Frequently Asked Questions

Due to COVID-19, the GW PA program has adjusted a few of its admissions requirements. Please see the program's main admissions page for responses to frequently asked questions during this pandemic.

General Information

What is a PA?

A PA (physician assistant) is a skilled member of the health care team who practices medicine with the supervision of a licensed physician and fulfills a broad range of medical services that would otherwise be provided by the physician. For more information visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).

What types of PA programs are offered at GW?

GW offers two degrees that include PA training. The MSHS program is a two-year traditional physician assistant program that upon completion confers a Master of Science in Health Sciences. The MSHS/MPH program is a three-year dual degree program that allows the student to obtain the Master of Science in Health Sciences and a Master of Public Health degree. In the dual degree MSHS/MPH program, you will be taking Physician Assistant and Master of Public Health courses concurrently.

Which admissions terms are available?

This is a summer-entry only program. Therefore the summer term is the only admission term that is available.

Which academic terms do students attend if they are enrolled in the program?

Students are required to attend the Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters each year. The program is full-time and outside employment is discouraged. Classes in the academic phase are offered mostly during the daytime between the hours of 8am-5pm. Clinical phase students are expected to maintain the same schedule as their clinical preceptors, which may include working weekends, nights and holidays. Typically, clinical phase students work 45–75 hours per week.

How can I reach the PA admissions office?

Contact the admissions office by calling (202) 994-7644 or emailing paadm@gwu.edu. Our office fax number is (202) 994-7647.

I will be in the area and would like to meet with an admissions counselor. Is this possible?

Yes. Please call our admissions office to schedule an appointment with a counselor. Due to the high volume of applications to our program, we may not be able to schedule individual appointments during peak months. We strongly encourage applicants to take advantage of our online events or face-to-face information sessions (check the right sidebar on this page for the next scheduled session).

Do you hold information sessions?

Yes. Information sessions are held on the main campus at Foggy Bottom (check the right sidebar on this page for the next scheduled session).

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Deadlines and Application Fees

What is the deadline for CASPA and the Supplemental Application?

The deadline for all materials is October 1st. Both the CASPA and Supplemental applications must be received and fully completed by this date. In addition, GRE results must be received by October 1st. Incomplete applications or non-receipt of GRE scores by this date will prevent the application from further review.

Do you have early decision?

No, we do not have an early decision option.

What are the application fees for the CASPA and Supplemental Applications?

The CASPA fee is dependent upon how many schools you apply to and the date upon which you submit your application. Please see the CASPA website for specific information regarding the fee schedule. GW fees for the Supplemental application is $60. You can submit your application fee online by using a credit card or mailing a check or money order directly to the Health Sciences Admissions Office. Applicants who are GW alumni are exempt from the Supplemental application fee; indicate "fee waiver" when prompted for payment.

If I am accepted into the PA program, is there a required tuition deposit?

Yes. We require a $1,000 non-refundable tuition deposit to guarantee your spot in the program. Once a letter of acceptance is issued, you will typically have up to two weeks to return your enrollment form along with your deposit.

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The Application Process

Can I have outstanding prerequisite courses when I apply to the program?

Yes, you can have a maximum of two outstanding prerequisites when you apply. This includes any in-progress or planned courses. At the time you apply, you must have at least four prerequisites completed. All prerequisites must be completed and final transcripts submitted prior to matriculation in the program. For more information about prerequisites, please see the admissions website for program-specific requirements.

Can I use my AP (Advanced Placement) or Pass/Fail credits to satisfy some of the prerequisites?

Yes, AP and Pass/Fail credits can be used to satisfy ONLY the Psychology prerequisite. Applicant must have at least a test score of 4 on the AP examination and received credits for psychology from a regionally accredited institution. AP credits reported on the transcripts as “elective” hours will not be accepted.

When must I take the GRE?

Official GRE scores (sent directly by ETS to GW) must be received before the application deadline – October 1. Please note, the program will not accept self-reported scores on the CASPA application as official. To see if your GRE scores have been received, please log into your GW supplemental application portal. It can take 3-5 business days to upload your official scores to the supplemental application portal once they have been received by CASPA.The GRE must be taken within five years of the application submission date.

Can I use Organic Chemistry 1 & Organic Chemistry 2 to count as my two semesters of chemistry requirement. 

No, the program will not take a class that has 1-2 conuition like Chemistry 1 and Chemistry 2. The program is looking for all applicants to take two separate chemistry courses such as Chemistry 1 and Organic Chemistry 2 or Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry to meet the two semesters of chemistry requirement. 

What documents are required to apply to the GW PA program?

The CASPA, GW Supplemental application, and GRE results are required to apply to the program. Your application is not complete until all items are received.

Where can I access these applications?

The CASPA application can be found at caspa.liaisoncas.com. You should submit an application to ONLY one of the programs (MSHS: 2 year OR MSHS-MPH: 3 year.) The Supplemental application is available online at https://gw.force.com. Please follow the instructions on the Admissions page.

If I only want to apply to the GW PA program, can I apply directly to GW and not through CASPA?

No, all applications to the GW Physician Assistant Program must include both the CASPA and GW Supplemental application. We will not honor one without the other.

Are paper applications available?

No. The CASPA application and the GW Supplemental application are only available online.

Where will I send my original transcripts?

All original transcripts should be sent to CASPA. If you are selected for admission, you will be required to submit official transcripts from all institutions previously attended (whether or not a degree was earned) to GW prior to matriculation. For transcripts to be considered official, they must be in signed and sealed envelopes that they are originally distributed in from the institution.

Will I be able to send test scores directly to CASPA?

CASPA will accept standardized test scores directly and in many cases, you will be able to use CASPA as a designation when you take the GRE. You should also identify GW as one of the schools to receive your scores. The GW institution code is 5246. No other program or department codes are needed.

When can I use CASPA?

CASPA will be accessible beginning mid-April of each year. Please visit the CASPA website for the exact date.

If schools have different deadlines, how will I know when to apply through CASPA?

You should apply to CASPA by the earliest deadline of those schools you are applying to. Deadlines are the latest date you can submit your CASPA application and your GW Supplemental application. Our application deadline is October 1, which may not coincide with the deadline of other schools. Make sure to submit your application as early as possible prior to the deadline. Keep in mind that it generally takes between 3-4 weeks to receive a completed/verified application from CASPA once they have received all of your required documentation. We will start reviewing as soon as we have received your completed application (both the CASPA and GW Supplemental applications).

Can I be accepted at more than one school?

Yes, the CASPA is part of the application process, not the admissions process. If you are accepted at more than one school, you will have to make a decision about which school to attend.

Does CASPA require me to include a CV or resume?
CASPA will prompt you to provide a detailed description of your work experience, which will be forwarded to the participating schools along with your application. Please do not bring a CV with you if invited for an interview.

When will I hear whether I have been admitted to the program?

Applicants will be notified on an ongoing basis about the status of their applications. All decisions are typically finalized by late January. Decision letters will be sent throughout December and January.

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The Interview Process

Is an interview required to obtain admission to the program?

Yes, an interview is necessary. Students who are not offered interviews have been denied from the program. If you are chosen for an interview, you will be notified immediately by email and, in some cases, phone.

What occurs on interview day?

Interviews are typically held on Saturdays during the fall semester prior to intended entry year. The interview process grants selected applicants the opportunity to meet prospective classmates, current students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Each interview day includes: a tour of the GW Foggy Bottom campus and Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI), explained in detail below. The MMI process is followed by a panel discussion with current students and alumni.

If I am chosen for the interview process, what documents will I be asked to bring to interview day?

You will not need to bring anything to the interview. We will not accept any materials brought to the interview.

What criteria does GW use during the interview process?

The interview process is designed to evaluate each candidate's communication skills, maturity level, match to the GW mission, and his or her understanding of the role of the PA in today’s healthcare environment.

How many interview sessions will be conducted?

In general, GW will conduct 3–4 interview sessions per admission cycle in the fall semester. Interview days are usually on Saturdays in September, October and November.

What is MMI?

In a multiple mini interview (MMI) format, applicants will complete a 70 minute circuit of ten, seven-minute mini-interview stations. Applicants will have time before each interview to review the scenario or question. Once they have finished reviewing the scenario, they enter the room to respond to a series of questions.

What might I expect to encounter in an MMI scenario?

There are multiple scenarios that have been described and adapted across different health professional training programs. Examples can be found in journal articles describing the MMI process. There will be one standard interview scenario that will ask you to discuss with the interviewer why you have chosen to pursue a career as a PA.

Other scenarios, such as the following examples, have been cited:

Placebo (Ethical Decision Making). Dr. Cheung recommends homeopathic medicines to his patients. There is no scientific evidence or widely accepted theory to suggest that homeopathic medicines work, and Dr. Cheung doesn't believe them to. He recommends homeopathic medicine to people with mild and non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and muscle aches, because he believes that it will do no harm, but will give them reassurance. Consider the ethical problems that Dr. Cheung's behavior might pose. Discuss these issues with the interviewer.

Parking Garage (Communication Skills). The parking garage at your place of work has assigned parking spots. On leaving your spot, you are observed by the garage attendant as you back into a neighboring car, a BMW, knocking out its left front headlight and denting the left front fender. The garage attendant gives you the name and office number of the owner of the neighboring car, telling you that he is calling ahead to the car owner, Tim. The garage attendant tells you that Tim is expecting your visit. Enter Tim's office. (Eva KW, et al. (2004).

Why does the GW PA program use this interview format?

Research has demonstrated that the traditional interview format may not be a reliable way to assess certain non-cognitive factors that are needed to succeed in a health care profession. Typical interviews can be influenced by bias, expectations, and perspectives of the interviewers. Significant research has been conducted on the use of the MMI format across many health professions, including physician assistants. The findings have been informative and convincing; persuading the Admissions Committee to adopt this interview format beginning with the 2012-13 admissions cycle.

What is the evidence for the MMI? Can I read more about the MMI and interviewing?

Suggested references include:

Jones PE, Forister JG. Comparison of Behavioral and Multiple Mini-Interview Formats in Physician Assistant Program Admissions. The Journal of PA Education. 2011, 22(1):36-40.

Eva KW, Reiter HI, Rosenfeld J, Norman GR. The Eva KW, Reiter HI, Rosenfeld J, Norman GR. The ability of the multiple mini-interview to predict pre-clerkship performance in medical school, Acad Med. 2004, Oct; 79(10 Suppl):S40-2.

Eva KW, Reiter HI, Rosenfeld J. Norman GR, The relationship between interviewers’ characteristics and ratings assigned during a multiple mini-interview, Acad Med 2004, 79(6): 602-9.

Kumar, K., Roberts, C., Rothnie, I., Du Fresne, C. and Walton, M. (2009), Experiences of the multiple mini-interview: a qualitative analysis. Medical Education, 43:360-367. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03291.

How can I prepare for the MMI?

Our best advice is to understand the basic structure, time limit, and number of stations. Listen carefully to any prompts directed to you. Reviewing a list of "practice" questions is not helpful because the MMI does not use the same questions you experience during a traditional interview. However, there may be a benefit to reflect on previous interview experiences or role play with a friend or family member because it might help to identify nervous habits and also help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

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Tuition and Financial Aid

What is the cost of tuition?

Tuition and fees for the two-year PA (MSHS) program can be found on our tuition page.

Should I submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)?

Yes. Whether or not you have heard back from all of the programs you have applied to, it is recommended that you complete the FAFSA if you plan to take out loans to finance your education.

Are there any programs that will finance my tuition?

The GW PA program is able to offer a limited number of scholarships to students demonstrating financial need. These renewable scholarships require students to maintain a 3.0 GPA and range from $3500 – $7000 per year.

In addition to university scholarships and grants, there are a number of other scholarships available through the Physician Assistant Foundation, PA Veteran's Caucus, local state chapters of the AAPA and local and national philanthropic organizations.

The federally funded National Health Service Corps is a competitive scholarship program that also has generous loan repayment opportunities for health professionals who agree to serve in medically underserved primary care settings. If you are interested in programs such as these, we encourage you to research them to see if they may be applicable to you.

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Competitive Applicant Profile

What does GW consider to be a competitive applicant?

The competitive applicant demonstrates the core values of the GW PA program: Respect, Integrity, Accountability, Compassion, Dedication, Tolerance, Flexibility, and Self-reflection. In addition, the applicant has superior communication skills, a high level of maturity, reflects the mission of the GW PA Program, and understands the role of the PA in today’s healthcare environment.

What is the typical GPA of a competitive applicant?

The average undergraduate cumulative GPA of applicants for the most recent class was 3.58 with a science GPA of 3.57. GPAs vary from one class to another as the applicant pool varies.

What is the average number of science hours completed by a competitive applicant?

The average number of science credit hours completed by students in the latest classes was between 65-85 hours. In general, the more competitive applicants have more science hours completed.

What is the average GRE score of a competitive applicant?

A competitive GRE score is in the 80th percentile or higher for GRE Verbal and in the 60th percentile or higher for GRE Quantatative with a 4.0 or greater Analytical score.

What is the average amount of health care experience of a competitive applicant?

One thousand (1,000) hours of direct patient care are required with an additional six months of health-related experience recommended. The average number of patient hours for the most recent class  was aproximately 4,000. The more competitive applicant will exceed these requirements and recommendations.

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Technical Standards

What are the technical standards required to successfully complete the GW PA program?

Download the GW PA Technical Standards, (pdf).

The George Washington University Physician Assistant Program considers it essential for all physician assistant students to have the knowledge and skill to function in a variety of clinical settings and to provide a wide spectrum of patient care as required by the curriculum.  Therefore, every physician assistant student must master a common body of basic science knowledge and master the principles, knowledge, and procedures of the major required clinical specialty clerkships, including internal medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and primary (ambulatory) care medicine.  This requires that every student have sufficient capacities and abilities in: Communication, Observation, Motor/Tactile Function, Cognitive/Intellectual Function, and Behavioral and Social Attributes.

Completion of this program requires that each student independently demonstrates these capabilities continuously throughout enrollment. Surrogates cannot be used to accomplish the essential requirements. Students may not have undue dependence on technology or trained intermediaries. Students are required to acknowledge that they meet these technical standards (outlined more fully below) prior to entry into the Program and prior to beginning the clinical phase.

Communication includes the ability to speak, hear, read, and write sufficiently to achieve adequate exchange of information with other healthcare professionals, patients and their support network.

  • The student must have the ability to receive and process auditory information, and speak and write clearly for all communications with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals.
  • The student must communicate effectively through written and electronic media.
  • The student must be able to communicate sensitively with patients and their families.
  • The student must be able to read sufficiently to comprehend complex medical literature, and convey this information in easy to understand terms.
  • The student must be able to perceive forms of non-verbal interpersonal communications including facial expressions, body language, and affect.

Observation includes the ability to perceive, using senses and mental abilities, information presented in both educational and clinical settings.  Educational information will be presented through lectures, small groups and one-on-one interactions, as well as written and audiovisual materials. 

  • The student must possess sufficient sensory (visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory) and mental abilities to accurately perceive information provided in the educational settings. This includes written and audiovisual materials, laboratories, diagnostic images, microscopic and physical examination.
  • The student must be able to accurately observe (using visual, auditory, tactile, and/or olfactory senses) a patient’s medical condition, including patient affect, up close and at a distance, with and without medical instrumentation.  This includes but is not limited to radiography, electrocardiograms, sonograms, monitors and other graphic images.

Motor/Tactile Function

  • A student must have sufficient motor function to directly perform palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers.
  • A student must be able to execute movements reasonably required to provide general and emergency medical care to patients.  These skills require coordination of fine and gross motor skills, equilibrium and functional sensation.
  • A student must have the capability to manipulate equipment and instruments for the performance of basic laboratory tests and procedures. 
  • A student must have the ability to move oneself from one setting to another and negotiate the patient care environment in a timely fashion.
  • A student must have sufficient physical stamina to perform the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study.  This includes long periods of sitting, standing and moving which are required for classroom, laboratory, and clinical experiences.

Cognitive/Intellectual Function

  • A student must be able to demonstrate cognitive and problem solving skills in an efficient and timely manner in order to meet the Program Competencies.  Problem solving is one of the critical skills demanded of physician assistants.  It requires all of these intellectual abilities:
    • Comprehension of visual-spatial relationships.
    • Reading and understanding the medical literature and the patient’s chart.
    • Learning, measuring, calculating, retrieving, prioritizing, analyzing, organizing, assimilating, integrating, and synthesizing technically detailed and complex information and applying this information appropriately. 

Behavioral and Social Attributes

  • The student must possess emotional stability for full utilization of her/his intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to both didactic studies and patient care.
  • The student must be able to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and their family members, staff and colleagues.
  • The student must be able to work collaboratively and effectively as a small group member as well as a health team member.
  • The student must have sufficient interpersonal skills to relate positively with people across society, including all ethnic backgrounds, economic levels, sexual orientation, and belief systems.
  • The student must possess compassion and concern for others; interest in and motivation for service; and integrity.
  • The student must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under mentally and emotionally stressful situations.
  • The student must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.
  • The student must behave in an ethical and moral manner that is consistent with professional values.
  • The student must be able to accept constructive criticism and appropriately respond through modification of her/his behavior. 

Reasonable accommodations will be made for applicants with disabilities who can meet the requirements noted above.  These accommodations must be accomplished without altering the essential requirements of the PA curriculum. Inability to meet the technical standards throughout Program enrollment will necessitate further review which may delay or terminate progression and/or enrollment in the Program.

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