Prerequisites to Admission
For consideration for Admission to the PA Program candidates must successfully complete the following courses and other requirements of the Graduate School AND of the PA Program.
- A bachelor’s (or higher) degree from a regionally accredited college or university is required (due by program start, not by time of application).
- Official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended (due by program start, not by time of application).
- International students may be required to have transcripts evaluated by a credentialing service.
Grade Point Average
- An overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher is preferred. However, students who are successful in gaining admittance typically have an overall GPA higher than 3.0.
- Satisfactory exam scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required. Satisfactory is defined by the JMU PA Program as a 25th percentile minimum on each of the three sections (due by program start, not by time of application).
- The applicant may report the best score from each section of the exam even if the exam was taken on multiple occasions.
- The reporting code is 7442. The GRE is only waived if an applicant has a previously earned graduate degree.
- Our program has no immediate plans to adopt the Physician Assistant College Admission Test (PA-CAT) as an admission requirement
Letters of Recommendation
- You must submit three (3) required letters of recommendation as part of the CASPA application. You do not need to submit the letters of recommendation with the Graduate School application.
- Letters are best from prior supervisors/employers, university professors, and/or medical professionals (clinicians) who have observed you working or volunteering in a patient care environment (not simply someone you shadowed briefly). Letters of recommendation from friends or family members are highly discouraged.
Prerequisite Course Requirements
|Course Name||Necessary Grade||Length||Lab required?||Expiration||Other Notes|
(human or mammalian)
|“B”, 3.0 (or better)||a one semester course||Yes. In-person lab preferred, but online is acceptable||Must have been completed within 7-years of matriculation|
(human or mammalian)
|“B”, 3.0 (or better)||a one semester course||No||Must have been completed within 7-years of matriculation|
|BIOCHEMISTRY||“C”, 2.0 (or better)||a one semester course||No||Must have been completed within 7-years of matriculation||Organic Chemistry does NOT meet this requirement|
|GENETICS||“C”, 2.0 (or better)||a one semester course||No||Must have been completed within 7-years of matriculation|
|MICROBIOLOGY||“C”, 2.0 (or better)||a one semester course||No||Must have been completed within 7-years of matriculation|
|MEDICAL TERMINOLOGY||“C”, 2.0 (or better)||a one semester course||No||Can have been completed within any number of years||Must be taken for credit (generates a transcript) – it CANNOT be a certificate|
Why is there a time limit for most of the prerequisite courses?
This seven year time frame is calculated from the date of course completion to the date of PA Program matriculation (not application). For example, a Biochemistry course completed Fall 2015 would count towards the required prerequisite of a student with an anticipated program matriculation of Fall 2022, but a Genetics course completed Spring 2015 would not. This time limit is to assure some degree of current information in these fields.
Exceptions: By their very nature some working positions require people to maintain an adequate degree of current information in these basic sciences. Candidates employed in such positions should apply and include an explanation for the admissions committee on how they have maintained a degree of current information in these fields. The committee will decide whether or not to accept the explanation as sufficient enough to meet the prerequisite(s). This kind of exception is rarely granted.
Must all prerequisite courses be completed to apply?
No, these prerequisite courses do not all need to be completed prior to applying to the program. They must be completed prior to actually starting the PA curriculum in August (if you are offered a seat).
How are final grades calculated for prerequisite courses?
- If a prerequisite course has been taken multiple times, then all final grades for that individual course will be averaged together to determine the applicant’s overall ‘grade’ for that prerequisite. For example, if an applicant earned a "C" in a 3 credit Biochemistry course the first time it was taken and an "A" in a subsequent 3 credit Biochemistry course, then the overall grade would be a "B", which would satisfy our prerequisite requirement.
- If a prerequisite course has an associated lab component, and both the lecture and lab components are awarded a separate grade, then the two grades will be averaged together to determine the overall grade. For example, if an applicant has an "A" in a 3 credit Human Anatomy course and a "B" in the associated 1 credit lab, then the overall grade would be an "A-."
What else should I know about prerequisite courses?
- All prerequisite courses must be taken from an accredited institution and must be taken “for credit”, i.e., they must generate an official transcript and cannot generate only a certificate.
- Courses taken online or at community colleges are acceptable.
- Courses must grant a final letter grade (they may not be simply “pass/fail”).
- For all prerequisite courses, it does not necessarily matter what the exact course title is so long as it matches the intent of the requirements. For example, all of the following course titles would fulfill our Biochemistry prerequisite: “Introduction to Biochemistry”, “Foundations of Biochemistry”, “Principles of Biochemistry”, “Concepts of Biochemistry” or “Fundamentals of Biochemistry”.
Further Details about Anatomy & Physiology Coursework:
- Candidates may meet the anatomy and physiology prerequisites by taking a semester course in each topic or by taking the entire sequence of combined anatomy & physiology courses at a single college. The combined courses must cover all of the body systems and regions and must include a laboratory component in anatomy.
- The total credit hours for two semesters of anatomy and physiology should combined be at least 6 credit hours.
- Anatomy must include laboratory work either as a component of the anatomy course or as a separate laboratory course.
- An online lab for Anatomy is acceptable. An in-person lab is preferred only because it will help the successful applicant in the future graduate-level anatomy course within the PA program. However, this is a recommendation, not a requirement.
Direct Patient Contact Experience - Prerequisite Requirement
A minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient contact experience is required as a prerequisite to admission to the PA Program. However, students who are successful in gaining admittance typically have greater than 1,00 hours accumulated. These hours may come from one experience or a combination of experiences and may be voluntary or paid work. Experiences having higher levels of training and responsibility are more desirable.
The table below is intended to provide basic guidance on how the Admissions Committee evaluates direct patient care experience. Although the table lists specific occupations as examples, the actual job title is much less important to the Admissions Committee than the tasks, duties and level of responsibility associated with it. Therefore, in order to receive the most accurate evaluation, it is in your best interest to provide the program (through the CASPA application) with a detailed job description.
If your job entails some direct patient care duties and some duties that do not involve patient care, you should list these hours separately in the appropriate areas on the CASPA application.
Experiences listed in Tiers I, II, and III ALL COUNT towards the 1,000 direct patient contact hours prerequisite requirement
The Admissions Committee prefers experiences that entail higher levels of responsibility and autonomy (such as Tiers I and II), however we also understand that some of the listed experiences are not always feasible for applicants. Having all of your hours from Tier III does NOT exclude you from admission to the Program. In fact, applicants who have completed all of their hours in Tier III are still accepted quite frequently.
Do not involve direct patient care and/or is not considered part of the medical discipline
Experiences listed in Tier IV DO NOT COUNT towards the 1,000 direct patient contact hours prerequisite requirement
Applicants with one or more of these experiences should still list them on their CASPA application as it is still valuable information for the Admissions Committee to know
PLEASE NOTE: The 1,000 hour minimum of direct patient contact hours must be completed prior to beginning the PA curriculum in August, not prior to applying for admission to the program.
^^ hours as a clinical research assistant (CRA) may be counted when actual direct patient care takes place. For example, when the CRA is drawing blood, taking vital signs, performing wound care, etc.
**some medical scribes are cross-trained as patient care technicians or medical assistants. In these situations the individual may count these hours. It is only when someone is solely a medical scribe that the hours may not be counted towards the 1,000 hours of direct patient care.
Other professions and experiences not listed may also qualify as direct patient care. Hours completed while in the role of a student/intern DO NOT count. For example, hours accrued while training to be an EMT cannot be counted – only the hours completed once EMT certification is achieved. Although desirable for other reasons, PA and/or physician shadowing experience does not count toward the required 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions regarding your healthcare experience.