Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements

Sacred Heart University (SHU) Master of Physician Assistant Studies seeks students who are mature, possess excellent communication skills, are team-oriented, and demonstrate intellectual capacity and integrity.

The SHU Physician Assistant (PA) program uses a holistic admissions process. This is a process by which applicant's cognitive skills, such as GPA, are balanced with non-cognitive variables including but not limited to commitment to service, cultural sensitivity, empathy, capacity for growth, emotional resilience, strength of character, and interpersonal skills. This approach encourages diversity and the equitable evaluation of well-rounded applicants. 

Witzburg, R. A., & Sondheimer, H. M. (2013). Holistic review: Shaping the medical profession one applicant at a time. New England Journal of Medicine, 368, 1565-1567.

Applicants must use the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). All prerequisites and requirements must be completed by the SHU admissions deadline of October 1st. 

All applicants, including graduates from foreign institutions, must hold either U.S. citizenship or Permanent Residence status at the time of application. Applicants with pending citizenship or temporary residency will not be considered.

Learn about the application process

Degree Requirements

An earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university, or an equivalent institution as determined by Sacred Heart University, is required to be conferred by the SHU admissions deadline (October 1). 

Applicants educated outside the U.S. must utilize a transcript evaluation service to verify their degree and course work. The academic record must show credits and grades equivalent to those given by U.S. institutions of higher learning.

Coursework Prerequisites

The following courses must be completed at a regionally accredited institution in the United States, with a grade of "C" or better by the October 1 deadline and are the minimum requirements for all applicants.

16 semester units of Biological Science courses*, which must include:

  • Microbiology with lab
  • Human Anatomy with lab
  • Human Physiology with lab
  • Upper Division College Level Biological Science with lab
    • Examples of acceptable coursework: Cell Biology, Human Genetics, Immunology, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology and Pathology
    • General Biology/Biology I is not an acceptable course for the upper division biological science requirement.

One course of EACH of the following:

  • Organic Chemistry I with lab, or Biochemistry with lab (Biochemistry preferred)
  • Statistics (Biostatistics preferred)
  • General Psychology

Advanced Placement (AP) credits will be accepted for Psychology and Statistics.

Highly recommended courses, but not required:

  • Human Genetics
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biostatistics

*SHU PA Studies accepts prerequisite lecture courses completed online but does not accept labs completed online.  SHU PA Studies requires that all labs be completed in a classroom setting. Virtual labs are not considered an acceptable format. Some online courses offer an online lecture with labs completed in a classroom setting; this is an acceptable format.

SHU PA Studies is unable to accept transfer credits, and does not accept applications for challenge examinations. We do not accept previous experience or medical training for advanced placement in the PA Studies program. All students are expected to complete all didactic and clinical elements of the PA Studies program.

Minimum Requirements

  • Overall GPA of 3.0
  • All prerequisite courses: Cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • A minimum of 1000 hours of verifiable, paid hands-on (direct) patient care experience in the U.S. Healthcare system. Healthcare experience will be evaluated based on the type of work and level of patient interaction.

Examples of paid hands-on (direct) patient experience includes, but is not limited to:

  • Back Office Medical Assistant (MA)
  • Certified Nurses’ Aide (CNA) or Patient Care Assistant (PCA)
  • Emergency Department Technician 
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN/LVN)
  • Medical scribe
  • Military medic or corpsman
  • Paramedic
  • Physical Therapy Aide
  • Radiological Technician
  • Respiratory Therapist

Highly competitive applicants will also possess the following:

  • Participation in Community Service or Volunteer work
  • Greater than 2,000 hours of paid, hands-on (direct) patient care experience completed in the U.S healthcare system.
  • Prerequisite GPA of 3.20 or greater
  • Completed college-level science course credit hours of 80 hours or more

Additional consideration will be given to applicants with current Connecticut resident status, or applications with verifiable military service. SHU participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program

Additional Requirements

  • Application through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA)
  • Three letters of reference: must include at least one letter from a work supervisor
  • Personal Statement (on CASPA)
  • Official college transcripts (sent to CASPA)
  • Supplemental SHU Essay Questions completion (on CASPA)
  • Successful interview by invitation only
  • Must meet all Technical Standards
  • Completion of criminal background check is required prior to starting the PA program and clinical phase
  • If selected to join SHU's PA Program, a candidate is required to provide proof of patient care hours

Applicants with an earned bachelor's or master's degree from Sacred Heart University, a current Stamford Hospital employee, or a Stamford Health Medical Group employee who meet all minimum requirements and Technical Standards will be granted an in-person interview.

Test Scores

  • Scores from the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) are NOT required for admissions to the SHU PA program.

  • Applicants who have not earned a baccalaureate degree from a regionally-accredited institution in the U.S. must also submit official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), regardless of the official language of the country in which the education took place, or the predominant language of the degree-granting institution. 

    Minimum TOEFL scores accepted are:
    • Reading 22/30
    • Listening 22/30
    • Speaking 26/30
    • Writing 24/30

Technical Standards Requirements

Read more about our technical standards

Student Work Policy

Students are discouraged from working while in the PA Program due to the robust nature of the PA program. In the event a student chooses to work, they are not permitted to miss or reschedule lecture, lab sessions, journal clubs, seminar sessions or any part of their didactic or clinical educational requirements. The Program has the right to recommend termination of employment based on academics that fall below the minimum University and program requirements.

Background Check

Successful completion of the MPAS program includes satisfactory completion of the clinical education component of the curriculum. The majority of clinical sites now require students to complete a criminal background check prior to participating in clinical education placements. Some facilities may also require fingerprinting and/or drug screening. State licensure laws may also restrict or prohibit those with criminal convictions from obtaining a professional license to practice following graduation. Thus, students with criminal convictions or backgrounds may not be able to obtain required clinical education experience(s) thereby failing to meet the academic standards of the Program.

It is therefore the policy of PA Program that all admitted students planning to enroll in the MPAS Program must consent, submit to, and satisfactorily complete a criminal background check before registration for courses as a condition of matriculation. Matriculation will not be final until the completion of the criminal background check with results deemed acceptable to the Program Director or MPAS Director of Clinical Education. 

All expenses associated with the criminal background check are the responsibility of the student. Students, who do not consent to the required background check, refuse to provide information necessary to conduct the background check or provide false or misleading information in regards to the background check will be subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, refusal of matriculation or dismissal from the program.

Criminal background information is strictly confidential, for use only by authorized MPAS Program faculty and/or administrative staff, and shall be retained only until the student graduates or is dismissed from the program.