Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Physician Assistant Program
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How to Apply

Review the links below for more information on our application requirements and upcoming deadlines. Please also see our pages for Military Applicants, International Applicants and NMHC Employees, as well as our Next Steps page for what to expect once your application has been submitted.


These are the upcoming application deadlines for the Class of 2021 (enroll June 2019):

  • Application Opens: April 2018
  • Application Deadline: October 1, 2018
  • Interviews: August 2018 - January 2019
  • Classes Begin: June 3, 2019

Application Requirements

All applications must be submitted and received by the October 1 deadline using the CASPA Application online. See 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. Submissions must include:

  • CASPA application fee
  • Official academic transcripts
  • Official GRE scores (review test requirements under Prerequisites below for more information)
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of reference (at least one letter of reference must be from a healthcare provider who can discuss the applicant's abilities with patients, preferably someone who has supervised the applicant in a clinical setting; personal references from friends or family members are not accepted)

Be sure your current email address is listed on CASPA: Once submitted and verified by CASPA, an email notification from the Northwestern University PA Program will be sent acknowledging receipt of your completed application.

For more information, watch our online learning modules on Submitting a Complete Application and Submitting Official GRE Scores.

The Supplemental Application can be started at any time with a current-cycle CASPA ID. It is not sent separately to selected applicants. It includes a $50 application fee paid online when submitting.


Be sure to also review our prerequisites for more information on eligibility to apply.

 Degree Prerequisites

A completed baccalaureate degree from a regionally-accredited institution, or an equivalent institution as determined by Northwestern University, is required prior to matriculation into the program.

  • Applicants educated outside the United States and Canada must utilize a transcript evaluation service. See the International Applicants page for details.
  • Applicants from the United States or Canada with coursework completed outside those countries do not have to utilize a transcript evaluation service if the coursework appears on their transcripts from the U.S. or Canadian institutions (e.g., study abroad).
  • Applicants must possess an overall minimum grade point average of at least 2.80 (on a 4.0 scale) to be considered for admittance.

 Coursework Prerequisites

Watch our online learning module on Fulfilling & Entering Prerequisite Courses.

Official transcripts must show that the following prerequisites have been completed. Substitutions are not accepted.

  • Prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of C or above.
  • Labs are not required for any prerequisites.
  • A single course cannot be used to satisfy multiple prerequisites.
  • Coursework from Kinesiology, Exercise Science and Nutrition departments are not accepted to meet our prerequisites.
  • There is no expiration period for prerequisites. Applicants should be prepared to address how information has been kept easily recallable in an interview setting.
  • The program will honor credits completed at community colleges and online through regionally accredited institutions.
  • AP coursework will be accepted as long as classes appears on a college transcript with assigned credits. If AP coursework is completed Pass/Fail, the passing grade (or equivalent) must be a C or higher.

Applications will be considered if all prerequisites have not been completed according to the following limits, which apply to the two semesters preceding the June intended for enrollment:

  • At most two prerequisite courses can be scheduled for completion during the fall semester (ending December)
  • At most one prerequisite course can be scheduled for completion during the spring semester (January - May)
Requirement Additional Details
Biochemistry one
  • Minimum three semester hours or equivalent quarter hours
  • Content: protein structure and function, lipids, carbohydrate metabolism, DNA and RNA protein synthesis
  • Not satisfied by organic chemistry, nutritional biochemistry, metabolic biochemistry
Microbiology one
  • Minimum three semester hours or equivalent quarter hours
  • Content: bacteriology, virology, parasitology, mycology
  • Not satisfied by molecular biology, cellular biology or bacteriology alone
Statistics one
  • Minimum three semester hours or equivalent quarter hours
Medical Terminology one
  • One to three semester hours or equivalent quarter hours
  • Not satisfied by professional, educational or life experiences
  • No "test out" options are accepted
Anatomy & Physiology one
full year
  • Minimum six semester hours or equivalent quarter hours
  • Met by taking either one semester of Anatomy and one semester of Physiology, or two semesters of Anatomy & Physiology, combined.
  • Content: all major organ systems (e.g., endocrine, nervous, circulatory)
  • Not satisfied by Pathophysiology


 Pre-Admission Clinical Experience

Watch our learning module on Patient Care Experience Overview.

Direct patient care experience is required in order to be eligible for admission; there is no minimum number of required hours. Competitive applicants are recommended (but not required) to have a minimum of six months full-time healthcare employment or 1,000 total hours of hands-on patient care experience and/or community service in a healthcare setting. Preference is given to applicants having experience that requires a period of training and results in direct (hands-on) patient care (examples: EMT, paramedic, registered nurse, medical assistant, CNA, ER tech, physical therapy aide).

Hours associated with the completion of academic degrees, certifications or training will not count. Admitted applicants enrolling in June 2016 averaged over 3,900 clinical hours (median: 3,150). 

Applicants are encouraged to "shadow" a PA to become knowledgeable of the role of the physician assistant; this experience does not count as patient care experience. Due to legal issues, the Northwestern Univeristy PA Program is not able to assist PA Program applicants with obtaining PA shadowing experiences. You may consider contacting your local physician assistant organization (in Illinois, the Illinois Academy of Physician Assistants) for assistance and networking opportunities.

Evidence of community service (i.e., healthcare for underserved populations, medical mission trips) is also highly valued.

Updates and modifications to patient care positions and other experiences are welcome and accepted until November 15 of the current application cycle. Patient care updates should reflect new positions, changes in level of responsibility and changes in hours worked per week only. To access the update request form, contact

 Test Requirements

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

Official GRE scores are required of all applicants, regardless of previous education, degrees or other credentials. Other standardized tests (MCAT, GMAT, etc.) are not accepted in place of GRE scores. Official GRE scores must be submitted and received by CASPA by the October 1 application deadline.

Re-applicants should check their CASPA profile to see if a previous GRE score submission has carried over to the new cycle. Submit official GRE scores during the application cycle for which you are applying. If intending to enroll for June 2018, wait to send GRE scores until the corresponding CASPA application cycle opens.

The Northwestern University Physician Assistant Program's Institution Code is 4879. GRE score reports will be sent directly to CASPA, so refer to your CASPA profile to ensure scores have been received. Official score reports sent to other school codes will not appear for your Northwestern University designtation and your application will not be complete. Do not list a Department Code when submitting official GRE scores. Ensure your name and birth date appear exactly the same between the GRE score report and CASPA application. Applicants should plan for a minimum of two weeks between the test and the date scores are received by CASPA.

There is no minimum GRE score requirement. Competitive applicants will score in the 50th percentile or higher on each section of the exam. For applicants with multiple valid test score submissions, the Northwestern University Physician Assistant Program will use the highest score in each section between test dates.

Visit the GRE site for more information.


TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Official TOEFL scores are required of all applicants who have not earned a baccalaureate degree or graduate degree from a regionally-accredited U.S. or Canadian college or university, regardless of the official language of the country in which the education took place or the predominent language of the degree-granting institution. Minimum scores are listed below.


Minimum TOEFL scores
TOEFL test options Total Listening Reading Writing Speaking
Internet-based test  84 20 20 20 24
Computer-based test
Paper-based test


Official and valid TOEFL scores must be submitted and received by the October 1 application deadline. PDF score report copies received at the time of testing or in the mail are not considered an official score report. TOEFL scores are valid for two years prior to your intended June enrollment.

The Northwestern University Physician Assistant Program's Institution Code is 4888.

Visit the TOEFL website for more information.
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