When Do I Apply to PA School?

PA School • May 22, 2023

When you ask your self “When do I apply to PA school”, the answer might be confusing. In this video, I will break it down for you based on what type of applicant you are. Creating a timeline that is attainable for you and your goals is so important in this process.

So, when do I apply to PA school?

Choosing a career path in healthcare, such as becoming a physician assistant (PA), requires careful planning and preparation. One crucial aspect that often confuses aspiring PA students is understanding when to apply to PA school. The application timeline can vary depending on various factors, including your educational background and career goals. In this article, we will explore the timeline for PA school applications and provide guidance on when to initiate the process.

Understanding the Application Timeline

The process of applying to PA school typically spans a year, with key milestones and deadlines to keep in mind. Let’s delve into the timeline to gain a better understanding of when to initiate your PA school application journey.

1. Application Cycle Opening: Every April

The centralized application service for PA programs opens its application cycle each year, typically in April. This marks the beginning of the application period for the following year’s admission. It is important to note that the specific dates may vary slightly, so it is advisable to confirm the exact opening date for each application cycle.

2. Application Cycle Duration: April to April

Once the application cycle begins, it continues until the following April. For instance, if the cycle starts in April 2022, it will conclude around April 15th, 2023. During this time, applicants can submit their applications to various PA programs.

3. Temporary Closure and Reopening

Around the middle of the application cycle, there is a temporary closure period of approximately two weeks. After this brief pause, the application cycle reopens, allowing candidates to continue submitting their applications.

Applying as an Undergraduate

The application timeline may vary depending on your circumstances, such as whether you are an undergraduate, a recent graduate, or a career changer. Let’s explore the timeline recommendations for different scenarios.

1. Applying During the Transition from Junior to Senior Year

Suppose you are currently pursuing your undergraduate studies and wish to avoid taking a gap year before starting PA school. In that case, it is advisable to apply during the transition between your junior and senior year. By doing so, you can spend your entire senior year engaged in the application process.

During this period, you should aim to complete most, if not all, of the prerequisites required by PA programs. Some schools may allow you to apply with a few prerequisites still in progress. Additionally, gaining patient care experience, shadowing opportunities, and volunteer work are essential aspects to consider before submitting your application. Ideally, you should start preparing your application materials, such as personal statements and recommendation letters, in May or June of your junior year.

2. Taking a Gap Year

If you plan to take a gap year before attending PA school, the application timeline becomes more intricate. Suppose you are set to graduate from college in the spring of 2022 and intend to use the following year to gain patient care experience. In that case, it is crucial to understand the implications of applying during your senior year.

If you choose to apply during your senior year, your application cycle will extend from 2022 to 2023, with potential program commencement in 2024. It is important to note that any patient care hours you accumulate during the gap year may not be included in your application since programs typically require you to apply with the hours you currently have, rather than projected hours.

For individuals graduating college without any patient care experience, planning for a two-year timeline becomes necessary. For example, if you graduate in the spring of 2022, you would work throughout 2022 and 2023, apply in 2023, and commence the PA program in 2024. Understanding that the application process takes a year is vital to effectively plan your academic and professional endeavors.

Program-Specific Variations

While the general application timeline outlined above applies to many PA programs, it is important to note that certain programs may have unique requirements and variations in their application process. Some programs may have a quicker turnaround, allowing applicants to apply and start their studies within a shorter timeframe. It is advisable to research individual program requirements and communicate with program representatives to ensure a comprehensive understanding of their specific timelines.

Strategizing and Planning for Success

Navigating the application timeline for PA school can be complex due to individual circumstances and program variations. To create a successful plan, consider strategizing your approach by reverse engineering your application requirements. By determining the prerequisites, GPA goals, patient care hours, volunteer work, and shadowing experiences you need, you can work backward to identify the timeline and actions required to achieve your goals.

Seeking guidance from experienced professionals, such as PA school admission coaches, can be immensely valuable. They can provide personalized advice, helping you create a well-structured timeline and application strategy tailored to your specific situation.


Applying to PA school requires careful consideration of the application timeline. Understanding when to initiate the process is crucial to ensuring a smooth transition from aspiring student to successful PA program candidate. Remember, the application process typically takes a year, with the centralized application service opening each April. By comprehending the timeline and planning accordingly, you can maximize your chances of gaining acceptance into a PA program that aligns with your career goals.

About me:

I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.   

Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school,  I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program.  But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout. 

My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!