Chatham University

Physician Assistant Program FAQs

Please make sure to read the Admission Requirements before completing your application.

When can I apply?

The CASPA portal opens April 16, 2014 to begin accepting applications for the class that begins in August 2015.

When is the application deadline?

Application deadline is October 1st. Applications must be e-submitted to CASPA by October 1st. It is strongly recommended that applicants complete their application including submission of recommendations and transcripts by October 1st. PA shadowing experience must be completed and documented on the CASPA application by October 1st.

When should I have my materials in to CASPA in order to meet Chatham's deadlines?

CASPA recommends having your application completed 4-6 weeks prior to the October 1st deadline. You may complete your application later but you risk further delays in processing and this could jeopardize your admissions status. We strongly encourage you to complete your application by the October 1st deadline.

Do I need to have all of the prerequisites complete in order to apply?

No, you may have prerequisite courses still in process. They must however be successfully completed with a grade of “B” or higher prior to June 1st of the matriculation year if accepted into the graduate program. You must indicate on the CASPA application any courses that you still need to complete and the terms in which you plan to complete them.

Are my prerequisite courses too old to be accepted?

Prerequisite courses must have been completed no more than 10 years prior to the anticipated start date of the PA program.

What if I have not completed my pre-requisites at the time of matriculation?

All admissions requirements must be completed by June 1st of the year in which you are planning to enter the Program. Any student who has not done so will be unable to begin the Program. Students are strongly encouraged to have plans (and alternate plans) for completion of any work prior to entering the Program. Students must provide evidence of completion (official transcript) of any coursework.

May I take prerequisite courses at a community college?

Yes, you may take outstanding prerequisites at a community college or any other accredited school. Online courses offered by an accredited college or university are also permitted for courses that do not have a lab component. (If you are unsure whether a course meets our criteria and you have a course description, you may email it to the Admissions office for review.)

If I have retaken a class; do Chatham and CASPA look at the new grade or the average of both?

CASPA does their overall GPA calculation based on every course taken, including repeated courses. Chatham uses the overall and science GPA's as calculated by CASPA. Chatham takes the newer or better grade for your prerequisite coursework.

Will you review my application before it is complete?

An application will not be reviewed by the PA Program until it is made available to us as a complete, verified application, by CASPA. It is the applicant's responsibility to contact CASPA directly to verify the receipt of all application materials by CASPA and the current status of his/her application. You may contact CASPA online at https://portal.caspaonline.org/.

Can I transfer credits to reduce the number of courses I must take?

Because of the integrated nature of the Program, no advanced standing or transfer of credits is granted. Each class is an integral part of the academic experience and is necessary for a complete education.

Is there a supplemental application for Chatham in addition to the CASPA application?

No.

Does the program require any standardized test?

Official GRE scores are required. These scores must be sent directly to CASPA. Chatham's MPAS GRE ID number is 3879. We do not use a cutoff or minimum GRE score, however we do consider a combined score of 1160 (old score) or 305 (new score) and an analytical writing score of 4.0 or higher as a strength in the holistic review. Submitted GRE scores must be from GRE tests taken within 3 years of the application date.

Is healthcare experience required for admission to the program?

Healthcare experience is not required. As part of the holistic review of the application, healthcare experience is considered along with other work and volunteer experiences.

What are the group interviews and when are they conducted?

On campus interviews allow our faculty to meet the prospective candidates to learn more about your abilities, motivation and suitability for our program. Interviews also allow applicants to visit Chatham to learn more about problem-based learning, the campus, our facilities and Pittsburgh. The interviews will be scheduled for October 11, 2014 and December 6, 2014. Interviews are by invitation only.

Can I make an appointment to learn more about the program and see the campus?

Yes, there are several ways to visit campus. Open house programs are held several times a year and provide an excellent opportunity to meet faculty, tour campus and learn about the program. The date for the next open house can be found on our website at www.chatham.edu/openhouse. We also offer group informational appointments with an admission counselor and tours of Chatham Eastside on Thursdays at 11:30 am. You may schedule your appointment online at http://www.chatham.edu/admission/forms/visitform_grad.cfm

How many applicants does Chatham have for this program and how many seats are available?

We had more than 800 applicants last year for 80 seats for the incoming class. The number of applicants is expected to continue to increase for the next several years.

What can I do to make myself a competitive candidate for the PA program at Chatham?

  • Meet our 3.25 overall and 3.25 science GPA minimum requirements.
  • Shadow a PA or multiple PA’s.
  • Understand the role of a PA and be able to articulate your understanding as related to your personal academic and professional strengths and goals.
  • There is no single formula for a successful personal statement; different individuals will find different topics to be appropriate for them. Familiarizing yourself with the “Holistic Approach to Admissions” section of the Chatham University Physician Assistant Web page will be helpful in guiding the content of your essay. This is an opportunity to communicate information about yourself that will aid us in reaching a decision based on our published admissions process. This could include, but is not limited to:
    • significant life experiences
    • intellectual interests
    • extracurricular activities
    • factors inspiring you to become a physician assistant
    • significant obstacles met and overcome
    • special talents or skills
    • socioeconomic challenges
    • atypical educational path
    • previous career
    • cross-cultural experiences
    • experiences relating to disadvantage, disability, or discrimination

These subjects, as well as other related topics, would be appropriate to help the committee make a thoughtful decision.

How long has Chatham had a PA program?

Chatham University’s PA program has been providing an innovative educational experience since 1995.

What is the program’s first-time pass rate in the national boards?

The PA programs's first-time pass rate for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) can be found here .

What distinguishes Chatham from other PA programs nationally?

Chatham’s PA program is an innovative leader in Problem-based learning. It was one of the first PA programs to incorporate PBL into its curriculum. PBL is a dynamic small group learning process for the self-directed adult learner.

How can I learn more about Problem based learning?

You should review the PBL video and information found on our website at http://www.chatham.edu/mpas/problem-based-learning.cfm

Can the Program be done as a part-time student?

The PA Program is completed as a full-time, cohort program only. Students complete their course of study in 6 semesters over 24 months. The Program begins in the fall (August) and classes graduate in July after completion of the Program.

Can I work while attending the Program?

Due to the intensity and time demands associated with the Program, students are strongly discouraged from working while in the Program. There may be classes that meet during evenings or weekends as the schedule permits and students must be available to attend these sessions. The intensity of study required for successful completion of the Program makes working a significant distraction.

Can I defer my acceptance into the Program for a future class?

Offers of acceptance are valid for one entering class only. Deferrals are considered only for military reasons and each request will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office for details via e-mail at gradadmissions@chatham.edu or call (800) 837-1290.

How are the courses taught during the two didactic semesters?

The focus of the first-year curriculum is the problem-based learning format for learning clinical medicine in the Essentials for the Physician Assistant courses. A mixture of lecture based, on-line, and experiential courses provide information about the basic medical sciences, pharmacology, research, physical diagnosis, and clinical documentation and procedures that complements the material covered in PBL.

You should review the PBL video and information found on our website at http://www.chatham.edu/mpas/problem-based-learning.cfm

Where do students do their clinical rotations? What do the Clinical Rotations involve?

Chatham PA students are required to complete nine clinical experiences. Seven of these experiences are prescribed; Internal medicine, Family practice, OB/GYN, Pediatrics, Emergency medicine, Psych, and Surgery. Students can choose two areas for their elective clinical rotations. Chatham PA students complete their clinical rotations in a variety of settings, including in-patient facilities, out-patient facilities, long term care, and office settings.

How are Clinical Rotations scheduled?

The MPAS program has developed a unique self-selection process that gives students input on where they complete nine clinical rotation experiences, as available. Students must complete seven required rotations in internal medicine, family practice, OB/GYN, pediatrics, emergency medicine, psychiatric medicine, and surgery; they must also complete two elective rotations. Our students choose from clinical sites that are located in the Pittsburgh area, as well as across the country. Rotation sites include in- patient facilities, out-patient facilities, and long-term care settings. Travel to sites greater than 50 miles from campus most likely will be required.

What is the job market for PA’s?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (www.bls.gov) Occupation Outlook, "employment of physician assistants is expected to increase 30 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. As more physicians enter specialty areas of medicine, there will be a greater need for primary healthcare providers, such as physician assistants".

Do I need to purchase a laptop for the program?

Each student will be required to have a laptop computer. Specifications will be provided to admitted students.

Where is Chatham located?

Chatham is uniquely situated on a 39-acre campus that is designated as an arboretum, providing a serene environment in the center of a thriving urban educational and medical center in the East End of Pittsburgh. The PA program is housed in the Chatham Eastside which is a green "LEED" rated building located at the intersection of Penn and 5th Avenues just a few blocks from the Shadyside location.

Is University Housing available to PA students?

Graduate students are a vital part of our on campus residential community. Several options for university housing are available for full-time degree seeking students. For more information please visit our Graduate Housing web page at http://www.chatham.edu/campuslife/resident/gradhousing.cfm.