Physician Assistant Studies Program

Health Science Building
9200 University Blvd., Charleston, SC 29406

The Master of Medical Science in physician assistant studies at Charleston Southern University accepts applications each April through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA)

Starting your path to becoming a PA can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. The Charleston Southern University PA Program is here to help you through your journey by fostering your dedication to studies and academic success. Students will be provided with an engaging learning environment and the tools necessary for fostering relationships with peers, faculty, staff and preceptors.

Admissions Process

Step 1 : Review Application Requirements

Review the application requirements here.

This Self-appraisal Form can be used to assess where you are with all of the program requirements.

Step 2 : Apply

The Charleston Southern University Physician Assistant Program utilizes the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) for application processing. A supplemental application is not required.

Get started on your CASPA Application.

Step 3 : Interview

Interview invitations are extended to the most competitive applicants for admissions. Exact dates will be communicated to candidates with an offer to interview.

Step 4 : Acceptance Requirements

For the accepted applicant, the program requires a response by the date established at the time of the offer. A $1,000 nonrefundable payment to the CSU Office of Enrollment Services is required to reserve the seat in the program at the time the offer is accepted and will be applied to your first semester’s tuition. Instructions for payment will be provided with the acceptance letter.

If an applicant commits to another program, we request the professional courtesy of notifying the CSU PA Program so that other candidates may be considered.

Candidates offered a position will be required to complete the following prior to enrollment:

  • Official Transcripts from all College and Universities for any work in progress courses by October 1st.
  • Proof of Health Insurance (Must be maintained throughout the program)
  • Technical Standards Attestation
  • Immunization Records
  • Background Check
  • Urine Drug Screen
  • Permission to Release Information Form

Detailed instructions on how to complete the above requirements will be communicated to candidates.

Selection Process

The program uses a rolling admissions process. The Admissions Committee scores completed verified CASPA applications that meet the minimum requirements for admissions.  Scoring is based upon GPAs (cumulative, prerequisite, and science). The committee also awards points to applicants with the following qualities:  applicants who are CSU alumni, applicants who are military veterans, applicants with foreign language proficiency, applicants with additional medical training, licenses, or certifications, applicants with a Master’s or Doctoral degree, and applicants with leadership and volunteer experience. Finally, preference is given to candidates who have completed a greater number of healthcare experience hours.

Based upon these factors, the Admissions Committee will invite qualified individuals for interviews. These interviews will be conducted using a multiple mini interview approach to assess the following:

-Communication Skills (Written and Verbal)
-Cultural Awareness
-Leadership and Service
-Passion, Motivation, and Understanding of the Profession
-Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Skills
-Understanding of the Program’s Mission Statement

Interviewees will be notified of the admissions decision within one month of their interview. During each applicant review process, applicants will be placed in one of three categories: Accept, Waitlist*, or Decline.

*Waitlist: These candidates will initially be notified within one month of completing their interview. All candidates on this list will be reviewed during each subsequent interview selection process. At that time, their status will be updated to one of the following: Admit Now, Continue Waitlist, or Declined.

Admissions Policies

Advanced placement is defined as a waiver of required coursework in the program curriculum. The CSU PA Program does not accept any advanced placement under any circumstances, and no course waivers will be provided for preadmission experiential learning or credit transfers from another university in lieu of completing the required curriculum. The program’s curriculum presents all of the medical and clinical science content that students are expected to acquire in order to achieve the PA program’s Program Competencies. Each student must attend the program full-time and complete mandatory course requirements.

The Charleston Southern University PA Program does not allow students to work for the PA Program in a paid or volunteer capacity under any circumstances.

During clinical rotations, students will not be used to substitute for regular clinical or administrative staff under any circumstances. if a student is asked to substitute for a staff person on a rotation, he or she must contact the Director of Clinical Education. Information collected will be presented to the Curriculum Committee to determine the suitability of continued use of the preceptor. The Curriculum Committee may consider the following actions: conducting a site visit prior to the next student experience with the preceptor, conducting a site visit in conjunction with the next student placement, telephone contact with the preceptor, or removal of the preceptor from program use. Assignment of preceptors will be modified as necessary to ensure the expected learning outcomes will be met by each student by program completion.

The PA Program strongly discourages any form of employment while enrolled as a PA student. This intensive graduate-level training requires full-time attendance during both the didactic and clinical years. Outside work obligations will not be considered an acceptable excuse for poor performance or absence from any scheduled course activities.

Students who are accepted to the program and believe they require accommodations should review the requirements and procedures for special accommodations on the CSU Disability Services website.

Approval for accommodations is granted by CSU Disability Services only. Students may contact the office at 843-863-7159. Students who have been approved to receive accommodations must contact the course director during office hours to discuss the accommodations approved by CSU Disability Services.

Neither prospective nor enrolled students will be required to provide or solicit preceptors or clinical sites for the program mandated SCPE component of the curriculum. Students may voluntarily submit to the Director of Clinical Education the name(s) of potential preceptors and/or clinical sites not already affiliated with the CSU PA Program by completing a Request for New Rotation Development Form. There is no direct or implied guarantee on the part of the program that the student will be assigned a rotation with any requested clinical site or preceptor, including those already affiliated with the program. It is ultimately up to the Director of Clinical Education to decide whether the clinical site and preceptor are deemed appropriate for use in SCPEs. A student may request the development of a maximum of two new rotation sites.

The majority of clinical sites will be located within a 60-mile radius of the Charleston area.  Students may be required to attend rotations at a site outside of this area and will be responsible for all expenses related to such assignments.

Technical Standards

The Charleston Southern University PA Program requires that all of our PA students meet technical standards for matriculation, continuation in and graduation from the program. These skills are necessary to master the educational content of the didactic and clinical year curricula, with the ultimate goal of safely and competently caring for patients. The practice of medicine demands not only high intellectual capability but also the ability to communicate effectively and compassionately with patients and the health care team, function appropriately in stressful situations, assess the patient through various sensory and motor skills, learn and master content through a variety of teaching modalities and adapt to the ever-changing health care environment.

The following Technical Standards are necessary for acceptance to and continuation in the program:

The student must possess the ability to accurately perceive information through sensory input in the educational and patient care settings. Visual (near and distance), auditory, tactile and olfactory senses are used to assess the patient and disease processes. Additionally, the ability to observe nonverbal cues such as posture and body language is needed for diagnostic information and healthy patient-provider interactions.

Accurate, timely and professional communication is essential in all aspects of health care. The student must be able to speak clearly, effectively and compassionately in all interactions. The student must be able to hear and understand the spoken English language and listen for more subtle sounds on physical examination.
The student must be able to use hand-written and electronic methods to complete assignments in a timely manner, accurately and sensitively document patient encounters and communicate with the health care team and any other relevant parties.

Intact gross and fine motor functions, sensation and equilibrium are necessary for PA curriculum completion and for patient care. The student must be able to execute coordinated movements in order to manipulate medical equipment and instrumentation and to perform medical procedures. One must be able to conduct a physical exam using palpation, percussion and auscultation, while being able to assist with patient movements and transfers.

The intellectual ability to assimilate large amounts of complex information is necessary for successful completion of the PA Program. A PA must be able to extract and synthesize significant information from the medical history, physical exam and diagnostic testing to formulate diagnoses and care plans. Problem-solving skills within time constraints, given written, verbal and visual information are essential for program success. Additionally, one must be able to comprehend and retain information learned from the educational process, medical literature, clinical experience and continuing medical education to deliver quality patient care. Critical thinking by combining knowledge and reasoning to complete tasks, as well as to analyze, implement, assess and reassess patient information and care plans is also required.

The program expects that all students will conduct themselves in a professional, compassionate and emotionally mature manner. Professional dress, language and actions are expected of the PA student. The student is to be respectful to others, including but not limited to other classmates, instructors and staff, health care team members, as well as patients and family members.
The emotionally mature student can accept criticism and respond by modifying behaviors. One must exercise sound judgment and integrity in all situations and be able to tolerate stress in the educational and clinical settings. The student will also be able to engage in appropriate physical contact with the patient during the physical examination and exhibit sensitivity to the personal nature of these interactions by using a caring bedside manner.

The successful practice of medicine requires one to be adaptable, flexible and compassionate toward people from all backgrounds and belief systems. The student will develop appropriate interpersonal relationships with others and strive to engage, motivate and educate patients as part of the comprehensive treatment plan.

The PA student will demonstrate safe, ethical and legal professional practice and abide by program and university policies. It is important to recognize one’s own personal and professional limitations and seek assistance when needed.