How to Apply Section Table of Contents

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How to Apply

All applicants must apply online via the online application service CASPA. Below please find the application deadlines for those wishing to matriculate in January, 2022 (Class of 2023).

  • June 1, 2021: CASPA available for Spring 2022 candidates
  • November 1, 2021: CASPA Application closed
  • December 31, 2021: Prerequisite Due Date

Once your application is verified by CASPA, an email notification from the North Central College PA program will be sent acknowledging receipt of your completed application.   


Application Requirements

North Central College's MSPAS program is dedicated to recruiting diverse and highly qualified students, as such, the MSPAS program employs a holistic approach to admissions. The program makes admission decisions in accordance with clearly defined and published practices of the institution. Special application requirements and considerations are notable to the MSPAS program. The MSPAS program offers two pathways to admission:

  1. Selective Internal PA Admissions Pathway (SIPAAP)
  2. Standard Admissions Pathway

The following admission and enrollment practices are followed: 

  • The North Central MSPAS program follows a holistic admission process and is committed to accepting a diverse group of qualified individuals from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. The program selects students who reflect varied social, economic, ethnic, educational, and healthcare experience backgrounds. The program seeks students who excel in leadership, service, scholarship, communication, intellectual capacity, and interpersonal skills.
  • Holistic review occurs at several stages:  screening, interview, and selection for the cohort. The Admissions Committee emphasizes the importance of giving individualized consideration to every applicant to ensure that admissions processes and criteria are both mission and evidence-based, and promote cohort diversity. Applicants from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply to the North Central MSPAS program. However, applicants with backgrounds that include prior military service, who are first generation to attend college, and those who are underrepresented minorities in medicine will be given admissions preference. Additional metrics used for admissions include GPA, candidate grade trends, prior healthcare experience, and commitment to courses of academic rigor. Therefore, applicants with high academic performance, greater direct patient care experience, and greater PA shadowing experience will be given preference in our admissions process. GRE and PA-CAT scores are recommended, but scores will not be used in admission decisions in the 2021-2022 cycle.
  • North Central College undergraduate students are at an advantage in the admission process starting in 2022-2023 through admission preference via the Selective Internal PA Admission Pathway (SIPAAP).
  • North Central graduates who apply via the Standard Pathway and meet admissions criteria are at an advantage as they will be offered an interview in the 2021-2022 cycle.  Preference for an interview does not mean preference for selection into the program. 

Previous Accepted 2020-2021 Applicants: All Applicants who have been previously offered admission into the NC MSPAS Program during the 2020-2021 Admissions cycle can elect to hold their seat in the MSPAS Program in 2021-2022 Admissions cycle with no further NC CASPA application or NC interview. Previous Accepted applicants must notify the NC MSPAS program or NC Graduate Admissions in writing that they would like to hold their seat in the MSPAS Program in 2021-2022 Admissions cycle no later than July 1st, 2021. Accepted applicants will submit updated official transcripts to North Central’s Graduate Admissions Department, to include official documentation of the completion of pending required coursework or any additional courses taken by December 31st, 2021. In addition, for those who did not meet the minimum requirement for Direct Patient Health Care Hours or PA-C Observation Hours previously, submission of updated North Central Direct Patient Health Care Hours or PA-C Observation Hours forms by December 31st, 2021 is also required.

A completed Admissions Update Attestation Form will be required for all applicants who have been Provisionally Accepted to verify they have no further application updates by December 31st, 2021. Applicants who have been previously offered admission into the program but fail to provide evidence of completion of required coursework or PA-C Observation/Experience hours as described above will forfeit their seat in the class. If all minimum admissions requirements have been met and verified by the MSPAS Program as described above, a previously Accepted applicant will then be eligible to matriculate into the North Central MSPAS program in January, 2022.

Previous Alternate List Applicants: All Applicants who have been previously placed on the Alternate List for NC MSPAS Program during the 2020-2021 Admissions cycle can elect to remain under consideration to be accepted into the MSPAS Program in 2021-2022 Admissions cycle.  Alternate List Applicants will not be required to submit an additional application in CASPA, but may be required to complete an additional NCC interview based on secondary holistic review of alternate list applications.

Selective Internal PA Admissions Pathway (SIPAAP)

The overarching goal of the Selective Internal Admissions Pathway is to increase diversity in the PA workforce. This program will have two entry points; one as a rising freshman already accepted to North Central and a second as a first-semester North Central sophomore. SIPAAP is a competitive program but will not begin until the 2022-2023 cycle. Provided accreditation-provisional is obtained, the first cohort of SIPAAP students will matriculate in 2026. The program will admit up to 30% of each class who complete this Pre-PA program (10 of 32 students) through this pathway.  

All applicants are held to the same admissions standards and are required to apply via CASPA. CASPA applications to the North Central MSPAS program must be received, completed, and verified by December 1, 2021. Failure to receive "verified" status from CASPA by December 1, 2021 will result in an incomplete application.

Standard Admissions Pathway

The Standard Admissions Pathway is a competitive process, admitting 100% (32 of 32 students) of its class through this pathway in the 2021-2022 cycle.

The following criteria are required for submission to CASPA:

  • CASPA Application fee.
  • Official Academic Transcripts.
    • According to North Central College graduate admissions protocol, official transcripts from all colleges and universities must demonstrate an overall grade point average of 3.00/4.00 scale.  
    • The North Central MSPAS program has an additional requirement of a minimum science grade point average of 3.00/4.00 scale.
    • Evidence of earning a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university prior to enrollment in the program.
  • GRE or PA-CAT scores are highly recommended, not required.
    • Use GRE code 4789 to send scores directly to CASPA for verification.
    • GRE and PA-CAT Scores must be within 5 years of admission.
    • The PA-CAT is a specialized test designed to measure applicant knowledge in key prerequisite science subjects typically required for PA school.
    • For information about the PA-CAT and to schedule your exam, visit
    • PA-CAT test scores must be sent directly to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at 30 N. Brainard Street, Naperville IL 60540.
    • There is no minimum score for either test in the 2021-2022 cycle.
  • Direct Patient Health Care Hours.
    • A minimum of 750 hours of direct, hands on patient care is required.
    • Shadowing hours cannot be used for direct patient health care hours.
    • Proof of completion of at least 750 hours of Direct Patient Health Care must be submitted using our North Central College Direct Patient Health Care Hours form no later than December 31st, 2021.
    • Applicants with outstanding hours who are offered admissions and who fail to provide evidence of completion of these hours by December 31st, 2021, will forfeit their seat in the class.
    • Download Direct Patient Health Care Hours form and upload to your CASPA application.
  • PA-C Observation Hours.
    • Applicants must obtain a minimum of 15 hours of direct observation of a PA's providing direct patient care.
    • Observation hours cannot be counted towards the healthcare experience hours.
    • Proof of completion of at least 15 hours of PA-C Observation must be submitted using our North Central College PA-C Observation Hours form no later than December 31st, 2021.
    • Applicants with outstanding hours who are offered admissions and who fail to provide evidence of completion of these hours by December 31st, 2021, will forfeit their seat in the class.
    • Download PA-C Observation Hours form and upload to your CASPA application.
  • Three letters of recommendation are required.
    • It is highly recommended that one letter come from a certified Physician Assistant (PA-C). 
    • The second two letters are to be written by a professor or supervisor who can attest to the candidate's academic preparedness and professional attributes.
    • Letters from friends or family members will not be accepted.
  • Personal Statement.
    • A statement of no more than 5,000 characters describing the motivation to become a certified Physician Assistant (This is the CASPA essay.).
    • There is no supplemental essay.
  • Prerequisite coursework.
    • There is no upper limit on the length-of-time passed since Prerequisite coursework completion.


Prerequisite Coursework

Prerequisite Coursework Minimum Semester Hours
Human Anatomy with lab* 3
Physiology* 3
Microbiology with lab 3
General or Organic Chemistry with lab 3
Biochemistry 3
Science at the 200 level or above. The following classes will be accepted: Genetics, Immunology, Cell or Molecular Biology, Organic Chemistry 3
Statistics 3
Psychology, Social Science or Behavioral Science 3
Humanities and Fine Arts, Foreign Language 3

*or may use two combined courses in Anatomy and Physiology with labs.

  • No upper limit on the length-of-time passed since Prerequisite coursework completion
  • Each course may only satisfy one prerequisite.
  • The program will honor credentialed online lecture-based and online laboratory coursework in the 2021-2022 cycle due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. 
  • Due to the pandemic, the program will honor up to two “Pass” grades in prerequisite classes taken anytime between January 1st, 2020 and December 31st, 2021. No more than 2 total prerequisite courses may be pass/fail.
  • Advanced Placement credit does not count towards prerequisite coursework.
  • Applicants must indicate on the CASPA application which courses are in progress.
  • Only 2 prerequisite courses may be outstanding or incomplete at the time the application is submitted to CASPA.
  • Applicants with outstanding prerequisite requirements can still be offered admissions, however the offer is contingent on evidence of completion on or before December 31, 2021 with a grade of "C" or better.
  • Applicants with outstanding prerequisites who are offered admissions who fail to provide evidence of completion of courses or do not achieve a "C" or better, will result in forfeiture of the seat.


Transfer Credit

All courses within the curriculum are required. No transfer credit is accepted. No credit is granted for pre-admission experiential learning, prior coursework, degrees, certifications, or advanced training.


Interview Process

The Admissions Committee will meet monthly starting in June to review completed and verified applications. Candidates will be notified regarding the first two interview dates in July, and proceed accordingly until all slots for all interview days are filled. When candidates visit our North Central Campus in historic downtown Naperville, they can expect a warm welcome that reflects our relationship-based program, campus tour, financial aid briefing, and participate in both group and multiple mini-interviews to assess pre-professional competencies. A representative of the Admissions Committee will communicate with the candidate following the in-person interview to let them know of their status. As the program employs rolling admissions, it will offer notification of acceptance throughout the interview season (July 2021-December 2021). Students who are placed and wish to remain on the waiting list may receive notification of acceptance up to the day before classes begin.   


Minimum Required Technical Standards

  • Diversity and fostering an environment of safety and inclusiveness is a priority and our institution is deeply committed to creating a learning environment that reflects the evolving pluralistic society we live in. The North Central MSPAS program has a minimum set of technical standards for admission with the acknowledgement that every effort will be made for reasonable accommodations to meet these standards. 
  • Attached please find the required technical standards for the program. Required Technical Standards


Tuition Cost and Fees

Your actual expenses may vary from the "average" cost of attendance.  Historically, tuition and other fees have increased between 4%-6% annually.

Fixed Costs First Year Second Year
Tuition $53,725 $55,874
Program Fees:
Lab Fees $300 $200
Preceptor Fees $100 $300
Assessment Fees $300 $400
Professional Ceremony Fees $150 $200
Subtotal $54,575 $56,974
Variable Costs First Year Second Year
Room & Board $9,420 $9,420
Books & Supplies $600 $600
Personal $4,792 $4,792
Medical Supplies $1,000 $1,000
Transportation $3,480 $3,480
Background Check $100 $100
Urine Drug Screen $50 $50
Subtotal $19,442 $19,442
TOTAL - Fixed and Variable $74,017 $76,416

Tuition and Fees Refund Policy and Schedule

A student who officially withdraws from the College or a course(s) should view the Refund Policy and Schedule.


Financial Aid 

Please visit the graduate financial aid page for additional information. 


Class Profile

Provided accreditation-provisional is awarded at the September 2021 ARC-PA meeting, North Central College MSPAS program will seat their first class in January, 2022. Upon matriculation, we will post class data including accepted student demographics, such as underrepresented minorities as described by the AAMC academic data and CASPA applicant data.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q:  What is a developing program?

A:  A developing program is one that has not yet received accreditation-provisional from the ARC-PA.

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

A:  The ARC-PA site visit will occur in July, 2021 and the decision regarding accreditation will happen in September/October, 2021. We will notify all candidates immediately upon the decision, as well as update the decision on the physician assistant program's website.

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

A:  Yes and you can receive licensure in all 50 states.

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

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

Q:  Why are you using the PA-CAT?

A:  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 the opportunity for self-study if need be.

Q:  What will you do with my PA-CAT scores?

A:  The program will use all applicant PA-CAT scores for the next three years to determine if this text is something that we will recommend versus require in the future.

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

A:  Absolutely! Preference for interviews 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.

Q:  What is rolling admissions?

A:  North Central College in-person campus 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.

Q:  When will in-person/campus interviews begin?

A:  We plan to begin our in-person/campus interviews in July 2021 and continue until December 2021.

Q:  How large is the cohort?

A:  32 students

Q:  What is your faculty:student ratio?

A:  For the 2021-2022 didactic year, the ratio is planned to be 1:6

Q:  Will you accept online laboratories?

A:  Yes

Q:  Will you accept Pass/Fail grades for prerequisites?

A:  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will accept Pass/Fail grades for up to two courses from the Fall/Spring/Summer 2020-2021 semesters

Q:  Will you accept bachelor's degrees from international universities?

A:  Unfortunately, during the 2021-2022 cycle we are only accepting bachelor's degrees from regionally or United States' nationally accredited colleges or universities.

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

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

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

A:  Yes. There is no upper limit on the length-of-time passed since Prerequisite coursework completion. We strongly encourage applicants whose prerequisites were >5 years ago to submit PA-CAT scores.

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

A:  Yes. There is no upper limit on the length-of-time passed since Prerequisite coursework completion. We strongly encourage applicants whose prerequisites were >5 years ago to submit PA-CAT scores.

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

A:  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 Hours forms. Please complete these forms and upload them into your CASPA application.

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

A:  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. Examples of jobs that are commonly considered direct patient health care experiences include EMT, paramedic, LPN, RN, health care technicians EKG, PCT, Pharmacy Tech, Echo Tech, ER Tech, Medical Assistant (MA), and healthcare Scribes (ER scribe, Ortho Scribe, etc.). Other jobs may also fulfill this requirement and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Q:  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 12/31/2021, can I still apply?

A:  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 2021-2022 admissions cycle for Direct Patient Health Care & PA-C Observation Hours is December 31st, 2021.

Please refer back to the website frequently for updates as it relates to admissions requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic and our status as a developing program.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (P.A.) Program

The North Central College Master's Degree Physician Assistant program will prepare our diverse students to become competent medical providers who deliver humane, patient and relationship-centered primary care in collaboration with healthcare professionals while developing future leaders committed to community service, life-long learning and advancement of the PA profession.