Students in the Physician Assistant Program at Penn State College of Medicine take part in the White Coat Ceremony in 2016, during which the students receive their white coats signifying the start of their training. Three female students are seen in the foreground, reading from the event program, with a male and female student visible in the background.

Physician Assistant (PA) Program

PA Program Prerequisites

Applicants will need to complete an undergraduate bachelor's degree (or equivalent) prior to matriculation into the PA Program.

We prefer that your major be in the health sciences, but this is not a mandatory requirement for application or admission. For admissions consideration, an applicant should ordinarily have:

  • A CASPA-calculated overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.0
  • A CASPA-calculated overall science GPA of at least 3.0

Detailed Prerequisites

We require several course prerequisites for admission consideration, although completion of this coursework is not required until the time of matriculation. Applicants can submit their CASPA and secondary applications with courses in progress or planned.

A minimum of one semester is required and science labs are strongly encouraged to supplement any science course lecture component. Prerequisite courses are:

  • General biology
  • Anatomy and physiology – two semesters (or one semester each)
  • Microbiology
  • General or principles of chemistry
  • Biochemistry or organic chemistry
  • General psychology
  • Statistics or bio statistics
  • Two semesters of English composition (or two courses listed as writing intensive courses)

We offer conditional admission in the event that a course(s) or hours are outstanding at the time a candidate interviews with the program.

AP and CLEP Credit

AP credit that was accepted by your undergraduate institution can satisfy a number of our prerequisites including general biology, general chemistry, psychology, statistics, and English composition courses. You can also use CLEP credit to satisfy course prerequisites.

Hours

Each prerequisite can be satisfied by one full semester, typically 3 to 4 semester-hours. For applicants on a trimester schedule, five-to-six quarter hours at minimum satisfy a prerequisite.

Keep in mind that requirements to graduate with a bachelor's degree versus requirements for admission to Penn State’s PA program will undoubtedly vary. For instance, completion of General Chemistry I can satisfy our prerequisite but often General Chemistry I and II are required to enroll in Organic Chemistry I at most institutions.

Online Courses

We accept online courses from regionally accredited institutions.

Currency and Exceptions

Three prerequisites have a five-year currency. They are:

  • Anatomy (or A&P I)
  • Physiology (or A&P II)
  • Microbiology

This currency requirement will be waived for any applicant who has been working full time and continuously in the healthcare field since completing the coursework.

English Composition Courses

Any course that the institution deems as having satisfied a “writing intensive” will suffice. The course can be in any major and does not need to be an English-major based course. Additionally, if completion of a bachelor's degree incorporates writing across the curriculum, please share this information with the admissions committee.

Healthcare Experience

For admission consideration, a candidate should have 500 hours of health care experience (paid or volunteer). These hours can be in progress or planned during the application cycle, and you can update the program directly to add hours accrued after initial submission of the CASPA and secondary application. Hours must be completed by the time a candidate would matriculate into the program.

While our program is flexible in accepting a wide variety of hours to help satisfy the 500-hour requirement, hours as a personal trainer or lifeguard are unacceptable.

Technical Standards

The technical standards for Penn State College of Medicine's Physician Assistant Program have been established to ensure than students have the ability to demonstrate academic mastery, competence when performing clinical skills, and ability to communicate clinical information.

Learn more about our technical standards.