Important general information
Students interested in the pre-physician assistant career advising track must obtain a bachelor’s degree and complete the necessary prerequisites in order to apply for a master’s-level physician assistant program. If interested in the field of physician assistant, students should consult with a pre-professional health career adviser to learn about requirements that are specific to the program and/or school to which they hope to apply.
Declaration of the pre-physician assistant career advising track through VCU Career Services - Pre-Professional Health Career Advising does not constitute or guarantee admission to any physician assistant program. Students must apply separately to a physician assistant program of their choice at the appropriate time.
If interested in preparing for physician assistant programs, students must declare an academic major and should declare and maintain their pre-physician assistant career advising track. Students do not earn a pre-physician assistant degree. Those unsure of their academic majors should initially clarify their academic interests through regular conversations with their academic adviser and pre-professional health career adviser. Pre-physician assistant students are encouraged to major in fields of greatest interest to them. To declare a pre-physician assistant career advising track, see the Pre-Professional Health Hub in Canvas.
Prerequisites for a physician assistant master’s program
Students intending to pursue a master’s-level physician assistant program must complete a bachelor’s degree before entering. It is recommended that applicants select a challenging course load of science and math courses each semester to ensure adequate preparation for the academic rigor of the physician assistant program.
Students must complete their bachelor’s degree, the required science prerequisite courses, the Graduate Record Exam and co-curricular requirements before becoming eligible to start a master’s-level physician assistant program.
The GRE should be taken prior to applying to physician assistant programs and these scores are weighed heavily in admissions decisions. Students planning to take the GRE are strongly advised to prepare extensively through self-directed study or a prep course.
Science and non-science courses required for a physician assistant master’s program
The admissions requirements for the schools and colleges offering graduate-level programs for physician assistant vary at each institution. Students who wish to pursue admissions to these programs should complete two semesters of general biology with laboratories, two semesters of general chemistry with laboratories, a semester of organic chemistry with laboratory and two semesters of human anatomy and physiology with laboratories. The science courses should be pre-professional level courses designed for science majors and offer a laboratory experience.
Other courses such as cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology and medical terminology are highly recommended, depending on the specific physician assistant program.
Statistics, introduction to psychology and one upper-level psychology (abnormal or developmental are preferred) are non-science prerequisites for the physician assistant program.
Due to the variance in requirements for each program, it is highly recommended that students meet with a pre-professional health career adviser and academic adviser early to develop a degree plan.
General prerequisites for physician assistant programs
& BIOZ 151
|Introduction to Biological Sciences I
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I
& BIOZ 152
|Introduction to Biological Sciences II
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory II
|Basic Human Anatomy
& BIOZ 209
and Medical Microbiology Laboratory 1
|or BIOL 303
& BIOZ 303
and Microbiology Laboratory
& CHEZ 101
|General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
& CHEZ 102
|General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
& CHEZ 302
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory II
& CHEZ 302
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory II
|Biochemistry I 2
& PHIZ 206
and Human Physiology Laboratory
|PSYC 101 Play course video for Introduction to Psychology
|Introduction to Psychology
|Life Span Developmental Psychology
|or PSYC 407
|Psychology of the Abnormal
|Basic Practice of Statistics
Additional recommended prerequisites for physician assistant programs nationwide
Physician assistant programs across the U.S. have different prerequisites for admission into their programs. The list below shows courses required by various schools. Students should meet with a pre-professional health career adviser and their academic adviser to ensure they are on the correct path to declaring and/or maintaining their track, and to develop their curriculum plan.
|Cellular and Molecular Biology
Students should also consult with their academic adviser and pre-professional health career adviser to discuss an individual plan of study in parallel with their academic majors.