Frequently Asked Questions | Physician Assistant Studies

COVID-19 Specific Questions

Do you accept Pass/No Pass courses for prerequisites?

We currently accept Pass/No Pass grades for our statistics and psychology/sociology prerequisites. In light of the situation, we will accept Pass/No Pass grades for our science prerequisites that were taken in 2020 as well. We will not accept science pass/no pass courses taken in any other year. 

My institution just went to all online courses, will you accept those?

Yes, we have always accepted online coursework and labs from any regionally accredited institution. 

My Patient Care Experience, shadowing or volunteer experiences have been altered due to COVID-19, how can I let you know that in the application? 

CASPA has added an optional essay question so that applicants can describe the ways COVID-19 has impacted them. It also asks for how COVID-19 has impacted students academically and personally. We will take that information into consideration in the review process.

Will health screener, COVID-19 screener and contact tracer be accepted as Patient Care Experience? 

While those experiences can be of value to you in your path to become a PA, we will not be accepting those hours as Patient Care Experience. If those are only a portion of your job duties and the other duties are more traditional, than potentially we will accept those hours. For any questions about Patient Care Experience, please email Leah Baldwin:

In light of COVID-19, will you be accepting remote patient care experiences?

We will review remote patient care experiences on a case by case basis. In general, if the job duties are fundamentally the same and we already consider them as patient care experience (as in scribing) we will accept it.

Standard Frequently Asked Questions

When did the PA program start?

Pacific University’s School of Physician Assistant Studies brought in their first class in 1997 and they graduated in 1999. The program was moved to the newly constructed Health Professions Campus in Hillsboro, OR in 2006.

Is the program accredited?

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Pacific University Physician Assistant Program. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

What type of degree does this program offer?

Upon the successful completion of the 27-month continuous program, graduates will receive a master of science in physician assistant studies degree.

Do you offer a bachelor’s level PA program?

No we do not offer a bachelor’s program. Please see details about our bachelor degree completion program for those wishing to enter our master’s level program without a bachelor’s degree.

What is unique about your didactic curriculum?

The didactic curriculum is organized into blocks to allow for a comprehensive and integrated approach to learning medicine across the lifespan by organ system. There is a strong emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, case-based learning and evidence based clinical practice. Each clinical medicine module contains anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, clinical skills, laboratory studies, study of disease states, pharmacology, behavioral medicine, preventive medicine, and evidence based healthcare (EBHC). Please visit our curriculum page for more details.

Where are your clinical rotations?

Our clinical rotations are located throughout the United States. While they are primarily in the western half of the US, we do offer rotations in Alaska, Hawaii and the east coast as well. Our clinical team works with each individual student to establish a plan for their rotations. Their first priority is making sure each student receives the education they need to graduate and be a successful clinician. Geographic and specialty preferences are then taken into consideration but cannot be guaranteed. It is not possible for any student to have their clinical rotations in one location and students are expected to travel. The School believes that a student is better prepared by having the opportunity to practice with a variety of patient demographics. International rotations are offered and students apply to complete one during their clinical year if desired.

Do I have to move to Hillsboro, OR?

Yes, our didactic curriculum is taught in person at our Hillsboro Health Professions Campus and not online.

When do you start a new class?

We bring in a new class once a year and they begin at the end of May. The program is approximately 27 months in length so graduation takes place in August.

What’s your class size?

We start a new class of 60 students each year.

Do you offer a cadaver lab?

Yes, our PA students utilize and have access to our Human Anatomy Lab with cadavers here on our Hillsboro campus. The Lab is shared by all of our health profession programs.

Do I need a completed bachelor's degree to apply?

A Bachelor's Degree is not required, but is often obtained prior to matriculation. Please see details about our bachelor degree completion program for those wishing to enter our master’s level program without a bachelor’s degree.

What type of experience qualifies for the minimum 1,000 hours of direct patient care?

Please review the information found here for Patient Care Experience.

A minimum of 1,000 hours of direct (hands-on) patient care/health care experience in a position of responsibility is required of all applicants. Shadow experience with a Physician Assistant may count towards the requirement, but will not fulfill the requirement completely.

Please note: The Admissions Committee will consider the total number of hours accumulated "at the time" you submit your CASPA application.

No consideration will be given to hours projected for the future.

If you have questions regarding your hours, please contact Leah Baldwin at

How do I document my patient contact experience?

The method to document this experience is through the CASPA online application.

Does all of my direct clinical patient care experience need to be completed by the time I apply to the program?

Yes, you must have completed at least 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience when your application is submitted. The committee will not accept hours projected for the future.

How can I make sure I’ve taken the correct prerequisites?

We recommend completing and submitting the prerequisite worksheet with a copy of your unofficial transcripts for review by the Graduate Admissions contact (Leah Baldwin) for the program. The prerequisite worksheet can be downloaded and printed. Instructions are included on the worksheet of how to submit it.

When do prerequisites need to be completed?

In order for students to be eligible to enter the program, prerequisites must be completed by December 31st of the year prior to entry. For example, if a student is interested in starting our program in May 2023, prerequisites must be completed by December 31, 2022.

Is there a time limitation on the required prerequisite coursework?

Anatomy and Physiology courses must have been completed within seven years of matriculation (the start of the program). Other course work and degree completion has no time limitation. We ask applicants to use their best judgment in ensuring their ability to understand the foundational concepts of biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry and statistics in preparation for the program.

Do you offer any waiver for the seven year expiration of Anatomy and Physiology?

We do not offer any waiver or exemption of the seven year Anatomy and Physiology expiration. We feel students are most successful when they have had an academic class of Anatomy and Physiology recently.

What can I do if my Anatomy and Physiology has expired?

You do not need to take the entire series over again. We will accept one course or one term as a refresher. You can take a standalone Anatomy (with lab) course or a standalone Physiology (no lab required) course. You can also take one term of a combined course (the entire series is not required).

Will you accept community college credit or online credit?

We will accept credit as long as the institution is regionally accredited and the course is the appropriate level.

Do you require the GRE, MCAT, CASPer or PA-CAT to apply to the program? Will my application be more competitive if I take any of those tests?

No, our program does not require any of those tests to apply. While the CASPA application will allow applicants to submit test scores, the Admissions Committee does not consider this information within its evaluation of an application.

Do you require a minimum GPA to apply to the program?

Yes. The Biology, Chemistry and Physics (BCP), GPA and the last 45 credits GPA must be above a 3.0 to be eligible.

What if my GPA is below the minimum requirements?

Pacific University will not review applications that do not meet minimum criteria.

What are your average GPAs?

Pacific focuses on two main GPAs; the Science BCP GPA and the last 45 credits GPA. For both, the average is usually around a 3.60 to 3.80. Check our class profile for more information.

Is Pacific University on rolling admissions?

No, we are not on rolling admissions. An applicant is not more competitive if they submit their materials early. All applicants who meets the deadlines will have the same chance at an interview.

Do I fill out the CASPA first and then will Pacific send me the Supplemental Application?

No, both are available on this website. Pacific needs to receive both applications before evaluation and an applicant can submit the applications in any order.

When will I hear from the program?

We do not utilize a rolling admissions process. It's possible that an applicant will not hear from us until after the deadlines have passed and throughout the fall/winter. All communication will come to the email you gave to CASPA. To ensure notifications are received, designate and as “safe” sources on your e-mail contact list. This will avoid your inbox from filtering important messages as SPAM.

Is there a difference in tuition if I am an in-state resident or an out-of-state resident?

Pacific University is a private liberal arts institution which does not require in-state residence or hold a preference for in-state candidates. Our tuition fees are the same for all applicants, in-state or out-of-state.

If I am an internationally trained medical professional, what steps must I take to apply?

We require all international students to obtain a valid and current F-1 visa or have permanent residency in the United States to apply to our program. In addition, all international based education must be evaluated by a credentials evaluator such as World Education ServicesAcademic Credentials Evaluation Institute or Education Credential Evaluators.

In addition, international students may need to prove English proficiency.

What resources does the program provide for financial aid, housing, health insurance, student life, etc.?

We recommend completing a FAFSA application starting January 1 for the academic year you intend to enroll in our program. The FAFSA application can be completed at the FAFSA website. Pacific University is a participant in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) which provides subsidized and unsubsidized loans to students based on need. You can find more details through the Office of Financial Aid

In addition, the Pacific University School of Physician Assistant Studies program offers a competitive Community Service Scholarship to four incoming students each year. Students apply for this after they start classes in the PA program.

Our graduate students generally reside in off-campus housing within Hillsboro and the surrounding communities. Once admitted into the program, internal resource networking and housing opportunities are shared amongst current students. Pacific does not have any on-campus housing opportunities in Hillsboro.

Pacific University offers a wide and comprehensive variety of resources including healthcare and counseling services, accessibility & accommodation services, student government and outdoor recreational programs.

If I have questions about the program or process, who can I contact?

Please call or email Leah Baldwin, Associate Director of Graduate and Professional Admissions: 503-352-7224,