Physician Assistant

Physician assistants have a similar role as primary care doctors. They treat, dianose, and prescribe medication, but are under the supervision of a medical doctor. Education is only two years, however it can take a couple of years to meet healthcare/patient contact hours (~1000-2000) required to apply.

Physician Assistant Fact Sheet

NEW! PA Pre-Requisite Database

Special thanks to the members of PPASO for keeping this list up-to-date!

EXPLORE Physician Assistant

Discover whether a physician assistant career matches your interests, skills and abilities and meets your lifestyle expectations:



PREPARE for Physician Assistant School

Confirm your interest in PA, prepare academically and develop the necessary skills and experience:

Academic Pre-Requisites

Identify School Pre-Requisites and the UCSD classes you can take to meet them. This is a general guideline. Please check individual schools for their specific pre-requisites:
  • Biology + 4 unit lab (BILD 1, 2, 3 + lab)
  • General Chemistry + lab (Chem 6ABC, 7L)
  • Organic Chemistry (40ABC) 
  • Biochemistry (BIBC 100 or 102)
  • Anatomy + lab (take at Extension or community college)
  • Physiology + lab (BILD 26, BIPN 100, or BIPN 102) *take human physio lab at a community college
  • Microbiology + lab (BIMM 120, BIMM 121 - lab) *BILD 1, BIBC 100  or 102 (Biochemistry) is a pre-req 



Click here to learn more about gaining experience - clinical, service, leadership, and research.

APPLY to Physician Assistant School

You apply to PA school in the fall or winter before you want to start the program. Identify programs that match your interests and complete an application. Some steps take more time to complete than others, so plan ahead!

Schools & Programs

Consider curriculum, clinical training options, location and cost


If required, Prepare, Practice and take the Graduate Record Examination


  • CASPA – the application service that compiles your transcripts, letters, essays and activities
  • Supplemental applications to CASPA-Participating Programs which require them
  • Individual school applications to PA schools that do not participate in CASPA
  • CASPA Demo video

Personal Essay

  • Express your motivation or desire to become a physician assistant
  • 5000 characters


Click here for more info and resources on your personal essay, interview tips, letters of evaluation and taking a gap year.

Student Organizations