Physician Assistant Program


Admission Requirements 2020 - 2021

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 and Professional Handbook pdf Section 3. Any questions concerning this handbook should be directed to Dr. Michael McGallard: (ALL program related questions should be directed to
  • 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 (both Health Related and Patient Care)

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 will accept Health Care Experience updates IF it is added to the CASPA application per CASPA instructions AND the program is notified of these updates ( This is the only acceptable method of update allowed.

  • You can enter HCE updates as a new experience (even if it is a continued experience), entering in the continued dates of your work. Please put UPDATE in the description (along with the description) for our ease of understanding. Do NOT update weekly, but every 6 weeks would be acceptable. You must contact me that an update has been made (

It is believed that health care experience(s) 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:

  1. Whether or not the experience is direct patient care or health care related
  2. Total number of hours
  3. The description of duties
  4. How recent the experience is (our preference is within the last 5 years)

Examples of Health Care Experience (not inclusive):

  • Medical assistant
  • Emergency medical technician
  • Paramedic
  • Clinical research with patient contact
  • Pharmacy tech (strongly suggest that this be augmented with some non-pharmacy hours also)
  • Phlebotomist
  • Scribe
  • Health care related techs
  • Licensed health care providers
  • Physical therapy aid
  • Hospice volunteer
  • Volunteer in health care setting where you have patient contact (not 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.

  • At least 20 hours of PA shadowing is strongly recommended.

Health Care Experience obtained as part of a student's required degree work will only be counted if additional health care experience outside of this required work has been obtained also.

The average length of medical experience of the last 6 classes may be viewed: See Medical Experience at FAQ #23.

Point of reference ONLY: accepted students who came into the program immediately after completion of their undergraduate degree had 250 hours of healthcare experience as their average.

These numbers are provided as averages ONLY and are not used as “cut scores” when looking at applicants.

Interview Information

Due to COVID, our interview process will be virtual this 2020-2021 CASPA application cycle.  As interview dates are finalized, applicants can reference this section for a list of virtual interview dates.

CASPA Application and Deadlines

CASPA 2020/2021 cycle will open April 30th

Applications are available through CASPA (Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants).

CASPA helpful sites:

You should immediately receive an email from CASPA ( when you open your account. If you do not - find out why, check your spam and make changes accordingly as needed.

Our Admissions program will send from and/or  Set these as safe senders.  This will save you many missed emails from PA programs.

To meet our application deadline, the following must be met:

  • By November 1, 2020 (midnight Eastern standard time: ex: 11:59 PM EST = 10:59 PM CST) your status must be changed from In Progress/Received to Complete and CASPA must mark your application as having been received:
    • E-submitted application and payment
    • All transcripts must be posted as received.
    • All 3 of the letters of reference must be posted as received. (See  #FAQ 11 for additional LOR information) 
      • 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 met and CASPA has marked the application status as COMPLETE by the stated deadline. We will wait on CASPA to finish the verification process, which may take several weeks. 
  • Do not submit additional reference letters directly to the program. They will not be read due to the volume of applications.  Choose carefully how you complete your CASPA application.
  • Do not send transcripts directly to the program, unless specifically asked.

  • All applications are through CASPA, do NOT apply through the University. 

  • We will accept Health Care Experience updates IF it is added to the CASPA application per CASPA instructions AND the program is notified of these updates ( This is the only acceptable method of update allowed.

  • Updating academic coursework through the CASPA application
    • Refer to FAQs and instructions at CASPA
      • This can be found in the Help Center - Submitting and Monitoring Your CASPA Application- Before & After You Submit Your CASPA Application - Updating Your CASPA Application/Academic Update (you will need to expand this section)
    • The program will not change the total GPA's but will update the prerequisite GPA changes
    • The program will work with you to quickly update academic information needed at the end of the fall semester. It is possible that academic updates may strengthen an applicants academic profile OR it may be reason for an applicant to no longer be given consideration for that application cycle.

Check the application status on CASPA. For more information on status, check the information under Submitting and Monitoring Your Application. 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.

Supplemental Application

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 is submitted directly to the program and an invoice from Square is sent for the $50.00 fee.

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.

Required GRE

  • Complete the general GRE test on or before November 1, 2020. 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.

  • 4/1/2020 - At this time, ETS is offering at home GRE - please see the information provided at:

  • ETS keeps scores for FIVE (5) years, if it is beyond that time frame the GRE must be re-taken.

  • Harding's code is: 0417.  This code must be submitted to GRE (ETS) to have scores submitted to us. ETS booklet will show "Harding U Phys Asst CASPA 0417"

  • 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.

  • 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, 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.

Application Review

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 (see FAQ #21) basis. Early application is strongly encouraged.  Some student positions will remain available through the last interview date.

  • CASPA has a faster turn around earlier in the admission cycle and your application with HUPA is available for more consideration when submitted early.

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:

Selected applicants will be asked to complete a supplemental application. There is a $50 supplemental application fee submitted through Square. 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, 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 will 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 $500.00 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.
  • Hold: During the admissions process, the program will periodically offer student positions ("rolling admissions" see FAQ #21) 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 this admission status. Applicants not admitted from the alternate list must reapply if they wish to be considered in subsequent years.

All program decisions are final.

HU Undergraduates

For Harding University Undergraduates, we offer an Early Assurance of Interview (EAI). This program is intended to guarantee highly qualified Harding students an interview for a student position with our PA program upon completion of all admission requirements and maintenance of certain academic and healthcare criteria.

Applications from Harding Undergraduates who do not participate in EAI are very welcome and encouraged and will still be invited to interviews if their applications present them as qualified. 

Early Assurance for Interview (EAI) eligibility requirements (pdf).

Early Assurance for Interview (EAI) enrollment form (pdf). Complete this form (this is a fillable pdf) and return to 

WHAT'S NEXT AFTER HIGH SCHOOL? (pdf) We hope you give Harding University consideration for this next step. We have many academic choices that are excellent preparation for a professional career. 

Tuition and Fees

2019/2020 year 

We have a cohort tuition for each entering class. The tuition costs will remain the same throughout their duration in the program. For the entering class of 2020 the tuition is set at $14,178 per term for 7 semesters.

As a private institution, there is no difference in tuition costs for in-state/out-of-state students

PROGRAM COSTS for the entering 2019 class and current classes. Tuition Costs pdf

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)

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 in August of each year.
  • Students are required to have their own laptop computer upon entry into the program. Smart phones 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 private 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

Health Requirements

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,
  • 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.

Technical Standards

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.

Interpersonal Skills:

  • 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.

Non-Discrimination Statement

This information can be found at the bottom of this page in Harding's Catalog: Non-Discrimination

Contact Us

Fax: 501-279-4811

Mailing address:
Harding University
Physician Assistant Program
Box 12231
Searcy, AR 72149-5615