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Admission Factors

Physician Assistant programs generally consider the following factors when deciding who to admit.

Academic Ability

  • Successful completion of prerequisite coursework, usually with C grade or above.
  • Average GPAs for accepted applicants are in the 3.0 – 3.5 and higher range.
  • Many programs may require a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • GRE scores.

Clinical Experience

  • Volunteer or paid experience working with patients in a health-related setting is required by many schools and encouraged by all.
  • Patient-related experience allows applicants to test their career decision and be confident that it is a good fit.
  • Applicants who have researched and gained direct exposure to the profession will be better prepared to write a compelling application and respond to the interview questions.
  • Many hospitals and community clinics may offer patient volunteer experiences.
  • Review our Explore Opportunities section for possible volunteer opportunities.
  • Many PA programs require a significant number of patient-contact hours and most of their successful PA applicants may have 1-3 years of full-time healthcare work experience in the following types of positions:
    • Medical assistant
    • Emergency medical technician (EMT)
    • Paramedic
    • Medic or medical corpsman
    • Peace Corps volunteer
    • Lab assistant/phlebotomist
    • Registered nurse
    • Emergency room technician
    • Surgical tech
    • Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

Source: American Academy of Physician Assistants

Letters of Recommendation

  • The Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) requires 3 letters of reference submitted electronically through their system.
  • Schools may require letters from particular individuals, such as a physician assistant or other healthcare professional, professor, or work supervisor.
  • Applicants will need to check the schools’ specific directions regarding letters before setting up their letter of reference information in CASPA.
  • Although HPA offers a recommendation file service for medical and dental school applicants, PA applicants should use the electronic letter of recommendation system provided through CASPA.


Be prepared to discuss why you are pursuing a career as a PA and how you perceive the role of the PA in health care. You may be rated on:

  • Your knowledge of the profession.
  • Your motivation to pursue a career as a physician assistant.
  • How you present yourself and interact in a group.
  • Your ability to solve problems.

Sample questions available on the Physician Assistant Life website.