Pre-Physician Assistant


Each Physician Assistant (PA) School has different requirements for prerequisite courses. A curriculum based on chemistry, biology, and liberal arts is required.

*Please note that each Physician Assistant (PA) school requirements vary from school to school. Research schools early for specific information about requirements.

The following courses are generally required for most Physician Assistant schools:

  • Two semesters of general chemistry with labs
  • One semester of organic chemistry with labs
  • Two semesters of Anatomy/Physiology
  • One semester of general biology with lab
  • One semester of microbiology with lab
  • One semester of statistics
  • Two semesters of Psychology (including Developmental Psychology)
  • One semester of Sociology
  • One semester of Medical Terminology

Application Process

Physician Assistant (PA) schools admit students once a year. Start dates differ from school to school, with Summer, Fall or even Winter semester start times. Please check with each of the schools you are looking at for their deadlines.

*Please know that the University of Kentucky’s Physician Assistant School starts in January.

Applications are submitted about 8-12 months in advance of the desired enrollment date. However, the timing depends on when you will complete your degree and the necessary coursework, (and successfully take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) if necessary.)

Physician Assistant school requirements vary from school to school. Research schools early for specific information about requirements.

Physician Assistant School Application process includes 5 main components:

  1. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)- (Most Schools)
  2. Primary Application
  3. Letters of Recommendation
  4. Secondary Applications (Most Schools)
  5. Interviews

Application Timeline


-Primary Applications through CASPA opens in late April. Begin to fill out primary applications as soon as possible. 

-Order official transcripts from ALL colleges and universities that you have attended to be sent to CASPA


-Make sure Letters of Recommendation have been sent

-Complete CASPA Academic Updates

-Complete secondary applications (as they come in, not all schools have secondaries)

August – April

-Prepare for and attend interviews. Interviews occur from August through Spring

-Continue to complete and submit secondary applications (check deadline dates).

-Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, in October.

*University of Kentucky’s PA School begins in January; others start in the Fall.

Application Materials: Letters of Recommendation/Personal Statement

Letters of Recommendation/Support:

Requirements for letters vary between schools, so research schools early and know what you need. Many schools require 1-3 letters of recommendation. Begin early to establish a network of professors, supervisors (for volunteer or paid work), and medical staff who are familiar with your work. It is important to choose recommenders who know you well.

Letters from faculty members who have taught you in a class and are able to make specific observations about your personal and academic achievements and your potential for PA school. Get to know your Professors early, start your Freshman year.

Personal Statements:

The personal statement is about you and your motivation for pursuing a career as a dentist. Remember, why you want to be an optometrist is different from how you were inspired to become one. Describe your current passion for the field with specific examples from recent experiences. Try to choose a theme rather than random thoughts. The primary application activities section provides a list of accomplishments. Your personal essay is an opportunity to provide additional, more in-depth information. 

Entrance Exam

Most PA programs require the GRE. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is administered throughout the yearIt may be repeated, but the best strategy is to prepare thoroughly and take it once. Taking the exam by spring the year before you wish to enter PA school will enable you to apply earlier.

More information on the GRE


Most Physician Assistant schools hold “interview days” where they bring in a group of applicants for a day that may consist of some or all of the following: Interviews, written essays, school tours, and opportunities to meet students and faculty.

Interviews can take many forms, so it is important to research your schools and be prepared for each kind. The Stuckert Career Center can help you with preparation tips and practicing your interviewing skills.

The most common types of interviews are:

  • One on one interview—Usually one or two 30-45 minutes interviews
  • Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)—7-10 rooms with a different prompt or scenario posted on the door. You are typically given 2 minutes to think about the prompt before entering a room, and 5-8 minutes to respond to the prompt and any follow-up questions or play out the scenario with a trained actor.
  • Group interview—May be either one applicant interviewed by several interviewers, or in a group of applicants interviewed by one or more interviewer.


Involvement allows you to supplement a strong academic record. Physician Assistant school admissions committees like to see evidence of initiative, creativity, leadership and collaboration, and organizational skills. However, it is important to remember that such activities will not substitute for poor grades, so don’t sacrifice study time for activities.

Search UK Student Organizations/Programs at BBNVolved

UK Student Organizations related to Physician Assistant

  • Pre-PA Student Association
  • The Apollo Society
  • Multicultural Association of Pre-Health Students

Patient Contact

Physician Assistant schools require patient contact experience/hours, a recommended number of hours varies from school to school. Contact hours may be completed utilizing the following (but not limited to) medical disciplines: CNA, EMT, CMA, Medical Tech., Professional Hospice Volunteer, Physical Therapy Assistant, Athletic Training, Scribe etc. Applicants must demonstrate hands-on clinical skills such as, but not limited to, taking patient vitals, blood pressures, glucose, administering immunizations, etc.

*Each Physician Assistant school is different on the number of hours they are looking for. Research each of the schools you are interested in to see the hours they recommend. Due to COVID-19, the closure or limited opening of medical offices may affect the total number of patient contact hours that an applicant has completed. If an applicant is unable to complete the requirements prior to submitting their application, they can indicate this in their application.


As a caring attitude is central to the practice of Physician Assistant, applicants should demonstrate a commitment to service, more specifically direct service, and a desire to help others. Applicants may wish to highlight volunteer and service activities, including tutoring, assisting seniors, volunteer EMT, coaching youth sports, mentoring, etc.

Search UK Service-Learning and Civic Engagement for opportunities to help in the community:


PAEA: Physician Assistant Education Association

Kentucky Academy of Physician Assistants:

CASPA: Central Application Service for Physician Assistants

Schedule an appointment

Summer Medical Observership Program

Lexington Medical Volunteer Opportunities