Physician's Assistant Frequently Asked Questions

1. What major is best for going to PA school?

There is no specific major required for PA school, however many applicants are biology, chemistry and exercise science majors. This is not because the schools prefer these majors; instead it is typically because students are interested in these areas. In addition, these majors typically include many of the prerequisites for PA school.

2. How do I actually apply to a PA school?

For most of the PA schools in the US, you will fill out a common application through the Centralized Application Service for Physicians Assistants (CASPA). Some PA schools do not participate in CASPA and you will need to apply to them individually.  Be sure to research the schools you are interested in for their application procedures.

3. When should I apply to PA school?

There is not a specific timeline for many of the activities that are required for PA school, but we recommend that all students interested in a career as a physician’s assistant look over the timelines provided on the Premed Timeline page and modify them to fit their individual schedules and goals. Please note that for many PA schools, you will need to apply during the late spring of your junior year if you plan to attend PA school in August following your senior year.  However, deadlines and application time vary by school, so be sure to do your research!

4. What type and how much clinical experience is needed for PA programs?

Clinical experience working directly with patients is critical before applying to the majority of PA programs.  For more information, click here.

5. Is there a ranking system for PA schools?

There is presently no ranking system for PA programs; however, all programs must meet the same standards for accreditation.

6. Why is there a difference in the length of the various PA programs?

The length of time required to complete the program is set by each individual school, and the national average is 27 months long.  Every PA program must be at least one year in length with at least four months of classroom instruction.

7. What types of degrees are offered?

The types of degrees offered by PA programs range from a Certificate, to an Associate Degree, to a Master’s Degree.  Approximately 75% of programs offer a Master’s Degree.  Presently, all graduates of an accredited program are eligible to take the national certifying exam.

8. How competitive is the University of Colorado PA Program?

The program had 862 applicants for the 2011 entering class.  Of those, 118 applicants were interview and 44 were admitted. The average cumulative GPA of those admitted students was 3.83.  The average GRE Verbal score was 537 and the average GRE Quantitative score was 673.