Student Spotlight

Emilie Mathura, OMS I

Class of 2023

  • Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology
  • Clubs and Activities: Student Government Association, OB/GYN Club, American Medical Women's Association, and Medical Students for Choice.

Why did you choose RVUCOM? The Urban Underserved Track and the sabbatical program which will allow me to complete my Master of Public Health...
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Faculty Spotlight

Cathy Ruff, MS, PA-C

Program Director and Chair of Physician Assistant Studies
Associate Professor of Physician Assistant Studies

  • Hometown: Dearborn, Michigan
  • Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Science degree in Cellular Biology
  • Graduate Studies: Master of Science degree in Cellular/Molecular Biology. Physician Assistant Training at the University of Colorado Health Science Center.

What class/classes do you teach? I teach professionalism topics, Physical Exam, and small group skills. Why did you choose...
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Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Thank you for your interest in the Rocky Vista University (RVU) Physician Assistant Program. The 2020-2021 application cycle will open on April 30, 2020, and closes for our program on September 1, 2020.

The goal of the RVU PA program is to support the development of clinically competent, collaborative, and compassionate physician assistants. The programs’ competency-based curriculum and its faculty provide the framework to achieve this goal, offering a learner-centered, innovative approach to medical training, promoting patient safety and primary care. Ultimately, it is the learners that make RVU a success.

RVU PA Mission Statement

The mission of the Rocky Vista Physician Assistant Program is to prepare clinically competent, collaborative, and compassionate physician assistants to provide primary care.

Goals/Strategic Priorities

The Program strives to achieve excellence in:

  1. Program completion  (measurement: at least 95% of students graduate from the program)
  1. National certification (measurement: the program meets or exceeds the national mean for first-time pass rates for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam [PANCE])
  1. Graduate employment (measurement: at least 95% of graduates who seek PA employment are certified, licensed and practicing as PAs within 12 months of graduation)
  1. Achieving the program mission  (measurement: employer surveys indicate high satisfaction with program graduates and qualitative review will indicate the meeting of the stated mission)


PA Program Graduate Competencies

The RVU PA Program has adapted professional competencies from those utilized by the following medical education organizations: AAPA, ARC-PA, NCCPA, PAEA, AAMC, NBOME and AACOM. The Program has identified those competencies that will be measured throughout student training and placed them into the appropriate Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs). This allows for clear identification of student expectations as well as a mechanism to evaluate student progression toward competence. The RVU PA program provides educational experiences to support student development of requisite knowledge, skills, and attitudes corresponding with competence in each of the EPAs.

Admissions Timeline


 CASPA application available online

April 30

Application deadline for all applicants
(applications must be verified by CASPA)

September 1

Interviews take place



Late August

Classes begin

Early September

How to Apply

The RVU PA Program partners with CASPA, a streamlined admissions process for PA programs. To apply to the RVU PA Program, all applicants must complete the CASPA application, and the RVU PA Program supplemental essay questions included in the CASPA application. All materials for application should be sent directly to CASPA- not to the RVU PA Program. Please do not send any transcripts, letters of reference or resumes to the Program.

CASPA applications must be completed and verified by September 1 to meet our deadline. Please note that the verification process may take CASPA up to 6 weeks from the time applications are submitted. Changes or updates to applications cannot be made once applications are verified by CASPA.


To be considered for the class matriculating in September 2021, applications must be submitted and verified by CASPA no later than September 1, 2020.

Program Requirements

Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements prior to application. Any requirement below that is not completed prior to submitting the CASPA application will not be considered for review:

  • Citizenship
    Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Bachelor's Degree
    Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States
  • GRE
    Official scores are required and should be directly reported from ETS to CASPA using institutional code 4111. Scores must be visible in application prior to submittal to CASPA. Please verify that ETS has submitted your scores into your application prior to submitting. Exam results must not be older than 5 years. No minimum score is required. **Applicants with Verbal, Analytical, and Quantitative scores in the 50th percentile or higher are preferred
  • GPA
    All applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 on a 4.0 scale. **Applicants with a CASPA verified Biology, Chemistry, Physics (BCP) GPA of 3.0 or higher are preferred
  • Healthcare Experience
    Applicants are required to have a minimum of 1,000 hours of documented paid healthcare relevant experience. The RVU PA Program does not determine for the applicant what is acceptable healthcare relevant experience and encourages applicants to appropriately describe, within the CASPA application, the type of experience they have accumulated and support why they feel it is healthcare relevant.
  • Physician Assistant Shadowing
    Though shadowing PA professionals is not required, it is strongly recommended. Shadowing enhances the applicant’s exposure to physician assistants, giving them a deeper understanding of the PA profession.
  • Coursework
    The program does not require applicants to have completed specific prerequisite courses. However, the program strongly recommends the following coursework from a regionally accredited institution of higher education

    • • Biology
      • General Chemistry
      • Organic Chemistry
      • Biochemistry
      • Physics
      • Statistics
      • Behavior/Social Science
      • Additional coursework such as:
      Genetics, Human Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, Cellular Biology, Medical Terminology, Ethics, Humanities, Communication
  • References
    Three letters of reference must be submitted through CASPA before an application will be considered complete and reviewable by the RVU PA Program. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure all references have been received by CASPA and are not pending at the time of application submittal. The RVU PA Program does not specify who letters should be written by, rather references should be selected from individuals who are well acquainted with the applicant academically, professionally and/or personally over a period of time. References from family members are strongly discouraged.
  • PA-CAT Test
    The PA-CAT (Physician Assistant College Admission Test) is a specialized test designed to measure applicant knowledge in key prerequisite science subjects typically required for PA school. The PA-CAT measures general academic ability and scientific knowledge necessary for success in the demanding physician assistant curriculum. Although not a requirement, the RVU PA program strongly recommends that all applicants complete this test as part of their application. For more information and to register visit their website
  • Advanced Placement and Transfers
    The RVU PA Program does not take into consideration advanced placement credit for any courses and does not accept transfers from other Physician Assistant Programs.

Application Submission Checklist

RVU Application Materials Requirements

✔ U.S Citizen or permanent resident
✔ Bachelor’s degree completed
✔ GPA 2.8 or higher
✔ 1,000 hours paid healthcare experience
✔ GRE completed


Online CASPA Application Requirements

✔ Official GRE scores
✔ Three letters of reference
✔ Official transcripts
✔ Online supplemental essay questions


Admissions Process


The RVU PA Program reviews only verified applications. An application file will be considered complete and reviewable by the PA Program Admissions Committee after satisfactorily completing the following steps:

Step One: Complete the CASPA application.All applications must be submitted to and verified by CASPA by our September 1 deadline for consideration. The following must be submitted for the CASPA application to be considered complete:

  • CASPA online application (including responses to supplemental questions)
  • Official GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) scores within the past five (5) years
  • Scores sent directly to CASPA using code: 4111
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of reference

Step Two: Complete the RVU supplemental essay questions.The program requires a supplemental application to be completed and submitted with the CASPA application. The questions can be found within the CASPA application. Once the CASPA application and supplemental application have been submitted and verified by CASPA, the RVU Admissions Department will notify applicants by email with instructions to submit a $100 non-refundable candidate processing fee. This fee is separate from the required CASPA application fee. Applications are not reviewed by the RVU PA Program until the fee has been submitted to the RVU Admissions Department. RVU is a military friendly institution and will waive the supplemental application fee for all veterans/active duty military personnel and their spouses.


Applications are reviewed in order of receipt. The Program interviews approximately 150 applicants for a maximum cohort size of 36. Applicants are notified of the offer to interview by email and are expected to respond within 10 business days. Interview slots will be offered until filled.The selection process for the RVU PA Program is highly competitive. Applicants are reviewed on an individualized and holistic basis that includes but is not limited to the applicant’s commitment to service, academic ability, healthcare experience, letters of reference and potential for success in, and contribution to the profession. The program strives to admit those who will best meet the mission and goals of the program. Invitations are extended to those applicants that the Admissions Committee perceives to be competitive for admissions based on this holistic review.


Notification of acceptance into the RVU PA Program will be provided by email after the conclusion of the final interviews and selections meeting. Each applicant offered a seat in the class must acknowledge acceptance of the offer within ten (10) business days of their notification and submit a non-refundable acceptance deposit of $500.Prior to matriculating into the Program, accepted students must meet the following requirements:

  • Successfully pass a criminal background check. **Applicants convicted of any criminal offense, regardless of its designation, involving a crime of moral turpitude or a crime against a child or elder, will not be considered.
  • Successfully pass a completed drug screen.
  • Submit documentation of current BLS (healthcare providers) certification.
  • Provide evidence of compliance with CDC guidelines for healthcare workers regarding immunizations, screening and freedom from communicable diseases.
  • All students must meet the technical standards of the PA Program prior to and throughout the program. Technical Standards can be found here.

The cost of attendance, including tuition and fees, for the cohort matriculating in Fall 2019, may be found in the “Cost to Attend” section below. The cost of attendance for the cohort entering in Fall 2020 has not been established. Anticipated tuition will approximate $80,000 - $85,000 and is determined by the RVU Board of Trustees on an annual basis. A decision on the tuition and fees for the RVU PA class matriculating in 2020 will be made by the BOT in November 2019 and will be posted when approved. The RVU PA program benchmarks its tuition and fees to be competitive with private institutions offering PA education across the United States.

Cost to Attend

Click here for the Cost of Attendance for the PA Program Class of 2021

Click here for the Cost of Attendance for the PA Program Class of 2020

Prior to Matriculation

Under construction

Refund of Tuition and Fees

A student who withdraws (either voluntarily or involuntarily) before the first day of class of a semester for which they have already paid their tuition and fees will receive a 100% refund for that semester, with the exception of any non-refundable deposits which will be retained by the University. Students who matriculate into the University, begin classes or rotations, and subsequently withdraw (either voluntarily or involuntarily) within the first seven calendar days of a semester shall receive a refund equal to the amount of their tuition for that semester less $4,000. Fees may be refunded with the exception of charges already incurred as of the date of withdrawal. Students who withdraw (either voluntarily or involuntarily) from the University after the first seven days of class or rotations but before the thirtieth calendar day of the semester shall receive a refund of 50% of the amount of tuition paid for that semester. No fees will be refunded.

Important Note: All dismissals are deemed involuntary withdrawals from the University. Students who are on a voluntary or administrative leave of absence will not be eligible for refunds. Any exceptions to this refund policy must be made by the Vice President of Academic Affairs.


The MPAS curriculum is sequenced and designed to address and integrate the entrustable professional activities (EPA) in which are contained the competencies the student must achieve to successfully enter the profession upon graduation. In the first two semesters (Didactic Phase) the learner will move from foundational concepts to clinically oriented content.  The subsequent five semesters (Clinical Phase) are dedicated to advancing the student to the level of “competent” for all thirteen EPAs.  This is achieved through supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs) and clinical seminars. Upon successful completion of the program, the student will be prepared to enter the physician assistant profession, obtain national certification, gain state licensure, and provide clinically competent and compassionate care as part of a collaborative patient-centered team.

Didactic Phase (Two Semesters)

Credit Hours

Total = 57

  PAS 5001/5002: Interprofessional Education Seminar I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to achieve competency in EPA-9 (Collaborate as a member of an interprofessional team). These two institution level courses are required for all RVU students.



  PAS 5011: Foundations: Normal Human Development

The student will develop a foundational knowledge of normal physical, social and psychological development and function across the lifespan. Self-care for the student professional will be an integral part of the course.



  PAS 5113/5114: Foundations: Molecular and Cellular Concepts I, II

The student will develop the foundational knowledge needed in pharmacology, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, physiology, and microbiology in order to understand the pathophysiology of illness and disease and the rationale for therapeutic intervention.



  PAS 5115/5116: Foundations: Anatomy I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to correlate human anatomy with structure, function, and the clinical assessment of pathology.   Lecture, cadaveric dissection, and virtual dissection will provide the student the opportunity to integrate the appropriate use of diagnostic imaging with clinical anatomy.



  PAS 5131/5132: Clinical Medicine: Professional Seminar I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to function effectively within the existing US healthcare environment and to advocate for positive change in the future.  The course will explore both macro and micro approaches to health care and its delivery by incorporating the principles of public health, cultural competency, communication competency, social determinants of health, patient advocacy, biomedical ethics, informed consent, patient safety, the impaired provider, and healthcare financing. Central to each of these discussions will be the role of the PA and the PA profession. This course will introduce the knowledge and skills to achieve competency in EPA 11 (obtain informed consent for tests and/or procedures) and EPA 13 (identify system failures and contribute to a culture of safety and improvement).



 PAS 5133/5134: Clinical Medicine: Illness and Disease I, II

The student will develop a foundational knowledge of illness and disease using an organ system approach. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the presentation, pathophysiology, diagnosis, prevention and management of the most common diagnoses.



 PAS 5135/5136: Clinical Medicine: Evidence-Based Practice I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to achieve competencies within EPA-7 (formulate clinical questions and retrieve evidence to advance patient care) and EPA-6 (provide an oral presentation of a clinical encounter).  This course will provide the foundational knowledge from which the student will formulate a research proposal and design the capstone project.



  PAS 5137/5138: Clinical Medicine: Skills and Assessment I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to achieve competency for EPA-1 (Gather a history and perform a physical examination), EPA 3 (recommend and interpret common diagnostic and screening tests) and EPA-5 (document clinical encounters in the patient record), EPA 8 (Give or receive a patient handover to transition care responsibility), and EPA 12 (perform general procedures).



  PAS 5139/5140: Clinical Medicine: Reasoning and Application I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to achieve competency for EPA-2 (Prioritize a differential diagnosis following a clinical encounter), EPA 10 (Recognize a patient requiring urgent or emergent care and initiate evaluation and management), EPA-4 (develop and implement patient orders and management plans) and EPA-7 (formulate clinical questions and retrieve evidence to advance patient care) through integration of content from other courses and facilitated interprofessional small group sessions.



  PAS 5150: Introduction to Supervised Clinical Practice Experience

The student will be oriented for entry into the 48 weeks of SCPE. Expectations, competencies, assessments and the successful completion of the graduate portfolio will be discussed.  Training for the clinical tracking system will be provided.  The student must pass the clinical assessments in order to progress to the SCPE.


Clinical Phase (Five Semesters)

Credit Hours

Total = 65

  PAS 5251/5252/5253/5254: Clinical Seminar I, II, III, IV

The student will continue to move toward mastery level competency by integrating advanced level content in diagnostic reasoning, pharmacotherapeutics, and therapeutic/diagnostic procedures. These courses also serve as the formal beginning of the transition to practice through presentation of content on the business of medicine, licensure, lifelong learning, and job selection.



  PAS 5261/5262/5263/5264: Supervised Clinical Practice I, II, II, IV  

The student will demonstrate competency in all thirteen EPAs in the patient care setting.  The student will be exposed to patients in out-patient, in-patient, emergency department and operating room settings. The student will care for patients across the lifespan, providing preventive, emergent, acute and chronic care for a wide range of health needs.



(48 weeks)

  PAS 5271: Research Proposal

The student will be assigned four weeks of independent study during the year 3 spring semester in order to develop the graduate research project.  At the end of the four weeks, the student will have developed a viable research proposal which will become the foundation for the student’s Capstone project.  The proposal must receive program approval and IRB approval/exemption.



  PAS 5272: Capstone

The student will demonstrate readiness for entry to the profession through mastery of the competencies for the newly graduated physician assistant (the competencies within all thirteen EPAs).   Demonstration activities include presentation of the required research project and presentation of the graduate portfolio.



  PAS 5391: Independent Study

Program approved didactic or clinical course work primarily used for remediation purposes.

Variable credit

The RVU PA Program hosts information sessions for those who are interested in attending the program. Sessions are scheduled between April and August of each application cycle. Attendance at these sessions is not required for admission. It is not necessary to pre-register for a session. If planning to attend a session, please park in the North lot, located on the corner of Chambers Rd and Grasslands Drive.  Check in with security to be escorted to the General Information Session. Upcoming General Information Sessions for 2020:

The in-person General Information Sessions for March through May have been canceled due to the effort to contain COVID-19. 

In lieu of in-person sessions, the program will be offering virtual sessions. If you are interested in signing up for a virtual general information session please email Teri Coe at Please include your name, date of the session you would like to attend and the email address you would like to receive the link to participate.

  • Thursday, April 30th -      8:30 - 9:30 am
  • Thursday, May 28th -      1:00  - 2:00 pm
  • Thursday, June 25th -     1:00 - 2:00 pm
  • Thursday, July 23rd -      1:00 - 2:00 pm
  • Thursday, August 20th -  1:00 - 2:00 pm

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation - Provisional status to the Rocky Vista University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Rocky Vista University.Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

The following highlights the demographics of our inaugural cohort, Class of 2020 and second cohort, class of 2021:

Class Profile



Total students









In state



Out of state



Average age

27 (range 22-46)

25 (range 21-34)

Average cumulative undergraduate GPA



Average BCP GPA



Beginning in 2020 (the anticipated graduation of the first class of students), the program will publish in this location the PANCE first time pass rate for each graduating class.

This section will include the student handbook, policies, etc.

Due to the rigorous and lock step nature of the program’s curriculum, it is strongly recommended that PA students do not plan to work during their training.

  • Is the PA Program offered at the Utah campus? No. The RVU PA program is currently offered at the Parker, CO location.
  • When does the program begin?  Orientation to the program will be held during the last week of August. Classes begin shortly after orientation.
  • No prerequisite coursework is required? Although there is no “required” prerequisite coursework, the program considers those courses listed under “Requirements and Prerequisites” as foundational to physician assistant training. As such, the listed coursework is strongly recommended, but not a requirement for the program.
  • Does the GRE need to be taken within a certain time period prior to applying? Yes, the GRE must be taken within the past 5 years. Official scores should be submitted directly to CASPA using our institutional code: 4111. We will not accept scores sent directly to the RVU PA Program. Please ensure scores are uploaded and visible on your application prior to submitting to CASPA.
  • Does the program accept experiences gained during a healthcare training program toward the required 1000 hours of paid healthcare relevant experience?  While we understand many students will have participated in clinical encounters during a healthcare training program, the level of responsibility for students is different than that of a paid employee. Paid employees are typically required to provide care to patients that students are not expected to provide. Therefore, experiences gained during training programs do not count toward the required 1000 hours of paid healthcare relevant experience.
  • Do the 1000 hours of paid healthcare relevant experience have to be completed consecutively? No.
  • Do the 1000 hours of paid healthcare relevant experience have to be completed prior to application? Yes.
  • How does the program define healthcare relevant experience? Defining healthcare relevant experience will be left to the applicant to describe as part of the application process. The program does not identify specific experiences.
  • When can I apply for admission? The program partners with the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). The CASPA application cycle will open late April 2020, and applicants to the RVU PA Program can begin the application process on or after this date. CASPA will forward to the RVU PA program only those applications that have been successfully verified.
  • How long does the CASPA verification process take? Once an applicant has completed and submitted the CASPA application, CASPA will verify that the information provided is accurate. The verification process and forwarding of the application to the RVU PA Program may take up to 6 weeksThe PA program must receive verified applications by September 1, 2020, in order to be considered. Applicants are encouraged to consider deadlines carefully and start the application process early. Please refer to the CASPA website for additional information:
  • What date should applications be submitted by in order to ensure the file gets reviewed? Files should be submitted by July 21, 2020, to allow enough time for processing and forwarding to the RVU PA Program.
  • How do I pay my application processing fee? Once the application is completed and verified, the applicant will receive an email from Rocky Vista University’s Admissions Office with further information on how to pay the non-refundable processing fee. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure they have met all requirements prior to submitting the fee.
  • How long is the program? The program is seven semesters (27 months).
  • Can I make an appointment to talk to program faculty about my application or prerequisites?  The PA program faculty and staff do not provide individual transcript, prerequisite or application advising. However, the Office of Admissions can offer general advising and inquiries can be directed to We also highly recommend attending a general information session, which are held from April through August.
  • Will an arrest record preclude someone from being considered for the RVU PA Program? An arrest will not preclude a candidate from being considered; however, an applicant cannot have been convicted of any criminal offense, regardless of its designation, involving a crime of moral turpitude or a crime against a child or elder. Please refer to the Admissions section of this website for information about background checks and drug screens.
  • What can be expected if I’m invited for an interview? Each applicant will participate in 2 individual interviews and 1 group interview. A tour of the campus will be provided. Interview dates will be included with an invitation for an interview. Applications are reviewed in order of receipt and interview slots will be offered until filled.
  • Does RVU give preference to in-state vs out-of-state applicants? No.