PA Programs That Accept Low GPA

PA Programs with Low GPA RequirementsIf you’re interested in pursuing a physician assistant graduate program, but don’t have a great undergraduate GPA, then you’ve come to the right place. Here, you’ll find 13 PA programs with low GPA requirements from partnered institutions and the other admissions requirements for each.

List of 13 PA Programs with Low GPA Requirements

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of physician assistants is expected to increase 37% during the ten years from 2016 to 2026. Plus, as of 2017, the median annual wages for PAs was $104,860.

This demand has led many PA programs to have stricter admissions requirements, including a higher GPA. However, check out the list below for PA programs that accept a low GPA.

What Is Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants or CASPA?

The Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) is a full-service, web-based application system that allows students to apply to multiple participating PA programs with a single application.

CASPA is a branch of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), which is the only national organization representing physician assistant educational programs in the United States. Currently, all of the accredited programs in the US are members.

Number of Programs Participating in CASPA

As of March 1, 2018, there were 213 participating programs in CASPA with eight programs still in the developing stage. This is 95% of currently accredited PA programs.

3 Ways to Overcome Low GPA When Applying to PA School

Keep in mind that the minimum GPA doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed acceptance. In fact, because physician assistant graduate programs are in high demand, the average GPA may be higher than the minimum.

For instance, Thomas Jefferson University has a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0, but states that a 3.3 GPA may be more competitive. In addition, the University of New England has a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0, but states that the average matriculated students average a 3.5.

Tip for Applying to a PA Program

Just because you have a GPA on the lower end, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. One example is looking for schools that look at your application holistically, as opposed to strict numbers.

1. Gain High Score on GRE

While there are some grad schools that don’t require the GRE, and even more PA programs that are going in that direction, many programs look at your application holistically. That means that take everything into account and not just one aspect.

Therefore, scoring higher on the GRE, MCAT, or other standardized test scores can only improve your chances of being accepted.

2. Apply to Programs that Accept Low GPA because they Look at Application “Holistically”

As mentioned, many PA programs look at your application in total. This means while your GPA should meet minimum requirements, having more direct patient care experience or scoring higher on standardized tests improve the likelihood of you being accepted.

3. Direct Patient Experience

Many PA programs with low GPA requirements state that you have a minimum amount of direct patient care. While the exact number may vary from 200 to 2,000, having more than the minimum is a great way to potentially overcome a low GPA.

After all, one of the reasons GPA is a factor in the application process is to judge how well you may be able to handle the rigors of pursuing a graduate degree. Therefore, having direct patient care experience is a great way to overcome low grades.

PA School that Accept Low GPA

1. Marquette University

Minimum GPA: 3.0 (As calculated by CASPA)

A professional program in the College of Health Sciences, the Physician Assistant Studies at Marquette combines the school’s Jesuit tradition of caring for the whole person with the ideals of concern for the spiritual, emotional, and physical development of the individual.

PA Program Admissions Requirements at Marquette

Each year, the PA program accepts 55 students that is roughly split 50/50 between Marquette undergraduate students and external candidates. Some of the admissions requirements include:

  • Submission of completed application to the CASPA
  • GRE scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Minimum of 200 hours of patient contact and other health care experience

Tip for Applying

Marquette also takes into consideration the total and science GPAs, as well as the quantity and performance in science coursework. Other selection factors include a personal interview and a knowledge of the PA profession and its role in health care.

2. The George Washington University

Physician Assistant ProgramEstablished in the heart of the nation's capital in 1821, GW provides innovative programs in more than 200 fields of study, including graduate certifi

EducationDynamics maintains business relationships with the schools it features.

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Designed to teach a superior academic foundation and offer an abundance of clinical experience, the Physician Assistant Program has been nationally recognized as the #3 PA Program in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.

PA Program Admissions Requirements at GWU

The admissions requirements include:

  • 3.0 GPA (Cumulative and Science)
  • GRE scores
  • 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts

In addition, the school requires prerequisite coursework in the last ten years in:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

Difference Maker

This program introduces students to health care and social services through an innovative curriculum and a unique community service component.

3. A.T. Still University of Health Sciences

Minimum GPA: 2.50 (Overall and PA Program)

The courses and curriculum of the Advanced Masters in Physician Assistant Studies are designed to broaden the clinical knowledge and skill level of practicing physician assistants. Key topics include ethical issues, health care delivery systems, and evidence-based medicine and clinical research design.

Admissions Requirements at A.T. Still University

ATSU requires that applicants must be a licensed or certified physician assistant prior to applying for the Advanced Physician Assistant Studies program. Other admissions requirements include:

  • Graduation from ARC-PA accredited PA program
  • Official transcripts
  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university

Difference Maker

In addition to coursework and assignments, which may be completed entirely online, the Clinical Medicine concentration requires 400 hours of direct patient care, which may be completed at your place of employment.

4. South University

Minimum GPA: 3.0 (Overall and Science)

The Physician Assistant (MS) at South University offers courses that focus on the fundamental medical concepts and theories in the key functions of physician assistants, such as:

  • Evaluation
  • Monitoring
  • Diagnostics
  • Therapeutics
  • Counseling
  • Referral

PA Program Admissions Requirements at South

The admissions requirements for South’s PA program include:

  • 3.0 GPA (overall and Biology-Chemistry-Physics)
  • GRE scores (preference will be given to those with GRE scores at the 50th percentile or above)
  • One reference from physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner whom you have worked with or shadowed

Tip for Applying

South requires that you complete all prerequisite courses with a grade of C or better, which include Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, and other sciences.

5. Barry University

Minimum GPA: 3.0 (Overall and Science)

The Physician Assistant Program at Barry educates students in the practice of collaborative medicine and encourages life-long learning and professional development. It fosters a technology rich environment and clinical training experiences to help diverse patient populations.

Admissions Requirements at Barry

As with many programs, the PA program at Barry requires that you have completed a number of prerequisites, such as:

  • General / Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology

In addition, the program requires that you submit:

  • 3.0 GPA (cumulative and science)
  • GRE scores
  • Official transripts
  • Evidence of experience in health care is highly recommended

Difference Maker

This liberal arts emphasis integrates the Catholic tradition of combining study, reflection, and action to foster individual and communal transformations.

6. Midwestern University

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Designed to teach the skills you need to become a vital member of the health care team, the Physician Assistant Program is taught by caring faculty experts who will prepare you to apply evidence-based medicine and compassionate decision making to benefit a diverse community of patients.

The student-centered curriculum and clinical experiences teach how you can become a competent, caring physician assistant.

Admissions Requirements at Midwestern

The admissions requirements include:

  • 3.0 GPA (cumulative and science)
  • GRE scores
  • Completion of prerequisite courses

Tip for Applying

Midwestern also looks at your previous work, volunteer work, or life experiences that show motivation for and commitment to healthcare, as well as a demonstration of service and leadership through community service or extracurricular activities.

7. Missouri State University

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Designed for full-time students to complete in as little as two years, the Physician Assistant Studies at Missouri State strives to full prepare you for success on the national certification exam through:

  • Clinical experiences at every stage of the program
  • Small student-faculty ratio
  • Individualized attention
  • State-of-the-art facilities

Through the rigorous curriculum and mentorship with experienced faculty, the program teaches the intellectual and interpersonal skills needed by physician assistants.

PA Program Admissions Requirements at Missouri State

The admissions requirements through the CASPA include:

  • 3.0 GPA
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE / MCAT scores

About the Application Process

Competitive applicants will also be invited to interview with members of the program’s admission committee.

8. Loma Linda University

Minimum GPA: 3.0 (Overall and Science)

The Physician Assistant Program teaches primary care physician assistants to provide health care in collaboration with physicians as active members of a health care team. This program is designed specifically to teach the compassion for the whole person and to provide quality health care for under-served communities locally and globally.

PA Program Admissions Requirements at Loma Linda

While all bachelor’s degrees are acceptable, a strong science background is encouraged. Some of the other admissions requirements include:

  • 3.0 GPA (cumulative and science)
  • Prerequisite courses in science and general education (C- grades are not accepted)
  • 2,000 hours of hands-on patient care experience prior to enrollment
  • Three letters of recommendation

Difference Maker

The school shares its campus with six hospitals where students receive hands-on training. As a private health sciences university, Loma Linda looks for students who will help them transform the world and shatter barriers in the healthcare industry.

9. University of Utah

Minimum GPA: 3.0 (2.7 GPAs will be considered)

One of the oldest PA programs in the country, the Physician Assistant Program at Utah is committed to training PAs who will be prepared to meet the challenges of providing high quality care to patients in medically underserved and rural communities.

In addition, the program has refined its curriculum and format to provide a combination of didactic and clinical training to provide the hands-on experience in the field.

PA Program Admissions Requirements at Utah

The admissions requirements for the PA program at Utah include:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • 3.0 GPA (though 2.7 GPAs are considered)
  • 2,000 hours of health care experience, with at least one year of full-time equivalent
  • Prerequisite courses (such as Human Anatomy and Human Physiology)

Difference Maker

One of the key aspects of the PA program at Utah is that they do not require any standardized test, such as the GRE or MCAT.

10. Western University of Health Sciences

Minimum GPA: 3.0 (Overall, Science, and Prerequisites)

The Physician Assistant Studies is designed to meet the increasing need of PAs as valued and vital members of the health care team. The two year program prepares students to demonstrate:

  • Competency in established and evolving medical and clinical sciences
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Effective, patient-centered, and compassionate care
  • Critical analysis, evaluation, and improved patient care to a diverse patient population

PA Program Admissions Requirements at Western University

As with the other PA programs that accept a low GPA, the admissions requirements for the PA program at Western include the fact that you need to have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

Tip for Applying

While you are required to have a 3.0 GPA (cumulative, science, and prerequisite). However, while clinical experience is preferred, it is not required.

11. Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

Minimum GPA: 2.75

The 24-month Physician Assistant Program at Rosalind Franklin was created in 1991 and the faculty takes pride in teaching its students to provide competent, compassionate, and ethical medical care through dynamic lectures and innovative labs.

The program’s mission is to educate and prepare PAs who will be integral members of the interprofessional health care team and provide quality, patient-centered care.

PA Program Admissions Requirements at Rosalind Franklin

The prerequisite courses for the PA program are:

  • Biochemistry
  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Physiology
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Microbiology

Other admissions requirements include:

  • 2.75 GPA (cumulative and science)
  • Special consideration will be given to the last 60 hours of completed coursework
  • All prerequisite grades must be a “C” or higher
  • GRE scores in the 50th percentile or higher
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Personal Statement

Difference Maker

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science is named after Dr. Rosalind Franklin, who in 1952 captured the photograph revealing the structure of DNA.

12. Thomas Jefferson University

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Designed to prepare you as a leader in health care, the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies strives to translate your knowledge and skills into evidence-based, innovative medical practice. Plus, the school can rely on Philadelphia’s rich culture of medical education coupled with our long-established history of educating outstanding healthcare providers.

Jefferson has collaborated to create curriculum to ensure that students are prepared to be successful clinicians who can influence healthcare and impact public health.

PA Program Admissions Requirements at Thomas Jefferson

Some of the admissions requirements include:

  • 3.0 GPA (cumulative and science)
  • Official transcripts
  • Personal Statement or Essay
  • Direct patient care (no minimum hours, though the school recommends at least 200 hours)

Tip for Applying

While the school only requires a 3.0 GPA, they make it clear that a 3.3 GPA is more competitive. However, they do not require that applicants take or submit standardized test scores, such as the GRE or MCAT.

13. University of New England

Minimum GPA: 3.0 (Overall and Science)

Drawing from the experience and expertise of faculty members, the Master of Science Physician Assistant prepares you to work as part of an interdisciplinary team to deliver care to patients through coursework and clinical experiences.

The full-time program takes 24 months and is built upon a foundation in science and pathophysiology to foster understanding of disease processes and clinical medicine.

PA Program Admissions Requirements at University of New England

UNE does not require that you submit a GRE score or any other standardized test score as part of your application. Some of the other admissions requirements include:

  • 3.0 GPA (cumulative and science)
  • 500 hours of direct patient care
  • PA shadowing for a minimum of 20 hours
  • Three letters of recommendation

About the Application Process

It’s important to note that for UNE and all of the other schools on the list, that while meeting the minimum requirements means your application will be reviewed, it does not guarantee acceptance or even an interview.

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