Introduction to CASPA
The Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) simplifies the process of applying to physician assistant programs. By using CASPA, you are able to complete one application via our online website and send one set of documents to our centralized service. CASPA will verify your application for accuracy, calculate your GPA., and send your application to as many physician assistant programs you wish to designate who utilize our service. For a list of participating programs, please see the Participating Programs section.
Before Applying To CASPA:
Before creating an account, determine if you are eligible to apply and ensure you are applying for the correct application cycle. Each PA program has different requirements and prerequisites for entry. Please contact the schools to which you are applying directly concerning their entry requirements. In addition, the application cycle refers to the time span in which your CASPA application is valid, not the academic year in which applicants will be admitted. Each PA program has its own start date; to determine exactly when a school's program will begin and to ensure you are filling out the correct application, we advise contacting the school directly.
The following steps are highly recommended BEFORE applying:
- Read through all of CASPA's policies, instructions, and Frequently Asked Questions at our site, https://portal.caspaonline.org/.
- Contact your schools to determine what types of references they require and line up references and their contact information
- Request official copies of transcripts to be sent to you to aid you in filling out the coursework portion of the CASPA application (these can NOT be the same ones later sent to CASPA)
- Compose your narrative in a word processor. Please note CASPA has a character limit of 5000 characters, including spaces, line breaks, etc. Please note that we have found that Notepad's character count to be more reflective of CASPA's than the system employed by Microsoft Word.
- Research your school's deadlines. Note that these may be different than the deadline to submit to CASPA. Submission deadlines are posted under “Participating Programs.”
The Application Cycle:
The application cycle is the timespan in which CASPA is open and you are able to create and access your CASPA account. The current cycle runs from April 18th, 2012 – March 1st, 2013. Once the application cycle closes, you will NOT be able to create or access your CASPA account. Please be sure you are eligible to apply and are creating an account for the correct cycle before creating a new account. Please see the “Before Applying to CASPA” section of our instructions for detailed information.
YOU MAY ONLY CREATE ONE ACCOUNT PER APPLICATION CYCLE. Creating more than one account will lead to delays and difficulty in handling the receipt of your transcripts and letters of reference. Any applicant who creates multiple accounts will have their duplicate accounts terminated, including any documents associated with those accounts.
Creating an Account:
To create an account, click “Create New Account” beneath the login information on the CASPA homepage. You will be asked to create a username, password and supply a valid e-mail address. You will also be asked to create a security question to help you retrieve your login information should you forget it. You will then be assigned a CASPA ID#. Be sure to retain all of this information. For your own security, do not share your password or account information with anyone.
Completing the Application:
Once you create an account with CASPA, you can access your application frequently in order to complete the required portion of the application. To ensure you complete the application correctly, please read through ALL Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions, as they will help guide you through each section of the application. After you have created and completed your application, you can e-submit it to CASPA for processing. Processing times vary, but can take up to FOUR WEEKS from the date your application becomes COMPLETE.
In order for CASPA to consider your application COMPLETE and process and mail your application to your schools, the following steps must all be completed:
- All U.S. and English speaking Canadian official transcripts must be posted to your CASPA account
- Two out of your three letters of reference must be completed
- You must e-submit your online CASPA application
- All application fees must be paid to CASPA
PLEASE NOTE: Your application cannot be processed unless your initial application fee is paid in full. Applicants who submit multiple times to different schools but fail to pay the initial application fee are not considered complete and cannot be processed by CASPA.
Before You E-submit Your Application
- Use the Transcript Request Form to have all official transcripts sent to CASPA.
- Print you application for your records.
- Make sure all information is accurate. Refunds cannot be made once your application has been submitted.
We advise all applicants to APPLY EARLY! Submitting your materials early helps ensure timely processing and avoids costly delays. Depending on volume, it can take up to 10 business days for items such as transcripts or money order payments to be marked as received by CASPA from the date they are mailed. Remember, once your application is considered COMPLETE, it can take up to FOUR WEEKS for it to be processed and mailed to your programs. Therefore, to ensure your application is mailed on time, ALL MATERIALS should arrive at CASPA at least four weeks prior to your earliest deadline.
Once the application is processed, it will be sent to your designated programs. The CASPA application will provide your designated programs with your complete biographical information and a detailed description of your academic history.
Your Account Homepage
Once you create an application, you will come to your account homepage. You can now navigate through the application checklist in the middle of the screen, access your account tools and help menus on the left, and monitor your application's status on the right. Your name and CASPA ID# appear at the top of the application homepage. You should use this ID# when sending materials to CASPA or contacting us via e-mail or phone.
- My Application
- This button brings you back to your account homepage from any section of the application.
- My Profile
- Use this section to change Account information (such as your name, e-mail address, and account username), change your password and security question, or include your AAMC ID.
- Print Application
- You have the ability in this section to print out a hard copy of your application for your own records. Please note that this is a home printer-version layout and is NOT what is sent to your PA programs. It is normal for some sections, such as the narrative, to have unusual formatting.
- My Messages
- Messages from CASPA regarding your application will be sent to both your e-mail address and appear in this application inbox. CASPA highly recommends that all applicants monitor this application inbox, as some messages may be filtered as spam by your e-mail address, yet will still appear here.
- Application Checklist
- The Checklist allows you to navigate to each section of the application. The clear squares to the left of each section will turn yellow when each section is completed. Sections which have a red box to the right are required.
- Applicant Information:
- Use this section to input your Contact Information and Personal Data.
- Additional Information:
- This includes the following sections: Additional information, Health Related Training, and Work and Volunteer Experiences including patient care, health care, community service, awards, and employment histories.
- Provide a narrative explaining why you are interested in becoming a PA. This is your opportunity to let the program or programs that you are applying to know a little more about you.
- Academic History:
- This section includes Institutions Attended, where you must list every school you have received college-level credit from, even if the credits were awarded while you were a high school student. You must also list your degree status at each institution, even if the status is “no degree planned.” In the Coursework section, you must enter each course which appears on your official transcripts. This information will be used to calculate your GPA.
- Reference Forms:
- References are completed electronically. References listed here will receive a link to our reference website and personalized login information.
- My Programs:
- This is where you select which PA programs you would like your application to be sent to. Once you submit your application, you cannot remove or substitute programs you have already selected. However, you may still add additional programs to apply to as long as their deadlines have not yet passed.
- Status Menu
- Use this section to view the overall status of your application, as well as to track the receipt of your transcripts, references, tests, and payments by CASPA. Once you have e-submitted your application and your application has been verified, you may also view your GPA calculation and your application's mailing date under “Programs.”
- Help Menu
- Use this section to access the FAQs and Instructions for each of the application sections. These sections are in-depth and answer the majority of questions applicants have about the CASPA process. You may also access our list of Participating PA Programs, CASPA policies, the Applicant Code of Conduct, and links to PAEA (the Physician Assistant Education Association) from this menu.
- This will close the application site.
The CASPA staff does NOT have access to your password information. To retrieve your password, please click “forgot password” under the login prompt. Please note that passwords and security question answers are case sensitive, so try several capital/lower case combinations. Also, please be certain you are attempting to log in to the 2013 portal (it should say 2012–2013 cycle at the top) and not the 2011–2012 portal. If you still cannot log into the portal, please e-mail CASPA a request to have your password reset along with your name and CASPA ID#. Your password will then be reset to a randomly generated password and your login information e-mailed to you. Once you login with this reset information, you will be able to change your password yourself to whatever you would like.