Applying To PA Schools - CASPA

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The next application cycle on CASPA starts in exactly 3 weeks! I cannot believe it will be a year since I started applying to PA schools. Man does time fly by. I remember thinking how the application cycle would drag on and it would take so much patience on my part to sit tight and wait for the interview season to begin. While that is partially true, I will say that looking back on it, it feels like the last application cycle happened a very long time ago. So as you're getting ready to begin your application, remember to enjoy this phase of your life as well, because no matter how tedious gathering paperwork is, it does go by a lot faster than you think! I already did a post on how to choose a PA school, so today I'm going to share some tips about using CASPA.

Tips for the CASPA application


I cannot emphasize this enough. This is my first and possibility the most important advice I can give you. Most programs look at applications on a rolling cycle basis. This means that it's basically first come first serve and the sooner you apply, the higher your chances of getting in. If you're a 4.0 student with 2000+ hrs of healthcare experience but don't apply till a month before a program's deadline, you cannot bank on your strong application anymore since they've probably already accepted a lot of students with stats similar to yours. Apply as early as you possibly can because CASPA takes a few weeks to verify your GPA before it sends it out to your schools. I applied within a month of the application cycle opening and got my first interview invite in mid August.

2) Get your LORs in order

Most of your Letter of Recommendations come from PAs, doctors, and professors and all of those professionals lead very busy lives. You may have to keep bugging them to get your letter done. I suggest you get every person's email address beforehand and save it on your computer. Tell them to be on the lookout for an email from CASPA towards the end of April and send them another email when you do send the request. When the application cycle begins, I suggest the first thing you do is enter their email addresses and send them the request that very same day! My professor was really on top of it and literally submitted my LOR the exact day the cycle opened, which is when I sent him the request. That was one less person I had to worry about and I was so grateful for that.

3) Entering your coursework

Request an official transcript from all the universities you have attended before entering your coursework. If you enter any coursework and it doesn't match with your official transcript, CASPA will return your application. It's also a good idea to have your official transcript for your records.

4) Sending your GRE scores

When you take your GRE, you'll get the chance to send your scores to 3 schools before the end of your test. Have at least 3 programs picked out by the time you take your GRE so you can opt to send your scores to them. You want to do this because sending GRE scores afterwards to all of your programs gets expensive! I think it was $25 per school if I remember correctly. Also, keep in mind that each program has a different GRE code. ETS sends your scores directly to CASPA using this specific code that you enter while requesting additional score reports.

5) Answer any additional questions

Even if they are optional! Once you add the schools you want to apply to, each program will have their own requirements (including pre-reqs) listed along with a questions section. Some programs won't have any questions and others might. It's a good idea to go ahead and answer those questions even if they are optional or you will most likely be asked to answer them at your interview (like I did).

6) Personal Statement

Start writing now if you haven't already! It takes a lot of rewriting and editing before you have a personal statement you're satisfied with. I had multiple people read and edit my personal statement for me before I even thought about submitting it. I typed my personal statement in Microsoft Word before I copy pasted it to the box in the Essay section in CASPA. Once you paste it in there, make sure your paragraphs are separated and the format is easy for the admissions committee to follow. No crazy fonts!

7) Deadlines

CASPA and the programs you're applying to are going to have different deadlines. So although CASPA may allow you to still submit your application, make sure you haven't passed the deadline to apply to that specific program. In the same way, each program is going to have a different deadline, but all of them will require your application to be submitted through CASPA. This is another reason to apply as early as possible to make sure you don't miss any deadlines.

8) Academic update

You're allowed to update your coursework and experience section of your application once it's verified. However, this is only for classes that are already listed as "In Progress" or if you're adding future courses / new experiences. CASPA will not update your GPA once your application is verified and your updated transcripts should be sent directly to your selected programs. Make sure you don't forget to send in your updated transcripts!

9) Print your application

My parents are always telling me to have a hard copy of everything important, especially for the things that are submitted electronically. Your PA school application is a chunk of important information that you want to make sure you have a copy of in your hands. God forbid if something goes wrong with your application, you have your essay answers and everything else in front of you to work with the next time.

10) Create a professional email address

Any updates you receive from the PA programs will be through the email address you list on your CASPA. Now is a good time to create a simple, professional email address with just your name (and numbers if you prefer) so you don't offend the admissions committee or come across as someone who is inappropriate and careless.

Once you submit your CASPA, make sure you check EACH program's website to see if you need to complete a supplemental application. Not every program will notify you! It's your responsibility to make sure both your applications are complete and turned in before the deadline.

That's all I've got for now. If you are still trying to decide on which programs to apply to, check out this post. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you ASAP. Good luck! :)


  1. How long did it take you to complete CASPA? Also can you open the application and start now and then submit the day it Opens?

  2. It took me about two weeks simply because I was waiting for a letter of recommendation to be submitted. I wanted a complete application before I submitted mine. If you have your letters of rec, you can turn it in within a day or two. I believe the application for this cycle is already open. If you're asking about next year, I don't think you can start an application before it opens. Hope this helps!

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  4. Thank you so much for such detailed instructions on applying to PA schools. Great tips! I just want to add that the whole application process is pretty challenging and tough. You shouldn’t leave everything to the very last moment: the sooner you start creating your CASPA essay, the more time you’ll have to polish it and make it outstanding; the more time you allow for recommendation letters, the more powerful and convincing letters you’ll get. Besides, it’s crucial to know program’s requirements so before applying do a research on the desired PA school. Stay calm, confident in your strengths and positive. Everything will be just fine. Good luck!

  5. When did you sumbit your application and when did you get verified?

  6. I just went through my old emails and found I was verified exactly three years ago today! I had submitted my application on 05/12/15. It might take them a little longer depending on the volume of applications that came in at the same time as yours. Good luck!!!