Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the ECU PA Program?

The ECU PA Program is a 27 month long curriculum that begins in August with graduation occurring in December. The didactic phase comprises the first 15 months with students involved in classroom, laboratory, small-group, OSCE, and experiential learning opportunities. The clinical phase comprises the last 12 months in which students are assigned to supervised clinical rotations at various hospital, clinical and physician offices.

What degree does the ECU Physician Assistant Program offer?

At the completion of the ECU PA Program, students are awarded a Master's of Science Degree in Physician Assistant.

How many applications do you receive each year?

We receive 900+ applications, but not all of the applicants are invited for interviews.

I do not live in North Carolina. Can I apply?

ECU PA Studies accepts students from North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Washington DC. You must be a resident and have a permanent address in one of these states at the time of application and admission to the program. If you or your spouse is active military and stationed in NC during application and admission, then you can request a waiver from

How do I get an application?

The Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) application is the only option to apply to the ECU PA Program.

Is there a supplemental application?

No, however, in addition to CASPA, you are required to apply to the ECU Graduate School. The Graduate School application will open July 16th.

Do I need a bachelor's degree to get into the program?

Yes. The Department of Physician Assistant at ECU offers a Master's Degree. As such, all applicants accepted into the Program, must have a bachelor's degree. The undergraduate degree must be completed by June 1st of the year of application. Example: Applicants who submit application materials by September 1, 2018 must complete the undergraduate degree by June 1st of 2019 in order to enroll in the fall of 2019.

I have a bachelor's degree from another country. Can I apply?

We do accept applications from foreign graduates. The requirements for this will be:

  • Apply and be admitted to the Graduate School at ECU first
  • Send your WES equivalency paperwork to CASPA and the ECU Dept. of PA Studies
  • Obtain TOEFL scores and report them to the ECU Graduate School and Dept. of PA Studies
  • All prerequisite courses MUST be taken in the US
  • 50% of all clinical hours MUST be obtained in the US
  • You MUST take the GRE with Analytical Writing within the last 5 years
  • Must have a permanent address in NC, SC, VA, TN, GA, or Washington DC

What is a good undergraduate major for applicants?

The ECU PA Program does not endorse any specific undergraduate major or program. Many applicants major in various biological sciences because most of our prerequisites are more easily obtained in those programs; nonetheless, admission is based upon our prerequisites and not the major.

When should I have my prerequisites completed?

All PA Program prerequisites must be completed by September 1 in order to be considered for an early interview. We allow one prerequisite to be pending at application date of September 1. Please note that we do have a true rolling admission process and applications that are complete by September 1 will have preference. Any prerequisites course that is being considered for approval by a waiver must first be approved by the PA Admissions Committee. Information should be forwarded to the All pending courses must be complete by Dec. 31 and reported to our department and CASPA. It is the applicant's responsibility to update any pending information.

My institution offers a combined Anatomy/Physiology course. Do I have to take separate courses in Anatomy and Physiology? Do I need to take Anatomy and Physiology with a Lab?

You may either take separate courses in Anatomy and Physiology, or you can substitute 2 semesters of a combined Anatomy/Physiology course.

Yes - we require Anatomy and Physiology with a lab section. We do not allow online lab sessions to count as part of the course grade.

We do NOT accept Comparative, Animal or Mammalian Anatomy and Physiology courses.

Any undergraduate equivalency questions can be directed to the undergraduate counselor, Melissa Watterson,

I already have a bachelor's degree. Do I still need to complete the prerequisite courses?

Yes. Each applicant is viewed equally; therefore, each must complete all prerequisite course work. No exceptions or substitutions.

Are there any waivers if I took a prerequisite course more than 5 years ago?

The Admissions Committee prefers that all prerequisite courses are taken within the last 5 years; however this is not a requirement. If your courses are older than that, know that we recommend refreshing them.

Questions regarding the transferring of courses from another institution should be addressed to the ECU Academic Counselor, Melissa Watterson,

When do you start interviews?

CASPA starts accepting applications in April. We begin interviews starting in August and ending in January. Our deadline for applications to be received by CASPA is September 1.

How long does it usually take to fill the class?

We expect to have the class filled after interviews have concluded and the admissions committee meets for the final time in February. You may expect a letter by the first week of March.

If I am accepted into the ECU PA Program, is there a seat deposit?

Yes – Candidates confirm their place in the class bysubmitting a $500 non-refundable deposit by specified date and instructions in the acceptance letter.

If I am accepted into the ECU PA program, can I defer my acceptance to the following year?

No - an applicant cannot defer to an alternate year once accepted.

Can the ECU PA Program be completed on a part-time basis?

No - the program can only be completed on a full time basis.

I applied to the ECU PA Program and was placed on the Alternate List. What does this mean?

Students who are not offered a seat in the program following their Interview Day may be placed on an alternate list, at the recommendation of the Admissions Committee and/or the Program Director. The alternate list is activated as necessary by the Program Director. An alternate list is valid from the close of the interview process through the first week of classes for which the student applied. Alternate listed applicants not advanced to a seat are NOT considered for admission to the following class without reapplication. We will not be able to tell you your number on this list.

Do I need clinical experience to be considered for the ECU PA Program?

YES. Hands-on direct patient care experiences may come from a variety of places. The extent to which an applicant is actually involved in patient care will be weighed based on the description of the applicant’s duties during those hours. The title of a position is not as important as the duties the applicant performed in terms of patient contact and interaction with patients and other healthcare providers (physicians, PAs, nurses, etc.).

Examples of direct patient care experiences may include but are not limited to: EMT, paramedic, medical assistant, scribe, patient care tech, nurse, surgical tech, athletic trainer, physical therapy aide, etc.

I applied to your program, and I was interviewed; but I did not get accepted. Why?

We have many exceptional applicants, but numerous qualified people are turned down for admission because we accept only up to 36 students each year. In the case of applicants who are interviewed and then not accepted, we find that most are well-qualified and would make excellent PAs. We simply have so many applicants that we must make choices based upon GPA, GRE and interview results. We invite all potential students to re-apply for the next admission cycle thru CASPA and the Graduate School.

What can I do to make myself a competitive candidate for the PA program at ECU?

  • Meet our overall GPA minimum requirements and if needed retake courses that you may not have performed as well as you wanted.
  • Shadow a PA or multiple PA's.
  • Understand the role of a PA and be able to articulate your understanding as related to your personal academic and professional strengths and goals.
  • Attend a Closer Look session at ECU to learn how to be more competitive.

There is no single formula for a successful personal statement as it pertains to the CASPA application or via your interview; different individuals will find different topics to be appropriate for them. Whether an interview or a personal statement, this is an opportunity to communicate information about yourself that will aid us in reaching a decision based admissions process. This could include, but is not limited to:

  • significant life experiences
  • intellectual interests
  • extracurricular activities
  • factors inspiring you to become a physician assistant
  • significant obstacles met and overcome
  • special talents or skills
  • socioeconomic challenges
  • atypical educational path
  • previous career
  • cross-cultural experiences

These subjects, as well as other related topics, would be appropriate to help the committee make a thoughtful decision.

Can I meet with a faculty member to discuss why I wasn't accepted into the ECU PA Program?

No - we are unable to meet with applicants to discuss reasons as to why an applicant was not accepted. You may e-mail to get feedback on your application.

Where can I get information about financial aid?

The Office of Financial Aid at ECU retains financial aid officers who are experts in this area and attempt to make every effort to assist students seeking financial aid.

How many of your graduates remain in North Carolina?

Approximately 91% of our graduates remain in North Carolina.

What are the PANCE scores for your graduates the first time they take the exam?

Download PANCE Report (pdf)

Do I need certification in Basic Life Support before I start the PA program?

Current certification in Basic Life Support at the Healthcare Provider Level is required by the PA Program in order to move forward with Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) training. Although not an admission requirement, it is helpful to have this certification prior to program entry as it may be difficult to work BLS training into one's schedule during the first semester. American Heart Association certification is required.

How do I make my application competitive?

  • Be an NC resident.
  • Take your prerequisite courses at a 4 year institution and within the last 5 years.
  • Turn in your fully completed application by September 1 of the application year.
  • Compare your GPA and GRE to the scores of the last entering classes to make sure you are competitive.
  • Make sure your references are from medical providers, supervisors, or professors.

How are acceptance and interview decisions made in the Admissions Process?

The program's policies and procedures for student admission decisions adhere to clearly defined and published practices of the institution and program. Applicants are evaluated using objective and subjective data retrieved from their CASPA application. A quantitative score is created based on GPA, GRE scores, Letters of Reference, Clinical Hours, Narrative, and demographic information. Applicants are invited for an interview based upon their total score and ranking relative to other applicants.

How often are changes made to the admissions process?

Annually, we review our admissions process by reviewing the application, prerequisite requirements, clinical hour requirements, guidelines for GPA and GRE scores, applicant selection for interview, and interview process. Updates to the review process are made annually before CASPA opens each April and new guidelines are published on our website.

Whom do I contact for more admissions information?

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies Admissions address is:

Can I transfer into the ECU PA Program?/Does ECU PA Program accept Advanced Standing in your curriculum?

No - all applicants accepted into the ECU PA Program must apply through CASPA. We do not accept transfer students at any point in the program. You must complete the program from beginning to end with all courses included.

The program has opportunities throughout the year for applicants to visit the campus and interact with program faculty, called Closer Look Sessions. Learn more about our Closer Look Sessions