The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Department of Physician Assistant Studies College of Health Affairs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Disclaimer:  The questions and answers provided on this page may be udpated without notice. Continue to check this page frequently for additions, subtractions and changes. Last updated 05/17/17


General

1.  How can I schedule a meeting with a faculty advisor to discuss my application?  Answer: Due to increased demand and time constraints, faculty are not readily available for individual advising. Interested applicants should attend an Open House event, and/or the Graduate Fair to ask individual questions that are not answered on this webpage.

2.  How many applicants are accepted to the program?  Answer:  Currently, the program accepts 65 students. WE will increase the class size to 80 in 2018 and then 100 in 2019.

3.  How do I apply?  Answer:  complete both the CASPA and the UTRGV Graduate College Application.

4.  What does it cost to apply?  Answer:  cost of CASPA, UTRGV Graduate College Application, official transcript(s), and any travel/lodging for interviews.

5.  Can you help me with questions on the CASPA application?  Answer:  No.  All CASPA questions are handled by CASPA customer service.

6.  Can you help me with questions on the UTRGV Graduate College Application?  Answer: Questions, especially those regarding international status and application should be directed to the Graduate College.

7.  What are my chances of getting accepted?  Answer:  Applicants should review our Admissions Stats page to compare their own credentials to those of applicants accepted in previous cohorts.

8.  Does the program make early admissions decisions?  WE are in the process of doing early interviews and an early acceptance.  

9.  Does the program follow a rolling admissions process?  WE are in the process of doing rolling admissions.

10.   Does the program offer advanced placement for coursework taken at other PA programs?  Answer: No. See The Advanced Placement Policy

11.  What degree do I need to apply?  Answer: The program accepts any Bachelor's degree, however, applicants with science degrees are most successful. 


Special Requirements

1.  Does the program require Spanish language fluency?  Answer: No

2.  Does the program require the GRE?  Answer:  Yes, beginning 2016 - 2017 cycle.  Currently there is no minimum score requirement.

3.  Does the program require any entrance examinations?  Answer:  No

4.  Does the program accept nurses (RN's)? Answer: Yes, must have an undergraduate degree.


Experience

1.  Does the program require direct patient care experience?  Answer: Although there is no minimum required, the admissions committee highly recommends direct patient care experience.  

2.  Does the program require shadowing?  Answer: No, shadowing is no longer a requirement for application. However, it is still recommended.

3.  Does the program require community service and/or extracurricular activities?  Answer: Although there is no minimum required, the admissions committee highly recommends community service and extracurricular activities.  The most successful applicants have many hours of involvement.


Prerequisites

1.  Does the program accept Calculus for the statistics prerequisite?  Answer: No

2.  Does the program accept Sociology for the psychology prerequisite?  Answer: No

3.  Does the program accept online courses?  Answer:  Yes, as long as they are from an accredited institution.

4.  Does the program accept online lab courses?  Answer:  Yes, as long as they are from an accredited institution.

5.  Do the prerequisites have to be a certain time?  All applicants must have taken AT LEAST 15 semester credit hours of coursework in the United States within the last 10 years.  

6.  Does the program accept community college coursework?  Answer:  Yes

7.  Does the program accept science courses taken for non-science majors?  Answer:  No

8.  Do all prerequisites need to be completed by the September 1 deadline?  Answer:  Yes. 

9.  Does the program "waive" any prerequisites?  Answer: No. 

10.  I attended medical school in the USA.  Will the program give me credit for those courses?  Answer: No. See The Advanced Placement Policy


Transcripts

1.  Do I have to submit official transcripts?  Answer: Yes, to CASPA (upon application) and to UTRGV Graduate College (upon acceptance).

2.  Do I send transcripts to the PA program?  Answer: No

3.  Do you accept unofficial transcripts?  Answer: No

4.  Do I need to submit transcripts from every school I attended even though I transferred coursework? Answer: Yes. Transcripts from all schools attended are required regardless of transfer coursework.

5.  I have a degree from the USA and a degree from a foreign country.  Do I need to submit my foreign transcripts?  Answer:  Yes.  All transcripts from all schools attended are required.  WES evaluation may not be required for foreign transcripts for applicants with degrees from the USA although the admissions committee may still ask for a WES. 

6.  I attended another professional graduate school (medical school, dental school, etc.) but did not complete the degree.  My Bachelor's degree is complete.  Do I still have to submit the incomplete graduate school coursework transcript?  Answer:  Yes.  All transcripts from all schools attended are required.

7.  My transcript shows academic probation and/or academic dismissal.  Will I still be considered for admission?  Answer:  Yes but be prepared to discuss either in detail.


GPA & Coursework

1.  What is the minimum GPA needed to apply?  Answer: The minimum overall GPA needed to apply is 3.0.  This GPA is calculated by the CASPA system. It includes ALL courses taken at ALL institutions.

2.  What GPA's does the program consider for application?  Answer: The program considers the overall GPA, science GPA and last 30 hours GPA.

3.  How does the program calculate GPA's?  Answer:  GPA's are calculated by CASPA.  

4.  Does the program use the "most recent" grade for a repeated course to "replace" older grades?  Answer: The program follows CASPA policy.  CASPA includes ALL grades for ALL courses taken regardless of repetition.

5.  What does the program look for on transcripts?  Answer: Besides good grades, the program looks for trends in performance, drops, repeats and academic rigor just to name a few things.

6.  How many semester credit hours should I be taking per semester?  Answer: The most competitive applicants take 15+ semester credit hours per semester.  The least competitive applicants take <9 semester credit hours per semester.

7.  I worked full-time while I was enrolled in courses.  I could not take 15 hours every semester.  Does the program take working into consideration?  Answer: Yes

8.  I attended a quarter/trimester school. How do I convert my courses to meet UTRGV's requirements? Answer: CASPA converts all coursework automatically. Please see the CASPA website for details.


Foreign Applicants

1.  Does the program accept foreign medical graduates?  Answer: Yes

2.  Does the program accept any other foreign transcript evaluations besides WES?  Answer:  No

3.  The program will only accept WES evaluations beginning in the 2016 - 2017 cycle.

4.  Can foreign medical graduates get advanced placement for coursework?  Answer:  No. See The Advanced Placement Policy

5.  Can the program review my foreign credentials to determine if I am qualified to apply?  Answer: Yes. All advisements for foreign credentials must be done on campus by appointment.  Copies of all credentials and a completed WES are required.  Materials are not accepted electronically or by fax. Advisements cannot be conducted by phone or online unless arranged by individual faculty advisors.


Letters of Reference

1.  Are letters of reference required to apply?  Answer: Yes. Three letters of reference are required to apply.

2.  How do I submit my letters of reference?  Answer: Letters are accepted through the CASPA system only.  Please follow CASPA instructions for submission.

3.  Who can write letters of reference for me?  Answer:  Anyone of your choosing. The program prefers letters from health care professionals you have shadowed or worked with, employers or supervisors and professors.  Letter from friends are highly discouraged.  Letters from family members are not accepted.

4.  What should the letters of reference contain?  Answer:  The letters of reference are standard format from CASPA.  Please follow CASPA instructions for letters of reference.

5.  The CASPA system is asking me to "waive" my right to see the letters of reference. What should I answer? Answer: It's up to you, but the standard is to waiver your right to see them.  Many people will not write your letter without your waiver.

6.  I sent requests to all 3 of my reference, but only two returned the letters to CASPA.  The deadline has passed. What should I do?  Ultimately, it's the applicant's responsibility to make sure the entire application/submission process is complete.  The program does not make exceptions for lack of responsibility on the part of the applicant.


Interviews

1.  How are applicants selected for interviews?  Answer: Each applicant's file is reviewed in detail.  Those with the best combination of more favorable characteristics are invited.

2.  How many interview invitations are sent out?  Answer: The number of invitations varies every year.

3.  How can I prepare for my interview?  Answer: Search online for interview tips and techniques. Dress in business formal attire.

4.  How much does the interview count toward the admissions decision?  Answer: There is no set measure.  However, the interview is a crucial part of the admissions process.


After Acceptance

1.  Can I work while I'm enrolled in the program?  Answer:  The program discourages students working while enrolled in the program.

2.  Does the program require a security deposit if I get accepted?  Answer: Accepted applicants do not need a security deposit, instead they secure their seat in the program by enrolling in the Academy for Success.

3.  Can I enroll in the program part-time? Answer: No. The program is offered only on a full-time basis.

4.  Is a criminal background check required?  Answer: Yes. A criminal background check is required of all accepted applicants BEFORE the first class day.

5.  Will my criminal background affect my ability to gain admission into the program?  Answer: No. The admissions committee does not use the criminal background to make admissions decisions.  However, your criminal background may affect your ability to complete the program.

6.  How often do I need to get a criminal background check?  Answer: Yearly while enrolled in the program.

7.  Are drug screens required?  Answer: Drug screens are required in order to rotate through certain facilities and clinical sites.

8.  Are there any special requirements once I am accepted?  Answer: Yes. All accepted applicants must undergo a complete pre-participation medical examination.  

9.  Are any immunizations required by the program?  Answer: Yes. All accepted applicants must have a current PPD negative result, Hepatitis B series or proof of immunity, Meningitis vaccination if <30 years old, and Varicella, if non-immune.  A flu shot is required yearly.  Other vaccine recommendations are listed in the instructions sent to all accepted applicants.

10.  If I am accepted and have an emergency, can I defer my decision?  Answer: Yes. You may request to defer your admissions decision for one year under EXTENUATING circumstances. Deferrals must be approved by the program director.