Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Admissions & Deadlines

Admission Selection Criteria 2020-2021 Application Cycle

Admission to the PA program is highly competitive.  Student selection is based on various factors, such as overall strength of academic performance, type and quality of prior health care experience, including experiences working with or shadowing PAs, leadership and community service engagement, and demonstration of interpersonal communication skills. 

The program is rigorous and candidate preparedness for admission will be assessed through general and science course grade point average, prior health care experience, letters of reference, and personal statement quality. 

Requirements for Admission to the PA Program

  • A bachelor’s degree from a U.S. regionally accredited college or university completed prior to matriculation into the program.
  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required each, for both the Total GPA and Science GPA is required.  GPAs greater than 3.3 each for total and science is considered competitive; GPAs greater than 3.5 each for total and science is considered highly competitive.  
  • Completion of the following prerequisite courses at a U.S. regionally accredited college or university prior to matriculation into the program.  You may have up to 2 outstanding courses at the time of application submission.
    • Human Anatomy
    • Microbiology
    • Human Physiology
    • Psychology/Behavioral Science
    • Biochemistry
    • Statistics
      • We recommend that all prerequisites be taken within seven years of planned program start date.  Human anatomy, human physiology, microbiology, and biochemistry must be taken within seven years of planned program start date.
  • Documented hands-on, direct patient contact experience in a health care setting, accrued with seven years of application submission. Experience working with Advanced Practice Providers or physicians is preferred. A minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient contact experience (via paid employment) is required at the time of application submission.  Having above 1,500 hours health care experience hours is competitive; having 2,500 hours and above is considered highly competitive.
    • Hours accrued during the completion of previous academic degrees, certifications or training do not count towards health care experience hours
    • Preference is given to applicants having experience that requires training, certification, or licensure and involves direct (hands-on) patient care (examples: EMT, paramedic, registered nurse, registered dietitian, respiratory therapist)
  • 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.
  • Three professional letters of reference.  It is preferred that at least one of the references be a PA, physician, or other health care provider who is familiar with the PA profession. CASPA will contact each reference with instructions on how to complete an online evaluation. We suggest that references be provided by professionals you have worked with who can speak to your medical and academic performance potential, your commitment to service, and your leadership skills.   At least one reference should be from a physician, PA, or other health professional, and one should be from a college or university instructor.  Personal references from family and friends are not competitive for admission to the program.
  • A completed application submitted to the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA).  Access CASPA here:
  • Candidates will be required to complete a supplemental application and submit a $40 supplemental application fee only if you are invited to an interview.  More information will be provided upon interview invitation.
  • An interview with members of the PA program faculty and other university faculty and leaders.
  • All applicants must meet the minimum requirements to perform the essential functions of a PA.  See the Technical Standards sheet for more information.  
  • Admission is contingent upon successful completion of a health assessment, criminal background check, and drug screening processes prior to matriculation.  Information regarding this requirement is discussed during interviews.
  • Applicants with coursework or a bachelor’s degree conferred outside of the United States must submit a course equivalence evaluation by either World Education Services (WES) or Education Credentials Evaluators (ECE).
  • TOEFL scores, if English is not your native language.  Information regarding this College of Health Sciences standard is available here:…

Updates and Temporary Changes to the Program’s Admissions Standards for the 2021-2022 Cycle:

  • We will accept passing grades taken in a Pass/Fail system for any course taken from May to December 2020.  This may impact your GPA calculations.
  • We will accept passing grades taken in a Pass/Fail system for up to 2 required, prerequisite courses taken from May to December 2020.  You must have letter grades for 4 of the 6 required courses.
    • Completion of the CASPer assessment is not a requirement for admission for the 2021-2022 cycle. If a candidate does complete the CASPer assessment or SnapShot, results can be sent to the program from CASPer. Information is available here:
  • Leadership and/or community service involvement is a strongly encouraged for admissions consideration. The more hours accrued demonstrating leadership or service to the community, the more competitive your application profile. 

  • Effective April 2020, GRE scores are no longer a requirement for admissions consideration. 

Attendance in the program is on a full-time basis only.  No advanced standing or transfer credits are awarded, regardless of a candidate’s previous professional or academic experience. 

The PA program admits students into the class on a rolling basis, which means at each interview session, offers are made to fill seats in the class.  Under a rolling admissions process, it is possible to fill all interview spots before the close of the admission cycle. Applicants are encouraged to submit all application materials as early as possible.  

Due to the competitive nature of the application process, meeting posted admission criteria to the program does not guarantee an interview offer for the program

Additional Factors for Admissions Consideration

Rush University and the PA Program are committed creating a class environment that mirrors our diverse community, and that supports access and inclusion among our students.  While all candidates must meet posted minimum admissions criteria, candidates with any of the following factors indicated on their CASPA application are given additional consideration towards interview and admission to the program, to be reviewed on a case by case basis: 

  • Military veterans
  • Persons from an underrepresented minority group in the healthcare sciences
  • Persons from economically disadvantaged backgrounds
  • First person to attend a higher education training program
  • Recommended graduates from the Rush Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program

Completing My Application to the Rush University PA Program

The application cycle is open from April 29 to October 1 of each year.  

Applications must be submitted online via CASPA at:

CASPA application requires:

  • Submission of official transcripts for all college course work completed
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement
  • Payment of an application fee as outlined by CASPA

For More Information

For inquiries related to the CASPA admissions process, contact CASPA directly.  

For questions about the Rush University physician assistant program, contact   

For information about Rush University or the admissions policies of the College of Health Sciences at Rush University, contact the admissions office directly at (312) 563-6626.

You can attend an upcoming open house event to find out more information about the PA program.  See: for information related to upcoming PA Program Open House events.


CASPer is a situational judgment assessment exam that evaluates the test takers non-cognitive and interpersonal interaction skills.  The CAPSer assessment will aid the PA Program in making holistic applicant evaluations. Information regarding the CASPer assessment is available here: CASPer Assessment.

For 2021-2022, applicants not required to take the CASPer assessment exam. Applicant performance in the CASPer test will not be a factor of consideration for admission in the 2021-2022 cycle. 

Admissions Contact 
Phone: (312) 563-3234


U.S. News & World Report
Attend an information session

Learn more about the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program at an on-campus or online information session.