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health sciences admissions requirements

Admission Requirements

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant (M.S.P.A.) program welcomes your application and questions about the admissions process. The M.S.P.A. program is rigorous, and the admissions process is extremely selective.


  • December 15 is the deadline for application to the M.S.P.A. program.
  • Applications are accepted online beginning June 15.

How to Apply:

Admission Considerations:

Academic Performance:
Application to the program is open to those who:

*Individuals who have not received a baccalaureate (bachelor's) degree may wish to consider applying to the undergraduate-to-graduate dual degree program in Biology and Physician Assistant (B.S. + M.S.P.A.). Please consult the Undergraduate Catalogue for more information about this program, which originates in the Department of Biological Sciences. Applicants with a cumulative or prerequisite GPA of less than 3.2 will not be considered for admission.

Prerequisite Coursework:

  • Each prerequisite course must be completed at a regionally or nationally accredited institution of higher learning in the US with a letter grade of “C” or higher.
  • Online courses from regionally accredited institutions of higher learning in the US are acceptable.
  • Prerequisite courses must have been completed no later than 10 years prior to matriculation into the program.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) credit, Pass/ Fail courses, and international baccalaureate credits do NOT fulfill the prerequisite course requirements.
  • Students with incomplete prerequisites, detailed here, may apply, but they must state how they will satisfy the prerequisites by June 1st prior to the start of the program. Applicants may be asked to provide proof of enrollment in any outstanding prerequisite courses.

Healthcare Experience
A minimum of 250 hours of healthcare experience is required (25 of these 250 hours should include shadowing a Physician Assistant). The healthcare experience hours must be completed for an application to be considered complete. View the Healthcare Experience Verification Form »

A variety of healthcare experiences (see below) are considered toward the minimum requirement. The health care experience can be a paid or volunteer experience. Priority consideration is given to experiences where the applicant has assumed direct patient care responsibility.

  • Examples of direct patient care experience include: nurse practitioner, licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, certified nurse aide, certified nursing assistant, physical therapist, respiratory therapist, occupational therapist, athletic trainer, paramedic, emergency medical technician, physical therapist/ assistant/ aide, phlebotomist, emergency room technician, surgical technician, certified medical home health aide, medical assistant, patient care assistant, registered pharmacist, registered dietitian in a clinical setting.
  • Other acceptable healthcare experience: shadowing a physician assistant, medical doctor, or nurse practitioner; clinical research assistant, pharmacy technician, dental assistant, optometry/ophthalmology technician, Peace Corps volunteer, medical mission trip volunteer, and medical scribe are acceptable healthcare experiences but are not considered hands-on direct patient care experiences.
  • Unacceptable healthcare experiences: coaching, camp counselor, science tutor, laboratory-based researcher, veterinarian, veterinary technician, babysitting, blood donor clinic staff, and clinical student experiences in any profession.

Letters of Recommendation
Applicants are required to submit three (3) letters of recommendation from sources able to attest to the applicant's academic ability and character. It is recommended that letters be obtained from course instructors and clinical supervisors. One letter of reference from a healthcare professional is preferred. Letters from family members and acquaintances are not acceptable.

Test Scores
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants and must be taken within the past five years. While the program does not use a strict cutoff score, most competitive applicants will have scores at or above the 50th percentile in each test area. The GRE is not waived for any candidate.

Non-native English speakers who have not completed a baccalaureate or graduate degree in the United States, must submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), taken within the past two years, documenting a paper-based score of 550 or above, a computer-based score of 213 or above, or an internet-based score of 79 or above. All international transcripts must be evaluated by a member agency of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

Additional Information Regarding Admissions and Acceptance

Applicants being considered for admission may be invited to campus for an interview. Meeting the minimum standards for admission does not guarantee that an applicant will be invited for an interview. The interview is used to assess an applicant's knowledge of the physician assistant profession, his or her motivation for becoming a physician assistant and his or her communication and interpersonal skills.

Advanced Standing and Transfer Students
Regardless of previous educational or work experience, all students are required to complete the entire M.S.P.A. curriculum. No advanced placement, transfer credit or credit for experiential learning will be granted.

Employment During the Academic Year
Training to become a physician assistant demands a full-time commitment. Due to the rigorous nature of the curriculum, it is recommended that students not engage in outside employment. If a student chooses to work during the academic year, the work schedule must not interfere with class performance or clinical rotation schedules.

Standards of Essential Functions of the M.S.P.A. Program

All students must read, sign, understand and meet the Standards of Essential Functions of the School of Health and Medical Sciences and the M.S.P.A. program. Candidates will have the option to electronically sign the Essential Functions on the application. Submitting a physical copy is not necessary.

M.S.P.A. Admissions Questions:
Patrick McDermott
Assistant Dean of Graduate Enrollment and Student Affairs
School of Health and Medical Sciences
(973) 275-2062

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions webpage »

Qualified students are admitted without regard to race, color, religion, age, disability, natural origin, sexual orientation, ancestry or gender.

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