College of Science and Health > Student Resources > Office of Advising & Student Services > Pre-Health Advising > Health Careers > Physician Assistant
The American Academy of Physician Assistants defines a physician assistant (PA) as an authorized person who can practice medicine as part of a team with physicians. PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery and write prescriptions. Currently, most PA programs utilize an application system called the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants otherwise known as the CASPA.
Pre-physician assistant students typically obtain a bachelor of science (BS) or a bachelor of arts (BA) degree while completing the requirements for admission to PA programs. PA programs at the master's level do not require nor prefer a particular undergraduate degree.
Students apply to PA school through a centralized application system called the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Similar to the common application for undergraduate school, students can apply to the majority of PA programs through a single application on the CASPA. However, there is a handful of programs that do not utilize the CASPA. The CASPA application opens in April.
The CASPA application cost: $179.00 for one school and $56.00 for each additional school/program.
It is important for students to check each school's requirements carefully as some schools will require courses not listed below. For more information about a specific program, please contact that school directly.
Although many Physician Assistant Programs are moving away from standardized tests, some may require students to take the Graduate Records Examination (GRE). However, students should check each individual school to learn their specific requirements.
Cost: The GRE costs $205.00
Preparing for the Test
GRE Vocabulary Podcast
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
Southern Illinois University
Students should meet with their academic advisor and pre-health advisor each quarter to make sure they are taking the correct courses for their major/professional interest.
Below is a sample timeline for a Health Sciences major. Please be aware that PA programs do not require or prefer a specific major and the below timeline should not be used to replace regular meetings with your academic advisor.
National Average Cumulative GPA: 3.6
National Average Science GPA: 3.5
Physician Assistant Timeline and Checklist.pdf