Physician Assistant Program
Admission Requirements 2015-2016
Admission to the Harding University Physician Assistant Program is highly competitive. All applications are carefully reviewed by the Program Admissions Committee and evaluated for completion of required coursework as well as characteristics that show promise of successful completion of the program and professional achievement.
Because admission information is updated regularly, applicants should verify current requirements on the program website. The most current admission information will always be posted at this site.
All Applicants Must:
- Meet all general requirements for admission to, and agree to abide by all policies and procedures for, graduate programs at Harding University. Graduate students at Harding University are expected to maintain the highest standards of morality, integrity, orderliness and personal honor. Harding University reserves the right to refuse admittance or dismiss any student whose lifestyle is not consistent with the Christian principles that this university represents. This is from the Graduate Catalog Code of Conduct. Using the links on the left side, choose Ethical Standards.
- Have an academic record of performance at the undergraduate level that is predictive of academic success and professional achievement as a Physician Assistant
Health Care Experience
Health Care experience IS required for admission. It is strongly recommended that there be at least 100 hours of health care experiences completed prior to submission of the CASPA application. We do not accept updates of this information throughout the application cycle.
It is believed that such experience is an accurate indicator of an individual's desire and commitment to engage in health care service. This experience should be sufficient to recognize the physical and psychological demands of dealing with patients and to appreciate the challenges of being a healthcare professional.
When the program is reviewing this work, consideration is given to the following:
- Whether or not the experience is direct patient care or health care related
- Total number of hours
- The description of duties
- How recent the experience is (our preference is within the last 5 years)
Examples of Health Care Experience:
- Medical assistant
- Emergency medical technician
- Clinical research with patient contact
- Pharmacy tech (strongly suggest that this be augmented with some non-pharmacy hours also)
- Health care related techs
- Licensed health care providers
- Physical therapy aid
- Hospice volunteer
- Volunteer in health care setting where you have patient contact (not solely clerical or front desk work)
- Medical missions
Shadowing: To gain sufficient insight in the physician assistant health care role, observing (shadowing) a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or physician providing direct patient care is highly advised and will be considered as health care experience.
The average length of medical experience of the last 6 classes may be viewed: See Medical Experience at BOTTOM of the FAQ.
2015/2016 Interview Dates:
The dates for 2015/16 are scheduled as follows:
The interview day will be 1/2 day in length, consisting of a terminology test/time with current students (see study guide on this website), faculty interviews, and a small group activity.
Dates may be subject to change.
Competency in basic medical terminology is required for acceptance into the program. A course in medical terminology is recommended for applicants who are not health professionals or for any applicant not confident of their ability in this area. Self-study courses are appropriate. No transcript record/grade for medical terminology is required. All applicants must pass, with a score of 75% or better, a written exam in medical terminology given at the time of the interview. A self-study course in basic medical terminology is available for download in Adobe Acrobat format from the program
CASPA Application and Deadlines
The class matriculating August 2016
Applications are available through CASPA (Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants) at CASPA.
Helpful suggestions can be found on: CASPA facebook page.
You should immediately receive an email from CASPA (firstname.lastname@example.org) when you open your account. If you do not - find out why, check your spam and make changes accordingly as needed. It is suggested that you set the following as Safe/Trusted: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; @sendgrid.me. This will save you many missed emails from PA programs.
It is suggested that you do NOT use a .edu address as the educational institution may spam block emails.
To meet our application deadline, the following must be met:
- By November 1, 2015 (midnight Eastern standard time: ex: 11 PM CST = 12 PM EST) your status must be changed from In Progress to Materials Received>Verifying and CASPA must mark it as having been received:
- E-submitted application and payment
- All transcripts must be posted as received.
- At least 2 of the 3 required reference letters with the 3rd to follow. Our requirement is 3 reference letters. (See FAQ #9 for additional LOR information)
- The 3rd reference letter must be posted/received by CASPA by December 1, 2015. If you have submitted 3 names to CASPA already and need to change people or the form has been lost, contact customer service at CASPA for help.
- We will accept more than 3 letters of reference or evaluations submitted through CASPA, but only 3 are required.
- The applicant has met our application deadline if the above stated requirements have been completed. We will wait on CASPA to finish the verification process, which may take several weeks.
- Do not submit additional reference letters or additional experience information to the program. Choose carefully how you complete your CASPA application.
- Do not send transcripts directly to the program, unless specifically asked.
- Updating academic coursework through the CASPA application
- Refer to FAQs at CASPA (see BOTTOM of Home page)
- The program will not change the total GPA's but will update the prerequisite GPA changes
- IT IS THE APPLICANT'S RESPONSIBILITY TO NOTIFY THE PROGRAM OF UPDATES WHICH HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED TO CASPA IN THIS MANNER (email@example.com). The program will let you know if a transcript is desired.
- The program will work with you to quickly update academic information needed at the end of the fall semester. This information will be provided via email.
ADDITIONAL APPLICATION SUGGESTIONS (pdf)
have been prepared to help answer questions/concerns about the application process.
Check the application status on CASPA. For more information on status, check the FAQs under My Application Status. It is the applicant's responsibility to check the status often to ensure that CASPA has received and processed the information in a timely manner.
This is an extremely busy time for CASPA and transcripts and reference letters often take longer to be posted as received by CASPA than anticipated. Do not anticipate CASPA posting your transcripts or references on the same day or next day as when they are received.
Selected applicants who meet or exceed the minimum academic requirements will be reviewed by the Program to determine who has a demonstrated academic record of performance which is predictive of academic success as a PA. These applicants will receive a Supplemental Application (SA) sent (via e-mail) from the Program. The SA and a $25 fee are both submitted directly to the program.
A SA fee waiver will be extended to:
- Those who have received a current CASPA fee waiver with official documentation provided to the program.
- Those who are current McNair scholars with official documentation provided to the program.
All applicants will hear from us via email after their application has had a transcript review. This will usually occur within 2 weeks after the application has become verified by CASPA. If you have not heard by the end of the 2 week time-frame, check your SPAM first and then contact us.
No application will be considered if transcripts and/or reference letters are posted as received by CASPA after November 1st.
- Complete the general GRE test prior to November 1, 2015. We are aware that it may take several weeks for the official scores to be reported to CASPA and will check the date the test was taken to verify that it meets this requirement.
- Complete the GRE after January 1, 2010.
- Harding's code is: 0417. This code must be submitted to GRE (ETS) to have scores submitted to us. ETS booklet will show "0417 Harding U Phsy Asst CASPA"
- All applicants are required to take the GRE. We do not require self - reported scores on the application.
- No minimum score is required. GRE scores should support your academic grades and demonstrate the ability to take standardized test.
- CASPA applications may be submitted prior to the official GRE scores being received. Official GRE scores must be submitted using our code of 0417 as soon as possible once the test has been completed.
- If you are a re-applicant, check with us to ensure that we have a copy of your GRE scores.
- We will accept either the new or older version of the GRE general test.
- We do NOT mix score reports from separate exam dates.
- If the name on your CASPA application is different than the name used when the GRE was taken under, please notify CASPA so they can match your GRE scores with your application.
- For reference, our typical PA student usually has a GRE score at or above the 40th percentile in each area. The GRE is not a weighted admission item but is used as a support of the submitted grades.
Submission of a completed application packet does not guarantee an interview, selection or admission into the Physician Assistant Program. You do not need to file an undergraduate application to Harding University to be considered for admission.
We will begin the interview process as applications are received from CASPA. Interviews will be offered to qualified applicants prior to the application deadline and student positions will be offered on a rolling admissions basis. Early application is strongly encouraged. Some student positions will remain available through the last interview date.
The Admissions Committee reviews all completed applications. Applications will be reviewed, looking for traits of a competitive applicant who will be invited for an interview. These traits include but are not limited to:
- Meets or exceeds the minimum academic requirements
- Has sought out adequate hours of shadowing/direct patient care contact hours to demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to this career path.
- Has strong letters of reference See FAQ
- Graduates of Harding or its sister schools and Arkansas residents will be given preference.
- Experience in rural healthcare or in missions will receive favorable consideration in the applicant selection process.
Selected applicants will be asked to complete a supplemental application (There is a $25 supplemental application fee.) that is submitted directly to the program. We will send this via e-mail to selected applicants who meet or exceed our minimum academic requirements.
Competitive applicants will be invited to attend a personal interview that affords the faculty an opportunity to further review the applicant’s credentials. Applicants are expected to demonstrate maturity, personal initiative, an understanding of the Physician Assistant role and excellent communication skills. This meeting enables the applicants to become acquainted with the program’s facilities, faculty/staff and/or students.
All applicants will hear from the program via email by mid-January if they have not been invited for an interview.
All interviewed applicants will hear from the program by mid-March (if not sooner) on their status via email.
Applications are encouraged from those who can demonstrate a commitment to practice primary care in rural and urban medically underserved areas, or in foreign or domestic mission fields.
Scoring of competitive applicants at the time of the interview will be based on an objective tool that awards points in many different areas. These areas include all of the above mentioned plus communication skills, maturity level, and ability to answer questions asked during the interview process.
Selection and Notification for Admission
The number of applicants recommended for acceptance will be determined annually by the Physician Assistant Program admissions committee.
After interviews are completed, interviewees will be informed about their status in writing (email). Based upon a review of the applications and interview, the Admissions Committee may recommend one of the following:
- Acceptance: Accepted students will be notified by email and by postal mail. All acceptances will be conditional, contingent upon completion of the Criminal Background Check with acceptable results. Individuals who have not completed all prerequisites or graduated will have these additional contingencies added to their conditional acceptance, pending verification of successful completion of the required coursework and/or graduation.
- An advance tuition deposit of $300.00 is to be returned with all required paperwork with the student offer, with an anticipated turn around of approximately 2 weeks from the time of the student offer. For those who will matriculate in August of 2017, this will increase to $500.00.
- Hold: During the admissions process, the program will periodically offer a set number of positions ("rolling admissions") to qualified applicants. Those applicants who do not receive an offer of acceptance prior to the final selection of candidates will be placed on hold status. These applicants will continue to be eligible for positions in the program until the final selections are made.
- Non-Acceptance: Applicants wishing to be considered in a subsequent year must reapply, and must satisfy all admission requirements for that year.
- Admission Alternates: At the conclusion of the interview season, some applicants will be ranked as alternates and will be notified of their admission status on or before the program start date August 2015. Applicants not admitted from the alternate list must reapply if they wish to be considered in subsequent years.
All program decisions are final.
Tuition and Fees
We have a flat rate tuition per semester that remains the same throughout each academic year (fall, spring, summer). Each August the cost may be adjusted by the University. This price will then remain the same for 3 semesters (fall, spring, and summer) and adjusted for the following academic year. We are a 7 semester program. We can only give an approximate cost for tuition only for the entire program at $79,000 for the entering class of 2015.
As a private institution, there is no difference in tuition costs for in-state/out-of-state students
The program will cover:
- Lab supplies
- Malpractice insurance
- BLS & ACLS costs
- Professional dues (ARAPA & AAPA)
The student will be responsible for:
- University Technology fee each semester
- Books, laptop & required software, and medical equipment
- Graduation fee ($145) during the seventh semester
- Post graduation expenses:
- Licensing exam – PANCE ($425)
- State Licensure –varies by state ($150-200)
Fall 2015 Tuition
$11,251/semester (1st semester will be less the $300 advance deposit already paid - the advance deposit will increase to $500 for 2016/17 applicants)
Criminal background check
$20.00/initial expense for immunization documentation - Program will cover remaining yrs.
*Books (if didactic year)
$2,000-3000.00/1 time expense
Books (if clinical year)
$500/1 time expense
Laptop & required software
$1000-1500.00/1 time expense
$700-1000.00/1 time expense
$28.00 annually (fall, spring, summer)
Spring 2016 Tuition
Summer 2016 Tuition
Fall 2016 Tuition
Tuition to be determined by Harding’s board for following 3 semesters. Will be known in late spring 2016.
* Requirements will be listed after acceptance into the program.
This does not include costs unrelated to tuition or university fees. Other student costs may include: room and board, car and insurance, health insurance, costs associated with clinical rotation such as travel, food, lodging (if required) and any other requirements of the clinical site. All of these are approximate costs and are subject to change.
Policies and procedures for withdrawals and refunds of tuition and for processing student grievances are published in the Graduate Catalog. Withdrawals and refund information is found under the Registration link and Student grievance information is found under the Academic Grievances link..
A Point of Reference
The "typical" Physician Assistant Student entering a U.S. program in 2004 was 27 years old, held a bachelor's degree, had a grade point average of 3.36, and had 37 months of health care experience prior to admission. (Source: Twentieth Annual Report on Physician Assistant Educational Programs in the United States, 2003-2004)
Program and Clinical Site Requirements
- Upon acceptance into the program, official transcripts showing conferment of undergraduate and graduate degree(s), if applicable, must be sent to the program. These must arrive prior to the program start date.
- Students are required to have their own laptop computer upon entry into the program. PDA's are required prior to entry into the clinical phase. The minimal requirements will be listed after acceptance into the program.
- Proficiency in basic computer skills (word-processing, data bases, Internet searches, e-mail) is expected of all entering students, as the curriculum will incorporate the use of computer technology. Additionally, all students in the Program will be expected to have access to the Internet.
- All students will be expected to purchase or have the required medical equipment needed to meet program requirements. This will include acquiring an approved lab coat with a school issued patch. The equipment list will be provided after acceptance into the program.
- Students are required to maintain health insurance.
- Each student must carry Physician Assistant liability insurance coverage, which will be included in tuition costs.
- Portions of the program will require travel to various locations; all students are required to have reliable transportation, a valid driver's license, and auto liability insurance. It is not feasible to share rides during clinical rotations. Further information will be reviewed in detail at orientation. Accepted students are required to attend all orientation sessions scheduled by the program.
- Clinical experiences entail travel to clinical sites. PA students are responsible for all costs associated with travel and off campus clinical experiences. Transportation and food are the most common out-of pocket expenses. Some sites will require additional living arrangements to be made, which will be the student's responsibility.
- It is the program's responsibility to develop clinical sites for all rotations.
- Matriculation and continued enrollment in the Physician Assistant program is contingent upon a completed Criminal Background Check with acceptable results. Failure to consent to a criminal background check; refusal to provide necessary information to conduct a background check; failure to provide additional information wherein an investigation is warranted; and failure to comply with the investigatory procedures when a cause for further action is warranted due to (1) the discovery of previously undisclosed information; (2) the discovery of more egregious information than was previously disclosed; or, (3) the discovery of conflicting information between or amongst the CASPA Application and/or the Supplemental Application and /or the Criminal Background Check Report and/or any and all documents considered part of an applicant's CASPA application, will result in disciplinary action up to, and including, withdrawal of a conditional offer of acceptance, refusal of admission, or dismissal from the Physician Assistant program.
Some students may also be expected to submit to random drug testing required by clinical practice sites and/or the program. These additional costs would be the students' responsibility. Criminal background checks and drug screens are common pre-employment procedures
Applicants selected for admission to the program must provide evidence of good health, no communicable diseases and required immunizations and screenings prior to matriculation. Forms will be available to those accepted into the program. Immunizations and screening tests required are as follows:
- Hepatitis B series and titer (this can take up to 6 months to complete),
- Two MMR's,
- Date of completion of primary tetanus series, (DPT, DPT,DTaP or Td)
- Date of completion of polio series
- A 1 time booster of Tdap within past 10 years is now required
- Positive varicella titer (if negative then series of 2 immunizations) OR a series of 2 immunizations
- A 2 step PPD skin test performed within four months prior to matriculation.
This information is provided so that you may begin receiving any immunizations that you are now lacking. Complete information will be given after acceptance in the program. A form documenting evidence of good health and a PPD will be required before entering the clinical phase also.
The technical standards for admission to the Harding University Physician Assistant Program establish the expectations for proficiency in essential abilities necessary for students admitted to this program. This curriculum requires demonstrated aptitude in diverse skills and abilities related to observation, intellect, physical manipulation, communication and interpersonal skills. Therefore, the following abilities and characteristics must be possessed, with or without reasonable accommodation, by all students admitted in the program.
- Candidates must possess the qualities of compassion, integrity, interest and motivation that are all personal qualities essential to the role.
- Candidates must have an attitude of respect for self and others, adherence to the concepts of privilege and confidentiality in communicating with patients, and a commitment to the patient’s welfare.
- Candidates must have the mental capacity to assimilate and learn large volumes of complex, technically detailed information, to perform clinical problem solving, and to synthesize and apply concepts and information from different disciplines to formulate diagnostic and therapeutic judgments.
- Candidates must be able to observe and participate in all demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences, including computer assisted instruction.
- Candidates must have sufficient visual and auditory acuity, as well as tactile and olfactory sensation necessary to directly perform a physical examination. Candidates must be physically able to perform inspection, palpation, auscultation and percussion.
- Candidates must possess sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control, depth perception, and eye-to-hand coordination to utilize standard medical instruments. They must possess sufficient control of the upper extremities to meet the physical requirements for training and performing complete physical examinations.
- Candidates are expected to have a high degree of coordination necessary to respond to emergency situations quickly and appropriately.
- Candidates must be able to relate reasonably to patients and establish a sensitive, professional and effective relationship. They should be able to communicate the results of the examination to the patient with accuracy, clarity and efficiency.
- Candidates must have the ability to remain calm and reasoned in a high stress environment and be able to respond quickly and appropriately in emergencies.
- Candidates must be able to relate to and develop good professional rapport with other members of the health care team. Recognizing limitations, demonstrating concern for patients and exercising good judgment are also required attributes.
- A candidate must possess the emotional and mental health required for full utilization of his or her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients.
- Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads, and have the ability to maintain composure and emotional stability during periods of high stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.
Candidates are urged to ask questions about the program’s technical standards for clarification and to determine whether they can meet the requirements with or without reasonable accommodations. Questions may be directed to the program director. Revealing a disability is voluntary; however, such disclosure is necessary before any accommodations may be made in the learning environment or in the program’s procedures. Information about disabilities is handled in a confidential manner. Reasonable accommodations will be made to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. These require program and institutional approval. Requests for accommodations must be submitted in writing to the program director, allowing sufficient time prior to matriculation for action on these requests. Candidates who feel that they may not meet the technical standards are encouraged to contact the program director to discuss and identify what accommodations, if any, can be made by Harding University so that the candidate might be able to meet the standards.
Harding is required by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, as amended, not to discriminate of the basis of gender in its admission policies, treatment of students, employment practices or educational programs except as required by religious tenets of the churches of Christ. Harding has a nondiscrimination policy available upon request in the offices of Student Services and Human Resources. Inquiries concerning the application of federal and state laws or regulations may be referred to the Office of Human Resources, Box 12257, Searcy, AR 72149-2257: telephone 501-279-4380. The person to ensure compliance with the nondiscrimination policy and discrimination laws and regulations is the chief financial officer of the University.