Frequently Asked Questions

Impacts of COVID-19

Are there changes to the application deadline?
At this time, there are no changes to the application cycle opening date or application deadline.  The application will be available April 30-August 1.  Your application must be submitted and verified on or before 8:59 pm PST/11:59 pm EST on August 1.  Please keep in mind that this is a fluid situation, and this may be adjusted as more information is received.  Any changes will be posted to our website as soon as the decisions are made.

My institution is only offering online coursework and/or Pass/No Pass grading.  Will this be acceptable for the prerequisites?
We are aware of the impact on current and planned prerequisite courses and therefore offer the following adjustments to our prerequisites. 

Courses taken as Pass/No Pass: Although letter grades for coursework and labs are preferred, the program will accept pass/no pass grading (only passes are acceptable to meet prerequisites) for courses/labs taken during spring, summer, and fall 2020 terms.  

Acceptance of online and/or distance learning prerequisites: The program will accept courses and labs taken spring, summer, and fall 2020 terms that are delivered via online or distance learning.  Although we highly value the in-person A&P labs, the adjustment for accepting online/distance learning includes A&P labs.

Are you reducing the number of required health care experience hours?
At this time, the program still expects and will give preference to applicants who have obtained at least 2,000 hours of health care experience.  If you are are unable to meet the minimum requirement due to the pandemic, you are still able to apply and we encourage you to complete the additional CASPA question relating to COVID-19 impacts.  The admissions committee will take your response into consideration while reviewing your application and evaluating your preparation.

Additionally, for the 2020-21 application cycle, health care experience hours will be projected through August 1 for all applicants.  Projections will be made based on the hours indicated in current positions in your CASPA application.  If this information changes after you have submitted your CASPA application, please send us an update via email and we can add the information to your application for the admissions committee to review. 

Will there be any delays for interviews and matriculation?
At this time, there are no changes or delays and we plan to interview in the fall/early winter to accept a class that will matriculate in June 2021.  Again, this is a fluid situation and any changes will be communicated as soon as possible.

I was planning to attend one of the spring information sessions that have been canceled.  Will there be other opportunities to learn more about the program?
Due to restrictions on group gatherings, we are unable to participate in any in-person events as planned.  We encourage you to attend one of the free virtual fairs and email us with any specific questions.

General program information

Do you offer transcript reviews/meetings/tours?
No. Unfortunately, our program is unable to honor these types of requests for prospective applicants. Rather, we do our best to maintain our website in a manner that will answer the majority of questions prospective applicants may have. We recommend starting on the website and then contacting us via email with any specific questions not addressed on the site.

Our program offers information sessions in lieu of one-on-one meetings. Information sessions are typically held monthly in the spring. Please visit the information sessions page for more information.

Are you able to set up shadowing experiences?
Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate requests to set up shadowing experiences due to the volume of requests we receive. A good first step is to explore your own network of contacts, if possible. This way you can make the connection through a mutual friend, physician, PA, academic advisor, etc., in your community. If you don't have this type of network, some PAs can be found on hospital/clinic websites and may not mind a quick email asking if there are shadowing opportunities. Please remember, we don't require shadowing because it can be difficult to arrange, but it you're able to set something up on your own, it would be a great opportunity to find out more about the profession.

How can I ensure a competitive application?
The OHSU PA Program admissions committee is looking for well-rounded candidates who bring a strong academic background (overall GPA, BCP GPA, positive trends in academics, most recent 45-60 credit hours GPA) and good health care experience. In addition, the committee considers your motivation, narrative statements, your understanding of the PA profession, community service, letters of recommendation, etc.

Strong candidates will generally exceed our minimum requirements. The average cumulative GPA is generally around 3.5 and entering students average around 4,000 hours of health care experience.

I am not from Oregon.  Should I still apply?
Yes!  While our program does have a slight preference for applicants with Oregon residency or heritage, we do not have a specific number of Oregon residents we accept each year.  Non-residents can be very competitive within our applicant pool so the Oregon preference should not discourage anyone from applying.

Can I attend the program and work part time? Does your program offer distance education?
Due to the full time nature of our program, working outside of the program is not recommended. All of our classes are held in person and we do not offer a distance education option.

Does your program utilize rolling admissions?
Yes, our program does utilize rolling admissions and for that reason, early* applications are encouraged. We review applications and extend interview invitations to qualified applicants throughout the open application cycle. The program will not completely fill the available seats until all candidates invited to interview have been met, but selections will occur throughout the interview season.

*Note: For our program, early application refers to submitting a complete application prior to mid-July.

What is your timeline for reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, and selecting a class?
We will review your application once it is verified by CASPA and delivered to our program.  CASPA states that the average application is verified within 2 weeks.  Until it is verified by CASPA, our program is unable to provide you with any information regarding the status of your application.  Upon CASPA verification, your application will be submitted to our admissions committee and will undergo a complete, holistic review.  This admissions committee review process can take up to 10 weeks.

Qualified applicants will be invited to interview for a position in our program.  Interview invitations are extended throughout the committee review process at a rate that is determined by the quality of our applicant pool each year.  Interviews take place September through December, with our final class selections being finalized by mid-February each year.

Does your program have a supplemental application?
No, our program no longer has a supplemental application.  Questions that were previously part of a supplemental application are now included in the CASPA application under the OHSU PA Program portal.

Prerequisites and program requirements

Do all of my prerequisite courses need to be complete at the time I submit my CASPA application?
Our program allows prerequisite courses to be in progress at the time of your application. All prerequisite courses and your bachelor's degree must be complete by the end of fall term prior to your planned matriculation. 

What is the minimum GPA and what are the accepted class averages?
A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required by our program.  The cumulative GPA includes all coursework taken at the undergraduate level; courses taken as part of your Bachelor's degree as well as undergraduate courses taken prior to or as a post-baccalaureate student will be calculated into your cumulative GPA.

The average cumulative GPA for the accepted class in 2019 was 3.42. Averages for the past 5 years can be found on our class profiles page.

Should I repeat a course for a better grade?
We usually don't recommend repeating course work (unless it is a prerequisite in which you received a C- or below grade) as your original grade will not be replaced (CASPA will use both grades when calculating your GPA) and the committee will assume you will receive a better grade the second time around because you've already taken the course. In lieu of retaking courses, if you are looking to make the academic portion of your application more competitive, we highly recommend taking upper-division biology and chemistry courses that are medically, human, and/or animal science related.

Should I take my courses at a four year university or a community college?
Credits from any regionally accredited community college or university will be accepted by our program. The admissions committee has a preference for upper division science coursework so it would be recommended that at least some of your science coursework be completed at a university at the 300 or 400 level.

What kind of bachelor's degree is most beneficial/preferred?
The OHSU PA Program requires a bachelor's degree, but does not require or prefer a specific major. Most applicants to our program have degrees in biology, psychology, and general science. However, applicants with a non-science degree can still be very competitive in our applicant pool. These applicants will usually have to obtain their science credits as a post-baccalaureate student. 

Do you require the GRE?
No, the program does not require the GRE (or the MCAT).

Will you accept credits from a non US/Canadian institution?
International credits can be considered after they have been evaluated for US equivalencies. For more information, please visit the international applicant page.

Will you accept online credits?
The admissions committee has a preference that all prerequisite coursework be taken in person, however online courses will be accepted with the exception of Anatomy labs, which must be taken in person.

Is there a time limit on any of the required courses?
The only prerequisite course that has a time frame associated with it is Anatomy & Physiology (plus labs). A&P must have been taken within 5 years of planned matriculation; if your coursework has been completed outside of this time frame, a minimum refresher course of one term combined A&P with a lab is required or one term each of anatomy with lab and physiology if courses offered separately. Refreshing the entire series is recommended.

Do you accept transfer credit or advanced placement into your program?
No, our program does not offer advanced placement. All applicants must meet our requirements and complete the entire program despite any previous medical coursework.

Will you accept AP/IB credits towards the prerequisite courses?
Our program currently accepts AP/IB credit towards the biology, chemistry, psychology, and statistics requirements. Issued credit must appear on your official college transcripts and indicate which courses your institution granted credit for.

I work hands-on with patients in a medical capacity on a day-to-day basis, which utilizes A&P principles.  Do I still need to complete an A&P refresher if my coursework is older than the 5 year requirement?
Yes.  If your A&P coursework was taken prior to 5 years from your planned matriculation, a refresher course is required.  This academic prerequisite is required regardless of an applicant's health care experience.

CASPA allows up to 5 letters of recommendation, but your program only requires 3.  If I submit 5, will they all be considered, or will you pick only 3 to read?
Our admissions committee considers the letters of recommendation as a whole, so if you have more than 3, they will all be considered.  It is neither an advantage nor disadvantage to your application if you have more than the 3 required letters.

Health care experience

Will my health care experience count?
Our program accepts a wide variety of health care experiences.  Shadowing hours or experiences gained as part of a training program or for academic credit are not counted towards fulfilling the health care experience requirement.  Essentially, all other forms of health care experience can be considered by our program, however, some may be more relevant and/or competitive than others.

Our admissions committee has a preference for direct, hands-on patient care in a hospital or clinic setting where you are providing care for more acutely sick or injured patients.  Our most competitive applicants will have at least some of their hours fit this preference so if your experience is in a non-patient contact role, it would be recommended to round out your hours prior to applying with a position that will provide you experience with direct patient care.

Please see the health care experience section for additional information regarding this requirement.

What counts as "direct, hands-on patient care"?
Many experiences can qualify as direct, hands-on patient care.  The admissions committee will be looking for duties and skills where you are actively involved in the administration of medical treatment of patients.  Duties such as assisting with ADLs, while acceptable towards the 2,000 hour requirement, do not qualify as hands-on patient care.

Does your program accept medical scribe hours towards health care experience?
Yes; However, since scribing positions do not typically contain any direct, hands-on patient care duties (which is our program's preference), we recommend that you combine scribing experience with something that does allow you to work directly with patients and their medical care.

CASPA application

What is your program's application deadline? Does my application need to be verified by the deadline?
The application deadline for the 2020-2021 cycle is August 1, 2020 (11:59 pm EST/8:59 pm PST).  Your application must be verified by the deadline in order to be considered.  Please note that CASPA states that applications may take 2-4 weeks to become verified, so you will need to keep that in mind when planning your timeline to the program.  Applications that are verified after the August 1 deadline will not be considered.

Should I wait to apply until I have transcripts for courses that are in progress or planned at the time of completing my application?
No, it is not necessary to wait.  Our program allows transcripts for any coursework in progress at the time of application to be received after your application has been submitted.  Please enter any outstanding coursework as "in progress" and update the course once a grade has been received.  The program can use self-reported scores for summer/fall courses in our review and will request official transcripts if needed.

Can I use CASPA's professional transcript entry service for my coursework?
Yes.  Please keep in mind that the professional transcript entry service requires additional time once you have submitted your application.  If you utilize the service, plan to submit your application early enough to allow for the extra steps to be verified by our deadlines.  For more information about professional transcript entry, please refer to the CASPA Help Center.

Should I estimate HCE hours that I will accumulate after I submit my application?
No.  Please input your hours to accurately reflect the amount of experience at the time you are applying.