How to Apply
The Northwestern University Physician Assistant Program continues to carefully monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on candidate application considerations. In response, the Admissions Committee has approved an extension of the following temporary change to the admissions requirements for the upcoming 2021-22 cycle:
- For the 2021-22 admissions cycle, the submission of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores is not required. All other application requirements, as detailed below, remain in full effect for 2021-22 cycle.
Read the information 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.
Key dates for the 2021-22 Admissions Cycle (enroll June 2022):
- Application Opens: April 29, 2021
- Application Deadline: October 1, 2021
- Interviews: September 2021 - December 2021
- Classes Begin: June 2022
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
- 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.
- 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 less than 1,000 accrued hours of direct patient care experience are not considered further for admission. Enrolling class cohorts typically average well over 1,000 clinical hours.
- Please review the Prerequisites section below to ensure that you understand our degree, coursework, pre-admission clinical experience, and test requirements in full detail.
Please be sure that your current email address is listed on CASPA. The Northwestern University PA Program will send notification acknowledging receipt of your completed application once the required materials have been received:
- Verified CASPA Application
- 3 Professional Letters of Recommendation (submitted as part of the CASPA Application)
- Northwestern University PA Program Supplemental Application
The Supplemental Application will be launched on this webpage on April 29, 2021, 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.
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.
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 2021 application cycle, all qualifying prerequisite coursework will have been completed on or after October 1, 2014.
Applications will still be considered if prerequisites are still in progress, 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 preceding enrollment in the PA Program (ending December).
- At most one prerequisite course can be scheduled for completion during the spring semester immediately preceding enrollment in the PA Program (January - May).
Qualifying prerequisite coursework will also adhere to the following guidelines:
- Prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of "C" or better. 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 better.
- 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.
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Pre-Admission Clinical Experience
For the current 2021-2022 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 less than 1,000 accrued hours of direct patient care experience are not considered further for admission. Enrolling class cohorts typically average well over 1,000 clinical hours.
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. 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
For the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, the submission of GRE test scores is not required.
Candidates who still wish to submit official GRE scores as part of an application may do so at any time in the admissions process. 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. 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.
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
TOEFL Test requirements remain in effect for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.
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.
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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.