FAQs

Where is the program located?
The program is located at the College of Mount Saint Vincent at 6301 Riverdale Avenue, Riverdale, N.Y. 10471.

What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?
PAs are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop, and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. Their job descriptions are as diverse as those of their supervising physicians, and include clinical practice, patient education, team leadership, medical education, health administration, and research.

Where do I look to learn more about PAs?
There are a number of organizations that can provide more information about the PA profession and PA education.

When does the program start each year?
The program matriculates a new class every August.

What is the deadline to apply to the program?
CASPA will open from April 30 to April 15 in the following year. We utilize a rolling admissions process. Interviews are granted to qualified applicants on a first come first served basis until full. Applications must be e-submitted and completed (all transcripts, payment, and letters of recommendation received by CASPA) to be reviewed by the Program’s Admission Committee.

Applications will be reviewed on a space available basis until the class is filled.

How long is the program?
The College of Mount Saint Vincent Master of Science Physician Assistant Program is 28 months, split between the pre-clinical (16 month) and clinical (12 month) phases of the program.

Is there a part-time track in the program?
No, all students must matriculate on a full-time basis.

Do you require a bachelor’s degree?
Yes, a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university must be completed prior to matriculation. Degrees earned outside of the U.S. must be accepted by a U.S. equivalency reporting agency as an equivalent from a foreign institution.

Do I need to take the GRE?
No, the program does not consider the GRE in the admission process.

What degree will I receive at the end of the program?
At the completion of the program, students are awarded a Master of Science Physician Assistant Studies.

Can I transfer into the program from another physician assistant program?
The College’s program does not accept transfer students.

What prerequisite courses are required?

  1. Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution.
  2. The prerequisite course list for admission into the Physician Assistant Program is listed below:
  • Mathematics (Pre-calculus or Statistics) (3 credits)
  • General Biology + Laboratory (8 credits)
  • General Chemistry + Laboratory (8 credits)
  • Microbiology (3 credits)
  • Organic Chemistry + Laboratory or Biochemistry + Laboratory (4 credits)
  • Biochemistry (4 credits) strongly recommended
  • Human Anatomy + Laboratory (4 credits)
  • Human Physiology (3 credits)
  • Or Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II + Laboratory (7 credit minimum)
  1. Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 based on a 4.0 scale.
  2. Minimum cumulative science GPA of 3.0 based on a 4.0 scale.
  3. Minimum prerequisite GPA 3.0 based on a 4.0 scale.
  4. Minimum of 200 hours of patient care experience.
  5. Shadowing hours are not required for admission at this time. All updates will be posted on the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s Master of Science Physician Assistant Program webpages.
  6. One-page personal statement describing why you wish to become a PA.
  7. Resume/curriculum vitae describing professional experience and service.
  8. Three references from professionals (one of which must be from a healthcare professional).
  9. Completion of all prerequisite courses at the time of CASPA e-submission.
  10. Only one course with a grade of C- or better will be accepted in a required prerequisite course.

Is there an advanced placement credit protocol?
Advanced Placement Credits will be accepted for pre-requisite courses only. Under no circumstances will a student be given credit toward the courses in the College’s Master of Science Physician Assistant Program.

Can courses in-progress or planned be accepted?
As stated clearly above in “Prerequisite Requirements” section, all prerequisites must be completed at the time of application e-submission to CASPA.

What is the policy for international students?
Students who earned a bachelor’s degree in a country where English is not the official language and for whom English is not their first language must submit scores from the TOEFL (Minimum Score 100 on the IBT) or IELTS  (International English Language Testing System/Minimum Score 8) that are no more than two years old.

What is the timeline requirement for pre-requisite course submission?
All pre-requisite courses must have been completed less than 10 years prior to CASPA submission.

Is there a minimum GPA requirement?
The program requires a minimum cumulative, science, and prerequisite GPA of 3.0. The College’s program uses CASPA calculations for applicants’ cumulative and science GPAs. Quality of GPA above the minimum required 3.0 will be considered during the applicant screening process. If you have questions about the GPA calculations process, we recommend you reach out to CASPA. 617-612-2080 or caspainfo@caspaonline.org.

If I have completed all the prerequisite courses and met the healthcare experience, and GRE requirements, does that mean I am automatically admitted to the program?
No, meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee that an interview will be granted.

Am I required to shadow a PA?
Shadowing a medical provider, including a PA, is highly recommended and valuable when considering a career as a PA. Although shadowing is not required, we do believe the experience is important when making the decision to apply to a PA program.

Can I make an appointment to talk to the program faculty about my application or prerequisites?
The best way to communicate with program representatives is through email. An admission coordinator is responsive to questions submitted within five business days. We encourage applicants to contact us anytime by email to physicianassistant@mountsaintvincent.edu.

Is there a supplemental application?
No.

Can prerequisites be waived if I have extensive healthcare experience?
No, the stated prerequisites are required of all applicants.

If I meet all the admission criteria, will I be granted an admission interview?
No, meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee that an interview will be granted.

Will having an arrest record preclude someone from applying to the program?
An arrest will not preclude a candidate from being considered. However, anyone convicted of a felony may experience difficulty in licensing through NYS Office of the Professions.

Can I work while in the program?
It is strongly recommended that students do not work while in the program due to the rigorous nature of the academic requirements and associated schedule. The first-year curriculum is demanding and the second-year clinical rotations are full-time.

The program does not allow for PA students to substitute or function as instructional faculty regardless of prior knowledge, education, or experience. Students are not to be the primary instructor or instructors or record for any component of the curriculum under any circumstance.

Physician assistant students must not be required to work for the program.

During clinical rotations, students will not be used to substitute for regular instructional faculty, clinical or administrative staff under any circumstance.

Do I have to find clinical sites to complete the clinical portion of the program?
No. The program develops and establishes all clinical sites/preceptors for all students and prohibits students from soliciting sites. In the specific situations where a student, based on relationships developed prior to matriculation, knows of a preceptor or healthcare facility that has previously expressed interest in becoming a clerkship site, the student can forward the information to the director of clinical education for consideration of further development as a supervised clinical practice experience.

How do clinical rotation placements work?
The program coordinates all activities associated with clinical practice experiences including identifying, contacting, initial and ongoing evaluation of the suitability of, and student placement with clinical sites and preceptors. Enrolled students are not be required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors.

Do I need any patient care experience?
200 (two-hundred) hours of healthcare experience and service. Documentation of the 200-hour-patient-care experience requirement is mandatory.

Definition of Patient Care Experience

  1. The level is determined by the level of autonomy and education earned in the healthcare field.
  2. Other life experience can be granted a commensurate level of points when comparing the education and professional level of functioning to the examples provided below.
    Some examples, but not an inclusive listing, include:
  • Occupational Therapist (OTR)
  • Physical Therapist (RPT and/or DPT)
  • Speech Therapist
  • MD, DO, DPM (Podiatrist), DCM (Chiropractor)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Registered Nurse (RN)

Professional Level Patient Care Experience

  1. Requiring a baccalaureate degree or above
  2. Requires Professional license
  3. Some examples, but not an inclusive listing, include:
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Nutritionist
  • Optometrist

Para-Professional Level of Patient Care Experience

  1. Requiring an associate degree or professional diploma.
  2. Requires licensure exam or registration exam.
  3. Military training without a degree will qualify.
  4. Some examples, but not an inclusive listing, include:
  • Military Corpsman
  • Athletic Trainer

Technical Certification with Patient Care Experience

Some examples, but not an inclusive listing, include:

  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-A)
  • Paramedic (EMT-B)
  • Electrophysiology Technologist
  • Interventional Vascular Technologist
  • Radiology Technician
  • Emergency Room Technician
  • Rehabilitation Technician
  • OT/PT Aide

Basic Level/Auxiliary Level of Patient Care Experience

  1. May require on-the-job training or basic certification
  2. Some examples, but not an inclusive listing, include:
  • Medical Scribe
  • Nursing Assistant/Aide
  • First Responder
  • Nutritional Educator

The program will also be evaluated for their interpersonal skills and leadership qualities if applicable to the candidate.

Physician Assistant Organizations
American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)

  • Year Founded: 1968
  • Mission: “AAPA leads the profession and empowers members to advance their careers and enhance patient health.”
  • Values: Leadership and Service, Unity and Teamwork, Accountability and Transparency, Excellence and Quality.
  • Hosts annual AAPA Conference in May.
  • PA Week: October 6-12

Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA)

  • Year Founded: 1972
  • Mission: “PAEA’s mission is to pursue excellence, foster faculty development, advance the body of knowledge that defines quality education and patient-centered care, and promote diversity in all aspects of physician assistant education.”
  • Values: Collegiality, Scholarship, Excellence, Service, Diversity, Ethical Behavior, Integrity, and Respect.

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)

  • Year Founded: 1974
  • Mission: “To serve the public through exemplary programs that evaluate critical PA competencies and that require the pursuit of life-long learning and improvement.”
  • Vision: “To transform the delivery quality of healthcare by certifying qualified Pas through programs that improve patient care while exemplifying a commitment to excellence unparalleled among certifying organizations.”
  • Helps students take the PANCE exam upon completion of program.

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.