Physician assistants work under the supervision of a physician or surgeon to provide direct patient care. They may perform exams, order diagnostic tests, prescribe medication, make diagnoses, provide treatments and assist with surgery. Like physicians, depending on the specialty, evening, weekend, and on-call hours may be a job expectation.
UWM offers all of the prerequisite coursework necessary for application to physician assistant (PA) programs throughout the country. Although it is theoretically possible to enter a PA program after completing the necessary science and math courses but before earning the bachelor's degree, it is a highly-rare situation and becoming even less common as more PA programs now require a bachelor's degree. The graduate level schooling to become a PA takes two to three years after completion of four years of college.
Please review the Pre-Physician Assistant Fact Sheet for information about suggested undergraduate courses to prepare for PA school, experiential opportunities available to UWM students, the career outlook for PAs, and options for your major. Pre-PA is not a major at UWM, and students must still choose a major. Since most of the prerequisites necessary for application to physician assistant programs are in the sciences, many students choose a science major, though it is not required. Our specialized pre-PA advisor works with students to ensure they understand all of the milestones that must be met in college in order to be a competitive applicant to a physician assistant program.
Requirements for admission to PA programs vary widely. However, many PA programs consider the following as minimal preparation for admission:
- One year of English;
- Mathematics through pre-calculus and statistics;
- Two to three years of chemistry, including general, organic chemistry, and biochemistry; and
- Several biology courses (see below).
Physics is rarely required.
Many PA schools specify additional courses as part of the minimal preparation for admission. Therefore, pre-PA students should ascertain the specific requirements of the schools to which they intend to apply and plan their undergraduate programs accordingly.
Courses That Typically Satisfy PA School Admission Requirements
|BIO SCI 150||Foundations of Biological Sciences I||4|
|BIO SCI 152||Foundations of Biological Sciences II||4|
|BIO SCI 202||Anatomy and Physiology I 1||4|
|BIO SCI 203||Anatomy and Physiology II 1||4|
|BIO SCI 101||General Survey of Microbiology||4|
|or BIO SCI 383||General Microbiology|
|CHEM 102||General Chemistry||5|
|CHEM 104||General Chemistry and Qualitative Analysis||5|
|CHEM 343||Organic Chemistry||3|
|CHEM 344||Organic Chemistry Laboratory||2|
|CHEM 345||Organic Chemistry||3|
|CHEM 501||Introduction to Biochemistry||3|
|PSYCH 101||Introduction to Psychology||3|
|HS 222||Language of Medicine 2||3|
|Math – one semester of pre-calculus or calculus||4|
|Statistics – any statistics course||3|
Some PA schools may have a three- to five-year expiration date on anatomy and physiology coursework. Please consult with the pre-PA advisor and PA schools of choice regarding your individual circumstances.
Some PA schools may have a five-year expiration date on medical terminology coursework. Please consult with the pre-PA advisor and PA schools of choice regarding your individual circumstances.
Although the courses listed above are often required for admission to almost all PA schools, the rest of the program can be whatever the student wishes. Students are not required to major in Biological Sciences or Chemistry in order to gain admission to PA school.