University of Charleston

University of Charleston

The PA Fast Track is designed to allow high achieving UC students to enter the PA Program prior to receiving a bachelor’s degree.

It is only available to students who are currently enrolled full time at the University of Charleston and meet specific requirements. (See Requirements, below).

Applicants are encouraged to apply following their freshman or sophomore year, but may apply at any time during their studies at the University of Charleston. Applications are processed through the UCPA Program online application system, and the application cycle runs from February 1 to May 15.

Students applying through the PA Fast Track program must designate the year they plan to matriculate into the PA program.

When to Apply

Full time UC students are welcome to apply at any time during the course of their undergraduate studies. As the PA Fast Track is designed to allow high achieving students to enter the PA Program prior to receiving a bachelor’s degree, the ideal time to apply would be during the summer following the spring semester of a student’s freshman or sophomore year.

To complete the master’s requirements in five years, the applicant must matriculate into the master’s program no later than the spring semester of their junior year. Later matriculation would take longer than the five-year plan.

Prerequisite Completion

Prerequisite courses do not have to be completed prior to acceptance into the PA Fast Track. Prerequisites only need to be completed prior to the start of the professional PA Program.


Acceptance into the Program

Students who are accepted into the PA Fast Track will have seats reserved in the PA Program as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of Anatomy & Physiology prerequisites with a grade of “B” or higher
  • Completion of all other prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or higher
  • Completion of at least 91 semester hours of undergraduate coursework
  • Maintenance of a cumulative GPA of at least 3.50
    • Maintenance of a cumulative science GPA of 3.0
  • Accrual of at least 200 hours of direct patient care experience each academic year prior to matriculation into the PA Program

If a Student is NOT Accepted

Students who are not accepted into the PA Fast Track but still wish to enter the UC Physician Assistant Program should:

  • Continue to work toward a Bachelor’s degree while earning the necessary prerequisites for the physician assistant program AND
  • Continue to strengthen their application in anticipation of applying for the PA Fast Track during the next application cycle OR
  • Complete their bachelor’s degree and prepare to apply through CASPA* for the Traditional Admission pathway into the UC PA Program


*CASPA (Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants) is an application service for graduate-level PA programs.

To apply for the Fast Track pathway, students must:

  • Have completed no more than 30 hours of college credit from other institutions
  • 3.5 cumulative college GPA
    • 3.0 cumulative science GPA
    • Completion of Anatomy & Physiology prerequisites with a grade of “B” or higher
    • Completion of all other prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or higher
  • Successful completion of the Physician Assistant Fast Track Application
  • Meet the application threshold score for an interview with the UCPAP Admissions Committee
  • Offered a seat in the program by the UCPAP Admissions Committee


All Fast Track applicants will be required to provide the following completed application materials:

  • Cumulative college GPA of 3.5 or better
  • Program Application completed through the UC online application portal: The application will include:
    • Personal Narrative
    • Work and Health Care Experience History
    • Social Engagement History
    • Propensity to Practice in Underserved Areas Statement
  • Two References: (Instructions for obtaining reference letters are available in the online UC application portal). It is strongly recommended that at least one be from a physician or physician assistant. Both letters must be received by the application deadline.
  • PA Fast Track candidates must provide official high school and college transcripts (if applicable).

Please have transcripts mailed to:

University of Charleston
Physician Assistant Program
2300 MacCorkle Ave SE
Charleston, WV 25304

  • SAT or ACT report should be sent directly to UC. Fast Track applicants are not required to take the GRE as part of their application.

Fast Track applications are scored and interviews are arranged only after receipt of completed applications (including 2 letters of reference, official transcripts, and official ACT or SAT scores).

Applications will NOT be accepted after the application deadline on May 15.

Fast Track applications will be evaluated in the following areas:

Academic Strength (50%)

Evaluation of academic strength is largely based upon transcripts including course selection and cumulative GPA and official ACT or SAT scores. Science GPA, semester load, and performance in course repeats will also be scrutinized.

Minimum academic requirements include:

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5
  • Completion or feasible plan for completion of ALL required prerequisite coursework.

Health Care Experience (20%)

Applicants must demonstrate an understanding of the Physician Assistant role. Applicants who possess direct patient care experience will be most competitive. Examples of direct patient care include but are not limited to: medical/nursing assistant, military medic or corpsman, nurse (LPN, RN), paramedic/EMT, athletic trainer, surgical tech, radiologic tech, and phlebotomist. Other health care experiences that have minimal or no direct patient care responsibility (such as provider shadowing, administrative jobs, and home care) will be less competitive in the admissions evaluation process.

PA Fast Track applicants will be considered with little to no experience. However, if accepted, 200 hours of direct patient care hours per academic year until matriculation are required in order to maintain their seat in the program.

Social Engagement (10%)

We highly value candidates who demonstrate active involvement in their school and community. Both the quantity and quality of this involvement will be evaluated in the application process.

Examples include but are not limited to: community service activities, service for one’s church or religious establishment, participating in extracurricular activities at both the high school and college level, and pursuing leadership opportunities.

Personal Narrative (10%)

Personal narratives will be assessed by evaluating the ability of applicants to articulate their passion for becoming a Physician Assistant, strengths that will lead them to become an excellent practitioner, and career goals.

Evidence of Propensity to Practice in Medically Underserved Areas and Populations (5%)

We highly value applicants who show evidence of a propensity to practice in medically underserved areas.

Examples include but are not limited to: clinical experiences or community service activities (including volunteer work) with medically underserved populations (e.g. homeless, non-English speaking, or immigrant populations), prior residence and/or employment in medically underserved geographic areas (e.g., rural or inner city), and language skills applicable to underserved populations.

Click here to investigate whether a location where you have lived or worked falls within a federally designated shortage area.

References (5%)

References provide the opportunity for the UC Physician Assistant Program to examine an external perspective of an applicant’s ability to succeed. Two references are required for Fast Track applicants.

Applicants are encouraged to choose references that can speak to the selection criteria described above. It is strongly recommended that one of these references be from a physician assistant or physician.


Following application analysis, select candidates will be invited to campus to participate in an interview process.

What does it mean if you are selected for PA Fast Track?

If you are chosen for the PA Fast Track, you have a seat reserved for you in the UCPAP provided that you meet the standards set forth in your acceptance letter prior to your chosen matriculation date.

2. When is the $500 deposit due if selected for the PA Fast Track?

Your $500 non-refundable deposit is due within 14 days after you activate your PA Fast Track account on the UCPAP portal. The link to activate your account will be provided when you receive your official email acceptance notification. This deposit is only for graduate PA tuition.

3. What is the timeline from the beginning of the undergraduate curriculum to the completion of the Master of PA Studies (MPAS) degree?

Upon acceptance, you will register on the PA Program online portal and select when you plan to matriculate into the UCPAP.

The typical PA Fast Track student will enter the professional program the spring semester of his/her junior year. However, you may choose to enter the program at any January during your undergraduate studies as long as:

  • you have completed at least 91 credit hours and all prerequisite courses.
  • you have completed at least 200 hours of direct patient care each academic year prior to matriculation.
  • you have completed A&P prerequisites with a grader of B or better and C or better in all other prerequisites.
  • you have successfully completed the required criminal background check.
  • you have submitted all health clearances, immunizations, and the provision of proof of health insurance.

4. What is my undergraduate major as a PA Fast Track?

You are designated as a PA Fast Track and placed in the Biology Program for advising and guidance as you complete your requirements to matriculate into the UCPAP. You technically do not have an undergraduate major since you are working toward entering the master level program prior to the completion of an undergraduate degree. Once you successfully complete the UCPAP you will earn a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree.

5. Can I earn a bachelor’s degree in addition to the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree?

Yes, if desired, you have an option to earn a bachelor’s degree.

You can choose a later matriculation date (i.e. spring of senior year, or the spring following your senior year) and earn a traditional bachelor’s degree of your choice. The degree that aligns closest with the UCPAP prerequisites and recommended courses is Biology. However, students can choose other majors such as the Health Science major option, as long as they complete the required UCPAP prerequisite courses and other stated requirements, as well as the requirements of their chosen major. The department you are assigned to for advising will match the traditional bachelor’s degree you choose to pursue.

6. Do I need a bachelor’s degree to matriculate into UCPAP?

No, PA Fast Track students are not required to earn a bachelor’s degree prior to matriculation into the UCPAP. However, you do need to meet all of the requirements outlined in question #3 by your chosen matriculation date.

7. What is the length of the master’s program?

The professional program is seven consecutive semesters spanning 28 months. This includes 16 months of didactic work followed by 12 months of supervised clinical practice experiences.

8. What will happen if I am unable to matriculate into the UCPAP in the year that I have previously chosen?

You will relinquish your seat in the program and must reapply in the next application cycle.

9. Is the $500 deposit refundable if I choose not to continue in the PA Fast Track program?

The deposit is non-refundable. (When you enter the professional program the $500 is deducted from the first semester’s tuition.)

10. Is it possible to be a PA Fast Track and a Presidential Scholar?

You cannot participate in both at one time. When a student matriculates into the professional program, they are in class Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The rigors of the program will not allow any extra coursework. The student may choose a later matriculation date for the UCPAP in order to
complete the Presidential Scholarship program.

11. What is the primary advantage of entering the UCPAP Fast Track program?

Earning a seat in any physician assistant program is extremely competitive. UC Fast Track students have the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree within 5 years of matriculating as a freshman. Fast Track students also have access to one-on-counseling with the UCPAP Admissions Coordinator upon request.

UC's CASPA GRE Code is: 8830