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 2022 (enroll June 2020):
- Application Opens: April 26, 2019
- Application Deadline: October 1, 2019
- Interviews: August 2019 - January 2020
- Classes Begin: June 1, 2020
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 professional 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)
- Northwestern University PA Program Supplemental Application, completed and sent separately from the CASPA submission.
- A candidate’s overall grade point average (GPA), as calculated by CASPA, must be a 2.80 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Applicants with an overall GPA below 2.80 are not considered further for admission.
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.
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.
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.
Official transcripts must show that the following prerequisites have been completed. Substitutions are not accepted.
For the current 2019 Application Cycle: There is no expiration period for prerequisites. In an interview setting, applicants should be prepared to address how prerequisite material has been kept fresh and easily recallable.
For the 2020 Application Cycle forward: To be considered further for admission, all prerequisite coursework will have been completed no earlier than 7 years prior to application deadline.
- 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 can be completed through any regionally-accredited institution, must be taken for college credit, and must appear on an official college transcript. Coursework taken for continuing education credits, "CEU" credit, or certificates of completion will not fulfill prerequisites.
- Coursework from Kinesiology, Exercise Science and Nutrition departments may not be accepted to meet our prerequisites. Applicants should be prepared to produce syllabi detailing week-to-week content for these courses if requested by admissions officials. Prerequisite courses must cover, in sufficient detail, the content areas listed in the table below.
- Lower-division or "Intro/Survey"-level coursework may not fulfill prerequisites. Applicants should be prepared to produce syllabi detailing week-to-week content for these courses if requested by admissions officials. Prerequisite courses must cover, in sufficient detail, the content areas listed in the table below.
- The program will honor credits completed at community colleges and online through regionally accredited institutions.
- AP coursework will be accepted as long as classes appear 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)
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Pre-Admission Clinical Experience
For the current 2019 Application Cycle: Direct patient care experience is required in order to be eligible for admission; there is no minimum number of required hours for the 2019 application cycle. Competitive applicants are recommended to have a minimum of 1,000 total hours of hands-on patient care experience and/or community service in a health care setting. Enrolling class cohorts typically average well over 1,000 clinical hours.
For the 2020 Application Cycle forward: To be considered further for admission, applicants will present on their CASPA application a minimum of 1,000 total hours of hands-on patient care experience and/or community service in a health care setting, accrued upon date of application submission. Enrolling class cohorts typically average well over 1,000 clinical hours.
Hours associated with the completion of previous academic degrees, certifications or training do not count. 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).
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 conflict of interest considerations, the Northwestern University 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 email@example.com.
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. Scores are valid for five years from test date.
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 designation 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 predominant language of the degree-granting institution. Minimum scores are listed below.
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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 the June of intended enrollment.The Northwestern University Physician Assistant Program's Institution Code is 4888.
Visit the TOEFL website for more information.