Requirements & Involvement for Physician Assistant

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Pre-requisite course requirements vary widely by individual school. You should determine specific requirements for programs of choice using the Physician Assistant Education Association Program Directory. We encourage you to begin researching individual program requirements as early as possible. If you are a resident of a particular state, you should start with those public institutions.


Physician Assistant Education Association Program Directory

The summary below is a list of the most common pre-physician assistant requirements.

Course Amount Required for Schools
General Chemistry 2 lectures, 2 labs Yes
Introductory Biology 2 lectures, 2 labs Many
Organic Chemistry 1 lecture, 1 lab Many
Microbiology 1 course Yes
Anatomy and Physiology 2 courses Yes
Psychology 1 - 3 courses Yes
Medical Terminology 1 course Many
Statistics 1 course Many
Biochemistry 1 course Many
Sociology 1 course Many
English / Writing Composition 2 courses Some
Genetics 1 course Some
Physics 1 course Some

Upper Level Biology

  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Histology
Varies Few

Dependent upon your academic home at UVA (College or School), specific course options to fulfill these requirements vary.

Self Assess

Your preparation for PA programs should continually include assessment of your individual candidacy. Use the Pre-Health Pillars Candidacy Assessment as a guide for your progress and plan to discuss with a Pre-Health Advisor as you go!

Resource: Pre-Health Pillars Candidacy Assessment

AP Credit

Programs vary on whether they accept Advanced Placement (AP) credit as completion of a prerequisite requirement.

  • You should complete lab courses for science coursework if UVA did not award lab credit for your AP science coursework.
  • Many programs that accept AP credit require you to supplement that credit by completing an equal number of hours in the same discipline at the university level.
  • Some students choose to retake science coursework they received AP credit for to prepare them for upper level coursework, as well as for entrance exams.

Dual Enrollment

Provided you earned a C or better in your dual enrollment coursework, you can receive credit for the purpose of health professional program admission requirements. We encourage you to complete upper level coursework in the science disciplines to supplement dual enrollment credit.

Extracurricular Activities

Student Organizations

Getting involved in a student organization is a great way to network with peers who have similar interests, access resources such as programs, speakers, and shadowing opportunities, as well as gain leadership and teamwork skills. Whether you select an organization specifically related to the physician assistant (PA) profession or not, we encourage you to review these organizations and participate.

Find additional health-related UVA student organizations on the clinical opportunities page.

*Although these organizations have members who are University of Virginia students and may have University employees associated or engaged in their activities and affairs, these organizations are not a part of or an agency of the University. They are separate and independent organizations, which are responsible for and manage their own activities and affairs. The University does not direct, supervise, or control these organizations and is not responsible for the organizations' contracts, acts, or omissions.

Opportunities for Engagement

Engagement in the PA profession will not only help you continue to explore and confirm your interest in the profession, but also demonstrate a commitment to serving others. Additionally, most PA programs require prior healthcare experience with direct patient care. Experience requirements range from strictly required to preferred/recommended. Additionally, the amount of hours required varies widely from program to program and can range anywhere from 100 to 4,000 hours, although 1,000 is a common requirement. 

We encourage you to review the sampling of opportunities below, as well as self-initiate opportunities of your own!

Find additional health-related opportunities for engagement on the clinical opportunities page.

More to Explore

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Learn more about Pre-Law events, courses, and opportunities available!