Preparing for a Career as a Physician Assistant (PA)

Once you have decided to pursue a career as a physician assistant, you should:

  1. Read the Pre-Healthcare FAQ that provides general advice for students considering healthcare careers.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the information on this page.
  3. Visit websites such as:
  4. Contact Mr. Robert Balfour (balfoura@MiamiOH.edu, (513) 529-3149, 106 Pearson Hall) for any questions you have about preparing for a career as a physician assistant.

Pre-Physician Assistant Coursework

Unfortunately, the prerequisite coursework required for admission to PA programs is not standard. While program requirements vary, it is not uncommon for PA programs to require some or all of the following courses:

Physician Assistant School Requirement - Miami Equivalent
Subject Courses
Biology
(1 year)
BIO/MBI 115, 116*
General Chemistry
(1 year)
CHM 141, 142 and CHM 144, 145
Organic Chemistry/Biochemistry
(1 year)
CHM 241, 242 and CHM 244, 245
or
CHM 231, 332
Anatomy
(1 semester)
BIO 201 or KNH 244, 244L
Mathematics
(1 semester)
MTH 102 or higher
Statistics
(1 semester)
STA 261
Microbiology
(1 semester)
 MBI 201
Physiology
(1 semester)
BIO 161 or BIO 305
Psychology
(2 semesters)
PSY 111, 112 and one higher-level PSY course

* BIO/MBI is a cross-listed course offered by the Departments of Biology and Microbiology. BOT/ZOO 115, 116 will also fulfill this requirement.
Class not accepted by every PA program.

Once again, program requirements are not standard, so once you have decided to pursue a career as a PA please contact the PA schools to which you plan on applying to verify their course prerequisites.

Applying to Physician Assistant School

Admission to Physician Assistant school is competitive and schools choose among many qualified applicants. Evaluation of candidates is based largely on objective criteria. While high overall and science GPAs are important, there are other important requirements that you need to fulfill as well. These include:

  • competitive Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores. The GRE is required by the majority of PA programs.
  • PA schools generally require a certain number of hours of direct healthcare experience (some up to 1,000 hours). Verify the hours requirement with the schools to which you want to apply.
  • strong letters of reference (both academic and from a PA)
  • evidence of leadership potential as demonstrated by a few carefully chosen extracurricular activities
  • well-developed interpersonal skills
The majority of PA schools require that students apply to their programs using a web-based application service called the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). For more information and for a complete listing of schools that require students to apply through CASPA, visit the CASPA website.