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Idaho State University

Admissions: Frequently Asked Questions

Application Questions:

Question: How do I get an application?
Answer: You must complete two applications, which are available online:

  1. The Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) application; and,
  2. The Idaho State University Graduate School application. (Click on the "Apply Now" button.) When completing the Graduate School application, select the Fall semester for the year you are applying for admission. You are applying for entrance the year after you submit your application.


Question: When are applications available?
Answer: Applications are available from CASPA the middle of April. Applications for the Graduate School may be accessed online at anytime.

Question: When are applications due?
Answer: The application deadline is November 1. Both the application to CASPA and to the ISU Graduate School (click on the "Apply Now" button) must be submitted by this date.

Question: May I send my PA Program application directly to ISU?
Answer: No. You must apply through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants, or CASPA. The CASPA application requires official transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation and an application fee. CASPA's application cycle opens up the middle of April and the application deadline is November 1.

You must also submit an application to Idaho State University's Graduate School (click on the "Apply Now" button). The Graduate School application requires transcripts, GRE scores and an application fee. When completing the Graduate School application, select the Fall semester for the year you are applying for admission.

CASPA does not send your transcripts to Idaho State University. At the time of application, transcripts submitted through the Graduate School application may be unofficial, however certain features must be present for them to be accepted, including: The student's name, the institution's wordmark or logo in the header, courses, credits, terms, grades, and the date(s) of any awarded degrees. Once an applicant is accepted to the PA Program, the Graduate School will require official transcripts to be sent.

Question: What process does the program use to review applications?
Answer: An overview of the application review process may be found on the Admission Process page.


Prerequisite Questions:

Question: What are the prerequisite courses required for admission?
Answer: See the PA Program Admission Requirements for the prerequisite course information.

Question: Is online prerequisite course work accepted?
Answer: Online course work is accepted as long as it is taken from an US regionally accredited institution.

Question: What courses at Idaho State University meet the prerequisite requirements?
Answer: A list of Idaho State University courses that meet the prerequisite requirements can be reached from the Admission Requirements page via the link in section #2.

Question: What kinds of statistics courses will meet the Statistics prerequisite requirement?
Answer: Statistics in any field (such as Psychology, Sociology, Biology, Mathematics) will meet this requirement. Generally, Research Methods courses do not meet this requirement. Please call the Program if you have questions (208-282-4726).

Question: Can prerequisite courses be substituted with other/similar courses?
Answer: Typically the answer is no. Please call the Program if you have questions (208-282-4726).

Question: Will Organic Chemistry, Introduction to Organic and Biochemistry, or Introduction to Bio-Organic Chemistry meet the Biochemistry prerequisite?
Answer: Organic Chemistry, Introduction to Organic and Biochemistry, and Introduction to Bio-Organic Chemistry will not meet the Biochemistry prerequisite requirement. Courses that meet the Biochemistry prerequisite requirement will have titles such as Introduction to Biochemistry (no other topic in the title), Medical Biochemistry, Biochemistry, General Biochemistry or Fundamentals of Biochemistry. Please call the Program if you have questions (208-282-4726).

Question: Will Introduction to Psychology or General Psychology meet the Abnormal Psychology or Developmental Psychology through the Lifespan prerequisite requirement?
Answer: No, Introduction to Psychology and General Psychology do not meet the Abnormal Psychology or Developmental Psychology through the Lifespan prerequisite requirement. You must have a course in Abnormal Psychology or Developmental Psychology through the Lifespan (birth to death which includes childhood, adolescence and adult developmental psychology).

Question: May I have prerequisites in progress at the time of application to the program?
Answer: First-time applicants may have up to two prerequisite courses in progress during the spring semester of the year you are applying for admission. All prerequisite coursework and degree coursework must be completed and posted to official transcripts by June 30 of the year you are applying for admission. Proof of registration and progress may be required to verify course enrollment. For example, if you are applying for the class entering Fall 2018, the deadline would be November 1, 2017. Two prerequisite courses may be in progress during the spring semester of 2018. All course work and degree work would need to be completed by June 30, 2018. Re-applicants must have all prerequisite coursework completed and may not have any prerequisites in progress at the time of their re-application.

Question: Are any exceptions made for the semesters impacted by COVID-19?
Answer: Idaho State University's Physician Assistant Studies Program has instituted an exception in regards to non-letter grades awarded to prerequisite coursework during Winter, Spring, or Summer 2020 semesters. Due to many institutions offering P/F or S/U grades during the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants displaying a P/F or S/U grade on prerequisite coursework taken during affected semesters will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine the best way to calculate an applicant's file score. Methods may include the substitution of the applicant's science GPA or a course grade of B in place of the P/F or S/U grade in calculations of an applicant's prerequisite GPA for their file score.

Question: What grades on prerequisite courses are required in order to apply?
Answer: The cumulative prerequisite GPA must be 3.0 or higher AND each course must have a grade of C or better.

Question: How does the ISU PA Program calculate the grades for prerequisite courses that have been re-taken?
Answer: Revised policy as of 9/26/2017: Prerequisite courses must be less than 10 years of age, have a grade of C or better, and a cumulative Prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or higher. The grade from the original course that meets these requirements will be used in the calculation of the Prerequisite GPA. To replace the original grade, the applicant must have completed the course and have a posted final grade for the completed retake. The retake has to be completed by mid-December of the year the application is submitted.

Example: If an applicant took a Microbiology course for 4 credits and received a C grade, the applicant could retake the course as late as the Fall semester of the same year of the application deadline. The C grade would be used in the calculation of the Prerequisite GPA until the grade from the Fall semester retake is received. The course will have to be completed and the grade received by mid-December. The Prerequisite GPA will be recalculated with the best grade received for Microbiology at the time the retake is completed.


Health Care Experience Questions:

Question: What kind of health care experience are you looking for?
Answer: Health care experience is not a specific requirement for admission into the Program. It is strongly recommended that applicants shadow a physician assistant and seek out as much information as possible concerning what a physician assistant's role is and what daily functions are performed by a physician assistant. It is important that one is very familiar with the career he/she is planning to enter. Additional information about the physician assistant career can be found on the American Academy of Physician Assistants website.


GRE Questions:

Question: Do I need to take the GRE?
Answer: Yes. The GRE is required for admission to the ISU PA Program. See ETS for information about testing locations and scheduling the exam.

Please note: It is up to individual ISU graduate programs to determine whether or not the GRE is required. The PA program does require the GRE! While the Graduate Catalog states that applicants with a GPA of 3.5-4.0 for the last 60 credits taken, the PA Program always requires the GRE.

Question: What are the minimum scores required for the GRE?
Answer: The average GRE scores for the top applicants offered seats over the past few years may be found on the program's website on the Admission Statistics page.

The program follows the minimum GRE score guidelines used by the Graduate School. These guidelines are published in the Graduate Catalog. The first line of information that indicates a last 60 credits taken GPA of 3.5 - 4.00 does not require the GRE is not correct for the PA program. You must take the GRE for admission to the ISU PA program.

Question: Do I need to take a subject test for the GRE?
Answer: No, just the general test of the GRE is required. The GRE School Code for ISU is 4355 and the GRE Department Code is 0634. See ETS for testing locations and exam scheduling.

Question: Will the MCAT be accepted in place of the GRE?
Answer: No. The MCAT cannot be substituted for the GRE.


Program Cost and Financial Aid:

Question: How much does the program cost?
Answer: Cost is subject to change. See the Tuition & Fees page for estimated cost.

Question: Is financial aid available?
Answer: Yes, in many cases. See the Financial Resources section of the Tuition & Fees page for more information.

Question: How are "Program Fees" used?
Answer: Program fees pay for the PA program's budget.

Question: Is there on-campus housing?
Answer: Campus housing is available at the Pocatello campus. See Housing.


General Information:

Question: Is the ISU PA Program accredited?
Answer: Yes. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA). The program has been accredited since 1996. ARC-PA's statement regarding the ISU PA Program's accreditation may be found on the Accreditation page.

Question: What degree does the Idaho State University Department of Physician Assistant Studies offer?
Answer: Graduates of our program receive a Master's degree in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS).

Question: Must I have a bachelor's degree to enter the program?
Answer: Yes. Your bachelor's degree must be completed by June 30th of the year you are applying to enter (the year after you submit your application).

Question: What major degree does the Program prefer?
Answer: Virtually all bachelor's degrees from regionally accredited institutions are accepted. The prerequisite courses will prepare you for the Program's curriculum.

Question: How many students / graduates have passed the NCCPA (PANCE) examination?
Answer: See the Five Year First Time Pass Rate for details.

Question: How many people apply to the ISU PA program each year?
Answer: This information be found at Admission Statistics.

Question: How many open positions are available in the ISU PA program each year?
Answer: Thirty-six seats are offered at the Meridian campus and 24 seats are offered at the Pocatello campus. The program has entered a partnership with The College of Idaho located in Caldwell, Idaho which adds an additional 12 seats for a total class size of 72.

Question: How important is one's GPA?
Answer: You must have a minimum cumulative prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or higher and a grade of C or better in each prerequisite course in order for your application packet to be considered for review. As with any other university or college, higher GPAs are more competitive. Your goal is to be competitive and academically prepared to successfully handle the demands of the Program's curriculum. Although the Admissions Committee does not base its decision solely on grade point averages, the initial application review is based on prerequisite GPA and GRE scores. The Program's process for reviewing applications may be found on the Admissions Process page.


Background Checks:

Question: Will a felony, misdemeanor, or withheld judgment prevent me from applying to the program?
Answer: As part of the clinical year program students are placed in off-campus sites for clinical training. Clinical training sites may require criminal background checks prior to placement at that facility. Conviction of a felony, misdemeanor or withheld judgment may result in a student being denied a clinical assignment which, in turn, may cause the student to be unable to complete the program. Further, conviction of a felony, misdemeanor or withheld judgment may prevent a student from obtaining licensure as a Physician Assistant. Licensure laws vary by state.

For example, some clinical sites specify the following regarding student background checks:

The student may not have a history or criminal record (including conviction, plea agreement, withheld judgment, or pending charges) concerning any of the following crimes (felony or misdemeanor): (1) sexual assault, rape, indecent exposure, lewd and lascivious behavior, or any crime involving non-consensual sexual conduct; (2) child abuse or neglect, sexual exploitation of children, child abduction, contributing to the delinquency or neglect of a child, enticing a child for immoral purposes, exposing a minor to pornography or other harmful materials, incest, or any other crime involving children as victims or participants; (3) vulnerable adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation; (4) homicide or manslaughter; (5) assault or battery occurring within the prior seven years; (6) drug trafficking or other offenses involving narcotics, alcohol or controlled substances during the prior five years; (7) theft, embezzlement, fraud, or other crimes involving dishonesty committed during the prior five years; (8) driving under the influence during the prior two years if the Student's duties in the Program may involve driving; and (9) any felony conviction.