Answers to Pre-PA Questions #7


From Squidoo Sarah writes:

Hello Bruce,
I just got interested in the PA program. I am recently in a community college, with a GPA of 2.77. I was actually in the RN program until recent when i decided to change my major to Physician Assistant. I would like to know if I need any more classes. Also I have been a CNA for 3 years now, and I will be taking the LPN  program this March. Do you have any tips for me on how to apply to schools, for the 2012 admission. Thank you.

Hi Sarah,

Applications to PA Programs go in “Cycles”.  Many schools (118 of 140) participate in CASPA ( which is the application arm of the Physician Assistant Education Association. Every program belongs to PAEA.  The application cycle for acceptance in 2012 begins in April 2011 and ends around 1 Nov 2011. Interviews begin around Oct 2011 and end in Feb or March 2012. Most classes enter PA school during the summer 2012. Most schools require a bachelors degree as a requirement for admission. There are still a few associate degree programs in California, Florida and Maryland. There are a couple programs that still give a bachelors but the standard degree and a requirement more and more for most jobs is a Masters Degree in PA studies.

You are going to need some upper division courses to get into PA school – Chemistry, Organic chemistry, Biochemistry, Anatomy and Physiology all with labs. There are others, you need to check the websites of programs in your state for their particular requirements. To be a competitive candidate you need a GPA of 3.2 or better. The published student profiles of accepted students show they are 60-70% women, age early to mid-twenties, some are older, GPA usually 3.4-3.9 and great GRE scores >1100 total verbal and quant.

If you are interested in the PA profession I encourage you to not go to the LPN program. You have plenty of experience as a CNA. Do a transfer program, get the required courses, transfer and get the prerequisites done along with a degreeat a 4 year college. Then if you have a 3.0 GPA or better, pick some PA programs (attend some open houses at programs near you – some require you to attend before you apply – check the website of programs that interest you) and do the correct cycle – not 2012 for you.

I have a free pdf on the process of creating a career for your self as a PA. Sign up for it on the front page of this site. You may, if you decide to pursue the 4 year degree, want to purchase my program “Everything You need to know to get into PA School”.

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ


  1. Elizabeth Nguyen says:

    Hi Bruce,
    I’m interested in applying to PA programs but my current science g.p.a is around a 2.5 and I’m volunteering at a hospital. How else can I make myself a more competitive applicant to get an interview and accepted into PA school? Is it possible that these PA schools will accept more science courses that are not listed among the prerequisites to raise science g.p.a? Thanks!


  2. Bruce says:

    Here is a quote from the prerequisites page of the Duke Univ PA Program:
    “To fulfill the remaining biological science course prerequisite, the PA Program recommends courses in genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, embryology, histology, or immunology. While none of the latter courses are specifically required, they provide a good foundation for the study of medicine. ”
    I don’t know how many credits that 2.5 represents but get your science GPA up to a 3.0. Second,in most top 25 schools volunteer experience is considered gravy not the meat. You need some paid patient care experience preferably in a place where there are practicing PA’s. 500 – 1000 hours are what you should aim for (3-6 months of full time experience) Schools like Utah and Washington want 2 or 3 years of experience. There are some that have a good ranking that consider experience optional but require that you have shadowed PA’s for a number of hours like 50-100. Don’t be a minimalist. Go for the max. Look at the programs in your home state and study their websites carefully. Then look at a few programs that are private in states where you might like to live and practice. Plot out a time line of experience and courses and target dates to complete them. Then get started. Look at hiring me as a coach for 30 minutes to help you set this up. Best wishes for much success on your PA Path

Leave a Reply