Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

Is the UNT Health Science Center PA Program accredited?

Yes, the UNTHSC PA Program has been accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission for the Education of Physician Assistants (ARC-PA) since 1997.

What is the length of the program and what degree is awarded?

One class is admitted each year in mid-July and graduation takes place 34 months later (in May). Successful students are awarded a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree from the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

What does the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) curriculum consist of?

The curriculum is approximately 34 months long and divided into pre-clinical and clinical phases. The preclinical phase consists mostly of classroom studies, however introductions to clinical experiences, medical interviewing, physical examination and critical thinking occurs from the very first semester. Classroom lectures and small group activities are led by faculty who come from diverse backgrounds ranging from primary care to specialized medical and surgical disciplines. The clinical phase involves sending PA students to clinics and hospitals located throughout Fort Worth, Texas and beyond. During these experiences, PA students work directly with physicians and PA preceptors seeing actual patients in real-life settings. In these hands-on environments, faculty and adjunct faculty work with students to develop clinical skills under close supervision.

As a student, what methods are used to evaluate my performance?

Successful completion of the curriculum will depend upon the student's ability to demonstrate knowledge, attitudes, and skills commonly held by a graduate physician assistants working in a primary care setting. The use of a trained intermediary by the student is not permitted. Technological compensation and/or reasonable accommodation can be made in certain areas, but the student should be able to perform the PA competencies in a reasonably independent manner. Frequency of examinations and evaluations are determined according to the volume and types of material covered. Methods used for evaluating student performance include written examination, multiple choice, matching, true/false, short answer and essay-type questions and demonstrations of skills, such as using a microscope, suturing tissues together, interviewing, performing physical examinations on other individuals of both male and female gender, problem-solving, and participating in group discussions. In some courses, completing research and written reports are required. Evaluation will often require students to demonstrate visual, somatic, communicative, analytical, behavioral and discriminatory skills. Participation effort may be also evaluated when measuring performance. Student's professionalism is also assessed and graded. Students will be expected and required to behave and interact with faculty, staff, patients and healthcare workers from all cultures and backgrounds in an ethical and professional manner.

Once enrolled, can I choose where I go for my clinical rotations?

No. Clinical rotations are assigned by the program faculty based upon the needs of the student and upon availability of clinical sites. The PA student is not required to arrange their own clinical rotation sites.

How many candidates are accepted to the program each year?

75 new students were admitted in 2012 & 2013.

How competitive is it to gain acceptance into the PA program?

The selection process is highly competitive. Applications are welcomed regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. The UNTHSC PA Studies program receives a large number of applications each year. Applicants must meet all minimum prerequisite qualifications to be considered. When applicable, efforts to improve qualifications compared with a previous application may also be considered.

Do you interview applicants?

Yes. For the most competitive applicants, interviews are conducted by invitation. Failure to appear for a scheduled interview will result in automatic applicant rejection.

How competitive is it to gain an interview?

Typically between 10 and 20% of applicants are invited to interview. Selection for an interview is based on information contained in the CASPA and secondary applications, as well as GRE scores, including academic and personal achievements. Interviews are structured to evaluate a candidate's interpersonal skills, communication skills, time management skills, and other professional characteristics including motivation for entry into the PA career field.

What are the characteristics of an ideal candidate?

The goal of the admissions process is to identify the applicants who are most likely to succeed in the Master of Physician Assistant Studies curriculum, contribute to meeting the overall intent of the program's mission and to practice successfully as a physician assistant. An ideal candidate would have a strong work and moral ethic; knowledge of and a desire to enter into the PA profession. Successful applicants have a mixture of achievements in life, work, and academics and will have a commitment to satisfying the tenets of a challenging professional career in medicine.

Are there any groups or categories of students who receive special favor during the admissions process?

No. All candidates are considered equally for admission to the program.

How important is grade point average (GPA) in the competitive admissions process?

The minimum required cumulative GPA for admission is 2.85 as calculated by CASPA. A minimum science GPA is not required. Maintaining the minimum required GPA is not necessarily equivalent to achieving a competitive GPA. What is considered competitive varies according to the quality of the applicant pool during each application cycle. The average overall GPA for the entering class of 2013 was 3.57. Students in the entering class of 2013 achieved overall GPAs that ranged from 3.03 to 4.0. The Admissions Committee does not base decisions solely on an applicant's GPA. The overall quality and breadth of academic preparation is also considered along with our other application selection factors.

Is there a minimum required grade in prerequisite coursework?

All prerequisite courses must be passed with a grade of 'C' or better (2.0 on a 4.0 scale). Higher scores in prerequisite coursework improve an applicant's chance for selection.

Do prerequisite coursework credits expire?

No. There are no restrictions placed on how long ago prerequisite courses can be satisfied. Please keep in mind that the content knowledge gained from prerequisite coursework is necessary for success in the PA Studies Program.

Is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) required?

Yes. You must submit a GRE score report for consideration. Our reporting code is 6380. Your application will not be reviewed until we have received an official score from Educational Testing Services. All applicants are required to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections) that were received no more than five years prior to application to the program. There are no waivers to the GRE score requirement, and other test scores cannot be accepted in lieu of official GRE scores. Applicants whose scores are older than five years must submit an updated GRE score. Applicants who have completed other advanced degrees are still required to submit an official GRE score report for consideration.

Is shadowing a PA required for admission into the program?

No. Shadowing is not required; however it is an excellent way for an applicant to personally experience and reflect upon the physician assistant career. The Admissions Committee will evaluate your knowledge of the field as one selection factor.

Is it beneficial to have healthcare experience before applying to the program?

Yes. Health care experience can be very beneficial for an applicant for many reasons, and healthcare experience is strongly encouraged. Healthcare experience is not a mandatory admission requirement, but will bolster the competitive nature of an application. If you are working to gain this type of experience, you should keep in mind that prior healthcare experience provides you with greater awareness of the role of the PA and other healthcare professionals involved with direct patient care. Familiarity with healthcare systems, patient care environments, professional roles, terminology and procedures will ease your transitions into the PA role.

What are my chances of getting accepted into the program?

A variety of people with various backgrounds apply to the program each year, and a variety of applicants are accepted. There is no way to predict who will or will not be admitted nor can any guarantees be offered about any potential admittance. A good strategy is to make sure you have met all of the prerequisite requirements before applying, become as knowledgeable as possible about the PA career, and then prepare yourself for acceptance by making your application and interview as strong as possible.

If I am accepted into the program, when do classes begin?

Each year a required one-week orientation is scheduled in mid to late July, classes commence the following week.

Can I attend this program part time?

No, all students must enroll on a full time basis.

Does the program accept transfer students?

No. All students accepted into the Master of Physician Assistant Studies curriculum must participate in the competitive admissions process. The program does not admit transfer students from other PA programs.

Does the program ever award advanced placement to students in the program?

Advance placement and/or course waivers may only be considered once the student is already enrolled in the program and only is granted when that student has: 1) successfully completed the exact or nearly exact same course as that listed in the current MPAS curriculum; 2) taken the exact or nearly exact same course within 3 years of enrollment into the MPAS curriculum; 3) completed the exact or nearly exact same course with a letter grade of B or better; and 4) has obtained written approval of the Director of PA Studies.

Advance placement/course waivers may not be offered or approved during the admissions process. Requests for advance placement or a course waiver must be initiated by the student in writing within 5 class days of enrollment into the MPAS curriculum. No requests for course exemption will be considered after that time. Approval of advanced placement and/or course exemption is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Do you accept out of state residents?

Yes.

Is there a deadline to complete prerequisite coursework?

Yes, prerequisite coursework must be completed by December 31st of the year you apply. In other words, an applicant planning to enroll in July must complete all prerequisite requirements by December 31st of the preceding year. There are no exceptions to this deadline.

Can I interview even though I haven't finished all of my prerequisites?

Yes, it is possible to be invited to interview even before all prerequisites have been completed, however applicants who do not complete the prerequisite coursework with passing grades will have their applications automatically withdrawn. Failure to complete prerequisite courses by the deadline results in withdrawal of your application and/or forfeiture of your admission into the program.

Can I complete prerequisite courses at a community college?

Yes. Prerequisite coursework can be completed at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university, however, upper division coursework that will satisfy our requirement for either Biochemistry or Cell Biology is not offered at the community college level.

How should I report coursework completed outside the U.S.?

Applicants with college or university level coursework taken outside the United States, who choose to apply that study toward meeting the prerequisite requirements, must carefully follow the instructions contained in the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistant (CASPA) application.

Applicants should also keep in mind that the CASPA does not determine if specific prerequisite requirements have been met. Those decisions are made at UNTHSC and must adhere to written policy. Once it is been determined that an applicant has satisfied all prerequisite requirements for enrollment, their application along with credentials from non-U.S. colleges or universities are processed with the same consideration as all other applicants.

Please note that although foreign coursework may be acceptable, there is no waiver to the academic requirement for an earned bachelor's degree from a U.S. regionally-accredited college or university. The requirement for a bachelor's degree from a U.S. regionally-accredited institution will not be waived and exceptions are not permitted. Foreign degrees are not considered equivalent nor are they accepted in lieu of an earned bachelor's degree from the U.S.

Can I substitute coursework for prerequisite requirements?

No, substitutions are not permitted. If you have a question regarding whether a particular course will satisfy a prerequisite requirement, e-mail PAAdmissions@unthsc.edu with the name of the institution, the course number and name, a copy of the course description and a direct link to the institution’s catalog for review.

Will I be able to work while enrolled in the program?

PA students are not prohibited from working while enrolled in the MPAS curriculum, however due to the amount of study and intensive nature of the curriculum students are generally discouraged from obtaining or maintaining employment while enrolled. No special academic accommodations or scheduling arrangements will be made or granted for students who choose to work while enrolled. In addition, PA students are not permitted to engage in any paid or salaried role in conjunction with completion of their clinical rotations.

How many of your graduates pass the NCCPA certifying examination on the first try?

Please refer to our Pass Rate Summary Report for the most up-to-date information.

Does the program require me to own a laptop computer?

Yes, enrolled students pay a technology fee and are issued a new laptop computer during orientation.

Does the program have a Health and Technical Standards policy for enrollment?

Yes. Please refer to our Health and Technical Standards page.

Does the program require completion of a master's or research project in order to graduate?

Yes. All students enrolled in the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program must successfully complete a master's project and receive a passing grade in order to graduate. Faculty will guide, monitor, and assess the quality of the student's work in this process.

What if I still have questions?

You may e-mail us at PAAdmissions@unthsc.edu or call us at 817-735-2003 for more information. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM.

This page last updated 20th Dec 2013