Preparing for a Career as a Physician Associate/Assistant (PA)

The traditional Physician Assistant career is undergoing a re-branding as Physician Associate.  As such, it's important to recognize that Physician Assistants and Physician Associates are one and the same.  We will refer to them as PAs.  

Once you have decided to pursue a career as a physician associate/assistant (PA), 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:

For any questions you have about preparing for a career as a physician assistant, please contact:

Ms. Tailyn Walborn
Mallory-Wilson Center
106 Pearson Hall

Pre-PA 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:

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

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 PA School

Admission to PA 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.