Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are the most commonly asked questions by prospective applicants: 

What is the PA’s Program’s Mission?

The mission of the Physician Assistant Program is to educate and prepare competent, compassionate, and ethical physician assistant leaders who, as integral members of the interprofessional healthcare team, will provide quality patient-centered care.

Is the PA program Accredited by the ARC-PA?

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. 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remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards.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 2020. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

What are your program’s NCCPA board exam pass rates?

Our NCCPA board pass rates have been at or above the national average pass rates for the past five years. Click on this link to see a summary of our NCCPA pass rate performance to date.

If I am accepted at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, can I select any of my own rotations during my clinical year?
The programs’ clinical team schedules the core clinical rotations. Students have two elective rotations and may utilize previously established sites, or arrange a new site on their own.  Any arranged rotation sites are subject to approval by the clinical team.

Will I be able to work an outside job while I am going to school?
We have an intensive program of study during the first year of the program which makes working outside of class nearly impossible. During the second year clinical rotations there is no time available for an outside job. Our students frequently experience rotations that require 60 or more hours per week. 

Can I specialize?
Students have two electives during the clinical year in which they can choose to do their rotation in a specialty area. As a practicing PA, positions are available in all medical and surgical fields. 

Do you have a placement service for graduates?
Many of our students are offered positions during the course of their rotations by the clinical sites. In addition, the department receives many postings for job opportunities
that are passed along to students and graduates. 

Prerequisite Courses

Can I apply if I have not yet completed my undergraduate degree?

You must have a Bachelor’s degree prior to matriculation into the program. You can begin to apply in your senior year of college, provided that you are a successful graduate by the time classes for the PA program start at the beginning of the Summer quarter, which is usually at the end of May or early June. 

Students enrolled in the combined BS/MS Physician Assistant Program at DePaul University may apply during the third year in the program at DePaul University.  

I have prerequisite coursework still in progress; can I still apply?
You may have up to three outstanding prerequisite courses (planned or in-progress) to complete at the time of application submission. Be sure to note this coursework will be completed by the start of classes in May on your application. If you are offered a seat in the class with outstanding coursework, you must provide proof the coursework has been completed satisfactorily prior to matriculation.  Students who are accepted into the program but are unsuccessful in completing the prerequisites prior to matriculation will lose their seat in the class.

Can I take my pre-requisites at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science?
Rosalind Franklin University does not offer undergraduate coursework.   However, RFUMS has an alliance with DePaul University; many of your pre-requisite courses can be completed at their campus. 

I'm selecting prerequisite courses and am wondering if a specific course meets the prerequisite requirement? 
Below are some general, basic guidelines to help you determine if a course you are considering for a prerequisite course is appropriate.

Biochemistry - The course in biochemistry should include the study of amino acids, proteins, enzymes, DNA, genetic code, and the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and nitrogen. This background information will be invaluable in understanding the medical pathophysiology that is taught in the Physician Assistant Program. A course with a title other than Biochemistry that covers this same course material may be accepted, upon review of the course syllabus 
by the PA Program Admissions Committee.

Microbiology - The course in microbiology should include the study of microorganisms - bacteria, viruses, and fungi – and their classification systems, infectious diseases in humans, and the immune response to infection. This background information will be necessary to understand the medical pathophysiology that is taught in the Physician Assistant Program. A course with a title other than Microbiology that covers this same course material may be accepted,upon review of the course syllabus 
by the PA Program Admissions Committee. 

Anatomy and Physiology -
Human Anatomy – covers the structure and function of the major human body organ systems, including the musculoskeletal, nervous, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, urinary, endocrine and reproductive systems. Human Physiology – covers basic biochemical principles, such as cytology, histology, immunology, and the function and interaction of the major organ systems of the human body  Either a two course sequence of combined Human A&P (I & II), or two separate courses in these subjects, is acceptable. Human anatomy and physiology are preferred over vertebrate, mammalian, or comparative courses because they will better prepare the student for the rigorous human anatomy dissection course that begins the PA program. Anatomy and physiology courses with a title other than ‘Human’ may be accepted if the content focus was 80% or greater based on human systems, upon review of the course syllabus by the PA Program Admissions Committee.

Psychology –covers the major principles of behavioral science, including factors influencing behavior, personality, and mental processes, and the science of psychological investigation. A wide range of courses that studies the human mind and/or the psychosocial dynamic may be accepted towards meeting this course requirement. A course with a title other than Introduction to Psychology that covers this same course material may be accepted, upon review of the course syllabus by the PA Program Admissions Committee. 

When should I take prerequisites?

All required prerequisites should be taken within 10 years (within five years is preferable) prior to starting the program.

I did better as an older student going back to school for my prerequisites but my GPA is still low from my original college courses. Can I still apply?

All required prerequisite coursework grades must be “C” or higher, although "B" or higher is more competitive.  When we review an application we not only review the overall GPA, but also the student's academic progress over time. Positive trends over time are favorably considered by the program's admissions committee. 

Can I substitute other classes for the ones published as prerequisites (e.g. organic chemistry for biochemistry)?
Our prerequisites are in place to ensure that students enter the program well-prepared for the challenging curriculum that we provide; therefore, we do not accept any substitutions for our required pre-requisite classes. Entering the PA Program without this background knowledge puts the student at a disadvantage. 

Do you accept online coursework?

Yes. Courses can be taken at any regionally accredited 2- and 4- year college or university of higher education in the United States, including online courses offered through such programs. We cannot accept course work taken through non-degree granting programs.

What kind of healthcare experience do you require?
We prefer that applicants have direct patient care experience. This can be done by working at a hospital, clinic, or nursing home, or by volunteering with a health provider in one of these areas. If your healthcare experience includes interaction with physician assistants, it is even more valuable. Other types of experience, aside from patient care, might be research or health-related employment. Typically, a successful candidate’s experience is equivalent to one half-year at a full-time job (at least 800 hours of hands-on, direct patient contact is strongly recommended).  On average, successful applicants to the program have over 1,000 prior healthcare experience.  Healthcare experience can include working with or shadowing PAs and MDs in a healthcare setting, as an adjunct to experiences listed above.  Healthcare hours attained while in a clinical training program – for example, patient contact hours during nursing school or EMT training– do not count towards the requirement.

Should I shadow a PA prior to matriculation?

While there is no specific requirement to shadow a PA to enter RFUMS PA program, shadowing allows for understanding of PA role in healthcare delivery and is highly recommended.  Locating PAs to shadow can be a challenging endeavor, below you fill find some resources that can be helpful in locating a PA willing to be shadowed. 

  1. Northwestern Hospital - has a shadowing program
  2. Illinois PA Association -  For those applicants who are out of state, they can contact the PA association in their state. 
  3. Nationwide :  Applicants can Google "PA shadowing”  which will provide links to various website that provide shadowing opportunities.

Test Scores

What type of GRE scores are considered to be competitive?

GRE scores that are in the 50th percentile for each component of the GRE are considered to be competitive.

How many years is my GRE score valid?
The University will only accept official scores sent to us directly by Educational Testing Services (ETS). ETS does not release examinations scores that are more than 5 years old. Exams are valid until the September 15 following the fifth anniversary of the test date. 

Where can I take the GRE? 
You can contact Educational Testing Service (ETS) at (609) 771-7670 or on the web at: Please release your GRE scores to code #0276 for "Rosalind Franklin U Phys Asst CASPA."

Can I use the MCAT or other exams in lieu of the GRE?

We do not accept MCAT or other examination scores in lieu of GRE scores.

What are your guidelines for TOEFL?
Guidelines for the TOEFL can be obtained from 

Applying to RFUMS

When can I start applying to the PA program?

The admissions cycle opens at the middle of April each year. You can go to CASPA ( to submit your application.  Completed applications will be reviewed in the order they are received, so early application is recommended.

What is the deadline to apply?
December 1st of each year.

What is the cost to apply?
Check the 
CASPA website for their application processing fees. In addition to the fee you pay to CASPA, RFUMS requires a $35.00 application processing fee.

Do you give preference to Illinois residents?
No. Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science is a private university. We make no distinction by state of residency in our admissions policy. Tuition costs are the same regardless of state of residency. 

How do I check the status of my application?
During the CASPA portion of the application process you will need to track the status of your application using the tracking information supplied to you by CASPA. Once your application has been transmitted to our University, you will receive an e-mail with instructions on submitting the required processing fee. You can check on the status of application receipt from CASPA and the GRE with the Admissions Office at: (847) 578-3204, or online at

Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

We suggest that recommendation letters be written by professionals you have worked with who can speak to your medical and academic performance potential. At least one of the letters should be from an MD, PA, or other health professional, and one should be from a college or university instructor. References from family, friends, colleagues, or non-medical employers are not competitive for admission to the program.

Should I mail my information (transcripts, application, letters of recommendation, TOEFL) to RFUMS? 
No. Your test scores, application materials, and letters of recommendation must be mailed directly to CASPA. Information on how to do this is available at the CASPA website

Who can I talk to about financial aid? 
RFUMS will make every attempt to assist students seeking financial aid. Visit the 
Financial Aid Office for more information.

What about scholarships and loan repayment programs?

There are a number of scholarship opportunities to support the costs of your education.  Please see the Financial Resources available from the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (SAAAPA) website

Will you pre-screen my qualifications for admissions eligibility?

Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to offer individualized pre-admissions counseling. We also cannot make any definitive eligibility decisions without an official CASPA record on file for the applicant. Candidates should review all our application information carefully to determine their admissions eligibility before applying to the program.  Personnel in the university Admissions department can assist with specific questions; please contact

When are interviews held and does everyone get interviewed?
Interviews are held once a month usually between August and February. As the number of applications far exceeds the number of available seats in the class, admissions is a competitive process and not all applicants are invited to interview.

What are “rolling admissions?”

After each interview session, offers of acceptance into the program are extended to selected candidates.  Candidate selection at each interview session continues until all seats in the class are filled.  Applicants who do not receive an offer of acceptance may be placed on the waiting list.  Offers of acceptance are extended to candidates on the waiting list if a candidate from the accepted class withdraws from the program. 

If my GPA is under 3.0 will I automatically be rejected?
No, our minimum overall and science GPA is 2.75. We review all components of an application. Historically, students with a 3.0 or above are more likely to be successful in the admissions process. 

Do you accept transfer students? Do you offer advanced standing to students based on prior educational or professional experience?

No. The PA program curriculum must be completed in its entirety at RFUMS. We do not offer advanced standing or transfer credits into the program, regardless of prior educational or work experience.

What is the RFUMS class size?
Our class size is 70 students. For more information about admitted class, check out our 
Class Profile.

When do classes start? 
Classes begin in late May each year.

Contact us:
Email us: 
Call us: 847-578-3204
Mailing address:
Rosalind Franklin University 
CHP Admissions
3333 Green Bay Road
North Chicago, IL 60064

General Questions About The Physician Assistant Profession

What is a physician assistant (PA)?

PAs, as defined by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), are licensed health professionals who practice medicine as members of a team with their supervising physicians. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in rural and urban settings. For more information please refer to

What are some typical PA responsibilities?

The scope of a PA’s responsibilities varies according to the practice scope of their supervising physician. Generally, a PA has a set of comprehensive patient care responsibilities including, but not limited to: conducting physical exams, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing medications, counseling patients on preventive health care, performing diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, and assisting in various types of surgery.

Do you need board certification to practice as a PA?

Yes. After successfully completing an accredited PA program all graduates must take a comprehensive exam provided by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Once a PA passes the PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE), they may apply for licensure within their state guidelines. For specific questions regarding the board exam, visit

Do you need be licensed by the state to practice?

Yes.  State licensure is contingent on graduating from an accredited PA program and passing the PANCE.  Licensing requirements vary by state, please see “State Licensing” on the website for the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) at

Can PA’s prescribe medications?

As of 2008, all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Guam, allow physician assistants to legally write prescriptions for patients. Contact the licensing boards in the  state for information about prescriptive privileges for that state.

Can PA’s perform surgery?

PAs can perform a variety of minor surgical procedures. These procedures vary depending on what is delegated to the PA from the supervising physician. In an operating room, a PA can serve as  a first assistant for a licensed surgeon. The physician assistant can also play in integral role both the preoperative evaluation and the postoperative care of the surgical patient.

How many PA’s work in the US?

According to the NCCPA, as of 2013, approximately 96,000 PAs have been certified to practice in the United States.

What’s the average PA salary?

According to the 2013 AAPA Physician Assistant Census Survey, the median national salary for all PAs is $90,000. The median salary for a new graduate with less than one year experience is $80,000. For more information on PA salaries please refer to

Where can I work once I am a PA?

PA’s can work in a variety of settings including but not limited to: hospitals, emergency departments, , operating rooms and the outpatient clinics.