Arcadia University’s Physicians’ Assistant Program – How To Get In

Arcadia University has a near-perfect pass rate for all physician assistants taking the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) board exams. Furthermore, it provides students with an uncommon opportunity to travel, with clinical rotations available in hospitals across the North-eastern United States and abroad.

Maybe it’s because of these unique opportunities that its physician assistant program is so popular – with over 3,000 applicants competing for only 103 available seats!

This article provides a concise overview of Arcadia’s admissions procedure, explaining how to apply and providing tips on how to increase your acceptance chances and be competitive in the process.

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

Interested in learning about the PA Programs of other schools and colleges, finding useful admissions tips, etc? Check out our PA Programs articles here – we cover all major schools!

Starting Your Application

Arcadia University is just one of many PA programs that use the Physician Assistant Centralized Application Service (CASPA). CASPA applications open on April 28 and allow prospective students to apply to any of the numerous schools on its system.

All CASPA applicants need to submit the following:

  • Personal Information
  • At least 1000 hours of Health-Related Training or Volunteer Experience
  • Academic History
  • Official Test Scores Required for the course
  • A list of institutions attended, and coursework completed
  • At least 3 references, including one from a health care professional with whom the applicant has worked, employers, and professors.

Despite its rolling admissions policy, Arcadia has a strict CASPA submission deadline, with applications received after October 1 not considered. Furthermore, the University strongly encourages you to submit your application as soon as possible because offers are sent out as early as June 1.

After completing CASPA, Arcadia may offer you admission without conducting an interview. Although Arcadia used to require one-on-one interviews with faculty, Covid-19 has pushed them to take a more hybrid approach. Prospective students now have a week set aside during which they can attend informational webinars and virtual Q&A sessions with faculty.

If students meet all the requirements and decide to accept Arcadia’s offer, they must pay a $500 deposit. Within two weeks of sending the acceptance reply, a further $1000 deposit must be made to secure their spot in the course. Both deposits are non-refundable and contribute to first-semester tuition. In addition, Arcadia requires students to provide proof of medical insurance and pass mandatory clearances such as criminal background checks and immunization tracking, upon enrolment.

Who Gets In

Arcadia’s admission requirements remain stringent, with all admitted students expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Nearly 95% of the class of 2025 possesses the following qualifications:

  • Overall GPA: 3.63
  • Natural science GPA: 3.56
  • GRE General Test scores:
    • Verbal & Quantitative combined: 310
    • Analytical Writing: 4.3
  • Hours of full-time patient care experience: 2,520

The Prerequisites

All Arcadia PA applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and should have achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher. These degrees must include the completion of the following courses:

  • Five courses in Biological Sciences – must include lab work and include Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology.  
  • Three courses in Chemistry – including at least one semester of Organic Chemistry.
  • One course in Psychology
  • One course in Statistics

Applicants cannot waive courses or accept students with an advanced degree.

Tips and Tricks from Successful Arcadia Applicants

Admission to PA programs is not easy, but successful applicants frequently have helpful advice. Here is some of their best advice for getting into Arcadia:

Start Planning Early

Without preparation, none of Arcadia’s minimum requirements can be met. Arcadia’s PA course is highly academic, as evidenced by their prerequisite requirements so anyone with low academic credentials is unlikely to be admitted. While most alumni will encourage you to apply regardless, they will tell you that beginning a study plan by your sophomore year is essential due to the high GPA requirements.

Furthermore, successful candidates advise applicants to plan ahead of time because Arcadia will not review your application until all documentation is submitted. Make sure you have your GRE, course transcripts, recommendations, and PCE scores ready well before August begins, or you may miss the deadline.

Choose a PCE Job You Enjoy

For an application to be competitive, most schools advise putting in at least 2,500 PCE hours, or roughly 1.5 years of 40-hour work weeks. This requires a significant time commitment, so most alumni recommend finding a volunteer job that you enjoy. Since the purpose of PCE, or direct patient care experience requirements, is to ensure that you will enjoy your job,  take advantage of this time to explore multiple specialties if possible.

I personally wouldn’t recommend shadowing, you’ll find that you are too fried and stressed during the summer and fall to do anything but study and relax a little. There is some built-in shadowing during the didactic year; at least there was in 2010-2011. 

Although there are numerous job opportunities, to be considered “direct patient care experience (PCE),” you must be involved in a patient’s care plan. Anything from a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to an emergency medical technician can fit this description (EMTs). However, obtaining such positions does require some preparation and planning because they require anyone working in these positions to complete an 8-12 week training program and pass the national board certification.

No Interview, No Problem

While some applicants may be concerned about the lack of interviews prior to acceptance, alumni assure them that this is not a cause for concern. When interviews were held, they were relaxed conversations with faculty, and the reduced face-to-face interactions have simply led to the school putting more emphasis on CASPA applications.

I wouldn’t read too much into not having an interview because even last year, the interview process for Arcadia was very relaxed and short. They are a well established, reputable program and they are also starting their hybrid program this year as well so they are probably just trying some new stuff out. 

– u/ohlaur (2021)

The interview is not just for the school; it is for YOU to see if the program is a good fit. Personally, there were programs I was excited for pre-interview and then I changed my mind during and after the sessions, even virtually. You get a good feel of your potential classmates, your future upperclassmen, and the faculty. Some PA schools aren’t that good; the interview let me see this and which ones my personality wouldn’t mesh with.

– u/SnooSprouts6078 (2021)

Do Not Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

Any successful applicant will tell you not to compare your application to someone else’s. Although it is normal to feel insecure about your application, your school will take several things into account before deciding whether to accept you. Worrying about others diverts your attention away from working on your application. Work on your application as soon as possible and apply as soon as possible if possible! While grades are important at Arcadia, some schools may place a greater emphasis on the type and quantity of PCE hours you have.

Keep Track of Everything You Can

The application process can be time-consuming and lengthy. Everyone must submit a substantial amount of information, ranging from employer and academic references to records of your PCE hours. There is a good chance you will miss your deadlines if you do not keep track of what you’re submitting and who you need to get information from.