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How to Apply

Below you will find information about how to apply to the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program.

Our 2022-23 Application Cycle is now closed. The 2023-24 Application Cycle will open in late April 2023 (date TBA).

Admissions requirements for the 2023-24 cycle will be published on this page by early 2023. We look forward to receiving your application.


Please read the information below to learn about 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.

Key Dates

Key dates for the 2022-23 Admissions Cycle (enrollment in late May 2023):

  • Application Opens: April 28, 2022
  • Application Deadline: October 1, 2022
  • Interviews: August 2022 - December 2022 (virtually via Zoom)
  • Classes Begin: May 30, 2023 (anticipated)

Application Requirements

All applications must be submitted and received by the October 1 end of day deadline using the CASPA Application online. See the CASPA FAQ page for details on how to ensure that your application is in "Complete" or "Verified" status by the October 1 application deadline. Applications not in "Complete" or "Verified" status, as designated by CASPA, as of the October 1 deadline will not be considered further for admission.

Application submissions must include:

  • CASPA in "Complete" or "Verifed" status as of the October 1 end of day application deadline
  • CASPA fee(s)
  • Official academic transcripts
  • Personal statement
  • Three or more letters of reference ("evaluations" submitted via the CASPA application)
    • At least one letter of reference must be from a healthcare professional who can discuss the applicant's abilities and performance in providing patient care, 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. The Supplemental Application will be made available via the link above on April 28, 2022.
  • 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.
    • Competitive applicants typically have an overall GPA of 3.30 or higher.
    • Please note that there is no minimum science GPA requirement for this Program, however, competitive candidates have typically taken rigorous science courseloads and have a science GPA and prerequisite course GPA of 3.30 or higher.
    • We invite you to view our Class Profile to better understand the pre-matriculation academic performance of our enrolling class cohorts.
  • Candidates must present in their CASPA materials a minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience, accrued upon the date of application submission. CASPA applications submitted with fewer than 1,000 accrued hours of direct patient care experience are not considered further for admission. Enrolling class cohorts average well over 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience. 
    • CASPA defines a distinction between the application Experience categories of Patient Care Experience and Healthcare Experience. When evaluating an application, we look beyond this binary definition into the actual care responsibilities held and tasks executed in each clinical role. As such, hours accrued in most clinical roles defined by CASPA as Healthcare experience will meet our definition of patient care experience, and thus are eligible to meet our 1,000 hour requirement noted above. Our admissions committee will review experiences provided by applicants in both the Patient Care Experience and Healthcare Experience categories of the CASPA.
    • On our Class Profile page, you can view the clinical roles held by our current students prior to matriculation, all of which qualify as patient care experience for this Program. This list is not exhaustive and does not indicate an admissions preference for one clinical role over another. Please contact paprogram@northwestern.edu with questions about the eligibilty of a given clinical role to meet our requirements.
    • For questions about the CASPA distinction between Patient Care Experience
  • Applicants must meet (or must demonstrate that they will meet, according to our established policies and timeline), the prerequisite degree, coursework, pre-admission clinical experience, and test requirements of this Program. Please carefully review the Prerequisites section below to ensure that you understand these requirements in full detail. 

Please ensure that your current email address is listed in CASPA. The Northwestern University PA Program will send notification acknowledging receipt of your completed application once the required materials have been received:

The Supplemental Application will be launched on this webpage concurrently with the launch of the CASPA application on April 28, 2022, and can be started at that 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.

Prerequisites

Please review our prerequisites to confirm your 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

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

To be considered further for admission, all prerequisite coursework must be completed no earlier than 7 years prior to application cycle deadline. Thus, for the 2022 application cycle, all qualifying prerequisite coursework will have been completed on or after October 1, 2015.

Applications will still be considered if prerequisites are still in progress or planned for the future. In fact, this is a common circumstance, and it carries no advantage or disadvantage to an applicant during application evaluation.

As of September 1, 2022, up to three prerequisite courses may be in progress or planned for the future. In this scenario:

  • Up to three prerequisite courses may be in progress or planned to be completed between September 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022.
  • Only one prerequisite course may be in progress or planned to be completed between January 1, 2023 and May 28, 2023.

Qualifying prerequisite coursework will also adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of "C" or higher. Prerequisites may also be completed with a grade of "Pass" if the granting institution certifies on their transcript that such a designation is equivalent to a grade of "C" or higher.
  • 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.
Course
Prerequisite
Requirement Additional Details
Biochemistry one
academic term
  • Minimum three college credits
  • Content: protein structure and function, lipids, carbohydrate metabolism, DNA and RNA protein synthesis
  • Not satisfied by organic chemistry, nutritional biochemistry, metabolic biochemistry
Microbiology one
academic term
  • Minimum three college credits
  • Content: bacteriology, virology, parasitology, mycology
  • Not satisfied by molecular biology, cellular biology or bacteriology alone
Statistics one
academic term
  • Minimum three college credits
  • Content: measures of central tendency and dispersion, hypothesis testing
  • Not satisfied by calculus
Medical Terminology one academic term
  • One or more college credits
  • Not satisfied by professional, educational or life experiences
  • No "test out" options are accepted
Anatomy & Physiology two academic terms
  • Minimum six college credits
  • Met by taking either one academic term of Anatomy and one academic term of Physiology, or two academic terms of Anatomy & Physiology, combined.
  • Content: all major organ systems (e.g., endocrine, nervous, circulatory)
  • Not satisfied by pathophysiology

 Pre-Admission Clinical Experience

For the 2022-2023 application cycle, candidates must present in their CASPA materials a minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience, accrued upon the date of application submission. CASPA applications submitted with fewer than 1,000 accrued hours of direct patient care experience are not considered further for admission. Enrolling class cohorts average well over 1,000 clinical hours at the time of application submission.

In accordance with the CASPA FAQ guidance on Experiences, applicants shall include past, current and/or in-progress experiences. Do not include future or planned patient care experiences or hours.

Hours associated with the completion of previous academic degrees, certifications or training do not count for this Program. Preference is given to applicants having experience that requires a period of training and results in direct, hands-on patient care. When evaluating a given clinical experience, our Program considers the role, hours, level of responsibility, and degree of patient interaction.

All else equal, roles that feature greater clinical responsibility and, proportionally, a greater number of weekly hours providing direct, hands-on patient care, are valued more highly than roles of lesser responsibility or with fewer hours of weekly direct patient care.

As such, on your CASPA application, please be sure to detail the depth and breadth of your direct clinical responsibilities in each role you have held. If you have been promoted or have been progressively assigned more clinical responsibilities in a given role over time, please note this in your application.

Applicants are encouraged to "shadow" a PA to become knowledgeable about 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.

For all applicants, patient care experience hours are automatically projected forward based on the date of CASPA application submission and the provided weekly hours. Applicants who start new positions or experiences or who wish to report significant updates to their weekly hours and/or professional responsibilities may do so via CASPA. Alternatively, updates and modifications to patient care positions and other experiences may be sent to paprogram@northwestern.edu

 Test Requirements

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

For the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, the submission of GRE test scores is not required, and GRE scores will not be evaluated during application review. Guidance for the 2023-24 admissions cycle will be provided here in early 2023.

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.

Results from the TOEFL Essentials Test cannot be used in fulfillment of the TOEFL requirement.

 
Minimum TOEFL scores
TOEFL test options Total Listening Reading Writing Speaking
Internet-based test 84 20 20 20 24
Computer-based test
223        
Paper-based test
563        

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.

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