Entrance Requirements

PA student taking test

Requirements and Criteria

  1. Admission to the physician assistant program requires the applicant to: complete required prerequisite coursework/ admission requirements and successfully complete an on-campus interview process if invited.
  2. Admission to the UAMS PA Program is a highly selective and competitive process.  Selection is based on a combination of academic performance, quality and quantity of direct patient care experience, letters of recommendation, personal narrative and performance during the interview.
  3. Bachelor’s degree or higher completed prior to matriculation from a regionally accredited institution in the United States. Transcripts from institutions outside the United States are not accepted, even after use of an evaluation service.
  4. A minimum Cumulative Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required. (As calculated by CASPA)
  5. A minimum Cumulative Undergraduate Science GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required. (As calculated by CASPA)
  6. The program’s application deadline is November 1.  All applications must be verified by CASPA on or before November 1. It is highly suggested that applicants submit their application no later than October 15 to give CASPA enough time to verify the application.

Prerequisite Coursework

The following 41 credits are required for admission.

NOTE:  Admissions is aware that due to COVID-19 and the impact on colleges and universities, some students are being issued pass/fail, credit/no credit prerequisite grades. We are acceptable of that grading system during the semesters/quarters impacted by COVID-19 as long as the college or university documents “pass/P or credit/CR” and the credit hours on the transcript.  We will continue to use the required minimum 3.0 GPA for cumulative undergraduate and cumulative natural science GPA as calculated by CASPA.

Our Advisor’s Manual, a guide to taking these prerequisites at various institutions in Arkansas, is available by clicking the button below.

Download the Advisor's Manual for Physician Assistant
Area/Typical Course TitleMinimum Credits
General/Principles of Biology I and II with Lab*8 Credits
Human Anatomy with Lab**4 Credits
Human Physiology with Lab**4 Credits
Microbiology with Lab4 Credits
Medical Genetics/Genetics3 Credits
General Chemistry I and II with Lab8 Credits
Organic Chemistry I with lab4 Credits
General Psychology3 Credits
Biostatistics or Statistics3 Credits
TOTAL41 Credits

*If General Biology II is unavailable at the educational institution of attendance, General Zoology with Laboratory or Cell Biology with Laboratory may be substituted.

**A combined full year Anatomy and Physiology I and II with laboratories will meet this requirement.

Only grades of C or higher are acceptable for all prerequisite coursework.

Survey courses do not meet the prerequisite requirements.  Online courses and labs are permitted for prerequisite courses at this time due to COVID-19.

No transfer credits are accepted from other degree programs or physician assistant programs.  There is no advanced standing permitted in the PA program.  Required prerequisite course work obtained by CLEP Examination or Advanced Placement (AP) will not be accepted.

All prerequisite course work must be obtained from a regionally accredited institution in the U.S.

Candidates may be conditionally accepted with up to two outstanding prerequisites remaining.  All coursework must be completed prior to matriculation with a grade of C or better.

Candidates may strengthen their application by completing additional courses such as:

  • Medical terminology
  • Sociology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Embryology
  • Immunology
  • Histology
  • Endocrinology
  • Bacteriology
  • Virology
  • Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Organic Chemistry II
  • Medical Ethics
  • Speech

Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology 7 Year Requirement
The UAMS Physician Assistant Program has specific pre-requisite courses that are required of all applicants entering into the program.  This requirement is to ensure that all applicants enter into the program with the same general background.  To meet this requirement, the Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology courses must have been taken within 7 years of matriculation into the PA program.  The seven year requirement for anatomy, physiology and microbiology is to ensure that the knowledge of the applicants is fairly recent.  The PA Program is a very intense and condensed curriculum and expects the students to enter the program with a solid foundational background.  This is to ensure student success in the program and reduce attrition.  While work experience in specific areas will be an advantage to the applicant, it will not substitute for the required coursework.

Survey Courses and Online Courses

  1. Survey courses do not meet the prerequisite requirements.
  2. Online courses and labs are permitted for prerequisite courses.

Online Laboratory Pre-Requisite Courses
The UAMS Physician Assistant Program will accept online laboratory courses for the pre-requisite course requirements.  The program does expect applicants to enter the program with a proficiency in utilizing a microscope, handling a scalpel and acquiring the tactile skills and dexterity needed to perform clinical and lab procedures in the program; therefore, online  laboratory courses utilizing these techniques may be helpful in preparation for program entrance.  Experience with dissection techniques and laboratory chemicals fosters the importance of understanding laboratory protocols, safety issues, and fosters an understanding of the unpleasant smells and environment that is a part of science and medicine. Face-to-face laboratory courses are recommended to help foster this understanding but are not exclusive to program acceptance.

Advanced Placement/ Transfer Credits

  1. No transfer credits are accepted from other degree programs or physician assistant programs.
  2. There is no advanced standing permitted in the PA program.
  3. Required pre-requisite coursework graded as Pass/ Fail or credit obtained by CLEP Examination or Advance Placement (AP) will not be accepted.

Advanced Standing
The UAMS PA Program does not grant advance standing to any applicant admitted to the program.  No didactic or clinical phase courses will be waived and no transfer credit for any previous coursework will be permitted even though it may be similar or identical to coursework in the PA Program.  All courses in the curriculum are designated as required and must be completed by every student enrolled.

Patient Care Hours
Clinical experience of a minimum of 500 hours demonstrating direct patient care is required. The experience does not have to be paid or full-time experience.  Volunteer hours may count towards this requirement.  The following are some accepted categories of experience:

  • Athletic Trainer
  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Chiropractic Assistant
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Dietician
  • Emergency Room Technician
  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Corpsman
  • Nursing Assistant/Aide
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Ophthalmology Technician
  • Paramedic/ EMT
  • Patient Care Technician
  • Peace Corp Volunteer (medical)
  • Phlebotomist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Radiologist Technologist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Respiratory Therapist
  • Surgical Technology

*Direct patient care is defined as actively working in a medical setting with patients and having a direct influence of care on a specific patient.  Example activities include eliciting histories, taking vital signs, drawing blood, performing procedures, etc.  While shadowing a PA/physician is highly recommended to gain a better understanding of the medical profession, they cannot count towards direct patient care.  Up to 250 hours of scribing or pharmacy technician will be accepted as direct patient care.  The remaining 250 hours must be from a different form of direct patient care.

The UAMS PA program requires applicants to complete Direct Patient Care hours, which involve independently providing medical care to patients. Student and intern hours completed in a supervised training capacity do not qualify as Direct Patient Care. This requirement ensures admitted students have first-hand clinical experience delivering care to and engaging with patients, which is crucial preparation for PA practice.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required for the application.

  1. One from a physician or physician assistant.
  2. One from a supervisor (paid or unpaid).
  3. One from a university/college professor or another physician/physician assistant

English Proficiency Requirement

All applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose native language is not English, are required to demonstrate fluency (speaking) and literacy (reading and writing). The primary means to document fluency and literacy is to submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of 88 or greater on the Internet-based version with 18 or greater on each of the four subtest scores (listening, structure/writing, reading, and speaking), or 570 total score on the paper version with 55 or greater in each of the four subtest scores (listening, structure/writing, reading, and speaking) that constitute the total score.Students graduating from any international undergraduate program must also have an official transcript evaluated by either Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. or World Educations Services.  See International Applicants in the Admissions/Academic Information section of the College of Health Professions catalog.