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.

Physician Assistant Pre-Requisites

Physician Assistant programs expect students to have academic preparation in biological sciences, physical sciences, anatomy & physiology, social sciences, English composition and statistics. Other coursework that could be recommended or required include: medical terminology, biochemistry, and genetics. It is the responsibility of the student to research individual Physician Assistant programs to determine the exact coursework required for admission, as it varies by program. Students should also be aware of when pre-requisites are required to be completed by to be considered for admission.

Consult the Physician Assistant Prerequisite Guide PDF below for more details.

Recommended courses include the following:

Biological Sciences with labs       8-16 credit hours

General Biology: MCB 150/MCB 151, IB 150/IB 151

Microbiology: MCB 100/MCB 101, MCB 300/MCB 301

Genetics: MCB 250 or IB 204

Human Anatomy & Human Physiology with labs      8-16 credit hours

MCB 244/MCB 245 and MCB 246/MCB247

Physical Science with labs     16-20 credit hours

General Chemistry: CHEM 102/CHEM 103, CHEM 104/105

Organic Chemistry: CHEM 232/CHEM 233

Biochemistry: MCB 354 or MCB 450

Social Sciences     3-6 credit hours

SOC 100, PSYC 100, ANTH 101

Statistics     3 credit hours

STAT 100, PSYC 235 or equivalent

English Composition     6 credit hours

RHET 105, Advanced Comp

Medical Terminology     1-3 credit hours

CLCV 102

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.