Physician Assistants have become an integral and unique component of health care. Physician Assistants (PAs) are health-care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs conduct physical exams, provide preventative care, diagnose and treat illnesses, assist in surgery and can write prescriptions. It takes about 28 months to complete a physician assistant graduate program.
Any major may apply to physician assistants graduate school, but the programs expect applicants to have taken specific prerequisite courses.
If you have questions, contact a William & Mary Pre-Physician Assistant advisor, [[rwmcco, Prof. Ray McCoy]], or [[aeeverhardt, Prof. Ashleigh Queen]].
Prerequisite Courses for PA Graduate School
The exact prerequisite courses vary slightly for some graduate schools. It is important for you to research potential graduate schools during your sophomore or junior year. This will give you time to complete these courses. Most physician assistant graduate schools have a minimum GPA requirement around 3.0 out of 4.0. However, our observation indicates that you must have a William & Mary GPA near 3.25 to be a competitive applicant. The list below contains the most common prerequisite courses
You should take a total of 16 credits in the biological sciences:
- 8 credits of College Biology. We recommend
BIO 203 + Lab - Introduction to Molecules, Cells, Development/Lab
BIO 204 + Lab - Intro to Organisms, Ecology, Evolution/Lab
- 4 credits of Human Anatomy
- KINE 303: Human Anatomy
- KINE 314 or 315: Human Anatomy Laboratory
- 4 credits of Human Physiology
- KINE 304/305: Human Physiology/Laboratory
- Microbiology or Cell Biology
- BIOL 306: Microbiology OR KINE 310/311 if approved by the individual institution
You should take 8 credits of Chemistry, including laboratories.
- General Chemistry I with lab
- CHEM 103/103L: General Chemistry I/Lab
- Organic Chemistry I with lab
- CHEM 206/206L, Organic Chemistry I/Lab
- Some institutions may require Biochemistry instead of or in addition to Organic Chemistry
You need 3 credits of mathematics. Credits must include trigonometry, precalculus, calculus, or the equivalent.
You need 3 credits of statistics in addition to the other math course. We recommend
- KINE 394: Statistics and Evaluation
- PSYC 301 and 302: Elementary Statistics and Experimental Methods, or
- MATH 106: Elementary Probability and Statistics
You should have at least 6 credits of psychology.
- Introduction to Psychology
- PSYC 202: Introduction to Psychology as a Social Science
- Developmental Psychology
- PSYC 310: Developmental Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology (recommended)
- PSYC 318: Abnormal Psychology
Some graduate schools accept substitute courses for some of the prerequisite courses. Contact the admissions office of prospective programs for specific information.
GRE Test Requirement
Applicants to physician assistant graduate school must take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE). This is normally taken at the end of the junior year or beginning of the senior year. It is best to complete all of the required biology, chemistry and physics by that time.
In addition to the course work described above, students must complete at least 960 - 1000 hours of internship. These hours must be in a position where the student has direct patient care experiences. These include being an EMT, clinical nurse assistant, respiratory technician, cardiac technician, phlebotomists, or other patient care positions.
William & Mary and EVMS Early Assurance Program (EAP)
Qualified William & Mary rising seniors may gain early assurance of acceptance into the EVMS PA Program. This program program will allow up to five highly qualified students from William & Mary to be admitted in the PA Program each admissions cycle.
To be eligible to apply to the EAP, you must:
- Be enrolled at W&M from the freshman year on (this program is not available to transfer students).
- Meet all institutional and degree requirements to continue as a student in good standing.
- Maintain an overall (cumulative) GPA of 3.25 or better. (A realistic GPA for the EAP is 3.7 or above).
- Complete a majority of the prerequisite courses by the time of application. You must pass the prerequisite courses without withdrawing from or repeating any of them.
- Have no academic or conduct code violations.
- 500 hours of clinical experience.
Physician Assistant Organizations and Websites:
- U.S. Department of Labor Description
- American Academy of Physician Assistants
- Central Application Service for Physician Assistants
- The Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) represents PA educational programs.
- The Physician Assistant History Society charts the history of the PA profession