Physician Assistant School - Timeline

It is important to create a timeline for yourself when applying to PA programs but perhaps more importantly, your timeline should be flexible. Course scheduling, extra-curricular activities, deadline changes, etc. all contribute to the need of having flexibility in your timeline.

For specific application deadline dates, you should always check individual PA program websites. An online list of PA programs by state, including admissions deadlines, entrance requirements, credentials awarded, fees etc. can be found on the PAEA website and is available to students for a one-year subscription of $35.

Generally applications are submitted one year prior to the year you plan to attend. It is always a good idea to apply early. Applying early can help you avoid delays, allow for timely processing and improve your chances of being admitted to schools using rolling admissions.

Here is a timeline that you should consider prior to and while applying to schools.


Prior to Applying
  • Take prerequisite courses and meet with advisors
  • Begin to establish and develop “contacts” with professors, GSIs, campus staff members, community members, employment supervisors, etc.
  • Open a Letter Service file.
  • Begin researching PA programs
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities to acquire the skills and experience to stand out as an applicant, i.e, join a student org, volunteer, work or research activities.
  • Consider taking additional vocational coursework to earn a certificate so you can work as a paraprofessional (i.e., paramedic, community health worker, medical assistant, or phlebotomist) in a healthcare setting and start accumulating direct patient contact hours. 
  • Prepare for and take the GRE – Register and choose from approximately several dates but it is recommended you take the GRE well in advance of applying to PA programs.  Because application submission deadline dates vary, there is no ideal time to take the GRE.
  • Attend various health professional school workshops, graduate school fairs, etc.
  • Order and collect official transcripts from ALL colleges and universities that you have attended.
  • Gather Letters of Recommendation.
The Application Cycle
  • Should be taking the GRE or waiting for the release of your score from an earlier test. It is a good idea to take an earlier test dates and help avoid delays. 
  • Confirm deadline dates for individual PA programs.  (many California schools have deadlines in late Summer/early Fall)
  • Begin to fill out and submit applications for PA programs. If applicable, contact CASPA, or individual schools directly for specific questions that are not found in their instruction manuals
  • Have letters of recommendation sent to individual schools or CASPA - check individual schools for specific criteria
  • CASPA verifies primary application & begins releasing application to schools within four weeks of receipt
  • Continue to work, volunteer, etc.
Last stages of the Application Cycle
  • Several PA programs interview candidates.
  • Make an appointment for a Mock Interview with a pre-health advisor at the Career Center.
  • When interviews are completed, schools inform applicants of admission status. Admissions decision processes and timelines vary between PA programs.

Back to Physician Assistant School home