Pre-Physician Assistant

A physician assistant (PA) is a medical professional who works with a medical doctor. PA’s perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, perform procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling, and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes. (American Academy of Physician Assistants)

Major Selection

As an undergraduate student, you may choose any major in preparation for applying to physician assistant programs. There is not a specific preference on a particular major, so you are encouraged to choose a major based on your own personal interests and strengths. What’s important is that you have completed the prerequisite courses required by the institution you are applying to.

Prerequisite Courses

Requirements may vary from school to school, so you will want to research different program requirements. In general, most physician assistant programs will expect applicants to have completed the following types of courses:

Course Course Title Required or Recommended
CHEM 150 General Chemistry I Required
CHEM 150L General Chemistry I Lab Required
CHEM 210 General Chemistry II Required
CHEM 210L General Chemistry II Lab Required
CHEM 350 Organic Chemistry I Required
CHEM 355 Organic Chemistry I Lab Required
CHEM 360 Organic Chemistry II Recommended
CHEM 365 Organic Chemistry II Lab Recommended
CHEM 400 Biochemistry I Required
CHEM 405 Biochemistry I Lab Required
BIOL 111 Cell Biology Required
BIOL 111L Cell Biology Lab Required
BIOL 115 Organismal Biology Required
BIOL 115L Organismal Biology Lab Required
BIOL 323 Human Anatomy Required
BIOL 323L Human Anatomy Lab Required
BIOL 341 Genetics Recommended
BIOL 341L Genetics Lab Recommended
BIOL 349 Human Physiology Required
BIOL 349L Human Physiology Lab Required
BIOL 350 Microbiology Recommended
BIOL 350L Microbiology Lab Recommended
ENGL 6 credits Required
BIOL 275, MATH 234, PSY 230L Statistics Required
PHYS 160/L or PHYS 200/L College/General Physics I & Lab or Physics I with Calculus & Lab Required
PHYS 161/L or PHYS 201/L College/General Physics II & Lab or Physics II with Calculus & Lab Required
PSY 113 General Psychology Recommended
PSY Upper-division Psychology Recommended
  Direct Patient Contact Hours Required

*Other courses may be required/recommended by specific programs. You are responsible for knowing the requirements for each individual program. Policies on AP, IB and community college credits vary by institution.

A complete listing of physician assistant programs and their admission requirements.

Admissions Test

GRE: Graduate Record Examination

The GRE is compromised of the following sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing

Not all programs require the GRE, so it is important to check the admission requirements of each institution you plan to apply to.