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Prerequisite Deep Dive: The Courses You Need for Physician Assistant Studies Hybrid Program

March 5, 2024

For those with a passion for healthcare and helping others, becoming a physician assistant (PA) represents a compelling career option. Physician assistants fill a critical role in modern medicine, providing primary and specialized care to an increasing number of patients and offsetting the growing physician shortage. Their services are especially invaluable to underserved populations in rural areas and marginalized communities, where the physician shortage is particularly acute.

Physician assistants undergo rigorous training to earn certification and licensure to practice medicine. That training begins even before they enter a Physician Assistant Studies (PAS) program; it includes completing prerequisite coursework and 500 hours of direct patient care experience.

This article reviews the importance of physician assistant studies prerequisites and how to fulfill them. If you are an aspiring PA interested in the Physician Assistant Studies Hybrid Program (PAS-Hybrid) at the University of Pittsburgh, this article can help you prepare for the application process.  

Why Do Prerequisites Matter?

PA school prerequisites provide prospective students with a foundation in the sciences, ensuring they have the necessary background to excel in the clinical aspects of the PAS-Hybrid Program. These classes can also help students prepare for the demands of a graduate school program that expands on topics covered in their prerequisite courses. 

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Unpacking the PAS-Hybrid Program Prerequisites

To apply for PItt’s PAS-Hybrid program, eligible candidates must successfully complete prerequisite courses that include: 

  • Anatomy with lab and Physiology
    • This requirement may be met by taking either one semester of Anatomy with lab and one semester of Physiology or two semesters of Anatomy with lab and Physiology combined.
  • Biology with lab designed for science majors (two semesters)
  • Chemistry with lab designed for science majors (two semesters)
  • Microbiology with lab (one semester)
  • Medical Terminology (one semester for at least 1 college credit)
  • English Composition/writing (two semesters)
  • Psychology (one semester)
  • Statistics (one semester)

There is no expiration date for prerequisite courses. This detailed prerequisite rubric explains the requirements in more detail, including concepts each course should cover, as well as equivalent course names. Review the rubric to determine whether your previous coursework meets these requirements. 

In addition to completing prerequisite courses, applicants must complete 500 hours of direct patient care and meet undergraduate GPA requirements. You must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with an overall GPA of 3.0, plus a minimum 3.0 GPA in the anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and chemistry prerequisite courses. 

Exceptions may be considered for candidates who present compelling evidence of success in graduate coursework if the overall GPA is less than 3.0 for completed master’s or doctorate-level programs.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

The preparation required to qualify for a Physician Assistant Studies program takes years of study and work. Preparing your application also takes time, although not nearly as much. 

Take a close look at the application timeline and time your application accordingly. Take special note that the prerequisite course completion requirement is typically due several months before the PAS-Hybrid application closes. Check the program application deadlines so you can plan ahead. 

Preparing for the PAS-Hybrid Program 

Prerequisite coursework and professional experience prepare you with the knowledge, skills, and perspective you need to succeed in a PAS program. They take time to fulfill but pay off in the context they provide as you master the physician assistant curriculum.

The prerequisite rubric can help you determine whether your previous coursework counts, but there’s no need to manage your application alone. You can always reach out to a Pitt PAS-Hybrid enrollment advisor for guidance. They can provide information about admission requirements, review program costs and financial aid, and offer tips to make your application stand out

Ready to get started? Email an enrollment advisor, call them directly at (412)-643-3730, or start your application today.

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