Frequently Asked Questions


(Please note that this information below may change.)

1. When is the application deadline?
The PA program admits students on a rolling basis. The application will open in CASPA on April 15, 2015 and will close on October 1, 2015.

2. What is UNC's policy on transfer students from other PA programs? Do you offer advanced standing?
The PA Program does  not waive curriculum requirements or accept transfer of credit from other PA programs or other graduate degree programs.   Admitted students, regardless of level of education, are required to complete all curriculum requirements. All relevant coursework required for graduation must be completed in the UNC Chapel Hill PA Program.

3. If I am accepted into the PA program, may I defer my acceptance to the following year?
No, the cycle of admission runs annually. Anyone wishing to defer acceptance will have to reapply to the program.

4. Does UNC Chapel Hill require a supplemental application fee? If so, why?
All supplemental application questions are answered in CASPA. There is also a separate fee of $50.  Applicants who do not submit the supplemental fee by the deadline will not be reviewed.  No exceptions.

5. When and how will I be notified of the status of my application?
The admissions process is complex and there is no single answer that applies to all applicants. Faculty members review all applications and recommend which applicants should be invited for an interview. Applicants who are interviewed should receive notice of their status within two weeks following the interview. During the time application materials are being received, no status updates are provided. Applicants who are not considered for interviews will receive notification to this effect at some point during the application period, after their application is reviewed by faculty.

6. How many classes does the program accept each year? How many students?
The program accepts one class of 20 students each year.  The academic year begins in January.

7. What are your guidelines on TOEFL?
International applicants may be asked to submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores if English is a second language.

8. Do you require a criminal background check?
Applicants are required to self-disclose any misdemeanors or felony convictions, other than minor traffic violations, including deferred adjudications, with the understanding that non-disclosure/falsification may lead to dismissal and disclosure may prevent enrollment. Additionally, in response to requirements in the professional practice environment stating that facilities providing care to patients must minimize the risk to patients that may be presented by persons with prior criminal activity, a criminal background check will be completed on all accepted applicants prior to matriculation and again prior to clinical rotations.

9. Do you require drug screening?
Substance abuse testing is becoming mandatory at many health care facilities prior to participating in patient care either as a student or a staff member. In light of this development, a negative substance abuse screening test is required before matriculation into the PA Program, and again before advancement to the clinical year. Repeated screening tests may be required as determined by the PA program or the clinical training site. Clinical education sites may require a copy of the results of any substance abuse test performed on students immediately prior to and for the duration of their placement at the site. Clinical education sites may set their own standards in regard to who they will admit based on the results of the substance abuse screening or require further testing. Students who are not willing to allow the release of the required personal information may not be able to be placed at an affiliated clinical education site, and thus cannot meet the requirements for graduation.

10. Where do I send my application materials?
All application materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation, supporting documents) will be sent through the CASPA application system. Nothing should be sent separately to the university or PA program. Documents sent to the PA program or university outside of the CASPA system will not be reviewed.

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(There are no exceptions to these policies).

1. If I have outstanding prerequisites, when do they need to be completed?
All outstanding prerequisites must be completed no later than August 31 of the year prior to matriculation. Students needing to take prerequisites in the fall should plan to apply in the next application cycle.

2. If I am currently in the process of completing my prerequisites, may I still apply?
Applicants should plan to have most of the prerequisite work completed by May 31 prior to the year of matriculation.  Two pending courses may be in progress during the summer prior to matriculation, but must be completed by August 31.

3. Is there a time limit on prerequisite course work?
No, there is no limit on the amount of time that has passed since you completed your prerequisites. However, we strongly recommend that you have completed the courses within the 7 years prior to matriculation. If your courses are older than that, we recommend auditing or retaking them.

4. Can substitutions be made for required prerequisites?
No, we do not accept substitutions for our required prerequisites, no matter your work experience or education level. We do not waive them for students who are already working in health care or who have already completed graduate education. For example, if you have taken a higher level course in biology, but have not taken general biology you will still be required to take general biology. If you have a graduate degree in a field such as nursing, public health, exercise science, etc., those courses cannot be used as substitutes for your prerequisites. There is a general level of knowledge that we want all students to have when starting our program.

Again, there are no substitutions or waivers of these requirements.

5. Will you count a prerequisite if I made a “D” in the course?
No, you must obtain a “C” or better in all of the required prerequisite courses.

6. What if I took the required prerequisite course, but did not complete the corresponding lab? Will I still need to complete the lab?
Yes, if we require a lab in addition to the required course, you will need to complete the necessary lab.

7. Can I complete the prerequisites while I am in the program?
No, all prerequisites must be completed no later than August 31 of the year prior to matriculation.

8. I am a journalism major. Do I need to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the health sciences to apply?
No; however, a baccalaureate or graduate degree earned at a regionally accredited U.S. or Canadian institution is required (regardless of major), as well as the required prerequisites.

9. I completed my baccalaureate degree in a foreign institution. Will you evaluate my application?
No, we will only evaluate applications with degree(s) earned at regionally accredited U.S. or Canadian institutions. A baccalaureate or graduate degree from an institution accredited by the Commission on Colleges of a Regional Accrediting Organization is required. College seniors are eligible to apply, provided they will receive the baccalaureate degree prior to the August starting date of the PA program. College seniors or recent college graduates may be at a disadvantage because they often have fewer months of patient care experience than other candidates. 

10. I completed my undergraduate degree abroad, and subsequently earned a master's at an accredited U.S. institution. Can I still apply?
Yes, as long as all your prerequisites were completed at a regionally accredited U.S. or Canadian institution.

11. Do you prefer that I take my prerequisites at a 4 year college?
No. Courses taken at a community college are accepted and are considered equally. Taking them at a 4-year college does not help or hinder your application. The institution should be regionally accredited. Online didactic courses taken at regionally accreditation institutions will also be accepted. Online lab courses are accepted.

12. What do you mean regionally accredited institutions? Regional accreditation means courses approved by one of the 6 regional accreditation organizations. Please see this link for a listing of the six organizations. Be aware that many for-profit institutions do not have regional accreditation, but only national accreditation.  If you have a baccalaureate or graduate degree from a non-U.S. or Canadian institution you can apply for admission if your prerequisite courses were completed at a regionally accredited U.S. or Canadian institution.  There are no waivers of this policy.

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Direct Patient Care Hours

1. What type of clinical experience are you looking for?
The type of clinical experience that we look for relates to experience that involves direct patient care and direct contact with patients. We do not accept clerical work in a medical setting because it does not involve direct patient contact. For examples, visit the admissions requirements page.

2. If I am still working on my direct patient care hours, may I apply?
Yes, you may work towards your 1,000 direct patient care hours while you are applying. However, we will need verification that your 1,000 hours are in progress and that you will obtain the required number of hours no later than August 31 of the year prior to matriculation.

3. Does shadowing experience count towards my direct patient care hours?
No, we do not count shadowing experience towards your 1,000 hours of direct patient care.

4. Does volunteer experience count towards my direct patient care hours?
Volunteer positions are accepted as hands-on patient care.  Please see examples of patient care via this link:  hands-on patient care.

5. Is there a time limit on the amount of time that has passed since I actively worked within the health care field?
While we do not have a time limit on previous health care experience, we do strongly recommend up-to-date and current health care experience.

6. Will pharmaceutical or medical sales representative experience count towards my direct patient care hours?
No, we do not count pharmaceutical or medical sales representative experience towards the recommended amount of direct patient care hours.

7. Will direct patient care hours that were accrued during an academic program count towards my direct patient care hours?
No, hours obtained during an academic program are not counted towards your direct patient care hours. Direct patient care hours must be obtained outside of an academic program or curriculum.

8. Why do you require health care experience as an admission prerequisite?
We realize that the demands, expectations, and responsibilities particular to health care present unique challenges. Applicants are required to have been exposed to health care in an effort to eliminate any erroneously preconceived notions about a medical career.

9. Do you have any suggestions on how I can obtain the recommended 1,000 hours of patient care experience?
Seek a job in a setting that provides direct clinical patient contact. Sample jobs include pharmacy technician, nurse aid, medical assistant, etc.

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1. Is there a limit on the number of years that have passed since I took the GRE?
Yes, you will need to have taken the GRE within the last five years.

2. Where should I have my GRE scores sent?
GRE scores must be submitted through CASPA using the following code: 6945

3. What is your required GRE score?
We recommend verbal and quantitative scores of 150 or higher and analytical writing of 3.5 or higher.

4. Can I substitute the MCAT or GMAT for the GRE?
No, we require GRE scores as part of the application process.

5. Is the GRE still required if I already have a master's degree?

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Letters of Recommendation

Preference is given to applicants with two out of three letters from physicians, PAs or clinical supervisors, and others familiar with your clinical experience. Personal recommendations are discouraged.

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Program Information

1. How long is the PA Program?
Our program is 24 months length, beginning with 12 months of didactic education and followed by 12 months of clinical rotations.

2. What is the tuition of the program?
The estimated student tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students can be found by clicking this: proposed tuition rates. Tuition and fee rates are determined yearly by the NC General Assembly and may change from year to year.

3. Are students allowed to work while in the PA Program?
Outside employment during the didactic or clinical phases of the program is strongly discouraged. Required program activities cannot be altered by outside activities. Outside obligations cannot interfere or impede class attendance or completion of assignments of program requirements. Students are not permitted to perform any clerical, administrative, or physical work for the PA program as a graduate assistant. Students must not substitute for faculty or staff by performing any administrative, clerical, or clinical duties while on supervised clinical education rotations.

4. Where can I find out more about the PA profession?

5. How have your students performed on the PANCE?
This program is a new program so our performance rate will not be measured until the first class graduates. As soon as the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE) results become available, they will be posted.

6. Do I get to choose where I complete my clinical site rotations?
We have arranged numerous clinical rotation sites for students to complete their supervised clinical training. Sites will be assigned by the clinical coordinator and students will be notified of their rotations during the spring semester of the didactic year.

7. What credentials will I have upon graduation from your program? Where can I practice?
Upon graduation, students will have earned a Master of Health Sciences degree. Graduating from the PA Program does not satisfy certification or licensing rights. After graduation, students will have received adequate preparation to take the PANCE. A passing score on the PANCE gives a PA program graduate certification as a physician assistant (PA-C). Licensing requirements vary state to state.

8. Do you have a placement service for graduates?
Part of the curriculum includes professional preparation and will allow for networking opportunities. It is up to the graduate to find suitable employment. Job opportunities that are sent to the program will be available to students to explore.

*All information listed on this page is subject to change as the program goes through its approval and accreditation.*