Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the ECU Physician Assistant (PA) Program?

The ECU PA Program is a 27-month long curriculum that begins in August with graduation occurring in December. The didactic phase comprises the first 15 months with students involved in classroom, laboratory, small-group, OSCE, and experiential learning opportunities. The clinical phase comprises the last 12 months in which students are assigned to supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPE’s) at various inpatient, outpatient, and emergent settings.

What degree does the ECU PA Program offer?

At the completion of the ECU PA Program, students are awarded a Master of Science Degree in Physician Assistant Studies.

How many applications do you receive each year?

We receive 1000+ applications annually.  Of these, approximately 120 are selected for interview.

I do not live in North Carolina. Can I apply?

ECU PA accepts students from North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Washington DC. You must be a resident and have a permanent address in one of these states at the time of application and admission to the program. If you or your spouse are active military and stationed in NC during application and admission, you may request a residency waiver from PA Admissions.

How do I get an application?

ECU PA utilizes the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants. You may begin your ECU PA studies application here CASPA

Is there a supplemental application?

We do not require a supplemental application via CASPA or other application services (ie CASPer, Snapshot, etc). However, in addition to CASPA, you are required to apply to the ECU Graduate School.

Do I need a bachelor’s degree to get into the program?

Yes. The Department of Physician Assistant Studies at ECU offers a Master’s Degree. As such, all applicants accepted into the Program must have a bachelor’s degree. The undergraduate degree must be completed by June 1st of the year of matriculation.

I have a bachelor’s degree from another country. Can I apply?

We do accept applications from foreign graduates. We recommend foreign graduates complete the following for application review.

  • All prerequisite courses are completed in the United States.
  • 50% of clinical hours and/or experience are obtained in the United States.
  • All applicants are required to have a permanent address in NC, SC, VA, TN, GA, or Washington DC at the time of application and matriculation.
  • Submit application to the ECU Graduate School.
  • Submit application to CASPA.
  • Submit WES equivalency documentation to CASPA.  Also have WES equivalency documentation available to submit to ECU PA Admissions if requested.
  • Submit TOEFL scores to both the ECU Graduate School and CASPA.

What is a recommended undergraduate major for applicants?

ECU PA does not require any specific undergraduate major or program. Many applicants major in various biological sciences because prerequisites are more easily obtained in those programs.  Prerequisite and overall academic performance are considered in application review, and not the major of study.

When should I have my prerequisites completed?

ECU PA prerequisites are to be completed at the time of application submission. The application submission deadline is September 1st. Applications will not be considered if prerequisites are incomplete.

My institution offers a combined Anatomy/Physiology course. Do I have to take separate courses in Anatomy and Physiology? Do I need to take Anatomy and Physiology with a Lab?

You may either take separate courses in Anatomy and Physiology, or you may take 2 semesters of a combined Anatomy/Physiology course.

We require Anatomy and Physiology with lab sections. We highly encourage face to face experiences for Anatomy labs.

We do NOT accept Comparative, Animal or Mammalian Anatomy and Physiology courses.

Does my coursework meet the ECU prerequisite requirements?

You may easily reference course equivalency at Course Equivalency (

If you have additional undergraduate course equivalency and/or transfer credit questions, you may direct those to the ECU Pre-PA academic counselor, Brandon Jones .

Does ECU PA accept Advanced Placement courses for prerequisite requirements?

Yes, we accept Advanced Placement (AP) credit for Psychology and Statistics prerequisites ONLY.  All other prerequisites must be completed at a regionally accredited institution.

Does ECU PA accept coursework from community colleges for prerequisite requirements?

Yes, we do accept coursework completed at community colleges.  We do encourage the majority of your coursework be completed at a 4-year institution.  Colleges within the North Carolina community college system use the same course name and number designations regardless of which location you choose to attend.  Use the chart below to plan and register for your prerequisite course of study.

Prerequisite RequirementMinimum Semester Credit HourECU Course NameECU Course NumberNC Community College Course Number
Human Anatomy and Physiology with lab*8
(two semesters)
Human Physiology and Anatomy I & 2BIOL 2140/2141 and BIOL 2150/2151BIO 168 and BIO 169
Genetics3Principles of GeneticsBIOL 2300BIO 250
General Chemistry with lab
(may substitute with Organic Chemistry)
(two semesters)
General Chemistry 1 & 2CHEM 1150/1151 and CHEM 1160/1161CHM 151 & CHM 152
Microbiology3Fundamentals of Microbiology or MicrobiologyBIOL 2110 or BIOL 3220BIO 275
Introductory Psychology or higher3Introductory PsychologyPSYC 1000PSY 150
Statistics3Biostatistics, Mathematical Statistics, and Statistics in Social Sciences acceptedBIOS 1500, MATH 2228 or 2283, or PSYC 2101MAT 150 or 152
(prerequisite requirement beginning 2026-2027 cycle)
3Principles of BiochemistryBIOL 4880No community college equivalent
*Completing one semester of Human Anatomy with lab and one semester of Human Physiology with lab for a total of 8 semester credit hours also meets the prerequisite requirement.


Does ECU PA accept Certification type courses or Advanced Standing for prerequisite requirements?

Military/JST/ACE level courses will be reviewed for transfer credit upon submission of official documentation during the CASPA and ECU Graduate school application process.  Other certification exam courses and/or advanced standing courses are not acceptable as prerequisites and may not be recognized by the ECU Graduate school.

Can I transfer into the ECU PA Program?

No, all applicants accepted into ECU PA must apply through CASPA. We do not accept transfer students at any point in the program. You must complete the program from beginning to end with completion of all courses within the curriculum.

I already have a bachelor’s degree. Do I still need to complete the prerequisite courses?

Yes. Each applicant is viewed equally; therefore, each must complete all prerequisite course work. No exceptions or substitutions.

When do you start interviews?

The admissions cycle begins at the end of April when CASPA opens for applications. We begin interviews in July and end in January.

How long does it usually take to fill the class?

We practice rolling admissions and have open seats until final interviews are concluded.  We plan to have final decisions made by March.  Admissions decisions may include an invitation for matriculation, alternate, or declined for the cycle.

If I am accepted into the ECU PA Program, is there a seat deposit?

Yes, candidates confirm their place in the class by submitting a $750 non-refundable deposit by the specified date with instructions in the acceptance letter.  The seat deposit is ultimately applied to the first semester’s tuition.

If I am accepted into the ECU PA program, can I defer my acceptance to the following year?

No. In general, applicants are unable to defer to an alternate year once accepted.

Can the ECU PA Program be completed on a part-time basis?

No. The program can only be completed on a full-time basis.

I applied to ECU PA and was placed on the Alternate List. What does this mean?

Students who are not offered a seat in the program following their interview may be placed on an alternate list, at the recommendation of the Admissions Committee and/or the Program Director. The alternate list is activated as necessary by the Program Director. An alternate list is valid from the close of the interview process through the first week of classes for which the student applied. Alternate list applicants not advanced to a seat are NOT considered for admission to the following class without reapplication. We are unable to advise applicants of their rank on the alternate list.

Do I need clinical experience to be considered for the ECU PA Program?

Competitive applicants accrue over 1000 hours of patient care experiences at the time of application submission.  Patient contact experiences may come from a variety of places. The extent to which an applicant is actually involved in patient care will be weighed based on the description of the applicant’s duties during those hours. The title of a position is not as important as the duties the applicant performed in terms of patient contact and interaction with patients and other healthcare providers (physicians, PAs, nurses, etc.).

Examples of patient contact experiences may include but are not limited to: EMT, paramedic, medical assistant, medical scribe, patient care tech, nurse, surgical tech, athletic trainer, physical therapy aide, etc.

I applied to ECU PA, and I was interviewed; but I did not get accepted. Why?

We have many exceptional applicants. However, numerous qualified people are turned down for admission because we accept only up to 36 students each year. In the case of applicants who are interviewed and not accepted, we find that most are well-qualified and would make excellent PAs. We make decisions based on careful application review and interview results. We invite all potential students to re-apply for the next admission cycle through CASPA and the Graduate School.

What can I do to make myself a competitive candidate for the PA program at ECU?

  • Apply early.
  • Be a NC resident.
  • Take prerequisite courses at a 4-year institution and within the last 5 years.
  • If your GPA is less than our typical class average, possible options are:
    • Retake courses or prerequisites if you scored less than a B in the course.
    • Challenge yourself with more strenuous science courses. Examples include Biochemistry, Advanced Anatomy or Physiology courses, Cellular Physiology, or Graduate level science courses.  Performing well in these types of courses helps demonstrate preparedness for the PA curriculum.
    • Complete a graduate level degree in a science field.
  • Obtain high quality patient care experiences. Please reference application requirements and above.  Be detailed on your application about your responsibilities.
  • Shadow a PA or multiple PA’s.
  • Understand the role of a PA and be able to articulate your understanding as related to your personal academic and professional strengths and goals.
  • Share your unique attributes and journey in your personal narrative and/or interview.

How can I stand out with my personal narrative and/or interview?

There is no single formula for a successful personal statement as it pertains to the CASPA application or via your interview; individuals will find different topics to be appropriate for them. Whether an interview or a personal statement, this is an opportunity to communicate information about yourself as a prospective ECU PA student. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • significant life experiences
  • intellectual interests
  • extracurricular activities
  • factors inspiring you to become a physician assistant
  • significant obstacles met and overcome
  • special talents or skills
  • socioeconomic challenges
  • nontraditional educational path
  • previous career
  • cross-cultural experiences

These subjects, as well as other related topics, would be appropriate to help the committee make a thoughtful decision.

Can I meet with a faculty member to discuss why I wasn’t accepted into the ECU PA Program?

No. Due to the volume of applications we are unable to meet personally with applicants to discuss why they were not accepted. You may e-mail PA Admissions to get feedback on your application.  Please be patient if you request feedback.

Where can I get information about financial aid?

Please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at ECU. Ms. Deana Summerlin ( is the Assistant Director for the Office of Student Financial Aid and a resource for our students.

Am I responsible for finding my clinical rotation sites?

No. The director of Clinical Education and Clinical Coordinators are responsible for placing students in appropriate rotation sites.

How many of your graduates remain in North Carolina?

Approximately 85% of our graduates remain in North Carolina.

What are the PANCE scores for your graduates the first time they take the exam?

Download PANCE Report (PDF)

Do I need certification in Basic Life Support before I start the ECU PA program?

Current certification in AHA Basic Life Support at the Healthcare Provider Level is required by the PA Program in order to move forward with Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) training. Although not an admission requirement, it is helpful to have this certification prior to program entry as it may be difficult to coordinate BLS training into one’s schedule during the first semester. American Heart Association certification is required.

How are acceptance and interview decisions made in the Admissions Process?

The program’s policies and procedures for student admission decisions adhere to clearly defined and published practices of the institution and program. Applicants are evaluated using objective and subjective data retrieved from their CASPA application. Applications are reviewed in the order of application receipt and sorted based on GPA, Letters of Reference, Clinical Hours, Narrative, and other factors as noted in the Application tab. Applicants are invited for an interview based upon these factors and after close application review by the Admissions committee


How often are changes made to the admissions process?

Annually, we appraise our admissions process by reviewing the application, prerequisite and clinical hour requirements, guidelines for GPA, applicant selection for interview, and interview process, as well as other factors such as but not limited to: student and alumni evaluations of the program, student and alumni performance (i.e. exams, quizzes, professionalism, PACKRAT, PANCE) and faculty evaluation of students. Updates to the review process are made annually before CASPA opens in April and published on our website.

Who do I contact for more admissions information?

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies Admissions address is: PA Admissions.

The program has opportunities throughout the year for applicants to visit the campus and interact with program faculty, called Closer Look Sessions.