Searching for the Right PA Program

If you are looking into going to PA School you are likely definitely overwhelmed. The right school for you may be wrong for someone else. It all depends on what your priorities are. Is it location? PANCE pass rate? GRE? Wouldn’t it be great if someone put that information together, in a spread sheet?

Connor Finklea works at Southern Utah University and has spent over 50 hours putting together a fabulous spreadsheet as well as a few other documents! He was kind enough to share, please say thanks for all his efforts! I did switch up the colors, but all content credit goes to him. Sharing is caring and he shared in a big way.


What classes do I need to take to get into PA School?

He (Connor) also made a list of general information for those looking to go to PA school!

The below list is updated as of April 2018. It is a general guideline, and not indefinite nor inclusive, I suggest you research the schools you are applying to for specifics!

Take all classes above the line so that you:

Can apply to more schools

Be a competitive applicant

Fulfill the basic requirements

Classes below the line are MOSTLY recommended, but some schools have different requirements. Refer to your prospective schools website and make sure you qualify 100%

AQUA classes = typically just an extra point on the application

Prerequisite Courses:

  • General Biology 1 & 2 with labs
  • General Chemistry 1 & 2 with labs
  • Organic Chemistry 1 & 2 with labs
  • Biochemistry (only 1 semester)
  • Human Anatomy (Look into taking Cadaver Practicum the next semester, not required but a good experience)
  • Human Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Medical Terminology
  • Algebra
  • Statistics
  • English 1010
  • English 2010
  • Psych 1010
  • Abnormal or Developmental Psychology

  • Cell/Molecular Biology (Highly Recommended)
  • Immunology (Highly Recommended)
  • Histology (Highly Recommended)
  • Biomedical Ethics (Highly Recommended)
  • Pathophysiology (Recommended)
  • Nutrition 1010 (Recommended)
  • Humanities (extra psych course fulfills requirement usually)
  • Sociology (extra psych course will fulfill requirement usually)
  • Spanish (recommended but not required. Do not go out of your way to do it.)

Entrance Exam: GRE

  • Take the test either the Summer one year before applying or Spring previous to application cycle Costs about $210
  • Shoot for a combined score of at least 300 for verbal/quantitative and 4.0 on writing/analytical section
  • Try to get about 50th percentile in each section (required for some schools)


Patient Exposure: ~2000-3000 paid hours to be competitive, 1000-hour minimum

Service: Consistent service (~200-300 hours total)

Leadership: Several experiences that lasted at least 3 months each

Job Shadowing:40-50 hours minimum. Try to shadow 2-3 different PAs

  • You’ll want to shadow one consistently (6-12 months) so they know you and will write you a good letter of recommendation

GPA:3.5 minimum to be competitive. 3.0-3.2 minimum to qualify for programs.

Letters of Recommendation: 1 PA (2 PAs if you can), 1 Professor (or 2), 1 Supervisor. Can submit up to 5 letters total.

  • Don’t ask for a letter from someone who you barely know or barely knows you. A bad letter is a big red flag.

Application: Cycle opens Mid-late April, Submit application by June 1 to be competitive.




Thanks again to Connor for sharing! Full disclaimer: I don’t have the time to review every resource, it is your responsibility to make sure the information is the most up to date, but it is a great place to start! I hope you enjoy the download!


Physician Assistant, Owner and Blogger at EmpoweredPAs.com. Currently practicing in a Pediatric Emergency Department, overseeing and developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines with teams of amazing people, supporting and mentoring Pre-PA and PA Students, with a hope to advance our profession and give PAs the tools and resouces they need to advance their careers.