MMS-PA Admissions

Admissions

The Hawaiʻi Pacific University PA Program utilizes a holistic admissions process that considers the experiences and character of each applicant to admit qualified students aligned with our mission, vision, and core values. Our admissions process is the cornerstone which guides our efforts to recruit and matriculate compassionate and diverse individuals who are committed to serving their communities and improving healthcare delivery.

The HPU PA Program is a graduate entry-level course of study for individuals who hold baccalaureate degrees to become Physician Assistants (PAs). 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, prerequisite coursework, three letters of recommendation, documentation of patient care experience, a personal statement, and supplemental essays. 

THE APPLICATION FOR THE 2024-2025 APPLICATION CYCLE (MATRICULATION IN JANUARY 2025) WILL OPEN IN LATE APRIL 2024. For additional information regarding the HPU PA Program admissions process and requirements refer to the information below and throughout our website, including our FAQ section. Please send any questions regarding the application and admissions process to PAadmissions@hpu.edu.

CASPA APPLICATION

  • The HPU PA Program participates in the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). For questions about completing the online CASPA application, assistance can be provided by emailing caspainfo@caspaonline.org, calling 617-612-2080, or visiting the CASPA Help Center and using the chat icon. Please also take time to review the CASPA Fees and Fee Waiver website.
  • Official transcripts from all US and English Canadian colleges or universities attended must be sent directly to CASPA for verification and inclusion in the application. For more details visit sending official transcripts to CASPA.
  • There is no supplemental application. Applicants will be required to answer HPU-specific questions within the CASPA application.
  • An application must be verified by our deadline to be considered. Please keep in mind that CASPA states the average application verification can take up to 10 business days to complete.
  • Applicants will be notified of their status throughout the admissions process by email.

 

INTERVIEWS

  • Once verified, the CASPA application will go under administrative review to ensure all minimum requirements are met.
  • Eligible candidates will be screened and ranked to determine interview invitees. 
  • Selected applicants will be interviewed using a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format. 

 

MATRICULATION INVITATION

  • After interviews, a select number of applicants will be invited to join the HPU PA Program.
  • Applicants who have not been chosen initially may be placed on the waiting list.
  • Once notified, applicants have 14 days to consider the offer of admission and a non-refundable tuition deposit of $800 is required to confirm a seat.
  • Deferrals will not be granted for any reason. Candidates who receive an offer and decline due to deferral are subject to reapply in future cycles without priority consideration.

APRIL 2024 

  • CASPA application portal opens for applicants.
  • Data begins to be sent electronically to HPU PA Program.
  • Applicants are encouraged to apply early.

AUGUST 2024 (Submission Deadline)

  • Applicants must complete and submit an online application through CASPA on or before August 1st 11:59 pm EST.

SEPTEMBER 2024 (Verification Deadline)

  • Applicants must have a verified CASPA application, letters of recommendation, and transcript(s) with final prerequisite grades by September 1st at 11:59 pm EST.

FALL 2024 

  • Applicant interviews are conducted.
  • After the conclusion of interviews, the Admissions Committee selects candidates for admission.
  • Applicants will be notified by email of their admission status.

JANUARY 2025 

  • Orientation for incoming cohort and classes begin.

Degree & Grades

  • A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university as defined by the Counsel for Higher Education Accreditation 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 
  • Refer to Calculating Your CASPA GPAs for more information on these grade values.
  • 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. 
  • For applicants whose institutions adopted a pass/fail grading system during spring 2020 through fall 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic, we will accept “pass” or “credit” marked on transcripts to meet prerequisite requirements during this emergency period. 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 all GPA measures. 


Prerequisite Course Requirements
 

Course 

Credits 

(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 

8 

Human anatomy with lab***  

4 

Human physiology with lab*** 

4 

Microbiology with lab

4

General chemistry with lab 

8 

Organic chemistry**** 

3 

Biochemistry**** 

3 

Psychology*****  

3 

Statistics 

3 

* Equivalent quarter hours are acceptable. The CASPA system will automatically convert quarter hours to semester hours (quarter hour x .667) if quarters are reported on the transcript. This conversion is done in the GPA section of the application, but not in the Coursework section.

** Additional biology coursework (including lab): cell biology, histology, molecular biology, pharmacology, embryology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience.

*** Human Anatomy and Human Physiology may be completed as two individual courses or by taking a combined Human Anatomy & Physiology I and Human Anatomy & Physiology II course sequence over two semesters.

**** If organic chemistry/biochemistry is a combined course, applicants must complete the entire course sequence to receive credit for both courses. 

***** An upper level psychology course will also fulfill this requirement.

 

  • All science prerequisites must be courses designed for science majors and must be completed within ten (10) years of application. No survey courses will fulfill science prerequisites. 
  • It is preferred that prerequisite coursework be taken in-person, however online coursework is accepted.
  • Neither Advanced Placement credit (AP) nor International Baccalaureate (IB) credit will fulfill prerequisite course requirements.
  • 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 will not be considered for admission if more than two prerequisite courses are incomplete at the time of application.  
  • For all outstanding prerequisites, final grades for these courses must be submitted to CASPA and verified by September 1st to continue in the admissions process.
  • For questions about whether specific courses satisfy our prerequisite requirements, please first review this detailed prerequisite course description chart. We have also provided prerequisite course equivalencies for Hawaiʻi Universities and community colleges. Any further inquiries can be submitted to PAadmissions@hpu.edu 


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 and should speak directly to the applicant’s potential for becoming a PA, ability to handle a rigorous course load, and alignment with the mission and goals of our program. Recommenders will submit their reference online through the application. Please note, CASPA allows applicants to submit up to five letters of recommendation, but our program will only review the first three submitted.

  • At least one recommendation must come from a health care experience supervisor knowledgeable of the applicant’s performance in the clinical setting. 
  • At least one recommendation must come from a collegiate academic reference able to speak of the applicant’s scholastic aptitude. 
  • The third letter can come from another individual in one of the above categories, or someone else (e.g. athletic coach, extracurricular supervisor, mentor) who can speak to the applicant’s character, work ethic, motivation, and leadership.

 

DIRECT Patient care EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENT 
Although all health care positions bring value to an applicant’s overall experience, applicants must be able to document a minimum of 500 hours of direct, hands-on healthcare experience in the U.S. prior to application. CASPA defines this as “experiences in which you are directly engaged in a patient’s care”. Examples of duties that fulfill direct patient care include the following: providing care and therapy; obtaining vital signs and medical histories; documenting medical notes alongside a physician or PA; performing procedures and diagnostic tests; counseling and educating; participating in clinical decision making. Of note, these duties must be carried out in a role that is part of a healthcare team. For example, performing any of the aforementioned duties as an independent health care consultant does NOT qualify as patient care experience. Specific positions that satisfy these criteria include but are not limited to: pharmacist, RN/LPN, paramedic/EMT, respiratory therapist, radiology technician, surgical technician, military medic/corpsman, physical therapy assistant, occupational therapy assistant, athletic trainer, certified nursing assistant, medical assistant, medical scribe, phlebotomist, dental hygienist, behavioral therapist, massage therapist (clinic not spa-based), mental health counselor, and clinical research roles that have patient involvement.

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: 

 

personal statement and SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAys

  • Candidates will be required to submit a personal statement regarding their desire to be a physician assistant.
  • There are also HPU PA Program-specific questions that will focus on alignment with program mission, vision, and structure.

 

OTHER ADMISSIONS INFORMATION 

  • Meeting minimal program prerequisites guarantees neither an interview nor acceptance to the program.
  • Advanced standing or transference of credit will not be offered to any applicant. 
  • Students must meet the Technical Standards of the HPU Physician Assistant Program.
  • Successful completion of an approved Background Check prior to matriculation is required. 

Hawaiʻi Pacific University admits students without regard to sex, race, age, color, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or national or ethnic origin to all programs and activities generally accorded to or made available to students at HPU. The HPU PA Program values the importance of diversity in both our learning community and in the greater PA workforce. Therefore, we encourage applicants from all backgrounds and groups to apply.

 

The HPU PA Program will do an initial administrative review of each application to determine if all required documents have been received by August 1st and CASPA verified by September 1st. Applicants who do not meet these strict deadlines or meet the stated grade point average and required direct patient care hours minimums are eliminated from further consideration. 

 

In the next stage of review, eligible candidates will be screened and ranked through a holistic set of criteria. These screening criteria include:  

  • Academic performance: This is measured in terms of CASPA-calculated cumulative GPA, CASPA-calculated science GPA, and performance in the required prerequisite courses. Science GPA is emphasized, and more points are awarded to higher GPA ranges. All coursework is considered in the GPA calculation, including coursework that has been repeated for a better grade.
  • Direct patient care experience: Healthcare professionals who have obtained a degree, license, or specific job training to perform direct patient care with high-level of patient assessment and interaction are awarded more points. Their CASPA application will include a detailed description of duties that require intensive hands-on responsibility and high-level of critical thinking and decision making that total at least 500 hours. Positions that meet this criteria for our program include respiratory therapist, paramedic, registered nurse, medic/corpsman, clinical pharmacist, physical therapist, and occupational therapist. Additional points are also given to direct patient care hours (500) completed in the State of Hawaiʻi.
  • The candidate’s letters of recommendation, personal statement, and supplemental essays will be reviewed to identify strength of service commitment to underserved populations, learning readiness for a rigorous hybrid program, and personal alignment with program mission, values, and goals.  
  • Additional preference points are awarded to:
    • Residents of Hawaiʻi
    • Applicants who graduated from high school in Hawaiʻi or Hawaiʻi institution of higher education
    • Individuals who have met criteria for educationally/environmentally or economically disadvantaged status as defined by the guidelines located in the Personal Information section of the CASPA application (Background Information)

 

A select number of candidates will be invited for a virtual interview based on screening scores and candidate ranking. Our program utilizes a multiple mini interview (MMI) format. In the interview process, we are assessing attributes such as:

  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Empathy/compassion
  • Teamwork
  • Resilience and adaptability
  • Self-awareness/self-reflection
  • Critical thinking
  • Cultural competency/humility
  • Situational judgment/professionalism 

 

Final applicant review is done by the program Admissions Committee. They will consider candidate scores, reviewer comments, and application information to decide who is accepted, waitlisted, and denied admission.  

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 Canada 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.  
  • International applicants are responsible for understanding and complying with Visa requirements.  


ENGLISH LANGUAGE
 TEST  
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. HPU’s Institution code is 4352.

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.

TECHNICAL STANDARDS FOR ADMISSIONS, CONTINUATION, AND GRADUATION 

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 


COMMUNICATION
 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 ACCESS@HPU.EDU. 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. 

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding our admissions process. For questions that are not addressed here or on our program website, please contact us at PAadmissions@hpu.edu.

 

When does the program start?

  • The HPU PA Program will enroll the first cohort in January 2025. Only applications from the previous CASPA cycle (April – September) are considered for admission each January.

 

Do you have a supplemental application?

  • All elements of the application are included within and should be submitted to CASPA.

 

Can I take prerequisites online or at a community college?

  • All prerequisites from a regionally accredited university or college in the United States will be considered. While we prefer courses be completed in-person if possible, we will accept online coursework, including online labs, in our review.

 

I have prerequisite coursework in progress. Can I still apply?

  • You may have up to two outstanding prerequisite courses to complete at the time of application. Be sure to identify that the required courses are “planned” or “in-progress” in the CASPA application. You must provide proof the coursework has been completed satisfactorily and it must be verified by the September 1st deadline.

 

Does HPU PA Program accept Advanced Placement courses for prerequisite requirements ?

  • No. Prerequisites should be completed at the postsecondary level only.

 

If I’ve taken the GRE or MCAT can I submit my score?

  • We do not require an entrance examination and any submitted scores will not be reviewed or considered in the application process.

 

Do you offer “advanced standing” or ACCEPT transfer students?

  • We do not offer advanced standing or accept transfer students at any point in the program. You must complete all courses in our program curriculum from beginning to end.

 

What types of experiences will NOT be accepted towards the 500 hours of patient care experience?

  • PA/Physician/NP shadowing, patient transporter, lifeguard, aerobics instructor, medical secretary or other strictly clerical positions, CPR or ACLS instructor, candy striper or junior volunteer positions.

 

Since this is a hybrid program am I able to work part time?

  • Acceptance into the HPU PA Program requires a full-time commitment and dedication to a rigorous curriculum (at least 50 hours per week during the didactic year). The curriculum includes mandatory synchronous lectures and group work throughout each week. The program reports student attendance as per HPU attendance guidelines. Working outside of the program is not recommended.