The Application Process

CASPA and non-CASPA programs

Some professional programs require that you apply through a central application service, e.g., the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA); whereas others require that you apply directly to the program itself instead of through the central application service. Therefore, if you are applying to both CASPA and non-CASPA programs, you will need to meticulously follow two or more application processes. Attention to detail is critically important.

About 80% of all US PA programs require applicants to submit an application, letters of reference, and other materials through CASPA.

When to Apply

Application cycles vary considerably; some PA programs begin during the summer, some in the fall, and others in the spring. Thus, application cycles occur roughly 8 to 11 months prior to when admitted applicants will begin the PA program itself.

  • PA program application cycles and deadlines are different from the CASPA application cycle!
  • The "CASPA application cycle" consists of the 11 months out of each year during which the CASPA application is available. The CASPA cycle opens in mid-April of each year, and closes in mid-March of the next year. In the year you plan to apply, it is recommended that you open a CASPA account once CASPA announces that the new application cycle has opened (i.e., mid-April).
  • Within the CASPA application cycle, each CASPA program will have its own application cycle, i.e., its own opening and closing date.


Indiana University MPAS Program essay requirement: Most PA programs require applicants to submit a personal essay. The Indiana University MPAS program requires that applicants submit a "directed essay," a response to a specific question posed by the program. In the past the question has usually centered on the applicant's reasons for pursuing the PA profession, plus rationale for applying to the IU program in particular.

Letters of recommendation & CASPA

Indiana University Physician Assistant Program recommendation requirements: The IU PA program requires that applicants submit letters of reference through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA).  In addition, it is important that in the year leading up to your application, you read the HPPLC guidelines related to the PA application process, including information about when to apply, common mistakes to avoid, and so on.

Admission interviews

Indiana University Physician Assistant Program admission interview: The IU MPAS program interviews approximately 3 applicants for every 1 applicant admitted. Interviews are held on the IUPUI campus, normally November through December, with admission decisions normally occurring in December.

As with many program interview processes, you should plan to arrive early and spend the entire day on campus, unless you learn otherwise from the given program.

Certification in Basic Life Support (BLS) for Health Care Providers

Prior to beginning professional coursework, many programs require that you become certified for adult, child, and infant CPR, commonly referred to as BLS certification, Health Care Provider CPR, or CPR for the Professional Rescuer. Training courses are offered for a fee through the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.