Physician Assistant Program
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who can enroll in PA classes?
Only students who have been formally accepted into the PA program after going through the competitive application and interview process may enroll.
2. Do I need a lab with all the classes that have labs listed as a requirement?
Yes. The labs that are required are important hands on learning experiences in preparing you for professional training. Lab classes can often be taken alone if you have already had the associated course.
3. Do you offer on-line classes during the didactic phase?
No, all of our didactic phase classes are held on the Harding campus in Searcy for 3 consecutive semesters. See Curriculum for both the didactic and clinical phase courses. This is a full-time, 7 consecutive semester program.
4. What is Harding’s institution code for the GRE, can other tests be substituted, and what if I have a MS degree already?
Harding's code is 0417. Use this code when choosing which institutions to submit your scores to with GRE. Your scores will be submitted directly to CASPA through this method. We only accept the general GRE to meet this requirement. ALL applicants must take this test, no matter your degree level. Your scores will be directly submitted to CASPA and that is all we required.
5. Do you offer credit for academic or experiential learning or advanced standing?
The Harding Physician Assistant Program highly values academic preparation and previous health care experience in its evaluation of applicants to the Program. However, it is the policy of the Program that advanced placement or credit for academic or other experiential learning will not be awarded. All matriculated students are required to participate in and complete the entire curriculum of the Program in order to meet the requirements of graduation.
6. What is Harding's policy on transfer students from other Physician Assistant schools?
Harding's Physician Assistant program will not accept transfers from other PA programs.
7. What University resources are available to accepted graduate students?
Here are a few services that our HUPA students have access to, this is not an exhaustive listing:
- Multicultural Student Services
- Brackett Library
- Center for Student Success
- Ganus Activities Complex (GAC)
- Career Center
- Counseling Center
- Health Services Center
8. What will be the expected class size?
We expect to accept 36 students for each entering class in the fall.
9. Are students allowed to work while in the Physician Assistant Program?
The Harding Physician Assistant Program curriculum is fast-paced and rigorous, with a heavy study load. Successful completion will require the full attention of each student. Students are strongly discouraged from working while enrolled in the Program. Some clinical rotations will involve travel, varying shift work and being on-call. No accommodations will be made in the didactic schedule or in clinical rotations for students who choose to work.
10. Can I apply before my prerequisites are complete?
Yes. When completing your CASPA application, there is a place to include courses in progress and coursework planned in the appropriate fields to alert us to your plans. If you are accepted into the Program before you complete the required coursework, your acceptance will be on provisional status until records of your coursework and/or graduation are received. No student will be allowed to matriculate into the Program if all prerequisite requirements are not met. Because of the various factors considered in selecting applicants, you are encouraged to complete the majority of prerequisites before applying. Only 1 prerequisite course may be left for completion the spring semester or winter quarter prior to matriculation into the Program. We cannot accept work done in the spring quarter.
11. Where should I obtain references?
Applicants should seek references from individuals who are well acquainted with them academically and professionally. A professional reference would be from persons who have supervised them in work or volunteer clinical experiences. Applicants should obtain references from both areas. The person writing the reference should be acquainted with the applicant for a significant period and be able to speak to professional strengths and give examples. Family acquaintances and/or friends are not good choices for references.
12. If I am accepted into the Physician Assistant Program, may I defer my acceptance to the following year?
No. The Physician Assistant Program is unable to defer admissions.
13. What will it cost?
We have a cohort tuition for each entering class. The tuition costs will remain the same throughout their duration in the program. For the class entering in 2020 the tuition is set at $14,178 per term for 7 semesters. The program will pay for lab fees, malpractice insurance, professional dues and ACLS costs. Students will still be responsible for the technology and graduation fee. There will be additional costs of books, equipment, laptop, class dues, living expenses, and travel that are the students' responsibility. Refer to the admissions page - Tuition and Fees for these details. Costs have not yet been set for the class entering 2021.
14. Where can I find information about obtaining financial aid?
Each student will need to complete a FAFSA (www.studentaid.gov) to determine eligibility for Direct loans. This can be done prior to acceptance into the program. Prior to acceptance, you may begin your financial planning by going to: www.harding.edu/finaid. Once accepted into the Program, you will be given access to Harding's Pipeline where you will have direct access to your financial aid awards.
Federal aid is available to qualified applicants. Federal financial aid (including Direct Unsubsidized and Grad Plus) can cover the entire cost associated with attendance in the Physician Assistant Program. Applicants are encouraged to seek assistance from other sources (scholarships, grants, etc.). Information and application forms should be requested from clubs, organizations, foundations and agencies as soon as possible after applying for admission to the Program. Many libraries have resource information on other kinds of financial aid. Also, there are Internet sites that provide free scholarship searches (e.g. www.fastweb.com, www.wiredscholar.com and www.finaid.org)
You may also conduct Web searches for medical/health/and allied health professional education scholarships. The Physician Assistant national organization offers some scholarships – www.aapa.org.
The Federal government has a loan and a loan repayment program. Information is available at nhsc.hrsa.gov
15. If I'm an accepted student, but not a US citizen, what do I need to know?
- Accepted students who are non-US citizens will be required to submit documentation of financial ability to pay all expenses for the first year of study to the PA program and demonstrate adequate coverage for health insurance in the United States. A copy of the student’s status with the DHS (i.e. 1-20, I-94, and Visa) will need to accompany this.
The general University TOEFL policy for graduate programs is superseded by the specific PA program policy that all applicants must by graduates of US regionally accredited schools.
16. Do PA students have access to a cadaver lab?
Harding’s PT students do the majority of the cadaver “prosection”. We align our A&P course to allow viewing already prosected structures in conjunction with this course. Four to five times a semester, PA students will have scheduled access to this lab.
These are interprofessional learning activities with PT, Pharmacy, Speech Path and PA students working together and teaching each other in their areas of strength, as appropriate for the section being studied. Anatomy and physiology continues to be reinforced throughout our other course series and activities.
We are very thankful for the donations that make this learning experience possible.
17. Where can I find out more about the PA profession?
18. What is needed to remain in good academic standing to meet graduation requirements?
Academic Standings/Graduation Requirements:
In order to complete the Physician Assistant Program, a student must register for and pass each course set forth in the Program's curriculum outline including satisfactory completion of the Master's Project. In addition, a student must be in good academic standing after completing the prescribed program. Normal program progression is sequential enrollment in all program classes each semester beginning in Fall I and successfully meeting all course and program objectives each semester. The following guidelines will be used by the Program Director in arriving at a recommendation.
To remain in good academic standing in the Program, each student must demonstrate the following:
1. Compliance with all Program policies on professionalism and professional conduct.
2. Show evidence of effective interpersonal relations with peers, faculty, preceptors and patients.
3. Earn a minimum of a “C” grade in all of the PAS didactic phase courses.
4. Obtain no more than 20 semester hours below a grade of "B" in the didactic phase.
5. Maintain a current semester and cumulative GPA of 2.80 or better in the didactic phase.
6. Successfully complete the DPSE and the CPSE within the prescribed time
7. Receive "satisfactory" or better evaluations from all clinical rotation preceptors in the clinical phase.
8. Complete all reporting requirements for the clinical phase as per the clinical handbook.
9. Complete each clinical rotation in the clinical phase with a final grade of 80% or higher.
10. Pass each clinical phase non-practicum course (PAS 663, 664, 671, 675) with a minimum grade of C.
11. Meet no other criteria requiring him or her to be placed on academic warning or academic probation.
Students are encouraged to seek tutoring, advice, or mentoring at any point in the curriculum. The key to success is early identification and addressing of student needs.
19. What is your average attrition rate per class?
Just at 2.81% since the inception of the program in 2005. We fully expect each class to graduate with the same number of students which began the program, but occasionally students are not able to continue for a variety of reasons.
20. How quickly do your students usually find jobs after graduation and how does the program help to facilitate this?
Of our December 2018 graduates, 97% had jobs at or before 6 months from graduation. Graduates reported that they secured their jobs from prior employments, clinical rotations, headhunters, and job sites. The program regularly receives information on PA job postings. These are maintained in a regularly updated list which is made available electronically to our students and graduates.
21. If I have medical training/skills in certain areas, will I be expected to teach in those subjects during my time in the program?
Students who have special training and/or certification may be allowed to assist in the training of other students once their skill and competency has been assessed by Program faculty and found to be adequate. Under no circumstances shall teaching by a student in the Program be used as a substitute for instruction provided by Program principle or instructional faculty.
22. Do you use Rolling Admissions?
Yes, and here is our definition. We will hold interviews and begin to offer student positions before our application deadline (November 1st). We will offer some student positions with each interview date, but will not fill the entire class before our last interview date. Applicants who are placed into a "hold" status after their interview are continued to be reviewed throughout the application cycle. At the end of our application cycle, we rank student alternates from those applicants on hold who have not been previously offered a student position. Any student openings are immediately filled from our ranked alternates.
23. What was the average GPA, medical experience, and age of your students?