M.S. Physician Assistant  How to apply

Cohorts begin early Summer | Program length 27 months | Credits 116 | Format In-person, full time

You have been preparing for this moment, and we are excited you're interested in applying to Northwestern College's faith-integrated M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies program in Iowa.

If your ability to meet admission criteria has been or may be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, particularly related to pass/fail grades and official transcript submission, please  contact our enrollment counselor to learn about your options. 

Application Steps

Applicants for Northwestern College's PA program can complete the following steps to be eligible for admission.

  • Applicants must complete all of the application requirements including prerequisite courses to be eligible for acceptance into the PA program.
  • Complete the online CASPA application for Northwestern College, IA  
    • Applications open for the 2025 cohort: April 25th, 2024
    • Priority deadline: August 1st, 2024
    • Final deadline: October 1st, 2024
      • All applications submitted by the priority deadline of August 1st are considered for the first round of interviews. Applications received after August 1st will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the final application deadline of October 1st.
      • Applicants are strongly encouraged to complete application materials early. Applications will not be reviewed until all requirements are submitted. All applications must be verified by CASPA by October 1st, 2024 to be included in this admission cycle. 
      • The PA program will consider all supplemental materials received within 5 days of the final deadline.
  • Submit Northwestern College's$100 non-refundable supplemental application fee. This fee will be waived for any applicant whose application is submitted on June 1. Applications must also be verified by CASPA by June 1.
    • Application will not be reviewed until Northwestern's application fee is received.
    • Fee waivers from applicants with approved CASPA fee waivers are considered.
  • The program invites the most competitive applicants to interview.
  • Interview invitations are sent to eligible candidates in mid-August through mid-October for interview dates held in September and October. 
    • 2024 interview dates include: August 30th, September 6th, September 13th, and October 18th. 
    • A detailed schedule of interview day activities is included in the invitation.
  • During individual and group interviews, applicants will be assessed on the following:
    • Understanding of the PA profession
    • Understanding of the Northwestern College PA Program
    • Interpersonal skills
    • Commitment to learning
    • Self-Awareness
    • Critical thinking and problem solving
    • Cultural competency
  • Interviewees will be notified of admission decision within six weeks of the interview day.
  • Accepted students are required to reserve their seat within seven days of this communication with a $500 non-refundable tuition deposit.
  • Initial acceptance to the program is conditional on successful completion of the following post-acceptance requirements, which must be completed by June 1st of enrollment year:
    • Technical Standard Attestation Form
    • Immunization and Health Information documentation
    • CastleBranch Background Check
    • HIPPA and OSHA Training
    • Health insurance documentation
    • Official transcripts submitted to Northwestern College for all undergraduate coursework
    • Documentation of completion of all prerequisite requirements
    • Acceptance agreement form
  • Required events include (dates for cohort beginning in 2024):
    • Virtual equipment fair: Monday, May 6th  |  4:45pm-5:45pm
    • On-campus orientation: Thursday, May 23rd  |  8am-5pm 
    • Grill out: Thursday, May 23rd  |  6-8pm
    • First day of class: Tuesday, May 28th  |  9am

Application Requirements

Applicants will be considered for acceptance upon completion of all requirements. 

Complete the full CASPA application including Northwestern College's supplemental application responses.

  • Available on Northwestern College's program page in CASPA.
  • Consists of short answer, review of application terms, criminal background questions and acknowledgement of program’s technical standards.
  • The personal statement is a brief statement expressing why you are interested in becoming a Physician Assistant (submitted in CASPA). 
  • Minimum of three (submitted in CASPA).
  • Letters can be from healthcare professionals, previous employers, academic references, etc.
    • Letters from family members are not accepted.
  • Degree must be obtained from a regionally accredited institution, or internationally recognized equivalent.
    • Applicants can apply while still earning baccalaureate degree. Degree must be obtained before beginning the PA program.
  • Accepted students will be required to submit official transcripts before beginning the PA program. 
  • Any candidate who completed coursework outside of the United States must submit a transcript evaluation from an approved service such as World Education Services (WES), International Credential Evaluations (InCred), or ECE.
  • All official college transcripts must be submitted to and verified by CASPA.
  • Overall and science GPAs of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale as calculated by CASPA
  • Visit the CASPA website to learn more about the calculation of GPAs.
  • Must be completed with a B- or better from a regionally accredited United States institution. 
  • Minimum of 3 credits each.
  • Five of the eight required courses must be completed by the time of application. All prerequisite courses must be completed before beginning the MSPAS program. 
  • A single course cannot be used to satisfy multiple prerequisites. 
  • Coursework can be completed online and does not need a lab component.


The following table lists the required PA program prerequisite courses and the corresponding Northwestern course that fulfills the requirement. Equivalent prerequisite courses do not need to be taken at Northwestern. 

PA program prerequisite
(minimum of 3 credits each)
Eligible NWC course
Human Anatomy* BIO 221 (preferred) or BIO 121
Human Physiology* BIO 222 (preferred) or BIO 122
Microbiology* BIO 203
Organic Chemistry CHE 321
Biochemistry BIO/CHE 326 or BIO 327WI** or BIO 350
Genetics BIO 202WI or BIO 327WI**
Psychology PSY 100SS or PSY 360
Statistics MAT 116QR or MAT 208QR

*Applicants must have taken anatomy, physiology and microbiology pre-requisites within 5 years of their projected enrollment date. For the current application cycle, any course that is taken during the summer of 2020 or later would meet the 5-year requirement. Applicants who took these courses outside of the 5-year limit (prior to the Summer 2020 term) must complete a waiver demonstrating how they are currently applying the knowledge attained from these courses either in their work or in their studies. Waivers are reviewed by the Physician Assistant Program Admissions Committee. The committee will consider waivers from applicants for courses that are up to 10 years old. The Committee may request an official copy of the course syllabus, and the waiver request may be denied if it cannot be provided. 
**Northwestern students can select two courses from CHE 326, BIO 202WI, and BIO 327WI to fulfill the biochemistry and genetics requirements. BIO 327WI can only count for one requirement, it cannot be counted for both. 
***AP coursework will be accepted only for Psychology and Statistics and CLEP will only be accepted for Psychology. Any AP or CLEP credits must appear on a college transcript with assigned credits.

Submit Northwestern College's $100 non-refundable supplemental application feeThis fee will be waived for any applicant whose application is submitted on June 1. Applications must also be verified by CASPA byJune 1. 

  • Application will not be reviewed until Northwestern's application fee is received
    (This is a separate fee from the CASPA application fee)
  • Fee waivers from applicants with approved CASPA fee waivers are considered
  • Minimum of 500 hours of patient care experience
    • 100 of the 500 hours must be completed by the time of application. All hours must be completed before beginning the PA program. 
    • Experiences in which you are directly responsible for a patient’s care. Can be paid or unpaid.
      • For example: Prescribing medication, performing procedures, directing a course of treatment, designing a treatment regimen, administering food or medication, taking vitals or other record-keeping information, or actively working on patients as a nurse, paramedic, EMT, CNA, medical assistant, phlebotomist, physical therapist, scribe, dental hygienist, etc.
  • Minimum of 16 hours of shadowing with a PA
    • 8 of the 16 hours must be completed by the time of application. All hours must be completed before beginning the PA program. 
  • Casper assesses applications on non-academic attributes or people skills to ensure applicants are not only academically capable but also possess the characteristics of someone who will succeed as a PA.   
    • Only the Casper assessment is required. The Snapshot and Duet assessments are not required. 
  • Reapplying applicants do not need to retake the Casper Assessment.
  • Take the Casper assessment here.

The Northwestern College PA program requires a TOEFL score to demonstrate English proficiency of all non-native English language speaking and/or international applicants unless the applicant has attended high school and earned a degree from an accredited University in any country whose sole national language is English. A minimum TOEFL score of 100 is required for admission to the PA program.

The Northwestern College PA Program will not consider applications from individuals who have attended another PA or graduate medical school in the past.

Preferred application process for Northwestern College graduates

Admission to PA programs is competitive, and the Northwestern College PA program accepts up to 32 students per year. Northwestern College graduates who complete all application materials and meet all admissions criteria will be invited to interview for admission.


The ARC-PA has granted  Accreditation-Provisional status to the  Northwestern College Physician Assistant Program sponsored by  Northwestern College

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA  Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the  Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.  Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at  http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-northwestern-college.