Medical Professionals

MSPAS: Frequently Asked Questions

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies FAQ

When will you find out if accreditation-provisional is granted?

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the North Central College Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program sponsored by North Central College.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at

North Central College matriculated its first class in January 2022.

Can I sit for my PANCE if I go to an accreditation-provisional program?

Yes and you can receive licensure in all 50 states.

The GRE and PA-CAT is recommended. Can you explain what a "recommended" test, versus a required test means?

A recommended test is one where the results will not be used for admission criteria, rather programmatic self-study.

Why are you using the PA-CAT?

The PA-CAT is recommended but not required.  Student self-reflection and self-assessment is an important step in professional development. The PA-CAT assesses knowledge in anatomy and physiology, basic medical sciences and statistics. We are hopeful this will allow the student to determine what their weak areas may be prior to entrance to PA school and provide opportunity for self-study if need be.

What will you do with my PA-CAT scores?

The program will use all applicant PA-CAT scores to determine if this exam is something that we will recommend versus require in the future.

Since you have a preference in admissions for North Central students who meet criteria, will students from other programs get an interview?

 Absolutely! Preference for interview does not mean preference for admissions. Moreover, North Central College is prepared to provide up to 90 interview slots for students outside of the North Central pathway.

What is rolling admissions?

North Central College virtual interviews and admission decisions are being made while applications are still being accepted. Moreover, the holistic approach is specifically designed so that the class does not fill-up prior to the application deadline. We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible.

When will in-person/campus or remote interviews begin?

We plan to begin our virtual interviews in June 2023 and continue until November 2023.

How large is the cohort?

32 students

What is your faculty:student ratio?

For the 2023-2024 didactic year, the ratio is planned to be no more than 1:10.

Will you accept online laboratories?


Will you accept Pass/Fail grades for prerequisites?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will accept Pass/Fail grades for up to two courses taken anytime between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2022.

Will you accept bachelor degrees from international universities?

Unfortunately, during the 2023-2024 cycle we are only accepting bachelor's degrees from regionally or United States' nationally accredited colleges or universities.

What exceptions have you made to PA shadowing hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

We have lowered our minimal shadowing to 15 hours AND will accept telemedicine shadowing hours.

Can I still apply if my prerequisite classes were taken greater than 5 years ago?

Yes. The upper limit on the length-of-time passed since Prerequisite coursework completion is 7 years.

Can I still apply if my cumulative GPA or science GPA is below 3.0?

Yes. We will consider each candidate on a case-by-case basis. We will look at the last 60 hours of academic effort and strongly encourage students in this situation to submit PA-CAT scores. See Class Profile for cumulative and science GPA of current cohort. 

Can I use my own forms to document my Direct Patient Contact Hours or PA-C Observation Hours?

Unfortunately, no. The only forms that will be accepted to document your prior experiences are the North Central College Direct Patient Health Care Hours and PA-C Observation forms. Please complete these forms and upload them into your CASPA application.

What kinds of prior healthcare experiences can be used to fulfill the Direct Patient Health Care Hours requirement?

We accept direct patient health care hours in multiple settings, with the main requirement being the provision of services between a health care provider and a patient. 

At least 500 of the required 750 hours must be from a ‘hands-on’ role. Examples of “hands-on” patient care experiences include: Registered nurse or Licensed practical nurse, surgical technician, certified medical assistant, certified nursing assistant, Registered Dietitian, Paramedic/Emergency medical technician, Athletic trainer, Physical/Occupational therapist, phlebotomist, military medical corpsman, and clinical research coordinator.

Up to 250 of the required 750 hours may be from a ‘non-direct’ patient care role. Examples of these roles include: social worker, scribe, patient care advocate, pharmacy technician, interpreter, and medical assistant (administrative).

Other jobs may also fulfill this requirement and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am having trouble getting my Direct Patient Health Care/PA-C Observation Hours completed before the due date 10/1/2023. Can I still apply?

Yes, please submit your CASPA application as soon as possible, even if you have pending Direct Patient Health Care/PA-C Observation Hours. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the due date for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle for Direct Patient Health Care & PA-C Observation Hours is December 31, 2023.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

North Central College's MSPAS program is in development, and has applied to the ARC-PA for Accreditation-Provisional. Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of the proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program's ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. The NC MSPAS program will have its Accreditation-Provisional site visit on July 8-9th, 2021 and its status will be voted upon by the ARC-PA at the September, 2021 meeting. Since the accreditation decision is expected to occur within the 2021-2022 CASPA cycle, the program may participate as a developing program. All CASPA applicants to the North Central College's developing MSPAS program will be notified within 48 hours of the ARC-PA decision as to whether Accreditation-Provisional is granted.

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