What Is CASPA? Everything You Need to Know

April 26, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 4/26/24

What is CASPA? How does it work? When is it due? Read on to find the answers to all of the questions and more!

Numerous types of healthcare professionals make up the medical field - you’ve got your standard doctors, surgeons, nurses, EMTs, and pharmacists. These tend to be the most common professions students interested in medicine pursue.

However, physician assistants are gaining popularity and quickly becoming one of the top healthcare professions students pursue! These non-doctor healthcare providers work in practically every medical setting, are highly trained and knowledgeable, and are well-paid! 

If you’re considering becoming a physician assistant, it’s essential you understand what the CASPA application is, which is what this guide will cover!

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What Is CASPA?

The Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) is used to simplify the process of applying to physician assistant programs. Through their CASPA accounts, students can choose the programs they’d like to apply to and upload all of the CASPA PA requirements.

Once these application materials are uploaded, CASPA will transmit your application to your desired programs. It is similar to the AMCAS, VMCAS, and PharmCAS, as it is a centralized application processing service. Regardless of the number of PA programs you want to apply to, you'll only need to submit one application to CASPA!

Benefits to CASPA Applicants

CASPA offers students a streamlined way to apply to multiple PA programs with a single application. Students will be asked to choose the programs they want to apply to and upload the required application documents. 

Then, each school will receive the same application, which saves students time and effort compared to applying to each program individually. Additionally, it helps keep your PA application timeline more organized as the CASPA deadlines are standardized for all programs.

CASPA Deadlines

Now that you have a better understanding of what CASPA is, here is the complete CASPA application timeline:

Decision Plan Application Deadline Financial Aid Deadline Decision Notification
Early Decision I November 1 December 6 By December 15
Emory University Scholar Programs November 15 Based on decision plan By March 1
Early Decision II January 1 January 10 By February 15
Regular Decision January 1 January 31 By April 1
Fall Transfer March 15 March 13 By May 5

In case you’re confused by some of these dates, CASPA allows students to submit their applications before their transcripts, evaluations, and official test scores are received by CASPA. Keep an eye out on the status of your application. You will be notified once your materials are received by CASPA and when your application is verified!


To fully answer the question, “what is CASPA?”, you should know how much it costs. PA school itself is costly, but the application process can be as well!

The cost to apply to your first program through CASPA is $184. It will cost an additional $61 per program that you apply to. Your program may require additional supplemental fees as well. You will have to reach out to them to figure out how to pay these, as it will not be done through CASPA.

If you choose to use the PTE, the cost will depend on the number of transcripts you need recorded:

  • One to three transcripts: $75
  • Four to six transcripts: $100
  • Seven or more transcripts: $150

CASPA offers fee waivers to qualified applicants on a first-come, first-serve basis. This fee waiver will cover the cost of only two programs, which comes out to $245. You will have to pay the remaining balance for any additional programs you apply to. You must apply for a fee waiver before you submit your application. 

To qualify for a waiver you must have either:

  • Filed a 2022 Federal Income Tax Return Form 1040 with an adjusted gross income that falls below the Low Income Level
  • Been listed as a dependent on a field 2022 Federal Income Tax Return Form 1040 with an adjusted gross income that falls below the Low Income Level

You can use this chart to determine if you fall below the Low Income Level:

Family Size Gross Income Level
1 $29,160
2 $39,440
3 $49,720
4 $60,000
5 $70,820
6 $80,560
7 $90,840
8 $101,120
For each additional person Add $10,280

Source: CASPA Fees

Some programs also offer coupon codes that can be applied when you’re ready to pay for your application. 

Students should be aware that they will not be able to receive any refunds once they submit their applications. If you need to withdraw your application for any reason, you can only do so before it reaches the “verified” status. Once it’s verified you will have to contact the schools you applied to directly.  

How the CASPA Application Works

Several components make up the CASPA. To avoid submitting an incomplete application, follow these steps:

Step One: Make a CASPA Account

You must create a CASPA account to submit your application. 

Step Two: Choose Your Programs

Once you begin your CASPA application, you’ll be required to choose at least one PA program before you can upload any of your application materials.

Ensure you do your research and make note of these programs’ course requirements, application deadlines, and supplemental materials or supporting information, like what patient experience you should have.

Step Three: Submit Your Letters of Evaluation

You will need to ask at least two and up to five mentors to submit letters of evaluation to CASPA through their recommender portal, Letters by Liaison. Your program may ask that these letters only come from professors, so double-check their requirements. 

If you’d like to submit a Committee Letter, this will only count as one letter of evaluation. You will need to enter the committee chair as the evaluator.

Step Four: Ask for Your Official Transcripts

You’re required to ask all of the US or Canadian colleges you’ve attended to send your official transcripts to CASPA. This includes courses that you took that were transferred to another school. It’s suggested students require these transcripts at least two to three months prior to the application deadline to avoid any delays.

Step Five: Enter In All of Your Coursework

Once you’ve received copies of your transcripts, you’ll have to enter all of your coursework into your CASPA application. You will need to record all of the courses on your transcript, not just your prerequisites. This includes the following types of courses:

  • Courses you withdrew from
  • Repeated courses
  • Ungraded labs
  • Test credits
  • Gym courses
  • Orientations
  • Other non-graded courses

Your grades must match your official transcripts. Take your time when entering these courses; they must be listed under the right term, year, and class level. All course numbers must be precise. 

If this task seems too tedious for you, you have the option of using CASPA’s Professional Transcript Service Entry Service (PTE) for an additional fee. You must apply to this service early, as it is provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. This service is only available for coursework taken at accredited colleges.

Step Six: Submit Your Personal Essay

As part of your CASPA application, you will be asked to submit a personal essay that will be sent to all of your programs. Keep it general so that it applies to each school you apply to. Your essay should not exceed 5,000 characters; if it does you will not be able to save it.

You should use your essay to express your interest in becoming a physician assistant and your reasons for pursuing this path. Ensure you proofread your essay several times! Once you submit your application, you will not be able to edit it.

FAQs: CASPA Application

In this guide, we’ve answered the questions: “what is CASPA?”, “when is the CASPA due?” and “how much does the CASPA cost?” You can find the answers to any remaining questions about the CASPA application below!

1. What Is CASPA Used for?

CASPA is used for students to apply to physician assistant programs. Students submit all of the necessary application materials to CASPA and their completed application is sent out to their desired programs.

2. What Does CASPA Mean?

CASPA stands for Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants.

3. When Does the CASPA Application Open?

The CASPA application opens on April 27th and closes the following year on April 12th. 

4. How Many Evaluation Letters Do I Need for CASPA?

Students are required to have at least three letters of evaluation submitted to CASPA. You may submit up to five to CASPA. If you’d like to submit more, you may do so directly through the programs you’re applying to.

5. How Many Programs Can I Apply to Through CASPA?

There is no limit to how many programs you can apply to through CASPA. However, you will have to pay for each program you apply to. Your first program will cost $184, and each additional program will be $61!

Final Thoughts

Considering there are several application materials you’ll need to submit to CASPA, it’s recommended you begin early! While the process will be time-consuming, once you’ve completed your CASPA application, you’ll be one step closer to actualizing your dream of becoming a physician assistant! 

And, if you require any help along the way, know that Inspira offers expert PA school application consulting services to perfect your application and ensure you get into your top PA program!

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