Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Mississippi College PA Program accredited?
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Mississippi College. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.
Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be March 2021. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.
What degree is offered by the Mississippi College Physician Assistant program?
The Mississippi College PA program will award graduates the Master of Science in Medicine (MSM) degree. Graduates will be eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Graduates of our Physician Assistant Program, who are certified by the NCCPA, will be eligible to practice in all 50 states.
How many students are accepted into each class?
The program will accept approximately 30 students in each class.
Is the Mississippi College PA program a CASPA participating school?
Yes! Applicants may apply to the program through the CASPA website at https://portal.caspaonline.org/
What is the deadline to apply to the program?
Applications must be received in the offices of the PA program no later than March 1st, each calendar year.
When does the program start each year?
The program begins each year in late May. A three day orientation precedes the formal start of classes.
Do you have more than one start date?
No. The program only matriculates one class per year in May.
Does the Mississippi College PA program require students to have a bachelor’s degree?
When applying to the program students may not have more then two outstanding classes (including prerequisites) to complete their bachelors degree. Students must have earned their bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college prior to matriculation at the program.
What undergraduate courses and/or majors best prepare an applicant for the academic program of the PAP?
The physician assistant program does not require that applicants major in any specific academic subject. The program accepts applicants from a wide range of undergraduate majors. Regardless of the major, a heavy concentration in science-based courses that are highly correlated with medicine is recommended. Additional chemistry, biology, and social science courses beyond the minimum will strengthen an application.
While most incoming students have earned their bachelor’s degrees in a science or health care field, it is not required. Strong preparation in natural sciences is highly valued. The number of courses, the level of those courses, and performance are important considerations. Applicants should demonstrate their ability to handle social science and humanities as well. If an applicant does not possess a science or health care related degree, it is strongly encouraged that they attempt to get as much clinical experience as possible.
What are the prerequisites required by the Mississippi College PA program?
The following courses are required to be completed at a regionally accredited U.S. institution prior to matriculation in the program:
Applicants for the Physician Assistant Program must have the following prerequisites for admission into the program:
- Human Anatomy & Physiology, a complete sequence (including labs; 8 semester hours)
- Microbiology, at the pre-med level/appropriate as a first-level requirement for a Microbiology major (including lab; 4 semester hours)
- General Chemistry, a complete sequence geared toward science majors/appropriate as a first-level course for a Chemistry major (including labs; 8 semester hours)
- Organic Chemistry, (including labs; 4 semester hours)
- Statistics, including statistical tests and analysis (3 semester hours)*
*Statistics is the only pre-requisite that may be taken on-line.
†Basic science courses should be those for science majors. Only courses with an associated lab will be given credit for fulfilling prerequisite requirements.
Are there any “flags” that might suggest potential academic difficulties in the program?
Applicants’ transcripts are carefully reviewed to identify concerns such as numerous withdrawals from courses, light course loads particularly in the “heavy” sciences, science courses taken more than five years ago, and inconsistencies in academic performance.
Can I still apply if I have outstanding pre-requisite courses?
Yes. However, students must have no more than than two outstanding pre-requisite courses during the Spring semester prior to matriculation.
Can I matriculate at the Mississippi College PA program if I have outstanding pre-requisites?
No. All pre-requisites must be completed prior to matriculation.
Do you accept other prerequisites besides those specified?
In general, prerequisites cannot be substituted. Exceptions to the prerequisite requirements must be requested in writing. These will be considered only in very rare instances and must be approved by petition to the admissions committee.
Does the PA program accept CLEP credit?
The PA program does not accept College Level Examination Program (CLEP) credit or credit by examination for any prerequisite requirements.
Should I send official transcripts to the PA program offices?
Official transcripts should be sent to the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) at the time of application. If there are outstanding prerequisite courses at the time of application, official transcripts of that coursework must be received by the program prior to matriculation.
Do you require a certain amount of health care experience?
No. Mississippi College recommends that all applicants complete the equivalent of at least six months (1000 hours) of direct (“hands-on”) patient care experience before entering the School. Applicants must provide information on both direct (“hands-on”) and indirect (“related”) health care experience, including role or job title, name of institution, name of supervisor, description of tasks, number of hours worked per week, and number of weeks worked at that institution. Clinical experience can be on a paid or volunteer basis.
Examples of direct patient care may include drawing blood, taking vital signs, providing personal hygiene care, serving as technician in Radiography, etc. For applicants who are already health professionals, such as nurses, paramedics, or respiratory therapists, the practice of your profession for the recommended length of time would constitute such clinical experience.
Do you have any suggestions on how I can obtain patient care experience?
Applicants without previous health care experience are often able to acquire good direct patient care experience working as a medical or nursing assistant or aide in settings such as hospitals, clinics, or physicians’ private practices where a wide range of patients is seen and there is opportunity for exposure to numerous types of health care providers. Patient care experience in settings such as nursing homes and private homes utilizing the services of home health aides, offer limited exposure to a wide range of patients and providers and are therefore not as favorably regarded by the Admissions Committee as settings such as hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ private practices.
Applicants often complete a short nursing assistant or EMT program in order to secure paid employment while gaining clinical experience. Patient care experience can be acquired on a paid or volunteer basis, as long as the recommended amount of time is met in an acceptable health care setting.
Do you require applicants to take the GRE?
Yes. Applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test.
Can I apply to the program if I have not yet taken the GRE?
Yes. Applications will be reviewed if GRE scores are not yet received by the program. However, final admissions decisions cannot be made until all application materials are received including GRE scores.
What are competitive GRE scores for applicants?
The GRE scores are assessed in conjunction with the applicant’s complete profile. The Mississippi College PA program does not set a minimum acceptable score for the GRE but looks at scores at or above 1000 (verbal + quantitative) or their equivalent on the new exam as more competitive. For additional explanation on the meaning of the GRE scores, click on the following link: www.ets.org
Should I send my official GRE scores to the PA program office?
Yes. The program office must receive an official GRE score report for each student prior to admissions decisions or matriculation.
What is the GRE code for Mississippi College?
The Mississippi College PA Program code is 0598.
What kind of references should I request for my application?
PROFESSIONAL references are recommended by the Admissions Committee. The program recommends at least one reference from a physician who has supervised the applicant in a clinical setting, and one reference from another health professional who has worked alongside the applicant and/or is familiar with the applicant’s clinical skills.
References written by academic instructors and advisors are acceptable. But will not carry as much weight as references provided by professionals who are familiar with the applicant’s clinical skills.
The program does not accept references written by relatives, personal friends, or friends of the applicant’s family. “Character references” (from pastors, teachers, counselors, family doctors, etc.) are also not acceptable.
Does the PA Program conduct interviews for applicants?
Yes. After review of applications, those applicants deemed competitive are invited for an on-campus interview. Each applicant will have at least two general interviews. The general interviews usually include one applicant and one to two program representatives.
How will I know that all my application paperwork has been received by the PA program?
The Admissions Office will inform the applicant that the application has been received by the program. If an application is incomplete (missing items such as GRE scores, references, etc.), the program will notify the applicant. Following receipt of any missing items, the applicant will again be notified that the application is complete.
When are applicants invited for interview?
The program begins conducting interviews in September and continues through May. As soon as the program receives an application, the Admissions Committee reviews the application and determines whether an applicant is to be invited for interview. If so, the program will invite the applicant for interview.
When is the final selection for an entering class made?
Following their interview, applicants will be assigned to one of three categories: Accept, Deny, or Alternate List. Applicants will be notified of their status within 2 weeks of their interview. Applicants on the alternate list may be offered a seat in the class at any time between their interview and the first day of class.
If accepted, do I have to have a criminal background check prior to matriculation?
Yes. Upon acceptance, each student is required to purchase a criminal background check. The background checks are at the expense of the student and are performed by a third party agency. Finding of any prior criminal activity may terminate the student’s acceptance into the Mississippi College PA program.
Does Mississippi College PA program offer a part-time option or online courses?
Our program does not offer a part-time option or online courses.
Can I transfer into your program?
No. Every student accepted to our program must apply for admission.
What are your guidelines on TOEFL?
Students for whom English is a second language must submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum paper-based score of 600, computer-based score of 250 or internet based score of 80.
Do I need to be a Mississippi resident to apply?
No. While preference is given to Mississippi residents up to half of the class may be from out of state.
Where do students do their clinical rotations?
PA students will rotate in busy clinics, private physician’s offices, teaching hospitals, large institutions, and military hospitals and clinics. Rotations exist in small Mississippi towns and huge metropolitan cities. Our students will go to underserved areas in the delta, small towns across Northern Mississippi, the gulf coast, and into our own underserved urban clinics here in Jackson. Our students will be provided a wide variety of experiences and locations for their clinical rotations, thus rounding out the application of knowledge and skills to actual patient care.
How are the clinical rotations set up/assigned?
Rotation assignments will be made based on the schedules for learning teams. Within those parameters students are offered a choice in selecting their clinical rotations. Academic and professional performance while in the program and prior clinical experience are taken into consideration in all placements.
What financial aid is available at Mississippi College?
Federal Student Loans are available, you must complete the FAFSA and have the results directed to Mississippi College. For more information check with the contact the Graduate Office or visit our Financial Aid Web Site.
What do I have to do to apply for financial aid?
1. Complete FAFSA forms at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. The federal school code for Mississippi College is 002415.
2. Enroll as a degree seeking student (or certificate program/licensure programs) in at least 6 semester hours.
Will I be able to work during the time I am a student?
Due to the intensive nature of the PA program curriculum and study hours involved in the first year students are not allowed to work. During clinical rotations, students find that their patient management responsibilities and time required preparing for rounds and attending conferences do not allow them to work and attend the program.