fill out an Admissions Academic Request Form? You do not need to fill out an Admissions Academic Request Form (ARF) UNLESS you have highly unusual circumstances that impact your ability to meet admission criteria. If you have extenuating circumstances that you think make you an excellent candidate in spite of these circumstances, you may appeal to the PAS Admission Committee by completing the ARF, collecting the required supporting documentation, and then submitting the materials to the PAS Admissions Committee by the deadline of July 15, 2019. If your request is granted, you will have until September 1, 2019 to complete the PAS graduate application.
  • An Admissions Academic Request Form and all supporting materials, including unofficial transcripts from ALL schools attended, may be submitted via email at 

Applicants Notified of Interview:  AFTER Mid-October, 2019

Interview Dates:

  • November, 2019  (Grand Rapids applicant interviews at Cook DeVos Center for Health Sciences, Grand Rapids Campus)
  • November, 2019  (Traverse City applicant interviews at Traverse City Campus)

Applicants Notified of Admission Decision:  January, 2020

Incoming Class Sent Information Packet:  May, 2020

Orientation:  August 27, 2020 (Mandatory)

Classes Begin:  August 31, 2020


CASPA Frequently Asked Questions

Q:    Where can I find the GVSU supplemental application?

A:    The link to the GVSU Supplemental Application form can be found and is only available on the CASPA website, through this



Q:    What if I submit my application to CASPA and my application is VERIFIED prior to completion of one of the four required

        prerequisite courses?

             Example:  I submitted my CASPA application May 1 and CASPA verified my application on May 15.  My required physiology

             prerequisite course will not be complete until August 1.

A:    As long as the required prerequisite course(s) is completed by the Sept. 1 deadline, students are eligible to apply to the GVSU

         PAS program.  The student is responsible for submitting an updated transcript documenting completion of

         the outstanding prerequisite course(s) directly to the GVSU Admissions office by Sept. 1 to be considered

         for application.

Note:  CASPA does not require transcripts for in-progress or planned coursework and does not recalculate grades once an application has been verified.  It is important that updated transcripts documenting completion of courses that were in progress at the time of submission for your CASPA application are sent directly to GVSU rather than to CASPA.


Q.    What if I forgot to include or listed a prerequisite course incorrectly in the CASPA application?

A.    GVSU’s PAS program develops an internal ‘local’ prerequisite GPA that will review ALL eligible prerequisite courses. 

Admission Criteria

Applicants are considered without regard to age, gender, sexual orientation, race, color, national origin, religion, political beliefs, or disability.

Applicants must meet certain health and technical standards that demonstrate their capacity to function as a physician assistant.

Admission to the Physician Assistant Studies Program is competitive. The criteria for admission involve three steps: application, interview, and acceptance.

Criteria for Application

All GVSU and CASPA documents must be completed and received on or before the application deadline.

Applicants are responsible for ensuring they meet all application requirements.  It is recommended to check the website regularly for any changes.

University Requirements

  1. Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education (must be completed by the month of May prior to program matriculation).
  2. Completion of GVSU supplemental form.
  3. $30 application fee payable to GVSU.
    • Application fee is waived for those who have previously applied to GVSU and paid the $30 application fee.

Program Requirements

  1. CASPA Application.
    • Refer to the CASPA FAQ page for details on how to ensure your application is complete.  Failure to meet the "complete" status requirements by the deadline will result in an incomplete application.
  2. College Transcripts.  Copies of official transcripts from all institutions of higher education previously attended, including GVSU, must be sent from those institutions directly to CASPA.
  3. GPA.  Applicants must maintain an average GPA of “B” (3.0) or higher in EACH of the following categories:
    • Overall GPA (based on CASPA calculated overall GPA)
    • Last 60 hours of coursework
      • GVSU will calculate the GPA based on the last 60 hours of coursework completed at the time of application.
      • Note:  The actual number of credit hours used to calculate this GPA may vary slightly between applicants.  The calculation will include the entire semester’s grades, in which the final 60th credit hour falls.  Therefore, the total credit hours used to calculate this GPA may be slightly more than 60.
    • GVSU PAS Program Prerequisite Courses
      • GVSU will calculate the PAS program prerequisite course GPA.  The GPA will be calculated based upon the higher grade earned, if any course was repeated.  If a two-semester sequence course is used to complete a prerequisite, the higher of the two grades will be used to calculate the prerequisite GPA.
  1. Prerequisite Coursework.  Applicants must attain a minimum grade of “C” (2.0) in each of GVSU’s PAS program prerequisites:
  1. GRE scores.  The GRE code for GVSU on CASPA is 2524
    • GRE test scores are valid for five years after the testing year (See the GRE website for additional details
    • If there is more than one GRE score, the test with the highest composite score will be used for admission decisions.
  2. Minimum of two (2) Recommendation Rubrics
    • Recommendation rubrics will be emailed by CASPA to your references at the time of application submission.
    • Separate letters of recommendation are NOT acceptable substitutes for the recommendation rubric.
    • One recommendation rubric must be completed by a health care professional.
    • The other recommendation rubric may be completed by either a second health care professional or a university faculty member.
  3. Healthcare experience.  Applicants must complete a minimum of 500 hours of significant volunteer and/or work and/or observational experience in a health care environment by the time of application.  It is highly encouraged that this experience be hands on patient care activities.
    • Health care experience will be documented on the CASPA application.
    • CASPA experience categories that may count towards the required 500 hours of health care experience include patient care experience, health care experience, and shadowing.
    • Experiences documented in the patient care experience and shadowing categories on the CASPA application will count towards the required 500 hours.
    • Some of the experiences documented in the healthcare experience category on the CASPA application will count towards the required 500 hours of health care experience.
      • Examples of experiences from this category that will apply toward the required hours include filling prescriptions, administering medication, taking vitals or other record keeping information, working as a scribe, CNA, medical assistant, etc.
      • Examples of experiences from the healthcare experience category that will NOT apply towards the required hours include clerical work, delivering patient food, and cleaning patient rooms.
  4. International Applicants
    • Students whose first language is not English should be able to speak and write in fluent English and submit the following materials:
      • Official TOEFL, IELTS, or MELAB score reports.  The minimum TOEFL score is 80 Internet-based, the minimum IELTS score is 6.5, and the minimum MELAB score is 77.  Only original score reports will be accepted.
  • Students whose higher education studies were completed outside of the U.S. must also submit:
    • Original or certified original transcripts
    • Official transcript credential evaluation information (e.g. WES, ECE)
    • Transcripts demonstrating 30 hours of higher education coursework taken at an established and accredited U.S. Institution.

Academic Request Form.  If a student has highly unusual circumstances that impacts the ability to meet the above criteria, he/she may appeal in writing to the PAS Admissions Committee by submitting an Academic Request Form (ARF).

  • An ARF only needs to be filled out if a student does NOT meet all the application requirements and has extenuating circumstances that have either mitigated the necessary requirements (as in a 5-year course waiver) or prevented the completion of the course (extension).
  • An ARF expires after the completion of the current application cycle and must be re-submitted for every application cycle in which the student applies.
  • All ARFs are due on or before July 15 in the year of application.  NO LATE ARF FORMS WILL BE ACCEPTED.

Criteria for Interview

  1. Application materials will be reviewed by the PAS Admissions committee.
  2. Applicants will be ranked based on the following factors:  GPA, GRE, recommendation rubrics, and healthcare experience hours.
  3. The top-ranked applicants will be invited for an interview.
  4. Remaining applicants will be notified they have not been selected for interview.

The interview is a half-day experience which will include:

  • Welcome and overview of the GVSU PAS program and faculty introductions
  • Individual interviews with PAS faculty and members of the local health care community
  • Facility tour with current PAS students
  • Q&A with program director
  • Opportunity to meet with representatives from GVSU College of Health Professions Student Services academic advisors, GVSU graduate school, financial aid, and housing

Throughout the interview day, PAS faculty will assess:

  • Motivational factors, life experiences, patient care experience, maturity, and personal characteristics that are necessary to become a successful physician assistant.

Criteria for Acceptance

  1. Following the interview, the PAS Admissions Committee and PAS faculty will review candidate application materials.
  2. Applicants will be ranked based on the following factors:  GPA, GRE, recommendation rubrics, health care experience hours, and interview day assessments.
  3. The top-ranked applicants will be notified of acceptance into the program.  Alternate applicants will be notified of their alternate status.  Remaining applicants will receive a letter of decline.
  4. GVSU PAS Alternate Candidate Policy
  • An attempt will be made to fill all vacant spots in the upcoming class
  • Alternates may be notified of an opening up to, but not including, the first day of class
  • The GVSU PAS program will NOT discuss the ranking of students within the alternate list
  1. Acceptance into the program requires a criminal background check, fingerprinting, and a drug screen in order to participate in certain components of the PAS program.
  • If a student has a history of a criminal record or has criminal charges pending, the student needs to be aware that this may impact their ability to complete the GVSU PAS program according to Exclusionary Law.  

Admission Profile of GVSU PAS Class of 2018-2020

  • Mean overall number of applicants/year:  346
  • Mean health care experience hours:  2496 hours

Mean Overall GPA

Mean Last 60 Credit Hours GPA

Mean Prerequisite GPA




Mean Verbal GRE (raw score/percentile)

Mean Quantitative GRE(raw score/percentile)

Mean Analytic Writing GRE (raw score/percentile)




Advanced Placement

  • Advanced placement is not granted into the PAS program.
  • All students must complete the full program.
  • If students believe they have completed course work at Grand Valley State University that satisfies program requirements, they may submit a letter to the program after acceptance.
    • This letter would include the official transcript of the course, the course grade, and the syllabus of record. 
  • Approval is required from both the individual GVSU course instructors and the PAS program.
  • This information will only be addressed after acceptance into the GVSU PAS program.
  • This information does not pertain to high school 'advanced placement' coursework. 

Traverse City Campus

The PAS program was the recipient of a HRSA grant which was awarded to expand the PAS program to Northern Michigan. The purpose of the grant was to support the program to educate individuals who plan to provide health care to the Northern Michigan community.  If invited to an interview, applicants to the Traverse City campus will be required to identify their interests in medically underserved areas and highlight characteristics which would make them successful in this community. Furthermore, in addition to the general admission requirements which include GPA, GRE, prerequisite courses, recommendation rubrics, and interview, admission to the Traverse City campus will also include the following considerations: previous/current residence in Northern Michigan, and previous/current connections to or experiences in Northern Michigan.

HOPE College Articulation

STATEMENT OF AGREEMENT.  The PA Program of Grand Valley State University (GVSU) agrees to admit to its Accreditation Review Committee – Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) -accredited, entry-level master's degree program in Physician Assistant Studies up to two (2) suitably-qualified and duly-enrolled, full-time students from Hope College who satisfy all admission criteria. The admission of these candidates shall occur on a non-competitive basis with respect to the applicant pool as a whole. For more information and requirements, please contact the HOPE Pre-PA advisor.  

Page last modified February 7, 2019