Frequently Asked Questions

About the Program

What is the MPAS program?

The Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) curriculum prepares students for entry into clinical practice as a physician assistant The aim of UNTHSC is to provide students with an environment that is both conducive to learning the art and science of medical practice and to helping our students achieve individual growth as healthcare professionals.

Is the UNT Health Science Center PA Program accredited?

Yes, the UNTHSC PA Program has been accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission for the Education of Physician Assistants (ARC-PA) since 1997.

What is the length of the program and what degree is awarded?

The program is approximately 30 months in length, and upon successful completion of the curriculum, graduates receive a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree from the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

How many candidates are accepted to the program each year?

Typically, we invite approximately 75 candidates to join our cohort each year.

What is a cohort program?

We admit one group of students each year and those students take the same courses in the same order throughout their 30 months in the program.

How competitive is it to gain acceptance into the PA program?

The selection process is highly competitive. Applications are welcomed regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. The UNTHSC PA Studies program receives a large number of applications each year. Applicants must meet all minimum prerequisite qualifications to be considered. When applicable, efforts to improve qualifications compared with a previous application may also be considered.

Can I attend the PA program part time?

No. Due to the fixed sequence of the didactic curriculum, all students must enroll on a full-time basis.

Do you accept out of state residents? Do you have any particular number of assigned seats for in-state as well as out of state students?

Yes, we accept out of state students. However, we do not have a particular number of assigned seats for in-state or out of state students. Residency is not one of the criteria used in evaluating candidates for entry into the PA program.

What does the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) curriculum consist of?

The curriculum is divided into pre-clinical and clinical phases. The preclinical phase consists mostly of classroom studies, however introductions to clinical experiences, medical interviewing, physical examination and critical thinking occurs from the very first semester. Classroom lectures and small group activities are led by faculty who come from diverse backgrounds ranging from primary care to specialized medical and surgical disciplines.

The clinical phase involves sending PA students to clinics and hospitals located throughout Fort Worth, Texas and beyond. During these experiences, PA students work directly with physicians and PA preceptors seeing actual patients in real-life settings. In these hands-on environments, faculty and adjunct faculty work with students to develop clinical skills under close supervision. The sites are allocated by taking the students’ area of interest as well as the availability at the time of assignment.

How much is tuition?

Tuition information is available on the UNTHSC website under Tuition and Fees.

Is housing available on the UNTHSC campus?

No, UNTHSC does not have housing on campus, but offers a few resources. Housing Options Roommate Search

Is financial aid available?

Yes, our Financial Aid Department can assist you with obtaining further information about other financial aid options.

How many of your graduates pass the NCCPA certifying examination on the first try?

Please refer to our Pass Rate Summary Report for the most up-to-date information.

Prerequisite Requirements

Is there a minimum grade required to satisfy individual prerequisite courses?

All prerequisite courses must be passed with a grade of ‘C’ or better (2.0 or better on a 4.0 scale). Higher scores in prerequisite coursework improve an applicant’s chance for selection. Due to the competitive nature of admission into the program, it is rare that a candidate would be admitted with a grade below a “B” in any prerequisite course.

Do I have to have all of my prerequisite courses completed before I apply to the PA program?

You may apply and be offered an interview even if all of your prerequisites are not completed. You will be required to detail your plan for completion on your application. If offered a position in the class, the offer will be “conditional” upon your completing all of the program requirements. Applicants who fail to complete prerequisite coursework by the deadline will have their application withdrawn and/or their admissions offer forfeited. We strongly recommend having the majority of your academic prerequisite work completed prior to making an application to the PA program.

Is there a deadline to complete prerequisite coursework?

Yes, prerequisite coursework must be completed by December 31st of the year you apply. There are no exceptions to this deadline.

Does UNTHSC offer any of the prerequisite courses?

No. UNTHSC is a graduate only campus and does not offer courses at the undergraduate level. There are many local colleges and universities where prerequisite coursework is offered. Please contact the advising office at the institution you will be attending for information about prerequisite coursework offerings.

Is there a limit on how long ago prerequisite coursework can be taken?

No. There are no restrictions placed on how long ago prerequisite courses can be satisfied. Please keep in mind that the content knowledge gained from prerequisite coursework is necessary for success in the PA Studies Program.

Can I take the academic prerequisites for the PA program at a community college?

Yes. Prerequisite coursework can be completed at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university; however, upper division coursework that will satisfy our requirement for either Biochemistry or Cell Biology is not always offered at the community college level. Please note that all science classes must be intended for science majors and have a laboratory component. If you need assistance in determining if a specific course qualifies, please contact the academic advising office at your institution or the department from which the course is offered. Many colleges and universities have a pre-health advising office. If you have any questions regarding any course, you can fill out the Course Evaluation Request Form.

Are on-line courses acceptable to fulfill prerequisite requirements?

Yes, although it is strongly recommended that prerequisite science courses be completed in a traditional classroom setting. Please note that on-line courses are not exempt from the requirement to be designated for science majors in order to fulfill science prerequisite requirements.

I already have a foreign bachelor’s degree – am I eligible to apply?

Each applicant must complete all the program requirements as outlined including prerequisite coursework and an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited, U.S. institution. Please note that the requirement for a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. regionally accredited institution will not be waived and exceptions are not permitted. Foreign degrees are not considered equivalent nor are they accepted in lieu of an earned bachelor’s degree from the U.S. The program does not accept foreign coursework.

How do I know if the course I am taking satisfies an academic prerequisite?

Please contact the advising/counseling office at your institution or the department offering the course for information about prerequisite coursework offerings. The Office of Admissions is not able to advise you regarding degree plan requirements for your undergraduate degree. Consult with your assigned academic advisor, school counselor, or pre-health professions advisor with questions regarding degree plan advising at your institution. If you need assistance in determining whether a specific course meets a prerequisite requirement, please check with your academic advisor/counselor, pre-health advising office, or department from which the course is offered. If your institution is unsure whether a course is acceptable, please contact us by completing the Course Evaluation Request Form.

Can I substitute coursework for prerequisite requirements?

No, substitutions are not permitted. If you have a question regarding whether a particular course will satisfy a prerequisite requirement, please fill out a Course Evaluation Request Form with the name of the institution, the course number and name, a copy of the course description and a direct link to the institution’s catalog for review. Course requests will be sent back via email within one to two business days.

Can I interview even though I haven’t finished all of my prerequisites?

Yes, it is possible to be invited to interview even before all prerequisites have been completed, however applicants who do not complete the prerequisite coursework with passing grades will have their applications automatically withdrawn. Failure to complete prerequisite courses by the deadline results in withdrawal of your application and/or forfeiture of your admission into the program.

Application Information

How do I apply? When do I apply?

Applicants must submit the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA), non-refundable Application Processing Fee, and official GRE Score Report to be eligible for admission. No incomplete applications will be considered, and no application materials will be accepted after the published deadlines. Due to the limited number of seats and our policy of offering admission on a rolling basis, applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the application process early in our cycle. The program will begin making invitations to interview in the late summer. The application cycle runs from April through October each year. To be considered for our first interview day of the cycle, an applicant should have his/her application and all supporting materials submitted no later than the end of July.

Is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) required?

Yes. You must submit a GRE score report for consideration. Our reporting code is 6380. Your application will not be reviewed until we have received an official score from Educational Testing Services. All applicants are required to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections) that were received no more than five years prior to application to the program. There are no waivers to the GRE score requirement, and other test scores cannot be accepted in lieu of official GRE scores. Applicants whose scores are older than five years must submit an updated GRE score. Applicants who have completed other advanced degrees are still required to submit an official GRE score report for consideration.

What is the minimum GPA required for admission?

Applicants must achieve a minimum overall 3.0 GPA at the time of application as calculated by CASPA. Maintaining the minimum required GPA is not necessarily equivalent to achieving a competitive GPA. What is considered competitive varies according to the quality of the applicant pool during each application cycle.

How do I know if the Admissions Office has received my application and materials?

Once you submit your online application and it has been verified through CASPA, you will be sent an automated e-mail stating your application has been received with instructions on how to submit your application processing fee payment online.

From whom should I request recommendation letters?

We suggest that you obtain at least one of your letters of recommendation from a physician assistant with whom you have worked or completed volunteer/observation hours. Other letters may be from professors, employers, community leaders, or other individuals who can offer insight into your academic record, your volunteer experience, your character and integrity, or your potential for success in a doctoral level program. All Letters must be submitted through CASPA.

Do I have to have a bachelor’s degree in order to be accepted for the PA program?

Yes. You must have an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States prior to matriculation into the program. Since our PA program begins classes in late summer each year, your degree must be conferred by May prior to matriculation. Your degree may still be in progress at the time of your application.

Does it matter which school I attend to earn my bachelor’s degree?

No, but your bachelor’s degrees must be obtained at a regionally accredited U.S. college or university to be deemed acceptable. Information regarding regional accreditation is available from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

What is the best major to have to prepare me for the PA program?

The Admissions Committee does not recommend a particular academic major or course of study for applicants. The Admissions Committee encourages you to pursue an undergraduate major that allows you to develop strong analytical skills and a basis in science which will contribute to your success in the PA program. We recommend you choose a major or minor that allows you to easily integrate mandatory prerequisite coursework as well as strongly recommended coursework into your degree plan.

Are volunteer hours or work experience in PA required?

No, however, competitive applicants will have knowledge of the field. Exposure to a variety of PA settings is the best method for this knowledge acquisition.

How do I document my volunteer and work hours?

You will account for your hours in the appropriate sections of the CASPA application. Documentation and/or verification is not required. All information submitted in the online application must be true and accurate to the best of each applicant’s knowledge. Any applicant or admitted student who provides misleading, untrue, or inaccurate information, including falsified volunteer, work, or shadowing hours submitted in the application will be subject to academic dishonesty and ethical policies.

Do you interview applicants? What is the structure of the interview process?

Yes. For the most competitive applicants, interviews are conducted by invitation. Failure to appear for a scheduled interview will result in automatic applicant rejection. Each applicant selected for an interview will participate in a half day event on the UNTHSC campus that includes multiple interview evaluations, information sessions, and time to interact with faculty and current students.

How competitive is it to gain an interview?

Selection for interview is based on information contained in the CASPA as well as GRE scores, including academic and personal achievements. Interviews are structured to evaluate a candidate’s interpersonal skills, communication skills, time management skills, and other professional characteristics including motivation for entry into the PA career field. The most competitive applicants will be invited to the UNTHSC campus in Fort Worth for an admissions assessment process. Typically, 10-15% of the applicant pool is invited for an admissions interview. Interviews generally take place from September – January. Early submission of your application can increase your chances of interview selection. Interview results are confidential and are considered in the competitive selection process.

Are there any groups or categories of students who receive special favor during the admissions process?

No. All candidates are considered equally for admission to the program.

Becoming a Competitive Applicant

How competitive is the admissions process?

The admissions process is extremely competitive. Take a look at the current statistics for past incoming classes.

How important is grade point average (GPA) in the competitive admissions process?

Although an applicant’s entire academic record is considered, strong academic performance alone does not ensure acceptance. Maintaining the minimum required GPA is not necessarily equivalent to achieving a competitive GPA. What is considered competitive varies according to the quality of the applicant pool during each application cycle.

What are the characteristics of an ideal candidate?

The goal of the admissions process is to identify the applicants who are most likely to succeed in the Master of Physician Assistant Studies curriculum, contribute to meeting the overall intent of the program’s mission and to practice successfully as a physician assistant. An ideal candidate would have a strong work and moral ethic; knowledge of and a desire to enter into the PA profession. Successful applicants have a mixture of achievements in life, work, and academics and will have a commitment to satisfying the tenets of a challenging professional career in medicine.

Is shadowing a PA required for admission into the program?

No. Shadowing is not required; however, it is an excellent way for an applicant to personally experience and reflect upon the physician assistant career. The Admissions Committee will evaluate your knowledge of the field as one selection factor.

Is it beneficial to have healthcare experience before applying to the program?

Yes. Health care experience can be very beneficial for an applicant for many reasons, and healthcare experience is strongly encouraged. Healthcare experience is not a mandatory admission requirement but will bolster the competitive nature of an application. If you are working to gain this type of experience, you should keep in mind that prior healthcare experience provides you with greater awareness of the role of the PA and other healthcare professionals involved with direct patient care. Familiarity with healthcare systems, patient care environments, professional roles, terminology and procedures will ease your transitions into the PA role.

What are my chances of getting accepted into the program?

This question is difficult, if not impossible, to answer. A variety of people with various backgrounds apply to the program each year, and a variety of applicants are accepted. There is no way to predict who will or will not be admitted nor can any guarantees be offered about any potential admittance. A good strategy is to make sure you have met all of the prerequisite requirements before applying, become as knowledgeable as possible about the PA career, and then prepare yourself for acceptance by making your application and interview as strong as possible.

If I am accepted

Will I be able to work while enrolled in the program?

PA students are not prohibited from working while enrolled in the MPAS program, however due to the amount of study and intensive nature of the curriculum students are generally discouraged from obtaining or maintaining employment while enrolled.

Does the program require me to own a laptop computer?

Yes, enrolled students pay a technology fee and are issued a new laptop computer during orientation.

If I am accepted into the program, when do classes begin?

Each year a required one-week orientation is scheduled in mid August, classes commence the following week.

Does the program have a Health and Technical Standards policy for enrollment?

Yes. Please refer to our Health and Technical Standards page.

Does the program require completion of a master’s or research project in order to graduate?

Yes. All students enrolled in the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program must successfully complete a mas┬Čter’s project and receive a passing grade in order to gradu┬Čate. Faculty will guide, monitor, and assess the quality of the student’s work in this process.

Once enrolled, can I choose where I go for my clinical rotations?

No. Clinical rotations are assigned by the program faculty based upon the needs of the student and upon availability of clinical sites. The PA student is not required to arrange their own clinical rotation sites.

What if I still have questions?

You may e-mail us at PAAdmissions@unthsc.edu or call us at 817-735-2003 for more information. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

This page was last modified on April 24, 2018