If you want to become a PA, you need to know what a CASPA Application is and how it works. CASPA is the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants. Think of CASPA as a clearing house for applications to 93% of PA schools (145 out of 156 accredited PA programs). CASPA is a division of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) that exists to make the application process fair and efficient for applicants and PA schools.
How the CASPA Application Process Works
The list below is a thumbnail sketch. It’s not a difficult process, but it’s tedious, and there are many sub-steps not listed here.
- Create a free online account with CASPA at www.caspaonline.org
- Complete, pay for, and submit your CASPA application online
- Have your school transcripts mailed to CASPA
- Have your letters of recommendation sent to CASPA
- Verifies your application (they don’t fact-check it — they just make sure all the stuff is there)
- Sends an identical electronic copy of your CASPA application to each PA program you request.
From this point on, you deal directly with the schools.
A Few Important Notes About the CASPA Application Process
CASPA is just the messenger. Beyond recalculating your GPA from transcripts, they don’t fact-check your CASPA Application – they just make sure that nothing is missing before they send it to schools.
- They won’t notify you if something is missing, so you need to keep checking (online or by phone) until everything is complete. Until everything (and I mean everything) is complete, received, and verified, CASPA will not send you application to schools.
- There is a deadline for CASPA to have everything, but some of the schools to which you apply may have different deadlines, so don’t rely on the CASPA deadline – check with you schools of choice.
- They don’t offer any way to send different versions of your application to different schools. For this reason, you need to complete the it in such a way that it will have broad overall appeal. Later, if you complete a school-specific “secondary” application, and during your interview, you can tweak how you sell yourself to appeal to individual schools and their preferences.
- The base rate to apply to one school is $135 for applications submitted prior to September 1st and $175 for those submitted after September 1st. Each additional school you add will cost you $45 more.