Applicant Self-Assessment Checklist

If you are a current or future applicant, the questions below can serve as a guide to help you prepare your application. If you are an applicant who has been denied admission, the checklist may also be helpful for evaluating the strength of your application and thinking about how to improve your application for a future admission cycle. Please note that admission to our program is extremely competitive; we receive thousands of applications each year, and our acceptance rate is less than 2%. Given our high volume of applicants, we regret that we are not able to provide individualized feedback to applicants.

Please note that the self-assessment checklist is a tool designed to assist you with evaluating the competitiveness of your application. It is not a "prescription" and does not constitute any explicit or implied guarantee of acceptance to this or any other PA program. However, answering these questions as honestly as possible should provide you with some insight regarding the strength of your application.


  • Was my application in "Complete" CASPA status by the application deadline?
  • Do I have a bachelor's degree obtained through traditional, in-person instruction from a recognized academic institution in the U.S. or Canada (or equivalent as described in the Entrance Requirements page)?


  • Did I complete a highly recommended standardized test (GRE, MCAT, or PA-CAT)? Were my official scores submitted to CASPA (for GRE or MCAT) or to the admission office (for PA-CAT) by the application deadline?
  • Did I request letters of recommendation from at least three (3) professional references? Were these references people who know me well and can speak directly and specifically about my potential as a PA and/or my potential to successfully complete graduate-level academic work? Am I reasonably sure these people have a good impression of me?
  • Did I successfully complete the recommended preparatory coursework and include it accurately in my application?
  • Do my transcript(s) and test scores demonstrate my potential to successfully complete rigorous academic work, particularly in biosciences? If there are gaps or "red flags" in my coursework, grades, or test scores, have I addressed them in my personal statement? Have I excelled in other areas of my application?
  • Did I complete at least 500 hours of clinical experience? 
  • Does my clinical, research, and/or volunteer experience show depth and breadth of interest in a career as a PA? Does my experience align with MSPA program goals? If there are gaps or "red flags" in my experience, have I addressed them in my personal statement? Have I excelled in other areas of my application?
  • Did I complete the CASPA personal statement?
  • Was the length of my personal statement within the maximum character limits? (Please note that any text after the maximum character limit is cut off by CASPA.)
  • Did my personal statement offer the admission committee a clear sense of who I am, why I want to be a PA, and how I contribute to the mission and goals of the Stanford MSPA program? Did I write my personal statement clearly and concisely? Was my personal statement free of spelling and grammatical errors?

Program Fit

  • Am I familiar with the Stanford MSPA program's mission and goals? How well do I align with the program's mission and goals? Did I clearly demonstrate this alignment in my application materials, particularly my personal statement?
  • Am I familiar with the physician assistant profession? Do I understand the role of a PA in different settings and specialties?  How did I demonstrate this in my application materials, particularly my personal statement?
  • Have I reviewed the characteristics of the program's previously matriculated classes? How do I compare to these students in terms of academic performance and experience?
  • How many of the recommended preparatory courses have I taken? How did I perform in those courses? (Please note that while these courses are not required for admission, completion of the recommended preparatory courses with strong grades helps make your application more competitive by showing the admission committee that you are able to successfully undertake this type and level of coursework.)
  • How do I contribute to program diversity? Did I include thoughtful discussion of my social position relative to the PA profession in my application materials, particularly my personal statement? (Please note that we define diversity broadly, as including but not limited to socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, early educational environment, nationality, religion, disability, language, and culture.)
  • How direct (i.e. involving sustained, hands-on interaction with patients in a medical setting) are my clinical hours? Does my clinical experience involve critical thinking? How active (versus passive) is my clinical experience? Did I clearly communicate the scope of my clinical experience in my application materials?
  • How did I demonstrate potential as a future PA leader in my application materials?


  • Did my application show improvement from one cycle to the next? Did these improvements fit in the criteria above? 
  • Did I check and go through the CASPA Reapplicant Checklist? (Please note that the information shared in this document is general advice, which means not everything on the list may match the Stanford MSPA program application requirements and recommendations.)