The Basics

Preparing to be a PA does not happen overnight. Most people know that it is important to have strong grades, but just as important is gaining experience to develop the skills, knowledge, and maturity necessary to be an effective healthcare provider. As with others on the health care team, the physician assistants’ decisions and actions affect human life and well-being. They must have high ethical standards, communicate well with patients and other healthcare providers, maintain reliable records, and be knowledgeable about existing and new medical treatment techniques to ensure each patient has optimal results.

Knowledge of Self and Profession

Throughout the application process, you will need to demonstrate knowledge of yourself (values, goals, motivations, strengths, weaknesses), an understanding of the profession, and a commitment to become a physician assistant. You must clearly articulate your readiness to enter the profession as result of first-hand experience in the field. There should be evidence in your application that you are committed to service and helping others. You must demonstrate your ability to work on a team, to lead, and to communicate with people with different backgrounds, values, and perspectives from your own.

Major and GPA

You can choose ANY major and be successful in your application to physician assistant programs. Admissions personnel will review your GPA from a variety of perspectives…cumulative GPA, science/math GPA, prerequisite GPA. Choose a major that you will enjoy and allow you to successfully complete the required and recommended courses while also gaining experience outside the classroom. Consider a major that will provide many career options, recognizing that students commonly change majors and career plans multiple times as they learn about themselves and their career options.

Prerequisite Courses

Category Prerequisite Area Minimum Recommendation Course Numbers
Biological Sciences General Biology 2 Lectures and 2 Labs MCB 150/MCB 151, IB 150/IB 151
Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lectures and 2 Labs MCB 244/MCB 245, MCB 246/MCB 247
Microbiology 1 Lecture and 1 Lab MCB 100/MCB 101 OR MCB 300/MCB 301
Physical Sciences General Chemistry 2 Lectures and 2 Labs CHEM 102/CHEM 103, CHEM 104/CHEM 105
Organic Chemistry 1 Lecture and 1 Lab CHEM 232/CHEM 233
Biochemistry 1 Lecture MCB 354 OR MCB 450
Mathematics/Statistics Statistics 1 Lecture STAT 100 (or equivalent) OR STAT 212
Communication Written Communication 2 Lectures Composition I, Advanced Composition
Humanities Varies by program ---------- May include: history, philosophy, religion, literature
Social/Behavioral Sciences Varies by program ---------- May include: economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science