While there is no specific major required for admission to PA school Biology and Biochemistry are the majors that offer the most direct preparation for your application.
You do not need a 4.0 GPA. Most programs require a minimum of a 3.0 GPA for application. However, the average accepted GPA is usually higher. You should aim for a 3.5 GPA to be competitive at all the schools you're interested in.
Required pre-requisite courses vary significantly between PA schools, so it's important you identify which schools you're interested in early and discuss those particular requirements with your advisor.
Many schools require courses such as:
- Biol 121/122 - Human Anatomy & Physiology (I and II)
- Biol 375/376 - Microbiology & Lab
- Chem 261/262 - General Chemistry (I and II)
- Chem 353/354 - Organic Chemistry (I and II)
- Stat 241 - Statistics
- Psy 201 - Introduction to Psychology
- Psy 261 or 322 - Lifespan Developmental Psychology or Abnormal Psychology
- HP 115 - Medical Terminology
Please be aware that sometimes pre-requisite coursework must be completed by the time of application although a completed Bachelor’s is not required at that time. Confirm application requirements for any program that interests you.
PA schools differ widely in their start terms and lengths. Most programs are around 2 years in duration, but that can vary slightly based on how long summer breaks are, etc.
We have PA programs in our region that start in January, May, and August. Due to this variation, it's important you identify a list of schools early so that you can keep track of the different timelines and requirements for each school. Talk to your advisor about what schools might be the best fit for you.
Most PA Schools require application through the CASPA centralized system.This system helps you facilitate applications, transcript submissions, and letter of recommendation requests.
Application cycles can vary wildly between PA schools due to differences in program start dates. It is incredibly important that you be aware of the application requirements and deadlines of each school to which you plan to apply.
PA programs usually request that applicants complete the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). However, some programs will accept MCAT scores instead. You should contact the Admissions office of schools that interest you for more details.
Shadowing experiences and patient contact are vital ways to expose yourself to the field.
The requirements for these experiences varies widely among PA schools. Some schools require a few shadowing experiences, while others require up to 2000+ documented hours of direct patient care.
It's important you identify the requirements of schools that interest you early, so you have plenty of time to fit these experiences in with your schoolwork.
- Be sure all of the information you enter on your application is accurate. This includes the grades of every course taken at the college level and any courses in which you plan to enroll within the year.
- Request a transcript from all of your academic institutions and allow plenty of time for the institutions to process your request.
- The personal statement is important. This is your chance to begin to portray who you are and to distinguish yourself from the thousands of applications each institution will review.
- Begin the process early! Due to the varying enrollment windows for PA programs, you need to start early to make sure you don't miss any important dates. It's always best to apply as soon as the application window opens to make sure your application has time to be fully considered.
- Give careful consideration before asking individuals to write letters of evaluation. Then allow plenty of time for them to write the letters so you aren't waiting until the deadline to receive them. When you ask for letters of recommendation, provide a C.V. or resume so the person writing the letter can reference what you have done outside of their contact with you. You need to clearly communication your application deadlines to your letter writers so they are aware of your timeline.
- Knowing the specific requirements of the PA school(s) to which you plan to apply is also very important. PA schools profess that they want well-rounded individuals, not just one-dimensional students. That means get involved, balance school with other activities, because it is true that all work and no play makes you a dull individual!