Prospective Students

Qualified Candidate Profile

Degree and GPA Requirements


  • A bachelor's degree, completed at an institution within the United States accredited by an agency nationally recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.


  • A prerequisite GPA of a 3.00 or higher on a 4.00 scale as computed by the program is required. There are no exceptions made on this minimum prerequisite GPA. If coursework is retaken, the higher grade is used for the GPA calculation.
  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA should be greater than 3.00 on a 4.00 scale as computed by CASPA. Applicants with a GPA less than 3.00 may be given consideration based on sufficient evidence of current academic success. 
  • GPA Evaluation
    • The program reviews GPAs for demonstration of academic performance at the undergraduate level that is predictive of academic success and professional achievement of the physician assistant.  Success in prerequisite coursework, science courses, and in most recent coursework may demonstrate this ability.  While there are no set GPA threshholds beyond the prerequisite GPA, highly qualified applicants have GPAs similar to those below:
      • Cumulative undergraduate: 3.6
      • Prerequisite: 3.7
      • Overall Science: 3.5
      • GPA on the last 40 hours of coursework: 3.8
    • Graduate level coursework can help demonstrate current academic capability for applicants with a history of early poor performance.  

Prerequisite Coursework


Prerequisite courses must be completed at an agency nationally recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Under each requirement the credit hours and approved courses, where applicable, are listed.

General Chemistry I & II with labs

  • 8 credits

Additional Chemistry

  • 3 credits (no lab required)
  • Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry

Microbiology with lab

  • 4 credits

Human Anatomy and Physiology with labs

  • 8 credits
  • A&P I + Lab is acceptable if paired with A&P II + Lab.  Standalone Anatomy + Lab must be paired with standalone Physiology + Lab.  Mixing sequences will not satisfy the requirement
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology are preferred. Where unavailable, Comparative Anatomy and Physiology may be substituted as long as the courses include the study of the human body. Animal anatomy and physiology will not be accepted.


  • 3 credits
  • College Algebra, Precalculus, Calculus, or Statistics 
  • Statistics courses must be taken in the Math department

General Psychology

  • 3 credits
  • Developmental Psychology covering the lifespan can be substituted

Psychology elective

  • 3 credits
  • Electives should be similar to the following list: Developmental Psychology (does not have to be life span), Physiology Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, or Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • If Developmental Psychology fulfills the first psychology course requirement, it cannot also count as the psychology elective.
  • Psychology electives must be completed in the Psychology department.

Medical Terminology

  • 1-3 credits
  • P/F is acceptable for this course only.
  • This course can also be taken in the spring semester or winter quarter prior to the program start date the following fall in addition to 1 other prerequisite course. 

Upper Level Biology

  • 3 credits
  • Must be from the following list: Cell Biology, Cell Physiology, Cell Structure and Function, Developmental Biology, Genetics, Embryology, Endocrinology, Immunology, Mammalian Biology, Microbial Genetics, Molecular Biology, Molecular Cell Biology, Molecular Genetics, Neurobiology, Neuroscience, Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, and Virology.
  • Biochemistry, Biology II, Epidemiology, Evolution, and Special Topics courses will not be accepted.
  • In areas where distinctions are made within courses, the course must apply to humans.
  • The upper-level biology course must be taken in the biology department, in a university setting, at the 300/3000 level (or the level designated as upper-level per the offering institution), and should be at the level required for science majors.


General Coursework Requirements

  • Introductory or Survey courses are not accepted. 
  • All prerequisite course grades must be a C (2.0) or higher (NOT C-); pass/fail grades are not accepted. 
    • Medical Terminology is the only exception to the P/F rule
    • Due to Covid-19 we will allow CR/NC (or similar) for the Spring 2020 grades only. 
  • All coursework must meet or exceed the semester credit hour requirement.
    • Applicants with quarter hour credits must ensure their quarter credits meet the semester credit requirement.  To calculate semester credits, divide the number of quarter credits by 1.5.
      4 quarter credits = 2.67 semester credits
      5 quarter credits = 3.33 semester credits
      6 quarter credits = 4 semester credits

Coursework Rigor

  • Science prerequisites must be at a level acceptable for science majors.  Allied Health coursework must meet the academic rigor expected of science majors and may be subject to review by the Admissions Team.
  • Online courses that meet the general coursework requirements are typically accepted; however, in-person courses, especially labs, are given strong preference by the program. 
    • Taking several in-person upper-level sciences courses is strongly recommended for applicants with many online courses on their transcript. This demonstrates the ability to handle the level of rigor of an in-classroom setting.
  • The successful completion of additional biology or science courses beyond the required minimum will serve to strengthen any applications

Coursework Timelines

  • It is strongly recommended that coursework in Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and Upper-level Biology be completed within the 7 years prior to your anticipated matriculation into the program. 
  • Only 1 prerequisite course may be left for completion during the Spring semester or Winter quarter prior to the anticipated fall matriculation.
    • This may be a course which includes a lab component.
    • Medical Terminology does not count and can be taken alongside 1 other course in the final Spring or Winter. 
    • If the prerequisite GPA of 3.0 cannot be maintained by passing the in progress course, your application will no longer be considered for that admissions cycle.
    • Planned or in-progress prerequisite coursework must be included in your CASPA application inorder to successfully meet our admissions requirements.
      • This includes all coursework to be completed to meet prerequisite requirements, to finish your degree, and/or to demonstrate academic capability. 
      • Planned coursework does not have to be on the transcript to be entered into CASPA.

Coursework Substitutions 

  • Advanced Placement (AP) credit is accepted to satisfy prerequisite coursework if the AP credit is accepted by the applicant's degree-granting institution and is posted on official academic transcripts as credit toward a specific course. 
  • CLEP examination credit is not accepted.
  • Course substitutions that do not cover the scope of information covered in the prerequisite classes are not accepted. Program decisions are final.

Coursework Evaluations

  • The PA Program is not able to do general evaluations of transcripts.
  • The Admissions Team has reviewed several institutions' course offerings already. Check to see if your school and course have already been reviewed
  • If you cannot find the information you are looking for, check with your academic advisor, then your university's registrar before emailing the PA Program for clarification regarding a prerequisite course. 
  • If you still have questions after checking the above channels, the Admissions Team will review alternative courses to determine whether they satisfy the prerequisite requirements.  Fill out this Form to submit a request for course review. All decisions made by the Program and Admissions Team are final.
    • After receiving Google Form requests, the Admissions Team will review the course and respond as time allows. All requests will be reviewed.
    • You may be asked to submit a course syllabus.

At times it may be necessary to update academic coursework in CASPA.  To ensure the Program is aware of these updates, notify the Program via email ( after they are made.  The Program will let you know if a new transcript is required. Refer to CASPA for instructions regarding how to update coursework.


The GRE is required. It must be completed before November 1 of the application cycle and be less than five years old. 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. CASPA applications may be submitted prior to the official GRE scores being received. Official GRE scores must be submitted as soon as possible once the test has been completed; we do not require self-reported scores.

No minimum score is required. GRE scores should support your academic grades and demonstrate the ability to take standardized tests. For reference, our typical PA student usually has a GRE score at or above the 40th percentile in each area.

Other information:

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


Health Care Experience & Shadowing


  • 200 hours of HCE is required prior to submission to the CASPA application
  • HCE can be updated in CASPA periodically by following CASPA instructions 
    • Enter HCE updates as a new experience, even if it is a continued experience, and enter the continued dates of your work. Please put UPDATE in the description, along with the description, for our ease of understanding.
    • Update HCE at least monthly. 
    • To ensure the program is aware of these updates, notify the program ( via email after they are made.

It is believed that HCE is an 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 (not inclusive):

  • Medical assistant/ER Tech
  • Emergency medical technician (EMT)/Paramedic
  • RN/LPN
  • CNA/Patient Care Tech (PCT)
  • Phlebotomist
  • Scribe
  • Licensed health care providers
  • Physical therapy aid
  • Hospice volunteer
  • Volunteer in health care setting where you have patient contact
  • Medical missions
  • ***Clerical or front desk work does not count towards HCE hours 


  • 10 hours of PA shadowing is required. Virtual shadowing cannot be used to meet this requirement.  
  • Shadowing of other health care professionals (e.g. nurse practitioner, physician, etc.) is also advised and should be included in the CASPA application.

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.

General HU Graduate Handbook Requirements

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 & Professional Handbook pdf Section 3. Any questions concerning this handbook should be directed to Dr. Michael McGalliard ( Other program related admissions questions should be directed to

CASPA Application and Deadlines

The 2023-2024 CASPA application cycle will open April 27, 2023.  By November 1, 2023 11:59 PM EST your application status must be changed from In Progress/Received to Verified and CASPA must mark your application as having been received. This can take several weeks so submit your application sufficiently in advance of November 1.  

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

Helpful CASPA sites:

You should immediately receive an email from CASPA ( when you open your account. If you do not, contact CASPA.  For more information on your checking your application status, you can look on CASPA 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, do not anticipate CASPA posting your transcripts or references on the same day or next day as when they are received.  CASPA has a faster turnaround earlier in the admission cycle and your application is available to HUPA for more consideration when submitted early.

Our Admissions Team will send from and/or  Set these as safe senders so they do not go to SPAM.  This will save you many missed emails from PA programs.

Admissions Process

All verified 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 admissions information will always be posted on this site.

Application Evaluation

The Admissions Committee reviews applications as they are received, meaning early application is strongly encouraged. However, the program does operate under rolling admissions, so some student positions will remain available through the last interview date to allow for applications submitted up until our deadline. 

The program is seeking applicants who are well prepared for the rigors of the academic curriculum and clinical training of PA school.  Applications progress through the following stages of evaluation depending on the successful completion of requirements and qualifications:

  • Prerequisite Review: The Program first reviews transcripts, prerequisite coursework, and patient care experience to assess academic capability and to verify the successful, minimum completion of our admissions requirements as outlined on the PA Program website.  Updated transcripts may be requested as needed during this step. 

  • Alignment Review: The Admissions Committee, using the application along with the Supplemental Application, evaluates candidate alignment with program mission and goals, looking for personal and professional aspirations that can both be reasonably met at Harding University and continue to uphold the program's mission and goals.

  • Holistic Review: The Admissions Committee evaluates the whole applicant with consideration of the following: overall academic performance, rigor, and timeline, including any applicable graduate, post-baccalaureate, or repeated coursework that demonstrates improvement; professionalism; external circumstances as they impact academic performance, course load, and timeline; personal alignment with the program mission and goals; writing content and quality; letters of recommendation; GRE test scores; required and auxiliary GPAs; infractions when applicable; reapplicant status; and healthcare and shadowing experiences.

    While applicants may take many paths to PA school, the holistic review uses rubrics that give more weighting to some factors within requirements such as GPAs, GRE scores, and health care experience and shadowing hours.  Within these categories, science GPA is weighted higher than other GPAs, PA shadowing is preferred to non-PA shadowing, and some experience in primary care or a non-specialized field is valued. Additionally, applicants will score higher by achieving the following: fewer gaps in educational and work experience; increased shadowing and health care experience; a significant majority of coursework taken in an in-person, University setting; and success in multiple upper-level biology courses.

  • Interview Review: The Admissions Committee, using a virtual interview setting, evaluates qualified applicants, looking for: demonstrated professionalism through appearance and location; graduate-appropriate speech; conscientious presentation of self; adherence to provided guidelines; alignment with the program's mission and goals; and discussion that allows the program to better know the applicant and understand their choice to pursue PA education at Harding University.

  • Callback Review: The Admissions Committee selects qualified applicants to attend an on-campus interview, evaluating them on the following: ability to communicate effectively; demonstrated resilience to adversity; demonstrated awareness of self; cooperativeness; and appropriateness of answers.

    Applicants making it through the callback review will be discussed by the entire Admissions Committee, with consideration given for 1) alignment with mission and goals, including graduating from Harding University and/or residing in Arkansas, 2) fit for cohort, and 3) the ability for success.  Applicants displaying all three will be given a seat in the cohort or placement on the alternate list in an order influenced by both the rubric scoring and discussion. 

Favorable Consideration

Harding University’s Physician Assistant Program has put into place measures necessary to bring the program’s admissions policies into compliance with the majority decision in SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC. This means the program no longer applies favorable consideration to qualified candidates who demonstrate HRSA diversity factors such as first-generation college students, economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and underrepresented gender, race, age, and ethnic minorities.


While the program does not necessarily agree with the outcome of this case, we strive to remain compliant with the law. We will continue to explore efforts and ideas attempted by the industry and in education to promote racial and ethnic parity and equitable representation in an effort to better serve the diverse environments referred to in our Program’s mission; and when potentially superior means to accomplish those ends are identified, those means should also be employed provided they are capable of passing the strict scrutiny of judicial review. We will continue to consider an applicant’s discussion of how race affected their life to further determine their alignment with the mission and goals of our program, as is permitted by SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC.


Supplemental Application

Applicants who have satisfied the minimum prerequisites will receive a Supplemental Application via email.  Once applicants have completed the Supplemental Application and paid the $50.00 fee, the Admissions Committee will perform the Alignment Review. 

A fee waiver is available to those who:

  • Have received a current CASPA fee waiver and provide official documentation
  • Are current McNair scholars and provide official documentation


Our 2023-2024 CASPA interview cycle will run from July 2023 to February 2024.  
Qualified applicants will be invited to attend a virtual interview.  The Admission Committee will use this interview to select highly qualified candidates for an on-campus interview with the faculty and staff.  
The callback interview affords the program an opportunity to further review the applicant's credentials.  Applicants are expected to demonstrate maturity, personal initiative, an understanding of the PA role, and excellent communication skills.  Applicants will also be evaluated for alignment with the program's missions and goals. The callback interview will be held on-campus and will enable applicants to become acquainted with the program's facilities, faculty, staff, and students.
All applicants will receive notification via email by the end of January if they have not been selected for an interview.

Selection and Notification for Admission

The number of applicants recommended for acceptance will be determined annually by the Admissions Committee.  All interviewed applicants will receive notification via email by mid-March at the latest concerning their status in the program. 

After interviewing, interviewees will be informed about their status via email. Based on review of the applications and interview materials, the Admissions Committee will recommend one of the following statuses:

  • Acceptance: Accepted students will be notified by email. All acceptances will be contingent on the acceptable completion of the Criminal Background Check, as well as the successful completion of any outstanding coursework and/or graduation requirements. Along with paperwork, an advanced tuition deposit of $500.00 will be required in order to accept the program's offer.  Students will have approximately two weeks to submit these materials. 
  • Hold: While interviews are ongoing, applicants who do not receive an immediate offer of acceptance but are still in consideration for an offer are placed on hold status.  These applicants will continue to be eligible for student positions until final selections are made after all interviews are conducted. 
  • Non-Acceptance: Applicants wishing to be considered in a subsequent year must reapply, and must satisfy all admissions requirements for the new cycle.
  • Admission Alternates: At the conclusion of the interview season, select applicants will be ranked as alternates and will be notified of their status. Applicants not admitted from the alternate list must reapply if they wish to be considered in subsequent cycles, and must satisfy all admissions requirements for the new cycle.

All program decisions are final.

For Harding University Undergraduate Students

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.

Non-Discrimination Statement

This information can be found at the bottom of General Info in the Harding Catalog

Contact Us

Physician Assistant Program is part of the College of Allied Health


Fax: 501-279-4811

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