Frequently Asked Questions


How and when can I apply to the program? 
All applicants must apply through the Centralized Application System for Physician Assistants (CASPA). The cycle opens in April and our deadline for applications will be January 15th of the application year. Please see PA Admissions Home for more information.

Is there an admission advisor I may keep contact with to make sure I'm on the right track with my application process? 
The application process is centralized through CASPA. If you have questions about the process please contact CASPA directly. If you have specific questions about the program you can contact the PA Program.

Do you require the GRE for admission? 
The GRE is not required.

My first language is English; do I need to take the TOEFL? 
If your primary language is English you are not required to take the TOEFL.

I have quite a bit of volunteer experience; however, none in a medical setting. I read that applicants need direct patient care experience. Can I still apply? 
Yes, you can still apply! The direct patient care experience on the website is preferred not required. Any other experience you have should be noted and described in detail on your CASPA application.

Is working as an ECG tech considered direct patient care experience? 
An ECG technician is considered direct patient care. Please make sure to give a thorough and detailed explanation of the job description on the CASPA application to better assist the evaluation of your application by the admission committee.

Besides the prerequisites, what are you looking for in an ideal candidate? 
An ideal candidate will be academically prepared for the program’s challenging curriculum, possess relevant health care experience, demonstrate compassion, good communication and interpersonal skills and indicate an interest in practicing in underserved communities following graduation.

Does CDU require a supplementary application? 
CDU does not require a supplementary application

Can I transfer into the program and/or transfer credits? 
The PA program does not accept transfer credits and does not accept applications for challenge examinations. All students must complete the entire series of academic courses and clinical rotations. Prerequisite requirements are not considered transferred courses. Prerequisite courses are required to be eligible for admission consideration.

I am a history major at a local university. Do I need to get a second degree in the sciences in order to apply to your program? 
We do not have a specified list of majors required for admission. Many students come from liberal arts backgrounds but complete the required prerequisites as electives for their major or as post-graduate courses.

I completed one year of medical school and would like to apply to your program. Am I eligible for matriculation? 
Absolutely! We do accept applications from individuals who started medical school but for a variety of reasons did not complete their training.

Is a 3.0 GPA required? 
The 3.0 GPA is a preferred requirement. However, please note that if you are offered admission into the program, pending pre-requisites are due by May 30 of the application year and admission is contingent upon completion of pending pre-requisites with a ‘B’ or better.

Does Cultural Anthropology replace the Sociology 1 requirement? 
Anthropology is an acceptable course to include toward the total six-unit Behavioral Sciences requirement.

Does introduction to writing or writing term papers fulfill the English composition requirement? 
English Comp is generally offered as two courses, English Composition I is a class intended to help students develop better writing skills such as proper grammar usage, including punctuation and spelling, editing and revision. English Composition II is a class intended to enhance critical thinking skills with a focus on analysis and argument. If your course description is similar, then the course is acceptable, however, the course must be intended for writing development and not be a portion of another course.

Does the seven year academic completion preceding application requirement refer to science or non-sciences courses? 
The seven-year stipulation is preferred and not required. Nevertheless, if it has been about seven years since you have taken a science course, you might benefit from taking the course again, refreshing your knowledge of the material, and having it reflect more currently on your transcripts.

How do I know if the statistics course I take will be acceptable? 
Any introductory course in statistics will fulfill the requirement, and should include topics such as statistics terminology, analytical statistics, measurement of the mean and variance, null hypothesis, p-values, confidence intervals, and probability.

Does it matter what chemistry courses I take? 
Yes and No. To fulfill the basic chemistry requirement for the program, you may take any two college level chemistry courses with lab. However, taking biochemistry and organic chemistry (preferred courses) will enhance your competitiveness for admission.

What type and how many letters of reference should I obtain? 
We require three letters of reference in order to submit to CASPA. Someone who is familiar with the applicant’s patient care experience usually serves as a reference. At least one reference must be from a medical provider who has observed the applicant in either a volunteer or employment capacity, and one letter from a professor or academic advisor who has evaluated the applicant academically. If we do not receive three letters of reference by the application deadline, the application will be considered incomplete.
Examples of reference letters include, but are not limited to:

  • A professor familiar with one's academic ability
  • A physician, physician assistant or other medical provider
  • Another professional affiliate

I noticed that two of the three reference letters must be from medical professionals that the applicant has worked with. 
This is a preference of the program and does not exclude you from applying. However, a reference from a medical provider attesting to your ability to become a competent PA is extremely helpful for the admissions committee during the applicant evaluation process.

Will there be a wait list for the program? 
Yes, in addition to the individuals who will be selected for admission, other qualified applicants will be wait-listed in the event that positions in the class become available.

How does CDU define "direct patient care?" 
Direct patient care refers to direct (hands-on) patient experiences. Direct patient care experience (DPC) may be paid or volunteer. The admissions committee will review and evaluate each individual DPC experience. DPC should provide exposure to patients and members of the healthcare team in a clinical capacity to allow for the understanding of medical terminology, interaction with a wide variety of patients and exposure to various clinical scenarios. Experience with underserved populations is also highly valued.

What happens if my criminal background check shows a felony? 
The CDU Physician Assistant Program will obtain Criminal Background Checks and Drug Screens on all accepted and deposited students prior to matriculation. Results will be reviewed by the Program Review Committee. Please refer to the Criminal Background and Drug Screen Policy at

Background check and/or drug screen results may be grounds for withdrawal of an admission offer and/or program dismissal. In addition, individual clinical training sites may, as a component of their individual student training policies, require additional criminal background checks.

History of felony or misdemeanor convictions may prohibit the student from being accepted for clinical training in medical offices, clinics and hospital facilities. Students unable to complete clinical rotations due to criminal history will NOT meet the Program’s requirements for graduation.

Successful completion and graduation from the program does NOT guarantee board certification OR state licensure for practice as a Physician Assistant. It is the responsibility of the applicant/student to contact the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) ( and the state medical board for certification and licensure requirements.

I recently applied to the PA program at CDU and just finished completing a prerequisite course I listed as "in progress" on CASPA and was wondering what address I should send the updated official transcript to? 
Please update the information in CASPA.  Additionally, e-mail and mail your transcript to the PA Program.


I recently applied to the PA program at CDU and was not offered acceptance. What can I do to improve my application for the next cycle?
We encourage reapplicants to review all components of their CASPA application. For specific guidance please review the following reapplicant document.

Curriculum and Program

What are clinical rotations and how many hours a week are required at each rotation? 
Clinical rotations are supervised clinical practice experiences under the supervision of a preceptor who is responsible for student training over a four-week time period. While some rotations have a 40-hour work week, the time required could be higher. The student is also expected to do additional studying after hours to meet the expectations of the rotations and the program.

What disciplines are covered in clinical rotations? 
The ‘core’ clinical rotations will be covered in seven, four-week rotations: family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, behavioral medicine, surgery and emergency medicine. You will also have two four-week elective rotations.

Can I work while I am taking courses and doing the clinical rotations? 
Due to the labor and time intensive nature of the Charles R. Drew University Physician Assistant Program, students are discouraged from working while enrolled in the Program. Please refer to the program work policy on the program website at:

Is CDU on the semester or quarter system? 
CDU is on the semester system. Our semesters are approximately 15 weeks in length.


What are employment opportunities like for physician assistants? 
Two sets of statistics help to emphasize the outstanding employment opportunities for physician assistants. The PA profession was ranked by CNN and Money magazine in 2010 as one of the top five jobs in the country. In addition, in December 2007 the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed physician assistants as the 30 fastest growing profession in America with a predicted increase in jobs of approximately 30% by 2020.

International Students

I have a BS in Biology and a BA in French from a university outside the United States. How do I go about getting all transcripts evaluated and verified? 
We have a number of approved agencies listed on the website which will evaluate your transcripts

How are prerequisites evaluated for international students? 
The same evaluation process for transcripts applies to prerequisites unless taken at a regionally accredited institution in the U.S. Please refer to this page and the bullet “Transcripts” for more details.