Easiest PA Programs to Get Into

Easiest PA Programs to Get Into

Physician Assistants (PAs) play an important role in the healthcare industry with most PAs performing many duties that were typically performed by doctors in the past. PAs are a rapidly growing field with employment expected to grow by 31 percent from 2020 to 2030 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

These highly trained professionals have the potential to earn very good wages. The BLS reports that PA’s annual wages ranged from an average of $77,940 to $164,620 as of May 2021, which makes this a very attractive profession for those interested in a lucrative and rewarding career in healthcare.

In order to become a PA, a candidate must have a master’s degree and complete the PA program. As of 2017, there were more than 200 accredited PA programs in the U.S. When searching for an accredited program, applicants should look for programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.

Because this is such a competitive program, applicants often look for the easiest PA programs to get into. Finding the easiest PA programs to get into requires research and knowledge of what is expected of the student. Hopefully, this information helps.

What is a PA Program?

A PA program is a graduate program candidates must complete to work as a physician assistant. Like many medical programs requiring a master’s degree, the PA program requires students have a bachelor’s degree rich in biology and science courses. Other science courses the PA program might include are biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology anatomy biology, and physics. Colleges prefer students who have a strong science background for this program.

Most applicants to this program already have a bachelor’s degree and possibly even some patient care experience. The majority of students who do have bachelor’s degrees have a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare field. Some might be paramedics, EMTs, or nurses, which gives them the much-needed healthcare experience.

The PA program usually takes about two years to complete if the student already has a bachelor’s degree. PA programs offer a blended curriculum of coursework, classroom studies, and laboratory instruction. They also include supervised clinical internships at the end of the programs.

They also offer specialized clinical training for students interested in pursuing a specialized area of physician assisting, such as internal medicine, pediatrics, or emergency medicine to name a few. Once the student has completed the PA program, he or she must obtain licensure by passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. Physician assistants are required to be licensed in all the states.

Some universities do offer online PA programs. The disadvantage of these programs is that they only offer some of the courses required to graduate. Additionally, they are not able to offer the student a clinical internship required for licensure, so the student will have to find a medical facility in his or her location to complete the training.

Types of Careers You Can Get as a PA

You may have been to a clinic or hospital and thought it was a doctor assisting you only to discover it was a physician assistant. PAs often take care of patients and only consult with the physician if they have a question. When we think of PAs, we often think of them as working in clinics and hospitals because that’s where they seem to be employed the most. Some choose to work in non-clinical settings as well. There are actually several other careers PAs may choose.

  • Biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies – PAs working in these capacities work in research and development, education, communications, medical clinical trials, and marketing and sales.
  • Legal medicine – PAs may work as expert witnesses in cases where their medical expertise is helpful.
  • Hospital Administration – PAs not only work in hospitals in leadership positions but also work as liaisons amount department heads and medical staff.
  • Insurance – PAs often work for insurance companies and provide their medical knowledge in cases like worker’s compensation, life insurance, disability insurance, and health insurance.
  • Research – PAs may choose to work in government, university, or corporate settings where they can perform research by conducting clinical trials.
  • Academics– Many PAs chose a career in academia where they can mentor and teach other PA students.
  • Medical Informatics – Some PAs choose to work in the field of medical informatics where they can have a say in improving healthcare through information technology.
  • Medical communications and writing – PAs often work with government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, or the media and provide their services by developing, writing, or editing health information that can be delivered to the public.

Prerequisites for PA Programs

Aspiring PAs must meet prerequisites to be considered for the PA program. Since this is a science-based program, students must have completed the following courses.

  • General biology
  • Microbiology
  • Organic or biochemistry
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Biostatistics or statistics
  • General chemistry or principles of chemistry
  • General psychology
  • English composition

PA programs also like candidates who have some experience with patient care. Because this is a competitive program, the candidates with the most experience and completed courses typically get preferential treatment. Individuals working as EMTs, RNs, CNAs, and paramedics are considered to have excellent experience. Another way to get experience is by doing volunteer work in a healthcare capacity at a hospital, clinic, or medical facility.

10 Easiest Programs to Get Into

It’s not as easy to get into a PA program as candidates would like. In fact, it’s safe to say that of the many students who apply to a PA program, only about a third get in that year. There is always a waiting list. The PA program is not only a competitive program to get into but is also a very intense program that teaches students about all areas of healthcare.

In an attempt to be accepted into and succeed in the program, many applicants want a program that’s easy to get into so they can begin their studies as quickly as possible. Here are ten of the easiest PA programs to get into.

  1. T. Still University – Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

Admission Requirements: bachelor’s degree with official transcripts; completion of all prerequisite courses from an accredited university with a GPA of 2.5 or higher; two references and letters of recommendation; must have healthcare experience

Curriculum: Students must complete one year on campus completing the pre-clinical phase and then a 35-week supervised clinical experience. This program offers concentrations in internal medicine, women’s health, surgery, emergency medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, and behavioral health.

Time to Complete or Graduate: 24 months

How is the program the easiest to get into? This program offers a lot of clinical experience, so the student receives a lot of hands-on training.

  1. Barry University – Physician Assistant (Master of Clinical Medical Science)

Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree (any major) with a GPA of at least 3.0; completion of all prerequisite health courses; completion of GRE and Medical admissions test; all college transcripts; three letters of recommendation, and proof of relevant work experience. Must also show proof of physical exam and required immunizations.

Curriculum: Students complete classroom studies, a one-year clinical rotation (1,000 hours), and a three-month didactic period to put their skills to work to develop analytical, research, and statistical skills. Part of the student’s training takes place in an underserved development to add to their diverse training.

Time to Complete or Graduate: Two years

How is the program the easiest to get into? The admission requirements for Barry University’s PA program aren’t as strict as some schools.

  1. Marquette University – Physician Assistant Studies Program

Admission Requirements: Must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0, completion of prerequisite courses, GRE scores submitted, and proof of at least 200 hours of work experience in a healthcare setting. Students must also take part in a personal interview.

Curriculum: Coursework, lab studies, and at least 30 hours of clinical work. This program also offers various areas of specialization.

Time to Complete or Graduate: 28 months

How is the program the easiest to get into? The school offers simulation labs for the student to learn and perform research. Students in this program have a 100% pass rate.

  1. Loma Linda University – Physician Assistant (MPA)

Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale; three letters of recommendation, and at least 2,000 hours of relevant work experience.

Curriculum: Mixed curriculum of one year of didactic studies (courses and classroom learning) and one year of a supervised clinical internship in various medical specialties.

Time to Complete or Graduate: Two years

How is the program the easiest to get into? Applications for this program go through CASPA.

  1. University of Utah School of Medicine – Utah Physical Assistant Program

Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, prerequisite courses with at least a B; Overall GPA of 2.7; letters of recommendation; complete entrance exam; and proof of at least 2,000 hours of healthcare work experience. The application is submitted through CASPA.

Curriculum: Four semesters of didactic studies with clinical studies in the second year; students must also complete and Master’s project and pass an exam.

Time to Complete or Graduate: 27 months – begins in the summer semester

How is the program the easiest to get into? Will accept a GPA of 2.7. This program is not only somewhat easy to get into but has also been consistently ranked among the top ten PA programs in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report.

  1. George Washington University – School of Medicine & Health Sciences, Physician Assistant

Admission Requirements: Must have completed all prerequisite courses with a 3.0 GPA, particularly the science-based courses. Submission of official transcripts, GRE scores (must be within the last five years), two letters of recommendation, and at least 1,000 hours of relevant work experience.

Curriculum: The mixture of didactic and clinical studies prepares students for careers in medicine and public health. This program offers various areas of concentration, and students will complete internships in these areas.

Time to Complete or Graduate: Three years

How is the program the easiest to get into? The program requires fewer hours of work experience. Although typically a graduate program, GWU also offers a bachelor’s degree in physician assistant.

  1. Midwestern University – Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree with 3.0 GPA in all prerequisite courses, GRE scores, satisfy health requirements, three letters of recommendation, and 200 hours of experience working in healthcare.

Curriculum: This curriculum consists of 12 months of didactic studies and 12 months of clinical work with the last month consisting of assessments.

Time to Complete or Graduate: 25 months

How is the program the easiest to get into? Midwestern University requires fewer hours of healthcare work experience. The school will also make allowances for lower GPAs if the applicant demonstrates good leadership ability and has relevant work experience.

  1. South University – Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

Admission Requirements: Must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and must submit GRE scores, have a GPA of 3.0, have completed all required health courses, related work experience and have three letters of reference with one being from a doctor or PA. Applicants must also do an essay and complete an interview.

Curriculum: The curriculum is broken up into 12 months of didactic studies and 12 months of clinical rotations. The clinical rotations consist of eight 5-week rotations in different areas of healthcare.

Time to Complete or Graduate: Two years

How is the program the easiest to get into? This program is located at several SU locations. Application is made through CASPA.

  1. Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science – Master of Science in Physician Assistant Practice

Admission Requirements: Must have a bachelor’s degree and have completed prerequisite courses with a GPA of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale. Must also have three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume.

Curriculum: Like most PA programs, this PA program consists of 12 months of coursework and research with the other 12 months consisting of clinical rotations with these being six core rotations, and two elective experiences.

Time to Complete or Graduate: 24 months

How is the program the easiest to get into? Applications are handled through CASPA and this program requires a lower GPA than many other schools and does not require a GRE.

  1. Missouri State University – Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

Admission Requirements: Completion of all prerequisite courses with a 3.0 GPA, must have about 5,000 hours of healthcare work experience; submit GRE scores; all transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and must satisfy the school’s health requirements.

Curriculum: This program consists of didactic studies, lab work, supervised clinical rotations, and clinical practicums.

Time to Complete or Graduate: 24 months

How is the program the easiest to get into? Students can learn easier by using the school’s state-of-the-art equipment.

General Admission Requirements for a PA Program

Admission requirements may vary from one PA program to another or from one college to another. However, most programs require the student complete two to four years of science-focused undergraduate courses. Some schools, but not all, require the applicants to submit GRE scores. The program also requires applicants to satisfy their GPA requirements on the prerequisite courses.

There are some schools that will accept a lower GPA. Applicants with a lower GPA may still be admitted to the PA program if they have sufficient relative work experience and write a strong personal statement. With so many PA programs available, applicants often have a difficult time choosing a program or get overwhelmed with all the various applications they may want to fill out and submit.

Many students choose to use the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). How this works is that students use their email addresses and upload their GRE scores, transcripts, and any other required documentation and submit them to CASPA. Once CASPA receives the application and information, they submit it to multiple PA programs. One application – several PA programs.

PA Program FAQ

Q. I have a bachelor’s degree, but it is not in a healthcare field. Can I still enter the program?
A. Although a healthcare-related undergraduate degree is recommended, it’s not a requirement. You’ll probably have to complete a few additional prerequisite science-based courses.

Q. I earned my bachelor’s degree through distance learning. Will PA programs accept my degree?
A. Most colleges will not have a problem with an online degree as long as it was from an accredited college or university.

Q. Can I apply to the PA program before I’ve completed the bachelor’s degree?
A. Although schools may vary in their admission requirements, most will allow this as long as the degree is completed in the final semester prior to the fall entry.

Q. How good are the online programs?
A. There are some accredited online PA programs, but since at least 50 percent of a PA curriculum is clinical rotations, you would have to find your own healthcare location to complete your rotations and internships. As an online student, you also would not have access to labs and medical equipment