Applicant Self-Assessment Checklist
If you are a current or future applicant, the questions below can serve as a guide to help you prepare your application. If you are an applicant who has been denied admission, the checklist may also be helpful for evaluating the strength of your application and thinking about how to improve your application for a future admissions cycle. Please note that admission to our program is extremely competitive; we receive thousands of applications each year, and our acceptance rate is less than 2%. Given our high volume of applicants, we regret that we are not able to provide individualized feedback to applicants.
Please note that the self-assessment checklist is a tool designed to assist you with evaluating the competitiveness of your application. It is not a "prescription" and does not constitute any explicit or implied guarantee of acceptance to this or any other PA program. However, answering these questions as honestly as possible should provide you with some insight regarding the strength of your application.
- Do I have a bachelor's degree from a recognized academic institution in the U.S. or Canada (or equivalent as described here)?
- Did I take and receive official scores for the GRE, MCAT, and/or PA-CAT prior to the application deadline?
- Did I take CASPer prior to the application deadline?
- Did I request letters of recommendation from at least three professional references prior to the application deadline?
- Did I complete two (2) essays?
- Was my CASPA application in "Complete" or "Verified" status by the application deadline?
- Were my official GRE/MCAT/PA-CAT scores submitted to CASPA (for GRE or MCAT) or to the admissions office (for PA-CAT) by the application deadline?
- Did I read and follow the CASPA application instructions? This includes, but is not limited to, the correct listing of preparatory coursework, and of various types of experience (clinical hours, research hours, volunteer hours).
- Did I request letters of recommendation from at least three professional references? Were these references people who know me well and can speak directly and specifically about my potential as a PA and/or my potential to successfully complete graduate-level academic work? Am I reasonably sure these people have a good impression of me?
- Did I successfully complete the recommended preparatory coursework and include it accurately in my application?
- Do my transcript(s) and test scores demonstrate my potential to successfully complete rigorous academic work, particularly in biosciences? If there are gaps or "red flags" in my coursework, grades, or test scores, have I addressed this in my personal statement? Have I excelled in other areas of my application?
- Does my clinical, research, volunteer, and/or community service experience show depth and breadth of interest in a career as a PA? Does my experience demonstrate my potential as a future PA leader? If there are gaps or "red flags" in my experience, have I addressed this in my personal statement? Have I excelled in other areas of my application?
- Was the length of my essays within the maximum character limits? (Please note that any text after the maximum character limit is cut off by CASPA.)
- Did my essays offer the admissions committee a clear sense of who I am, why I want to be a PA, and how I contribute to the mission and goals of the Stanford MSPA program? Did I answer the essay questions clearly and concisely? Were my essays free of spelling and grammatical errors?
- Am I familiar with the Stanford MSPA program's mission and goals? How well do I align with the program's mission and goals? Did I clearly demonstrate this alignment in my application materials, particularly my essays?
- Am I familiar with the physician assistant profession? Do I understand the role of a PA in different settings and specialties? How did I demonstrate this in my application materials, particularly my essays?
- Have I reviewed the characteristics of the program's previously matriculated classes? How do I compare to these students in terms of academic performance and experience?
- How many of the recommended preparatory courses have I taken? How did I perform in those courses? (Please note that while these courses are not required for admission, completion of the recommended preparatory courses with strong grades helps make your application more competitive by showing the admissions committee that you are able to successfully undertake this type and level of coursework.)
- How do I contribute to program diversity? Did I include thoughtful discussion of my social position relative to the PA profession in my application materials, particularly my essays? (Please note that we define diversity broadly, as including but not limited to race/ ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, early educational environment, nationality, religion, disability, language, and culture.)
- How direct (i.e. involving sustained, hands-on interaction with patients in a medical setting) are my clinical hours? Does my clinical experience involve critical thinking? How active (versus passive) is my clinical experience? Did I clearly communicate the scope of my clinical experience in my application materials?
- How did I demonstrate potential as a future PA leader in my application materials?