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Introduction to CASPA

Introduction to CASPA – The Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants

CASPA is the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants. CASPA opens for the next cycle, the 2021-2022 cycle, in late April. Once you create an account and login, you pick the schools you wish to apply to. This does not bind you to applying to these programs and just selects them for you to potentially submit your application to. CASPA consists of 4 major categories: Personal Information, Academic History, Supporting Information, and Program Materials. As you complete parts of each main category, a circle next to the category proportionally turns green, which is a nice, visual way to keep track of your progress.

The 1st section is Personal Information. This section has the subcategories of release statement, biographic info, contact info, citizenship info, race and ethnicity, other info, family info, and environmental factors. This section is the easiest one. Once you fill it out, run through it a second time to confirm it has all been entered correctly.

The 2nd section is Academic History. This section consists of high schools attended, colleges attended, transcript entry, and standardized tests. Here you will input every single class you have ever taken, so it may take time. You will also enter GRE stats here. Along with manually entering your academic history, you must formally request your transcript from your university though CASPA. This section offers a “transcript entry service” for an additional cost. If you start this section early, you should have plenty of time to enter all course information and quadruple check it all without feeling pressured to get it done quickly!

The 3rd section is Supporting Information. The sections are evaluations (letters of recommendation), experiences, achievements, licenses and certifications, essay, and memberships. Here you will send out your letter of recommendation requests, submit your personal statement, categorize and list the hours of all your shadowing, PCE, HCE, teaching, volunteer, etc. experiences. Also, this is where you will state if you are a member of any national organization, such as AAPA or your state society of PAs. Aside from your grades, hours, and stats, your application can shine above others with a well written personal statement and polished experience descriptions.

The “experiences” portion of CASPA is one of the most valuable parts of your application! In this section you list all of your experiences, from PCE to HCE to volunteering to shadowing and more! Here is where you will describe to the admissions committees your responsibilities, job duties, involvement, etc. These descriptions can help prove that specific experiences will be categorized as PCE compared to HCE. Experience descriptions are limited to just 600 characters! Be very picky about the words you use to describe your experience and avoid using filler words/sentences. You can either use a bullet format or paragraph for may for this section, but stay consistent throughout all experiences. These descriptions should be concise and informative. Also, in this section you can explain what certain experiences have taught you or how they have prepared you for PA school. Edit these experience description until you are confident that they communicate each experience adequately!

The 4th and final section is specific to the number of programs you are applying to. I applied to 16 programs, so I had 16 sections. Programs may request you upload a resume, documentation of shadowing/PCE, ask you various short or long essay questions, etc. This was a part of the app that I was not expecting and took me a few more weeks to complete. Almost every program I applied to had many other questions I had to answer before submitting my application. Be sure to check this section as soon as you start your CASPA application to get a better estimate of how much time it will require to complete.

Once you have review over all four sections multiple times and are ready to submit, your first application will cost $179 and the following will cost $55 each. You can submit them all independently, so they do not all have to be submitted at the same time. It is best to submit programs with rolling admissions as soon as possible. This means the program is actively reviewing applications as they come in and filling interview/program spots in real time. However, other programs may not utilize the rolling admission process, and these could be saved to submit later on in the cycle. It is up to you and how you plan to time your application submissions.

You can create a CASPA account years before applying to PA school. All information should roll over to the next cycle aside from your personal statement and any letters of recommendation submitted. I suggest creating an account early so that when the time comes, you are familiar with the application and layout!