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Physician Assistant

Want to become a Physician Assistant (P.A.)? Most students choose to major in biology or chemistry from UNC before going to PA school, but you can choose any undergraduate major.

Choosing a major outside of the sciences might increase the time it takes you to earn your degree as you'll also need to complete the graduation requirements for that major.

Contact Information

NHS Advising Center



Ross Hall, Room 1210

Core courses

Course requirements for admissions vary depending on the PA school. Two semesters of each are usually required: 

  • General biology with lab
  • General chemistry with lab
  • (One semester) anatomy with lab
  • (One semester) Physiology with lab
  • Chemistry elective with lab
  • Psychology 
  • (One semester) Statistics
  • (One semester) College math

Other recommended courses

These courses could also help you on your next journey, and one semester is required for many programs:

  • Genetics
  • Organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology

Illustration of footsteps


During your time here, you should do your best to stick to this timeline. It will help make sure you're ready to apply to physician assistant programs.

  • First Year

    During your first year, it's important that you focus on your coursework and learn how to be a successful student. Knowing how to study and manage your time is critical and can help you earn a strong GPA. You should also:

    • Begin to work on prerequisite courses, especially both semesters of biology (BIO 110 and 111) and chemistry (CHEM 111 and 112)
    • Shadow a Physician Assistant — either over breaks or during the summer
    • Clinical experience is key, obtain CNA or EMT certification during the summer
    • Research requirements of PA schools
    • Join the Pre-Health Professionals Club (PHPC) student organization
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
  • Sophomore Year

    You should continue doing as best you can in your courses to earn a strong GPA during your sophomore year as you complete your prerequisite courses. Continue clinical experiences and community service opportunities. 

    • Look for leadership opportunities
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
    • Consider who to ask for letters of recommendation
  • Junior Year

    During your junior year, you should still strive to earn a strong GPA as you work on your prerequisites as well as continuing your community service and shadowing (or other clinical experiences) and leadership activities. You should also:

    • Study for and take the GRE
    • Obtain letters of recommendation
    • Begin work on your personal essay
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
    • Fill out and submit CASPA in April with recommendation letters
  • Senior Year

    You should continue your community service and shadowing (or other clinical experiences) and leadership activities during your senior year. You should also:

    • Prepare and go to PA school interviews
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor

How to apply to PA school

Start by completing the CASPA application. This will then be sent to the PA schools of your choice.

We've outlined the general process below, but you can also learn more about the CASPA admissions process.

  1. You will need to complete and submit your application along with your official transcripts to CASPA. Each application includes a space for your personal essay, coursework history, list of activities, GRE score and the names of your recommenders (letters of recommendation are typically sent directly to each school).
  2. Once schools receive you application, you may receive a secondary application. This application requires additional information and asks a series of short answer/essay questions. Send completed applications to each school. 
  3. After reviewing your application and letters of recommendation, PA schools may then invite you for interviews.
  4. From here, you will either be accepted, denied or placed on a waitlist for each school. The next choice is all yours!

General information about applicants

Students accepted to PA school typically have an overall GPA of 3.57, science GPA of 3.51 and an GRE score of 307.


The application opens mid-April

Start Your CASPA Application