MMS-PA Admissions


The Hawai’i Pacific University Physician Assistant Program is a graduate entry-level course of study for individuals who hold baccalaureate degrees to become Physician Assistants (PAs). The program is designed to prepare graduates for clinical practice as a PA with an emphasis on patient-centered care, advancing health equity, and serving underserved populations. The HPU PA program considers applicants who possess the academic and professional attributes necessary to become competent PAs who will serve their communities and improve healthcare delivery.  

To be considered for admissions, applicants must submit all application material to the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Required application materials include official transcripts for all institutions of higher education attended, three letters of recommendation, and a supplemental essay. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be sent directly to CASPA.

Non-United States-based educational institutional transcripts must be evaluated by World Education Services (WES). Evaluation fees are the responsibility of the applicant and evaluations must be sent directly to CASPA. The academic record must show credits and grades equivalent to those given by U.S. institutions of higher learning. For more details visit the CASPA website.

See topic areas below for specific information regarding admission requirements related to degree prerequisite and grades, prerequisite coursework, testing requirements, application components, and international applicants.

The Hawai’i Pacific University PA program will begin accepting applications for the January 2025 cohort in April 2024. Visit this webpage for updated information.

If you have questions, please send an email to

Degree & Grades

  • A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university prior to matriculation into the program. A baccalaureate degree is the minimal requirement; however, provisional acceptance may be granted pending completion of the degree.  
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale 
  • Minimum 3.0 overall science GPA 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA overall for prerequisite courses 
  • If the cumulative GPA is less than 3.00 on a 4.00 scale, an applicant may still be eligible for admission if a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or greater has been achieved over the last 60 semester hour credits (or 90 quarter hour credits) of relevant coursework. 
  • Applicants must have earned a letter grade of “C” or higher in each prerequisite course. Competitive applicants will have earned a grade of B or higher.  Grades below "C" in prerequisite courses will not be accepted. 
  • Coursework taken from spring 2020 through fall 2021 where colleges and universities offered courses as pass/fail as an adjustment to learning during the Covid-19 pandemic, courses with a grade of the pass will fulfill the prerequisite requirement. However, if the course was taken for a letter grade, a grade of C or higher is required. 
  • If a prerequisite course is repeated, the credit hours assigned to the course may be counted only once in fulfilling the required number of hours. Both grades will be calculated into the cumulative and science GPA.

Prerequisite Course Requirements



(semester hours)* 

Biology (general or human) with lab


OR one semester of general or human biology AND 1 semester of additional biology coursework** listed below 

Human anatomy with lab  


Human physiology with lab 


Microbiology (with lab preferred) 


General chemistry with lab 


Organic chemistry *** 








* Equivalent quarter hours are acceptable and must be noted in CASPA 
**Additional biology coursework: cell biology, histology, molecular biology, pharmacology, embryology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience. 
*** If organic chemistry/biochemistry is a combined course, applicants must complete the entire course sequence to receive credit for both courses. 

  • All science prerequisites must be courses designed for science majors. No survey courses will fulfill science prerequisites. 
  • It is preferred that prerequisite coursework be taken in-person, however online coursework is accepted.
  • All prerequisite courses must be satisfactorily completed by September 1st prior to the anticipated year of matriculation. Applicants will not be considered for admission if more than two prerequisite courses are incomplete at the time of application.  
  • Applicants must indicate all courses that are either in progress or planned in the appropriate section of the CASPA application. Applications that do not list all prerequisite coursework (either as completed, in progress, or planned) will not be reviewed.  
  • Applicants may only be offered provisional acceptance if they have prerequisite coursework either in progress or planned at the time of application. Full acceptance will be granted when the applicant submits, by way of an official transcript, documentation of successful completion of all in-progress or planned prerequisite coursework to the Physician Assistant Program by September 1st prior to the anticipated year of matriculation. 
  • Science courses must be completed within ten (10) years of application.  

Entrance Exam

  • No entrance examination (e.g. GRE or MCAT) is required for application to the HPU PA Program. 

Letters of Recommendation 
Three letters of recommendation are required. 

  • At least one recommendation must come from a healthcare professional knowledgeable of the applicant’s performance in the clinical setting. 
  • At least one recommendation must come from a professional able to speak of the applicant’s academic capabilities. 

Direct Healthcare Experience Requirement
A minimum of 500 hours of direct, hands-on healthcare experience in the U.S. must be completed by all applicants prior to application.   

The HPU PA Program expects all applicants to engage in thoughtful exploration of the role of the PA and the PA profession before applying to the program. Applicants may be asked to describe their understanding of the profession as part of the application or interview process. Personal shadowing of clinically-practicing PAs and other healthcare professionals is not required, but is encouraged as one way to gain knowledge about the role of the PA.  

The PA Program also encourages prospective applicants to explore the following websites which contain information specific to pre-PA learners and applicants: 

Supplemental Essay
Candidates will be required to complete a supplemental essay to demonstrate alignment with the program mission and values.

Other Admissions Information 

  • Advanced standing or transference of credit will not be offered to any applicant. 
  • Students must meet the technical requirements for admission, continuation, and graduation. 
  • An interview is required and is by invitation only.  Applicants are selected for interviews based on a holistic evaluation of their application and supporting materials. 
  • Successful completion of an approved Background Check and Drug Screening prior to matriculation is required. 

Meeting minimal program prerequisites guarantees neither an interview nor acceptance to the program. The HPU MMS-PA program is committed to a holistic review process that considers an applicant’s experience, academic merit, and the values an applicant would contribute to the HPU learning community and the PA profession. Further information regarding selection criteria will be posted to this webpage as it becomes available. The HPU PA program website is the definitive source of information concerning admission criteria.

Degree Requirements  
Applicants who have completed their degree outside of the United States must comply with the following: 

  • Transcript and Degree evaluation by World Education Services (WES). The agency must find that the coursework is equivalent to at least a baccalaureate degree. If the credentialing agency does not determine the education to be equivalent to a baccalaureate degree, the applicant must complete a baccalaureate degree prior to program matriculation. 
  • All prerequisite coursework must be completed at a regionally accredited university or college in the United States or from that uses English as its primary language of instruction and documentation regardless of whether the applicant has already completed it in another country. Advanced standing or transference of credit will not be offered to any applicant.  
  • International applicants must complete all entrance requirements and follow the same application process through CASPA and complete the HPU supplemental essay.  
  • International applicants are responsible for understanding and complying with Visa requirements.  

English Language
For all applicants for whom English is not their first language, demonstration of English proficiency is required through completion and submission of official test scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum TOEFL score that applicants must achieve is 250 computer-based or 100 internet-based. 

For all applicants for whom English is not their first language, but meet one of the exemption criteria below may be considered for admission without submitting an English Language Test: 

  • They hold a baccalaureate or graduate degree from a country where English is the official language as well as language of instruction OR 
  • They hold a baccalaureate or graduate degree from an institution accredited by a U.S regional accrediting agency  


The Technical Standards of the Physician Assistant Program at HPU establish the abilities and skills that are essential to achieve the level of competency required to practice as a physician assistant (PA). Candidates are required to verify that they understand and meet the Technical Standards prior to matriculation and must maintain these standards throughout the program. Candidates for the MMS-PA degree program must demonstrate abilities and skills in five areas, which align with the PA Program Competencies and Learning Outcomes: (1) Observation Skills and Abilities; (2) Motor and Sensory Skills and Abilities; (3) Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities; (4) Communication Skills and Abilities; and (5) Behavioral and Social Attributes. 

The PA Program has the ethical responsibility for the safety of patients with whom students will come in contact, and to the public to assure that its graduates can become fully competent PAs, prepare to deliver quality, patient-centered medical care. All HPU PA students must be able to continually demonstrate the abilities specified above at the time of matriculation and for the duration of enrollment. Students are obligated to alert the HPU PA program in a timely fashion of any change in their ability to fulfil the Technical Standards. It is a breach of professional conduct for provisionally accepted applicants or currently enrolled PA students to knowingly misrepresent their skills or abilities or to otherwise provide false information for purposes of admissions, academic assessment and promotion, or graduation. Students are subject to dismissal if they do not meet the Technical Standards required throughout the program or provide false information.  

Observation Skills and Abilities 
- PA Students must acquire information through demonstrations and experiences in the didactic and clinical coursework. In addition, students must be able to evaluate patients accurately and assess relevant health, behavioral, and medical information. PA students must be able to obtain essential information about a patient through a comprehensive assessment of a patient’s medical history, physical examination, interpretation of diagnostic tests and accurate evaluation of a patient’s conditions and responses. Examples of observation-related activities include but are not limited to: 

  • Detect and identify changes in color of fluids, skin, culture media, visualizing and discriminating findings on x-rays and other imaging tests  
  • Observe and differentiate changes in body movement 
  • Observe anatomic structures 
  • Discriminate among numbers and patterns associated with diagnostic tests such as electrocardiograms 

Motor and Sensory Skills and Abilities
- PA students must perform routine clinical skills to include physical examination, diagnostic maneuvers, and clinical and surgical procedures. Students must meet applicable safety standards for the clinical environment and follow universal precaution procedures. In addition, students are expected to participate in all PA Program scheduled learning and assessment activities throughout the didactic and clinical education phase of the program. Specific activities related to motor and sensory skills and abilities include but are not limited to:  

  • Perform physical examinations using palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers to identify and differentiate key physical findings   
  • Exercise sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control, and eye-to-hand coordination to use standard medical/surgical instruments  
  • Exercise sufficient control of the upper extremities to meet the physical requirements for performing safe clinical and surgical procedures 

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities 
- PA students must effectively assimilate to a rigorous academic learning environment and understand the complex information required to advance in the PA Program curriculum. Specific Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities include, but not limited to: 

  • Comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationship of structures 
  • Effectively participate in individual and small-group learning in the classroom (both online and in-person) and clinical settings 
  • Learn, participate, collaborate, and contribute as part of a team 
  • Synthesize large amounts of complex information both in person and via remote technology 
  • Demonstrate investigative and critical thinking in all clinical situations 
  • Make accurate, fact-based conclusions based on available clinical data and evidence-based scientific information 
  • Formulate a hypothesis and investigate potential answers and outcomes, and reach appropriate and accurate conclusions 
  • Possess strong computer skills to participate in synchronous and asynchronous online class work and trouble-shoot technical problems 

Skills and Abilities - PA students must exhibit interpersonal skills that enable effective compassionate care of all patients and the ability to interact and collaborate with other students, faculty, clinical preceptors, and members of the healthcare team. Specific communication-related skills and abilities include but are not limited to: 

  • Communicate effectively and sensitively in both oral and written form 
  • Communicate with patients from different social and cultural backgrounds 
  • Develop effective professional rapport with others 
  • Record examinations and diagnostic results clearly, accurately, and efficiently in verbal, written and electronic formats 

Behavioral and Social Attributes 
- PA students must exercise good judgement, ethical behaviors, and develop mature and professional relationships with patients, colleagues, and faculty. In addition, students must take responsibility for their own learning and participation in the PA Program curriculum. Expectations related to Behavioral and Social Attributes include but are not limited to: 

  • Maintain composure and emotional stability during periods of high stress 
  • Adapt to physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing workloads and to perform effectively under stress 
  • Adapt to an environment that may change rapidly, without warning, and/or in unpredictable ways  
  • Accept responsibility for learning, exercising good judgment, and promptly completing all academic requirements and responsibilities 
  • Promptly complete all responsibilities related to the medical care of a patient 
  • Understand and abide by the legal and ethical standards of the medical profession 
  • Possess compassion, integrity, concern for others, effective interpersonal skills, willingness to work as part of a team, motivation to learn, personal insight, and participate in self-reflection for ongoing self-assessment and improvement 

PA students must demonstrate the above Technical Standards with or without reasonable accommodation,
as may be approved by the University. Students wishing to request a reasonable accommodation in accordance with applicable laws, may contact the University’s Center for Accessibility Services as set forth in the Student Handbook Requests for reasonable accommodation will be reviewed in accordance with applicable law, on an individualized basis through an interactive process between the University and the student.  

Other requirements

  • Students are expected to participate in program scheduled learning and assessment activities that may occur between the hours of 7am and 6pm Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HST) seven days a week 
  • Students are responsible for arranging travel to HPU Honolulu campus for required immersion sessions 
  • Students are responsible for transportation to education experiences with timely arrival 
  • Students are expected to participate in clinical rotations that operate during all times of the day/night
  • Students who are not located in an area near available clinical sites may need to relocate for part or all of the clinical education year in order to complete the program

Legal Requirements

The HPU PA Program requires all students to complete a criminal background check prior to formal enrollment or matriculation in the PA program. An additional background check and/or drug test may be required prior to beginning clinical experiences. Failure to complete the criminal background check and/or drug testing required at any point during the program may be cause for revoking admission and/or dismissal from the HPU PA program.  

Criminal background checks and drug testing are often mandatory at medical institutions as a requirement of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Individuals working in health care facilities often must consent to and be cleared to work through criminal background investigations and/or drug screenings. This is also a common policy/requirement in many private clinics. Applicants should also be aware that a prior criminal background could restrict the ability to obtain professional state licensure. Acceptance into the PA program does not imply or guarantee that a student will be able to obtain such licensure.