Frequently Asked Questions

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General Questions

Must I apply through CASPA?

Yes. Applicants MUST submit all application materials through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistant Programs (CASPA). The MSU MPAS Program portal of CASPA opens in April and closes August 1 annually. The MSU MPAS Program will only accept applications verified by CASPA on or before August 1.

Must I have a bachelor’s degree to enter the program?

Yes, a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited United States university or college is required. We recommend science prerequisites are completed within the past ten years and must be for science majors.

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

Yes, all applicants regardless of undergraduate degree or major must complete all prerequisites before entering the MSU MPAS program.

Does the MSU MPAS Program give preference to any major?

No, the program does not give preference to any major. The most common majors are in the biological sciences.

Are there any standardized tests required for admission?

Yes, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. Please see the GRE website for complete details We do not accept the MCAT.

Why do I have to undergo background screenings for misdemeanor and felonies?

PAs are licensed medical providers and as such, must adhere to all state and federal regulations.

Many clinical sites and state licensing boards are very adamant about their “no misdemeanor” provisions. Programs must guard the integrity of the profession and the public whom they serve. It would be unethical to allow someone to enter a program and then be ineligible for licensure.

How many applications does the program received annually?

We anticipate over 500 qualified applicants.

How many students are accepted?

The program is approved to admit 30 students per cohort.. 

May I enroll in the Program on a part-time basis?

No. The rigorous and fast-paced nature of the program curriculum does not allow time for the student to work during the program or take courses part-time.

Does the program accept transfer credit?

No. All students accepted into the program must participate in the competitive admissions process. The program does not allow students to transfer credit from other graduate programs.

Does the program require that I own a laptop computer?

Yes. The program will provide specifications needed upon acceptance.

Is a supplemental application required?

No supplemental application is required.

If accepted into the program, when do classes begin?

Classes begin in the Spring Semester annually (January).

What is the wait list?

When the class is selected, an alternate group of applicants is also selected. Applicants from this list may be called upon to fill a vacancy if a selected applicant decides not to accept a position in the class. Alternates may be selected up to the university's registration deadline.

Will being an alternate one year mean I have an advantage in the application pool the following year?

No. Each year applicants are evaluated against each other. Being an alternate in one year does not give applicants an advantage in subsequent years.

What are the minimum overall GPA, minimum Science GPA and minimum GRE scores required of accepted students?

  • Minimum 3.0 Cumulative or last 60 hours GPA on a 4.0 scale as determined by CASPA.
  • Minimum 3.0 Cumulative Science GPA on a 4.0 scale as determined by CASPA.
  • The GRE is required, but there is no established minimum score.

Can I work while I am in the PA Program?

Working while enrolled in PA program courses (including the clinical portion) is not recommended due to the heavy schedule and workload. It is difficult to manage class time, study time, and personal time. The student must stay focused to be successful.

What is the length of the curriculum?

The program curriculum will begin in January of each year and complete in 29 months.

What type of curriculum is provided?

Please refer to the MSU PA Student Handbook for current degree plans.

Is a capstone required?

Yes. Students must complete a Capstone Project in order to meet graduation requirements.

Academic and Experience Prerequisites

Do I need to have completed all of the prerequisite courses before I apply?

No. Up to two pre-requisites may be pending at the time a acceptance. All pre-requisites must be complete for matriculation.

What is direct patient care experience?

Patient care that is ‘hands-on’ in nature. Successful applicants have worked as one of the following: emergency medical technician, licensed vocational nurse, medical assistant (back office), medical scribe, medical technologist, military medical corpsman, nursing assistant, paramedic, psychiatric technician, radiologic technician, respiratory therapist, chiropractor, registered nurse, etc.

Is volunteer experience required?

The Program is dedicated to the advancement of PA education, and emphasizes service to the medically underserved. Volunteering in both health-related and non-health related settings is highly recommended.

Must I shadow a PA?

Shadowing a PA is highly recommended, but you are required to shadow a medical professional (MD, DO, or PA). This experience not only gives the applicant an insight into the profession on an intimate level, but also affords the applicant an opportunity to see if she or he is a ‘good-fit’ for the profession. A minimum of 20 hours of shadowing experience is required.*

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, the program will take into consideration the difficulty of finding shadowing experiences. The program highly recommends gaining as much shadowing experience as available. We will accept documented virtual shadowing experiences.

Can I substitute other classes for the ones published as prerequisites (e.g. botany for physiology)?

Our pre-requisites are in place to ensure that students enter the program well prepared for the challenging curriculum that we provide; therefore, we do not accept any substitutions for our pre-requisite classes. Entering the Program without this background knowledge puts the student at a disadvantage. The Admissions Committee holds final approval of all prerequisite course work submitted.

Can a single course meet more than one admissions pre-requisite?

No. A single course may only meet one admissions pre-requisite. For example, a Genetics course will only meet the Genetics requirement. The Genetics course cannot also count towards the upper division science course requirement.

What upper level science courses will meet the pre-requisite requirement?

The upper level science courses must be a 3000 or 4000 level course (equivalent to junior and senior coursework) that is related to the application and have use in a medical curriculum.

Can I transfer into the program and/or transfer credits?

No. The program does not offer advanced standing or accept graduate transfer credits. All students must complete the entire series of academic courses and clinical rotations. Prerequisite courses such as microbiology, anatomy, chemistry, etc. are not actually transferred into the program, but they are necessary to be eligible for admission consideration.

If I am accepted into the MSU MPAS, may I defer my acceptance to the following year?

No. The MSU MPAS Program is unable to defer admissions.

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. 

Is there a fee for “guaranteeing” a position in the program?

Yes. A $750 non-refundable fee is required to hold your seat in the program.

What does it mean, “Prerequisite courses must be for science majors?”

Although you are not required to have a science major or degree, prerequisite science courses must be from the science curriculum at your university or college. Be cautious about completing science courses unique to a particular subject or major, as they will not be accepted (i.e.: nursing, radiology, veterinary, etc.).

Do you have counseling regarding prerequisite courses?

If you are unsure about prerequisite courses, review the list of prerequisites on this site. These are the official requirements and may differ from what your campus advisor tells you or what may be printed in your college's catalog. ( Also see Admissions Requirements)

The Information Sessions provide answers to any questions potential applicants have regarding the program including prerequisite course questions. These sessions explain the application process. If you are unable to attend an Information Session and have questions regarding prerequisite courses that were not answered by reading the website, you may email the Program for further clarification.

Do I have to take my prerequisite courses in the MSU System?

No. You may take the prerequisite courses at any regionally accredited college or university in the United States.

How is the Cumulative Grade Point Average calculated? How is it calculated for repeated courses?

Please review the CASPA website for questions regarding GPA calculation. The Program relies on the CASPA GPA calculations. All courses, including those repeated, are included.

Application Process

Applicants MUST submit all application materials through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistant Programs (CASPA). CASPA will receive, and review all applications. After all materials are verified, CASPA will forward those verified applications to the Program. These verified applications are screened by the faculty members of the Program.

Stage one, eliminates from further consideration those applicants who fail to meet the stated minimum requirements.

Next, Program faculty screen and rank all eligible candidates against predetermined criteria. The final stage involves face-to-face interviews with Program faculty.

The Admissions Committee will review all materials and recommend one of the following:

  • Acceptance (for those who have completed all prerequisites and are highly recommended for admission)
  • Conditional acceptance (for those who need to complete prerequisites)
  • Wait list (applicants who meet the minimum requirement and who may be offered acceptance if the most qualified candidates do not fill all available seats.
  • Non-admission (applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements or who are not competitive within the applicant pool)

Each of the following qualities are viewed as essential to support the development of a physician assistant. When evaluating an applicant's readiness to matriculate in the MSU MPAS Program, members of the admissions committee consider closely all information available with particular attention to the following elements:

  • Quality and degree of difficulty of courses taken in undergraduate school
  • Science and overall grade point average
  • Scores received on the Graduate Record Examination
  • Responses to questions contained in the application
  • References from advisors, professors, and employers
  • Leadership experience
  • Community service experience
  • Communication skills
  • Interest in the problems of people
  • Compassion
  • Personal integrity
  • Motivation for a career in health care
  • Recommendations of faculty interviewers

Competitive Applicant Profile

What is the profile of the successful applicant to the PA Program?

The successful applicant to the MSU MPAS Program will have a combination of life, educational and work experience that shows a commitment to patient care, a full understanding of the PA profession, and the ability to perform in a demanding academic and professional setting. Competition is strong for entry into this program.

Eighty (80) hours of healthcare experience is required, more hours are highly recommended. Many applicants accrue greater than 2,000 hours of health care experience. Additionally, 20 hours of shadowing a medical professional is required (MD, DO, PA).*

* During the Covid-19 Pandemic, the program will take into consideration the difficulty of finding shadowing experiences. The program highly recommends gaining as much shadowing experience as available. We will accept documented virtual shadowing experiences.

This experience may be either paid or volunteer and should include exposure to physician assistants. Applicants may gain valuable information from the material they have access to as Associate Members of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

Past educational performance, while not necessarily indicative of current abilities, can predict performance in the program. Every attempt should be made to enhance overall and science course GPA prior to application. The first year is extremely demanding and the applicant will benefit by taking courses that simulate this type of education.

In addition, candidates should also have a solid knowledge of the PA role and shadowing PA's is highly recommended.

How competitive is the program?

Admission for the spots available each year is highly competitive. Meeting or exceeding the requirements does not guarantee admission.

What type of academic background and/or degree is likely to enhance potential for success in the program?

We receive applicants from a variety of academic majors, degrees, and backgrounds. This is welcomed as the program values diversity. Regardless of specific major or degree, the key is that applicants must complete at least the minimum admission prerequisites (both academic and clinical) to be considered for admission. View the list of admission requirements.

Tuition, Financial Aid, and Housing

Is there financial aid available?

Yes. Please review this information here:

How much does it cost to attend the MSU MPAS Program?

Please consult the most current MSU General Catalog for information regarding costs.

Is there on-campus housing?


Will the MSU MPAS Program have information sessions?

We host information sessions two to three times per year. The dates and times of the information sessions will be posted on this website, under Information Sessions. You must RSVP for these sessions. Please follow this link -

International Medical Graduates

I am an International Medical Graduate (IMG). Do I still have to complete the requirements?

Yes. All applicants, including International Medical Graduates (IMGs), must meet all requirements.

Admission Requirements/Prerequisites

Please review the prerequisite section of the website for all requirements.

Prior to matriculation, the applicant must have earned a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited United States college or university. Applicants must have a minimum OVERALL GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale minimum AND a minimum OVERALL SCIENCE GPA of 3.0 at the time of application.

  • Minimum 3.0 Cumulative or last 60 hours GPA on a 4.0 scale as determined by CASPA.
  • Minimum 3.0 Cumulative Science GPA on a 4.0 scale as determined by CASPA.
  • The GRE is required, but there is no established minimum score.

Please note that there is no exam that IMGs can take to challenge the MSU MPAS Program requirements, obtain a PA license, or become nationally certified as a PA. Courses previously taken in medical school cannot be substituted for courses to be taken in the MSU MPAS Program.

I am an International Medical Graduate. Can I work as a PA in Mississippi without attending PA school?

No. An IMG cannot work as a PA in Mississippi without attending and graduating from an ARC-PA accredited PA program and without passing the national NCCPA/PANCE boards for PAs.


Is the Mississippi State University-Meridian Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program accredited?

Yes. The Mississippi State University – Meridian Physician Assistant Studies Program has been granted Accreditation-Provisional status. This is the ARC-PA’s first designation for full accreditation and is granted for a maximum of five years. At that time, the program will be reevaluated for Accreditation-Continuing status. The official ARC-PA statement can be viewed below:

*The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Mississippi State University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Mississippi State University.

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

For more information on the developing Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program, please contact (

What degree does the MSU MPAS Program award?

The Program will award the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree.

Clinical Rotations

Where will I do my clinical rotations?

The clinical coordinator determines clinical rotation sites.

If accepted in the MSU MPAS Program, can I select any of my own rotations during my clinical year?

The program's Clinical Coordinator schedules the core clinical curriculum. Students are not required to find their own rotations. Students have two elective rotations and may work with the clinical coordiator in selecting those.

Where do clinical rotations take place?

Many clinical rotations are located throughout Mississippi and neighboring states.  Students are able to request rotations in other areas, but all clinical sites must be verified by the Physician Assistant Program.  All students may be required to travel out of the Meridian area for clinical rotations and will be responsible for housing.