Frequently Asked Questions

Five Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine students discussing at desks

The frequently asked questions below were curated to give you additional insight into the Master of Science in Anesthesia Program at Case Western Reserve University. The page is designed to help you get a more personal feel for our program. Some of the following questions and answers focus on curricular and prerequisite details; others are included to give you an idea of the professional outcomes for MSA Program graduates.

COVID-19 Updates: How it might impact your CASAA application

For Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021, the MSA Program will accept online prerequisites, including labs. We strongly encourage students to take our three key prerequisites in person: human anatomy with lab, human physiology, and biochemistry. For these courses, we feel traditional classroom learning will prepare you better for the program than online/remote learning. 

For Summer and Fall 2021, we expect that schools will mostly resume in person classes. Program prerequisites should be taken in person, unless your school intends to offer a course remotely or hybrid due to COVID-19. We continue to strongly encourage students to take our three key prerequisites in person. This may involve delaying taking these courses until the Fall or Spring semesters.

For any student not able to take our three key prerequisites in person, the MSA Program will require a copy of the course syllabus. The syllabus can be uploaded to your CASAA application and will be reviewed with your application materials.

As a precautionary action surrounding COVID-19, the MSA Program’s shadowing program has been placed on hold until further notice. The MSA Program does not require shadowing hours as part of its application, so do not hold off on applying until you can shadow. Under normal circumstances the program would encourage shadowing, but during this time it must be curtailed to protect the health and well-being of all.

For prospective students or applicants who would like to speak with a current student, contact your location of interest to schedule a chat session.

We recommend completing your application and submitting while you are waiting for your admission test scores or for your testing center to reopen. We will review your application as soon as it is submitted. 

ETS announced that the TOEFL and GRE Tests are now available at home to students who have been impacted by the coronavirus. Until test centers reopen, testing will be conducted through the use of live remote proctoring serviced by ProctorU. This real-time human monitoring of test sessions limits the number of seats available. Find answers to questions you may have on the TOEFL and GRE web pages dedicated to this purpose.

The AAMC also has information on the impacts of COVID-19 on its MCAT FAQs page.

CWRU faculty and staff are working diligently to provide courses in modalities that will enable all students to continue to move toward completing their degree and achieving their academic goals.  Regardless of the learning environment, the tuition and fees will be the same. The tuition and fees are in exchange for learning, academic credit, and certain non-academic services that will be provided whether in person, in a hybrid environment, or entirely remotely, and tuition and fees amounts will remain the same in the event the mode of course delivery changes during the semester.

The MSA Program will continue to conduct interviews with competitive applicants. We have moved to a virtual interview model due to ongoing public health concerns with COVID-19. Interviews will be held online via Zoom; a link and instructions will be sent to the applicant prior to their interview. 

We advise applicants to treat the remote interview like any other interview. Prepare as if it were in person, which means dressing professionally, investigating the program and profession beforehand, and coming with questions. Find a comfortable space that is going to be quiet, and make sure to minimize any distractions that could take away from the focus of your interview.

Frequently Asked Questions

Applicants whose first choice is the Master of Science in Anesthesia Program at Case Western Reserve University are strongly encouraged to apply early decision. The program typically fills a significant number of seats during the early decision period, and does not guarantee seats for regular decision applicants.

Qualified applicants who apply for early decision will be interviewed in late summer or fall, and will receive an admissions decision from the program in advance of the usual notification date (usually by the end of December) stating that they have been accepted, denied, or that their application is still under consideration. Early decision applicants also have the opportunity to work one-on-one with our Network Admissions Director to strengthen their application, and have an advantage in terms of onboarding for the summer start.

However, each applicant is different and some may prefer the regular decision deadline. If you are unsure when to apply, we recommend contacting the main office at 216.368.2336 to discuss your options and find the path best suited for you.

There is no one major that is considered “better,” but a major with more rigorous science coursework may make a student feel more prepared for the MSA Program curriculum.

The admissions committee evaluates each applicant’s academic success (GPA, coursework, MCAT or GRE), letters of recommendation, meaningful life experiences, leadership, clinical experiences, research, and demonstrated commitment to healthcare. All of those pieces of information factor into decisions to interview and accept.

No. However, all course prerequisites must be completed prior to the start of the program in the last week of May. Applicants for both the early decision deadline and the regular decision deadline should enter planned or in-progress coursework on their CASAA applications so that the admissions committee knows that they have a plan to take missing prerequisites.

When you feel most prepared. All students learn differently, and therefore we encourage students to prepare for the MCAT in the way that suits them best. Some students prefer self-study while others take prep courses. We endorse only the method that works best for you.

The Medical College Admissions Test administrators offer exams each calendar year until September. There are no test dates in October, November, or December. For this reason, applicants for both the early decision deadline and the regular decision deadline are encouraged to take the MCAT by the end of September.

Scores from the September MCAT test dates are acceptable for early decision applications even though those scores are released after our October deadline. Applicants who take or retake the MCAT in January may be at a disadvantage. Since the admissions committee makes early decision offers on a rolling basis, it is helpful to complete your application while you are waiting for your MCAT scores so as not to delay your application’s review.

Historically, the MCAT has been the preferred admissions test for Master of Science in Anesthesia programs across the country because it is used widely by medical schools to measure aptitude for the clinical environment.

However, the MSA admissions committee at Case Western Reserve University considers the MCAT and GRE equally. Applicants who take the MCAT will not be weighted differently than those who take the GRE. You should take the test that you believe will best indicate your preparedness for graduate-level work.

The only exception would be for students who have coursework that was taken in excess of five years prior to the application deadline. In that instance, students should plan to take the MCAT as only a composite score of 500 or higher will waive the five-year time requirement. See Master of Science in Anesthesia Requirements for more information.

The Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics, or CASPer test, is an online situational judgment test that presents each student with realistic, hypothetical scenarios to which they must respond. The test assesses for non-cognitive skills and interpersonal characteristics that the MSA Program believes are important for successful clinical practice and patient care.

In requiring CASPer as a component of the application, the MSA Program is taking a more holistic and objective approach to reviewing prospective students.

The Cleveland and Washington locations accept up to 26 students each. The Houston location accepts up to 32 students with up to six seats that are dedicated to Austin-based rotations.

A grade of B- or above is required in all prerequisites. You may apply with a C grade; however, your application will be considered after those applications that meet the admission criteria. For the most competitive application, prerequisites courses in which C grades were received should be retaken prior to the start of the program. We will use the higher grade to calculate your prerequisite GPA.

For any applicant that does not meet our admission requirements in some way, the program asks that the applicant submit a written petition. The petition should be a few paragraphs in length and addressed to the admissions committee. It should explain what you are requesting, why you are unable to meet the requirement, and provide some strong reasons for why the committee should grant the request. Email the petition to our Network Admissions Director Jen Puin at

A student whose petition is granted will be considered only after all applicants who meet the requirements. Therefore, a successful petition does not guarantee an interview or offer of admission.

No. A final grade of B- or above is required in every prerequisite course. If labs are graded separately they must be completed with grades of B- or above as well.

Visit our Admissions Requirements for descriptions of our prerequisite courses. Applicants are encouraged to discuss the admission criteria with an academic advisor at their college or university to determine the appropriate courses to take. A good rule of thumb is for all prerequisite courses to be four-year college-level courses for science majors.

Yes. However, you must confirm that the courses you plan to take are at a four-year college level, are for science majors, and are what premedical students would take.

Please note that biochemistry and advanced statistics are typically not offered at an appropriate level at community colleges. Additionally, no survey, introductory, or remedial courses will be accepted, and no courses specific to a particular discipline (such as engineering or nursing) will be accepted.

There is a five-year time limit for all prerequisite coursework. The time limit can be waived for some of the prerequisites if you score 500 or above on the MCAT. A high score on the MCAT indicates that your knowledge of the coursework is still current, and we do not ask that you retake your older coursework. A GRE score, regardless of percentile, will not waive the five-year requirement on prerequisite coursework.

An MCAT score of 500 or above does not waive prerequisite courses. It merely waives the five-year time limit. All prerequisite courses must be completed regardless of MCAT score. All prerequisites must be completed with grades of B- or above, regardless of MCAT score.

Biochemistry, human anatomy with lab, and human physiology—our three key prerequisites— must be taken within five years of the application deadline, regardless of MCAT score. No exception will be made.

No. While the MSA Program appreciates applicants with prior training or clinical experience, the curriculum is specifically designed for training the certified anesthesiologist assistant professional. Although other coursework may be similar, the MSA Program offers courses with a unique emphasis in anesthesia and the anesthesia care team model, as defined by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. 

No exceptions will be made for required prerequisite coursework, admissions test, or required graduate-level coursework within the MSA Program, regardless of degrees or certification received, prior experience, work background, or education. All accepted students must meet the admission requirements and follow the entire course curriculum.

The Austin-based students are considered a part of the Houston cohort, as they complete all didactic and simulation coursework at our Houston location. Students interested in being placed for clinical work in Austin should specify Houston as their preferred location of study when completing the application. They can also express interest in Austin in the "More About Me" section of their personal application portal.

All applicants are asked to rank their preferred location of study in the application. Students can rank all three program locations, or limit their choices to one or two locations. If you have selected Cleveland or Washington as your preferred location of study, but are interested in Austin as an alternative, you can select Houston as your secondary or tertiary location preference and express your interest in Austin on the personal application portal. 

Yes, we require a $3,000 tuition deposit to hold your spot in the program. This deposit must be submitted along with your written acceptance. The tuition deposit will be applied to your summer tuition once you matriculate.

Your deposit will be forfeited if you withdraw after accepting a spot in the incoming class. No exceptions will be made.

The Master of Science in Anesthesia Program awards the Helmut Cascorbi, MD, PhD Scholarship annually to the three students who earn the highest combined score on their clinical evaluations and exams at the end of their first year. The three scholarships of $500 are typically limited to one student per location of study. This number is not fixed, and can vary based on the program’s assessment of the cohort.

There is no application process; all first-year students are considered in the spring of their first year. Winners are announced in the summer term of the second year.

The program established the Cascorbi Scholarship in 2011 to honor Dr. Cascorbi’s significant and fundamental contributions to the anesthesiologist assistant program at Case Western Reserve University and his long commitment to the CAA profession.

Additionally, both the School of Graduate Studies and the School of Medicine maintain lists of outside funding and scholarship opportunities.

Please review the lists careful as these are generalized lists, and not all opportunities are available to or suitable for MSA students.

CWRU students in their second year of study have the option to do clinical rotations at nearly 100 affiliate hospitals. Our students are often invited to consider employment opportunities during their second-year rotations. By identifying where they would like to work and planning their second year carefully, CWRU students are likely to have at least one job offer prior to graduation.

Certified anesthesiologist assistants (CAAs) and nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are considered equivalents. The primary difference between the two is that CAAs have a premedical background while nurse anesthetists have a nursing background.

With regards to physician assistants, CAAs are similar in that they are both allied health professionals and physician extenders. The scope of practice for a physician assistant can be broader than a CAA because CAAs are focused on either general anesthesia care or specialty anesthesia care (such as anesthesia for pediatric patients).

Yes. CAAs continue to be in high demand due to the nationwide shortage of anesthesia care providers. Case Western Reserve University Master of Science in Anesthesia graduates specifically have experienced a 99.28% employment rate in the field for the past ten years.


Salaries vary depending on the regional cost of living. The average starting salary for Case Western Reserve University Master of Science in Anesthesia graduates is approximately $160,000 for a 40-hour work week, plus benefits and consideration of on-call activity. An increase of approximately 5% to 15% should be expected after the first or second year. Salaries are comparable to compensation paid to certified registered nurse anesthetists employed within the anesthesia care team nationally.

A prior felony conviction may restrict a student’s ability to complete clinical rotations at some hospitals and may affect their ability to obtain professional licensure or employment. Acceptance into CWRU MSA Program or its completion does not imply or guarantee that a student will be able to obtain licensure or employment.