Frequently asked questions

Student reading a book 


Physician Assistant Studies Program 


1.  Besides the prerequisites, what are you looking for in an ideal candidate? 

An ideal candidate will be academically prepared for the program’s challenging curriculum, possess relevant health care experience, demonstrate compassion and good communication skills and indicate an interest in practicing in Arizona following graduation.

2.  Is the new PA Program at NAU Accredited? 

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation -Continued status to the Northern Arizona University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Northern Arizona University. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards. Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be September 2025. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

3. Where is the program offered? 

The program is housed at the new Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix, at 7th Street and Van Buren Street.   This is also the location of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

4.  Will it ever be offered in Flagstaff? 

At this time, it is not anticipated that the program will be offered in Flagstaff

5.  What degree will I earn?   

Upon successful completion of program requirements, you will earn a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree.

6.  What are the admission requirements for the program? 

The admission requirements can be viewed at:

7.  Is the minimum 3.0 GPA required for ALL science courses taken or just the PA Program prerequisites? 

The most qualified candidates will have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 for all college level science coursework.

8.  Will upper division courses in genetics, microbiology, biochemistry, and immunology fulfill the upper division science course requirement as well as the specific course requirement or recommendation?  

Yes, any required or recommended science courses that are taken at a 300 or higher level will fulfill both the specific course requirements and the upper division science requirements.

9.  What is meant by a ‘hands-on’ science lab course? 

This is any lab course that is taken in a classroom/on-ground lab as opposed to online. 

10.  How do I know if the statistics course I take will be acceptable?          

Any introductory course in statistics will fulfill the requirement, and should include topics such as statistics terms, analytical statistics, measurement of the mean and variance, null hypothesis, p-values, confidence intervals, and probability.

11.  Does it matter what chemistry courses I take? 

Yes and No.  To fulfill the basic chemistry requirement for the program, you may take any two college level chemistry courses.  However, taking biochemistry and organic chemistry (recommended courses) will enhance your competitiveness for admission.

12.  Will courses from other colleges and universities be accepted to meet the pre-requisites?   

Yes, prerequisite courses may be taken at any US regionally accredited school, including online programs. Be sure that the courses taken are at the level required (lower division courses are generally numbered 100 and 200, while upper division courses are numbered 300 and above.  Upper division courses generally are not available through community colleges).

13.  Will you accept Advanced Placement credits? 

No, the program will not accept any advanced placement.

14.  I have graduate level coursework in Anatomy completed at another institution. Do I still need to take the Anatomy course required in this program? 

Yes, all required coursework must be taken in the program.  No advanced placement/transfer credit is accepted.

15.  Will you accept the MCAT instead of the GRE for admission purposes? 

No, we only accept the GRE.

16.  Must the GRE scores be submitted to CASPA at the same time as the application or can they come in later? 

They must be submitted at the time of application. The official score report must be sent to CASPA per instructions below.

A. What code do I use to send my GRE scores directly to CASPA?

Only CASPA-specific program codes will allow official GRE scores to be submitted directly into the CASPA application. ETS will list institution and program specific GRE codes in its online and printed code publications, and in the computer-based test package. All CASPA-specific codes will also be posted in the Instruction & FAQ section on the CASPA applicant portal

B. How long will it take ETS to send my GRE scores to CASPA?

ETS will send new GRE scores to CASPA up to twice a week. Scores are reported 10 to 15 days after taking the computer-based GRE revised General Test.

C. How do I verify my GRE scores have been sent to the institution that I designated?

The best way to verify that your scores have been sent is to log into your myGRE account at and view your scores and score reports that were processed. You can also log into their application accounts at or the CASPA mobile application portal to check if official test scores have been received. You should check that the name on your application matches your name entered in ETS.

D. Whom should I contact if I have additional questions?

If you have questions about GRE scores or score reporting, contact ETS at or the Educators’ help Line at 609-683-2002. CASPA related questions can be directed to customer service at 617-612-2080.

17.  How do I prepare for the GRE? 

NAU offers GRE Test Prep Courses -- information can be found at

18.  What types of health care experience are recommended to fulfill the admission requirement of 500 hours? 

High quality health care experience might include, but is not limited to the following: medical assistant, PT, RT, OT, MSW, EMT, LPN, chiropractor, RN, CNA, nurse's aide, medic or corpsman, paramedic, PharmD, OD, NP, foreign medical graduate, DVM, DPM, medical lab technician, medical technologist, athletic trainer, audiologist, exercise physiologist, radiology technician, phlebotomist, optometry technician, registered dietician, patient care assistant, and PT assistant.  Additional acceptable experience might include the following:  medical scribe, research technician, lab-based researcher volunteering at marathons, blood donor clinics, and other non-medical work in waiting room or other medical setting.

19.  Must the prerequisite courses be complete at the time of application? 

Yes, all prerequisite courses must be complete at the time of the application. The degree does not need to be completed at the time of application, but prior to matriculation.

20.  Is the application process through CASPA? 

Yes, the application process will be through CASPA. In addition, there is an NAU Graduate College Application that must be completed and submitted by the September 1 deadline. 

21.  When and how can I apply, and when is the application due? 

CASPA opens mid-April and closes September 1 for this program. The NAU Graduate Application will be available during this time as well.

22.  Will an interview be required?   If so, when will it occur? 

The most qualified candidates will be invited for an in-person interview. Interviews will begin in September or October and run through December.

23.  When will you make decisions about who is accepted into the program? 

Some applicants will be informed of their admission status shortly after their interview, and others will be notified at the end of the interview process, which will likely occur sometime in December or January.

24.  How many students will be applying and how many will be accepted into the program? 

We can only estimate the number of applicants, and based upon last year’s number, we will likely receive about 1,000 applications for 50 seats.

25.  How many students applied for the class beginning 2015, and what was the average GPA? 

For the 2015 class, there were close to 1000 applicants for 50 seats in the program. Those accepted had an average GPA of 3.5, an average science course GPA of 3.5, and an average of 85 credits in science courses.  The average age is 25.

26.  Will there be a wait list for the program? 

Yes, in addition to the 50 individuals who will be selected for admission, other qualified applicants will be wait-listed in the event that positions in the class become available.

27.  What are clinical rotations and how many hours a week are required? 

Clinical rotations are supervised clinical practices under the supervision of a preceptor who is responsible for student training over a four week time period.  While some rotations have a 40 hour work week, the time required could be higher.  The student is also expected to do additional studying after hours to meet the expectations of the rotations and the program.

28.  What disciplines are covered in clinical rotations? 

The ‘core’ clinical disciplines will be covered in seven, 4-week rotations. They will be in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, mental health, surgery and emergency medicine. There will be two ‘selective’ rotations in primary care with a choice between internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics and OB/Gyn. There will also be two ‘elective’ rotations in disciplines that may be identified by the student in conjunction with the clinical coordinator. All the rotation assignments will ultimately be determined based on availability and quality of the site, and will be located in Arizona.

29.  Can I work while I am taking courses and doing the clinical rotations? 

The program is an intensive and demanding course of study. Working while attending the program is strongly discouraged.

30.  Where will the clinical rotations be? 

The program will be responsible for the assignment of all clinical rotations.  Clinical rotations will be available throughout Arizona, and in a variety of settings.  Students are expected to be flexible and although the program will make all reasonable attempts to accommodate student preferences, students may not always be assigned their choice of sites.  When feasible and at the students’ requests, placements will be made in locations close to or within the communities where students have ties. This is in support of the program’s mission to develop health care providers for the underserved areas of Arizona.

Students are responsible for the cost of housing and transportation during this phase of the program.

31.  How can I meet others who are interested in becoming PAs and continue to learn about the profession and local programs? 

The three Arizona state universities all have Pre-PA Clubs for their enrolled students. Additionally, Paradise Valley Community College also has a Pre-PA club for enrollees who are interested in the profession. Each club sponsors activities and speakers relevant to the profession and are great resources for support and information. 

32.  How do I make an appointment to meet with a program advisor?

Due to the volume of inquires we receive, we are not able to schedule individual appointments in most cases.  However, we do address all telephone and email inquiries as quickly as we can, and we will review transcripts upon request.  Additionally, tours of the Health Sciences Education Building are conducted twice a month (see schedule: ).  Time permitting, questions will be answered both during and after the tours.  To sign up for a tour, please call 602-827-2450.


NAU Pre-PA Club
Alesha Estrada

UA Pre-PA Club
Jennifer Mingo 

ASU Pre-PA Club
Elizabeth Sortais

ASU Polytechnic Campus Pre-PA Club
Toni Seaman

Paradise Valley Community College Pre-PA Club
Georgi Vasilas