Information for International Students

Dear Inquirer,

Thank you for your interest in the Union College Master of Physician Assistant Studies program. Strengths of the program include a curriculum that includes the Christian perspective and an emphasis on serving the underserved.

As we review our applicants, we consider the following selection factors based on their application materials from CASPA, including their recommendation letters:

Overall GPA: ability to meet the demands of the PA program as shown by college GPA, grade trends, and variety and rigor of courses taken;
Science GPA: ability to successfully complete the basic science portion of the PA program as shown by the quality of academic science preparation;
Health Care Experience: ability to perform professionally in the health care environment as shown by experience in the delivery of health care;
Christian Values: career goals consistent with the philosophy and goals of Union College, including committment to Christian service;
Sound Health: physical and mental health to meet the standards of the profession, as evidenced by completion of a physical examination (and submission of the required form);
Outstanding Character: noteworthy character traits such as moral integrity, compassion diligence, etc.
Personal and Mature: commendable interpersonal skills and appropriate maturity.

The following requirements must be met by all applicants:

  • All international college/university transcripts must be evaluated by a credible transcript evaluation company such as WES (World Education Service). This determines the United States' equivalent to the studies and is the first step in the application process.
  • Although the minimum GPA is 3.00, accepted students average above 3.40 in both the science GPA and in the cumulative GPA. Applicants should demonstrate a strong academic history to ensure that they are able to be successful with our rigorous curriculum.
  • An applicant whose native language is not English and who does not present a degree from an accredited college or university in the United States that includes a full year (two semesters) of composition or its equivalent in English studies must demonstrate satisfactory skills in English understanding and use. Recent scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) normally suffice. TOEFL scores should be submitted with the CASPA application.

Satisfactory scores are based on the testing format:

  • Internet-based TOEFL: Score of 100 with a minimum score of 20 on each section.
  • A total score of 600 on the paper TOEFL, with a score of 55 on the Listening Comprehension.
  • A total score of 250 on the computer-based TOEFL.
  • A level 112 from the ELS Language Centers or other recognized evidence may be considered satisfactory, pending the Academic Committee approval.
  • All prerequisite courses (found in the admission requirements) must be completed or be clearly in the process of completion at the time of application. All prerequisite courses must be successfully completed before beginning the PA program. If a prerequisite course is missing, the applicant should take measures to complete that course or its equivalent. Most biology and chemistry courses should be comparable to those of a premed major, as opposed to nursing or introductory-type classes. Courses taken at a a community college do not typically meet the equivalent of our prerequisite courses.
  • For individuals possessing medical degrees, requests for advanced standing or waiving PA program courses are not granted (e.g., If an applicant has already taken an anatomy course, he is still required to take the full anatomy course in our curriculum.). It is important that all students learn the curriculum as taught from the perspective of physician assistants.
  • Applicants with science courses that were completed over seven years ago are typically required to refresh their knowledge by taking additional science courses. Taking upper division classes from a four-year college/university makes the candidate more competitive. Typical upper division course titles include, but are not limited to, Cell Biology, Advanced Physiology, Endocrinology, Immunology, Biochemistry, and Developmental Biology.


Due to the competative nature of the admissions process, the following recommendations are given to help applicants be successful. Applicants with international degrees should strengthen their applications in the following ways before applying:

  • International students should complete at least three upper division science courses from a four-year college or university (rather than a community college) in the U.S., achieving letter grades of A. These courses traditionally are numbered in the 300s or 400s.
  • The Union College PA Program requires 480 hours of direct patient care experience, obtained through work or volunteering rather than as a student in training. International applicants must have gotten these hours in direct patient care in a medical care system in the U.S.. The health care experience should include direct experience in shadowing a PA in the U.S..

We hope that you will find the above information useful as you make plans for a health care career here in the United States.

May God bless and guide you as you consider your career options at this time. 


Jan Lemon
PA Program Admissions Coordinator
Union College