How do I apply?
To apply to the Union College Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program, use CASPA, Central Application Service for Physician Assistants—a service that provides a single application you can submit to PA programs across the country. Get started at www.caspaonline.org.
Applications are typically initiated after May 1 and must be completely verified by CASPA by October 1. Please allow CASPA a minimum of four weeks to process your application prior to the deadline.
PA Program applications are processed at Union College after they are verified, and interviews will be granted in the fall.
If you have questions regarding the online application process, please contact CASPA directly at www.caspaonline.org or call 617-612-2080.
If you have any difficulties completing the application process, do not hesitate to contact us directly.
Union College does not require the GRE at this time, and a supplemental application is not required.
(The above information is only for master’s level students. If you're interested in a bachelor’s degree, please go to PA Prospective Students.)
Make sure you have all the requirements taken care of when you apply.
Admission into the PA Program is limited and competitive. Please make sure you understand the requirements thoroughly before applying.
Bachelor's degree—You must complete a bachelor's degree (any major) and the PA Program prerequisite requirements. (Note: students in Union's Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program are exempt from this requirement.)
Learn more about prerequisite course requirements.
These are the prerequisite courses you'll need to complete before you begin the PA Program.
General Biology I *
General Biology II *
Human Anatomy * ^
Human Physiology * ^
General Chemistry I & II * ‡
Organic Chemistry I & II * ‡
Biochemistry (lab preferred) +
Elementary Statistics & Probability
Developmental (Lifespan) Psychology
* Lab required
^ Upper division series is preferred
+ Must be upper division (Note: Upper division courses are 300-400 courses (or 3000-4000) geared toward college juniors and seniors. These courses are not offered at community colleges.
‡ Individual colleges will determine their own chemistry sequences of preparation for Biochemistry
- All science classes and required labs must be taken in person rather than online. Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, and upper division Biochemistry must be completed within seven years of matriculation into the PA Program.
- Since the MPAS is a rigorous graduate program, Union College prefers courses from a four-year college or university. We recommend that you take some upper division biology and chemistry courses for better preparation and to show your academic strength.
- Union College does not accept prerequisite courses with grades less than "C." Even if you retake courses to get better grades, all courses are averaged when applying to the PA Program.
GPA—You must have GPAs (cumulative and science) of at least 3.0 on a 4.00 for all college work.
Skills proficiency—You must demonstrate proficiency in a variety of cognitive, problem solving, tactile, communicative, and interpersonal skills.
Learn more about our skills proficiency technical standards.
- Observation: Candidates must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in basic and clinical sciences (including computer-assisted instruction), and must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand.
- Communication: Candidates must be able to communicate accurately and with clarity, in speech and written forms, with appropriate respect and sensitivity towards faculty, patients, and all members of the health care team.
- Motor: Candidates must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers.
- Senses: Candidates must have sufficient use of the senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell necessary to directly perform a physical exam.
- Problem-solving: Candidates must be able to learn to measure, calculate, analyze and synthesize data to reach diagnostic and therapeutic judgments.
- Clinical Skills: Candidates are expected to be able to learn and perform routine laboratory tests and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
- Behavioral Attributes: Candidates must possess the emotional health necessary for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with faculty, clinical staff and patients.
- Judgment: Candidates must be able to learn and demonstrate the ability to recognize limitations to their knowledge, skills and abilities, and to seek appropriate assistance with their identified limitations.
- Stability: Candidates must be able to learn to respond with precise, efficient and appropriate action in emergency situations.
- Perseverance: Candidates are expected to possess the humility to accept criticism, and the diligence to successfully complete the physician assistant curriculum and enter the practice of medicine as a certified physician assistant.
Any candidate who is admitted to the Union College PA Program will be required to sign a statement that certifies that they have read, fully understand and meet each of the Technical Standards.
Recommendations—You must present three letters of recommendation.
Learn more requirements for letters of recommendation.
Submission of three reference letters is required on forms provided by the electronic application through CASPA. Please select three individuals who can best address your personal qualities. Ideal references would include the following:
- Academic traits as addressed by a former or current college/university instructor
- General character as addressed by a member of clergy or spiritual advisor
- Professionalism and work habits as addressed by a former or current health care work supervisor
Work experience—You must have at least 480 hours of direct patient health care experience by the time you enter the program, 240 of which must be completed and reported at time of application. If the 480 hours are not completed at the time of application, a clear plan that confirms how the hours will be completed by the start of PA classes is required.
Learn more about work experience requirements.
Direct patient care experience (480 hours) is required for application. The program gives a preference for those applicants with medium or high classification of patient care experience. The admission committee uses the following criteria to classify the level of patient care experience.
- Hands on Care
- Period of Training required for patient care
- License required for patient care
- Exposure to different patient types
- Independence in providing patient care
Physician (M.D./D.O.), Chiropractor, Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), Paramedic, Pharmacist, Psychologist, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Respiratory Therapist, Exercise Physiologist, Dietician, Athletic Trainer, Veterinarian, Corpsman (Navy), Independent Duty Corpsman (Navy), Medic (Army), Independent Medical Technician (Air Force).
Mental Health Counselor, Personal/Fitness Trainer (with bachelor’s degree), EMT with paid & volunteer experience, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Nursing Assistant (CNA), Medical Assistant (CMA), Dental Hygienist, Home Health Aide, Scribes.
Anesthesia, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Clinical Lab Specialist, ICU, Lab, Medical Lab, Newborn Hearing Screen, Occupational Therapist Assistant, Ophthalmic, Optometrist, Oncology, Orthopedic, Patient Care, Pharmacy, Physical Therapist Assistant, Polysomnographic, Pulmonary, Radiology, Respiratory, Telemetry, Veterinary.
Medical Interpreter, Medical Volunteer, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Volunteer, Patient Transporter, Patient Coordinator/Unit Secretary/Unit Clerk, Chiropractic Assistant, Dental Assistant, Lactation Specialist, Phlebotomist*, Living Assistant, Medical Mission Work.
* For the 2019-2020 application cycle, this patient care experience will be considered as medium. Following the 2019-2020 cycle, the experience will be classified as written.
The list is not exhaustive and applicants will be able to document their direct patient care experience in their application.
Shadowing—You must have spent time shadowing a PA.
Learn more about shadowing a PA.
Applicants are required to shadow a PA. Although a specific amount of PA shadowing hours isn't required, shadowing PAs in several specialties should give the applicant a good understanding of the diverse role of the PA.
Interview—After you submit complete application materials, you may be selected for a personal interview with members of the PA Program Admissions Committee.
Learn more about the personal interview.
Students selected for admission to the Union College PA Program will have demonstrated high scholastic ability, emotional and intellectual maturity, superior communication skills, an orientation to service, and the potential for achieving career satisfaction within the PA role. The on-campus personal interview will assess these factors and is a vital part of the selection process.
Click here for additional information for international students.
The following requirements must be met by all international applicants:
All college/university transcripts must be submitted. Non-U.S. college or university transcripts must be evaluated by a recognized transcript evaluation service, such as WES (World Education Service). This determines the United States' equivalent to the studies and is a crucial part of the application process.
Although the minimum GPA is 3.00, accepted students average above 3.50 in both science and cumulative GPAs. Applicants should demonstrate a strong academic history to ensure that they are able to be successful with our rigorous curriculum.
An applicant whose native language is not English must meet one of the requirements below to demonstrate satisfactory skills in English understanding and use.
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in the United States that includes a full year (two semesters) of English composition;
- Internet-based TOEFL (IBT): Score of 100 with a minimum score of 20 on each section;
- Computer-based TOEFL: Score of 250;
- A level 112 from the ELS Language Centers or other recognized evidence will also be considered.
All prerequisite courses must be completed or be clearly in the process of completion at the time of application and must be successfully completed before beginning the PA program.
For individuals possessing medical degrees, requests for advanced standing or waiving PA program courses are not granted (e.g., If an applicant has already taken an anatomy course, he is still required to take the full anatomy course in our curriculum.). It is important that all students learn the curriculum as taught from the perspective of PAs.
International students must complete at least three upper division science courses from four-year colleges or universities in the U.S. (rather than a community college), achieving letter grades of A prior to application. These courses traditionally are numbered in the 300s or 400s.
The Union College PA Program requires 480 hours of direct patient care experience, obtained through work or volunteering rather than as a student in training. International applicants must have gotten these hours in direct patient care in an American medical care system in the U.S.
Once a student has been academically accepted into the PA program, all immigration procedures must be handled through the Union College Admissions Office.
Health requirements—You must complete a physical examination and have all required immunizations.
Learn more about the physical examination requirements.
Students admitted to the program will be required to obtain and submit a comprehensive physical examination. Forms will be supplied to students at the time of their acceptance into the PA Program.
Immunizations, including completion of hepatitis B vaccinations and tuberculosis testing, must be current prior to patient contact.
Learn more about the PA Program immunization policy.
Students at the Union College PA Program must submit the completed immunization form to CastleBranch to document required vaccinations and/or immunity as described below. Students will be placed on hold and may not register for courses until they have met the immunization requirements.* Students are responsible for late registration fees encountered due to late submission of immunization documentation.
Individuals covered by this requirement include those in any of the following categories:
1) Students accepted into the Union College PA Program
2) Faculty of the Union College PA Program
* Students accepted less than six weeks before the start of an academic term are not exempt from this policy. However, the registration hold will be released after receipt of documentation of the first Hepatitis B vaccination and at least one of two required tuberculosis skin test results or other negative TB screening results that were completed within six months of arrival on campus.
1) PA Program staff and the Program Director are responsible for sending all immunization information and requirements to invited students after they have accepted admission to the program.
2) Students are responsible for returning required information to CastleBranch as soon as possible, but no later than June 1 prior to registration. Forms received after this deadline may not be processed in time to allow registration without a late registration fee.
3) Incomplete forms will not be accepted. The student is responsible for entering demographic data and dates for vaccinations and/or titers. Incomplete forms will be returned for completion.
4) Any additional fees incurred related to immunization and or screening for immunity that may apply will be the responsibility of the student.
Union College PA Program Required Immunizations (based on CDC recommendations)
Deadlines for documentation of immunization requirements will be listed under each specific immunization. Students who are on the alternate list are strongly encouraged to begin the immunization process and/or gather immunization documentation as soon as they are placed upon the list. Failure to do so may result in a delay or denial of acceptance.
1) Rubella (German Measles), Rubeola (Measles), Mumps
a. All students must have evidence of immunity documented by an antibody titer OR written documentation of 2 doses of the MMR vaccine administered at least 4 weeks apart.
b. Students with evidence of prior receipt of only one dose of MMR or other measles-containing vaccine on or after their first birthday should receive a second dose of MMR.
c. Documentation of immunization must be received June 1. Students are not allowed to register without this documentation.
2) Varicella (Chicken Pox)
a. All students must have evidence of immunity documented by an antibody titer OR written documentation of 2 doses of varicella vaccine, given at least 4 weeks apart.
b. Documentation of immunization must be received by June 1. Students are not allowed to register without this documentation.
a. Students over age 18 who have not received a single dose of Tdap after age 18 should receive vaccination with Tdap. Tdap can be administered regardless of the interval since the last tetanus or diphtheria-toxoid containing vaccine. Students over age 18, after receipt of Tdap, should continue to receive Td for routine booster immunization against tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years.
b. Documentation of immunization must be received by June 1. Students are not allowed to register without this documentation.
4) Tuberculosis Screening on Admission
a. Students born internationally are all required to complete the TB Screening Questionnaire and submit documentation of a negative TB skin test that has been completed within the past 12 months prior to arrival on campus. In the case that no documentation is available, the student will need to agree to a skin test being placed upon their arrival. If the student has a written history of BCG vaccine, or a scar on the upper deltoid area, a T-SPOT lab will automatically be drawn instead of a skin test placement.
b. If the TB skin test is negative then no further testing is required while remaining a student at Union College.
c. If TB skin test is positive (>9 mm), the student will be notified to not get any further skin testing done in the future. A T-SPOT lab will be drawn as the next step in the assessment process. If the T-SPOT results are negative (<8 spots), no further testing is required while remaining a student at Union College.
d. If the T-SPOT results are positive (8 spots or greater), then the student will be sent to get a Chest X-Ray (2 views – A/P, lateral). A visit is then scheduled with a provider for a physical exam, review of lab results/radiograph report, and to develop a safe plan of care for the student on an individual basis.
e. If Chest X-Ray is positive, the student will be referred to a specialist at the Infectious Disease Clinic located on the campus of Bryan East Hospital for initial TB physical evaluation/initiation of treatment.
g. Documentation of TB testing must be received by June 1. Students are not allowed to register without this documentation.
5) Hepatitis B
a. All students must receive a 3-dose series of Hepatitis B vaccination or have evidence of immunity documented by an antibody titer 1 – 2 months after the completion of the 3-dose series.
b. If the student’s titer remains negative after having had the first series of 3 Hepatitis B vaccinations, the student must undergo a second series of 3 Hepatitis B vaccinations. A repeat antibody titer will then be done 1-2 months after the completion of the 3-dose series. If the antibody titer remains negative, testing for active Hepatitis B infection should be conducted (HBsAg and Anti HBc). If active Hepatitis B infection is not present, the individual is considered to be a "non-responder."
c. Students will be required to complete the Hepatitis B requirements by the end of the first year of enrollment.
d. Students with documentation of at least one Hepatitis B vaccination will be allowed to register for and attend classroom courses (courses with no exposure to blood or body fluids). Students may register for and attend clinical courses after documentation of the second Hepatitis B vaccination.
a. If the student is not going to travel outside the western hemisphere it is not necessary to provide documentation of polio vaccination. However, if the student will be going on trips to Africa or Asia, then the student must be vaccinated or obtain a serologic study to document immunity to the three poliovirus serotypes (P1, P2, and P3).
b. Students coming from Asia or Africa must provide documentation of vaccination against polio.
7) Flu Vaccine
a. Students are encouraged to receive annual flu vaccinations.
b. Many clinical sites require the flu vaccination.
c. Individuals are required to participate in Union College - related monitoring of flu vaccination by confirming vaccination or declination.
For students traveling and/or participating in clinical rotations outside of the United States additional immunizations my be required. The immunization status must meet CDC guidelines.
Background check—You must receive clearance through a criminal background check.
Learn more about the background check.
Criminal background checks are performed after the applicant is conditionally accepted and has paid the required deposit. Felony convictions or multiple misdemeanor convictions may result in denial of acceptance to the program and/or eligibility of licensure.
Health insurance—personal health insurance is required and personal liability insurance is encouraged.
American Heart Association HeartCode BLS—CPR certification must be obtained by June 1 of the same calendar year the student begins the PA Program and must be kept current while a PA student.
Find out how we rate our applicants.
All applications are reviewed without regard to age, sex, race, color, ethnicity, creed or national origin. Admission preference is given to Union College students or graduates and to graduates of other accredited North American Division Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities. The program also gives a preference for those applicants with medium or high classification of patient care experience; please see the above section "work experience requirements" for more information.
The PA Program Admissions Committee admits applicants from other colleges and universities who have demonstrated a commitment to Christian principles and are best suited to meet the educational goals of the Union College PA Program. The committee will recommend candidates who meet the admission requirements, technical standards, and course prerequisites listed herein, and present the best overall profile evidenced in these areas:
- Overall GPA—ability to meet the demands of the PA Program as shown by college GPA, grade trends, and variety and rigor of courses taken.
- Science GPA—ability to successfully complete the basic science portion of the PA Program as shown by the quality of academic science preparation.
- Health care experience—ability to perform professionally in the health care environment as shown by experience in the delivery of health care.
- Christian values—career goals consistent with the philosophy and goals of Union College, including commitment to Christian service.
- Sound health—physical and mental health to meet the standards of the profession, as evidenced by completion of a physical examination (and submission of the required form).
- Outstanding character—noteworthy character traits such as moral integrity, compassion, diligence, etc.
- Personality and maturity—commendable interpersonal skills and appropriate maturity based on a personal interview with representatives of the PA Program Admissions Committee.
Applicant pool summary of graduate program accepted students, 2016-2018
BS of Health Sciences candidate
Attended Union College
Attended other Adventist college
Reported PA shadowing
Average overall GPA
Average science GPA
Class of 2021 applicant pool profile
- 208 applicants, 167 meet interview criteria, 30 selected for seats in the program
- Average cumulative GPA = 3.53
- Average science GPA = 3.42
- 29% male, 71% female
- 41% Nebraska residents
- 4.79% (eight students) attended Union College
Within the Union College PA Program, “advanced placement” refers to allowing students to transfer graduate credits from another accredited PA institution rather than completing those hours in the Union College PA Program. While possible for didactic coursework, advanced placement does not apply to the clinical component (clinical rotation experiences in the third year).
Transfer of PA professional courses—those specific to the PA profession, not to include general study requirements that are part of a bachelor’s degree in PA studies—is limited to students transferring from another accredited PA Program. The student must have a recommendation from the previous program and may be required to validate proficiency in courses being transferred either by a challenge examination or by demonstration of the necessary skills. Individuals requesting advanced placement must meet the regular application and selection criteria.
Due to the rigorous academic course work in the PA Program, international medical graduates may not receive advanced placement beyond the scope of this policy. (See the PA Student Handbook Section 9.10.2 ADVANCED PLACEMENT.)