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Minimum Requirements

Applicants who wish to apply to the USA PA program must meet the following minimum requirements. Please note that admission to the USA PA program is very competitive and accepted students typically exceed the minimum requirements.

All of the following requirements must be met to be considered for admission into the program.

  1. Completion of a Baccalaureate degree in any field from a U.S. regionally accredited institution prior to the starting date of the program is required.
     
  2. A minimum overall, science and last 60-hours GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, as calculated by CASPA (includes post-baccalaureate undergraduate and graduate work).

  3. Completion of prerequisite course work completed with a grade of "C" or higher, from a U.S. regionally accredited institution with one semester of at least 3 credits for each course below (except Medical Terminology 2+ credits).    All prerequisite courses must be completed one semester prior to Matriculation (completed by December to enter the following May) .  Courses are not required to be taken within a timeframe.  Bonus Courses are NOT required but if completed with a “C” or above will strengthen the application.
     

    Prerequisite Course Chart
    If you have questions about courses,
    please email Ms. Nancy Dunn.
    Include the course number, description,
    and school attended, a syllabus may be required.
    All science courses must be geared for science majors.
    Name Sem
    Hrs.
    Req
    Also Accepted/
    Additional
    Information
    Biology 3.0* General Biology - Lab required-4 hrs. total*
    or Cell Biology
    or Genetics
    or Immunology
    or Molecular Biology
    General Chemistry I 4.0 Lab required
    General Chemistry II 4.0 Lab required
    Organic Chemistry 3.0 or Biochemistry (not counted as Bonus Course if used to satisfy prereq)
    General Microbiology 3.0 or Infectious Disease
    or Molecular Microbiology
    or Medical Microbiology 
    Human Anatomy
    AND

    Human Physiology
    ~ OR ~
    Human Anatomy &
    Physiology I

    AND
    Human Anatomy &
    Physiology II
    3.0

    3.0

    3.0


    3.0
    Human Preferred but will accept:
    Comparative, Vertebrate, Mammalian   Anatomy/Physiology 
    Mathematics 3.0 College algebra - minimum 
    or Pre-Calculus Algebra
    or Calculus
    Statistics 3.0 Statistical Reasoning and Applications 
    Can be taken in most departments
    General Psychology 3.0 Human development courses may be accepted.
    Medical Terminology 2.0 No certifications or clerical/office courses accepted.
    BONUS COURSES* - Not Required
    Bonus Courses used to satisfy prereqs will not be counted as ‘Bonus’
    Genetics 3.0 Genomics
    Biochemistry 3.0  
    Immunology 3.0  
    Physics* 3.0  
    Pathophysiology 3.0  
    Pharmacology 3.0  
    COURSES ACCEPTED**
    •Online/web-based •Community College •AP
    Courses typically Not Accepted to satisfy prerequisites,
    USA PA department approval needed.
    •Survey, Applied
    •Physical Education •Exercise Science/Kinesiology
    •Veterinary •Nursing
     
    * Courses may require evaluation for credit and must be upper level (except physics).  Starting 2019-2020 Physics will no longer be a bonus course.
    ** Community college courses are accepted if school is regionally accredited.
    ** Online courses are accepted if school is regionally accredited. Though accepted, it is recommended that they be kept to a minimum and do not include upper level sciences.
    ** AP credits may be accepted to satisfy prerequisites if they appear on an official transcript from a college/university that is regionally accredited and only after transcript evaluation and with approval from the USA PA department.

  1. Completion of the General Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the past five (5) years from April 26 cycle start date. The department accepts:
    • A minimum of 145 in both the Verbal and Quantitative sections. The Analytical Writing section is required.
    • The highest complete exam score is used in the ranking of applicants: We do not mix and match scores from different attempts.
    • Official scores must be sent electronically to USA PA Studies Institution Code 2169. USA PA Studies Institution Code 2169 will allow GRE scores to be sent to both USA and your USA designated CASPA application. 
    • About the GRE: visit ETS for more information.

  2. Completion of at least 500 hours in Direct Patient Care Experience is required:  See Direct Patient Care Experience examples. Applicants will document these hours on their CASPA application.

    Direct Patient Care Experience providing healthcare and doing for patients, (i.e. taking vitals, drawing blood, performing diagnostics, wound care, small procedures, administering therapy or treatments, bathing/grooming patients, helping from bed to bedpan/toilet, providing psychological/behavioral treatment).
    • A minimum of 500 Direct Patient Care Experience Hours will be required.
    • Paid or volunteer work will be accepted. UPDATE: Volunteer work will continue to be accepted for future cycles.
    • These hours must be completed at the time the CASPA application is submitted.
    • Hours credited as part of a training, educational, or internship program, with patient contact, will be considered as part of those hours. UPDATE: The portion of these hours with patient contact will continue to be accepted for future cycles.
    • There is no time frame for when hours have been earned.
    • PA/Physician Shadowing does not count towards these hours.
    • Hours will be documented on the CASPA application, however, additional verification may be required by the Department.

  3. Submission of three (3) reference letters, one of which must be from a Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) or Physician Assistant (PA)  submitted to CASPA and included with your CASPA application.   Reference letters sent directly to our office will not be accepted. CASPA will not start the verification process of your application until two of your three letters of reference have been received.

  4. Submission of completed application materials by October 1 as stated in How to Apply.  The USA PA Studies Program Supplemental Application and receipt showing payment of the non-refundable USA PA Studies Program Application Fee of $110.00 must be uploaded to the CASPA application.  Please allow enough time so that the CASPA application can be submitted and verified by OCTOBER 1. CASPA applications must be COMPLETED and VERIFIED by October 1.


International Students
have additional requirements and application steps. Please see How to Apply for information.

Class of 2020 Profile

 

Class of 2020 Profile
Total Applications Received (CASPA) 1380
Average Cumulative UG GPA 3.70
Average Science GPA 3.65
Average Last 60-Hour GPA 3.75
Average GRE - Verbal 154
Average GRE - Quantitative 152
Average Age 24
Age Range 21 - 46
Total Alabama Students 19
Total Out of State Students 13
Total Service Area* 8
Total Female Students 28
Total Male Students 12
Veterans 6
Average Patient Care Hours 3,359
Average PA Shadowing Hours 98
Average Volunteer/Community Service 399

*Florida: Escambia, Santa Rosa Counties
*Mississippi: George, Greene, Harrison, Jackson, Perry, Stone

 

Advanced Placement and Deceleration

The program does not offer advanced placement or deceleration.

Application Screening Criteria and Interviews

Selection Process

Upon receipt of the verified CASPA application, supplemental application with application fee and GRE scores, the completed application packet is reviewed by the Admissions Coordinator.  Applicants who meet all of the minimum requirements will be considered for an interview.

Applicants are selected for the program based on a holistic evaluation.  Many factors are taken into consideration:

  • GPA – The applicant must be able to succeed in the academic demands of the program.  Each applicant will be evaluated based on academic achievements in light of the opportunities available to the applicant and demonstrated capacity to contribute to the intellectual life at the USA. Any GPA trends are noted; grade deficiencies should be addressed in the USA custom question section in the Program Materials section of the CASPA application.
  • GRE – Standardized test performance may be an indicator of success during the program as well as on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).
  • Direct Patient Contact/Health Care/Shadowing Experience – It is vital that applicants have a thorough understanding of the PA profession as well as experience in the health care industry and working directly with patients.
  • Community Service – We strive to produce culturally sensitive and compassionate PA’s.  Paid work or volunteering with underserved populations is strongly recommended.
  • Residency
  • Background and Experience

 

Residency Preference

While preference is shown to Alabama residents, highly qualified Service Area and out-of-state applicants whose academics and experiences indicate that they may be a success in both the program and the PA profession will be given consideration.  Non-residents will be required to pay the non-resident tuition and fees as set by the University.  For information on residency please contact the Office of the Registrar.

Interviews

The interview process has been designed to complement the evaluation of an academically proven applicant by the holistic appraisal of non-academic traits.

Approximately 110 applicants will be selected to attend one of the interview sessions held this fall.  Invitations for interviews will be emailed throughout the interview cycle.  Of those interviewed, 40 will be invited for the matriculate class.

 

Technical Standards

Students must be able to demonstrate abilities in observation, communication and motor functions, as well as critical thinking, interpersonal skills, and behavioral and social attributes. For a full description, visit Technical Standards.

Direct Patient Care Experience

Direct Patient Care Experience providing healthcare and doing for patients, (i.e. taking vitals, drawing blood, performing diagnostics, wound care, small procedures, administering therapy or treatments, bathing/grooming patients, helping from bed to bedpan/toilet, providing psychological/behavioral treatment).

  • A minimum of 500 Direct Patient Care Experience Hours will be required.
  • Paid or volunteer work will be accepted. UPDATE: Volunteer work will continue to be accepted for future cycles.
  • These hours must be completed at the time the CASPA application is submitted.
  • Hours credited as part of a training, educational, or internship program, with patient contact, will be considered as part of those hours. UPDATE: The portion of these hours with patient contact will continue to be accepted for future cycles.
  • There is no time frame for when hours have been earned.
  • PA/Physician Shadowing does not count towards these hours.
  • Hours will be documented on the CASPA application, however, additional verification may be required by the Department.

Examples of Direct Patient Care Experience:

  • Armed Services:  medic/military corpsmen
  • Athletic Trainer
  • Caregiver/Home Health Aide
  • Chiropractor
  • Clinical Nutritionist or Dietitian
  • Community Health Worker
  • Dental Assistant/Hygienist
  • EMT/EMS/Paramedic
  • Massage Therapist
  • Medical Aide/Assistant/Technician: (Radiology, PT, OT, EMT (basic & paramedic), MA, CNA, Nursing Aide, cardiology, ER, surgical tech, ultrasound, other hospital tech positions)
  • Mental/Behavioral Health Counselor
  • Optometric Technician
  • Other Health Professions:  Nursing, OT, PT, RT, Communications Sciences
  • Patient Care Tech
  • Phlebotomist
  • Fireman w/ medical calls

*Please contact Nancy Dunn, Admissions Coordinator, for approval for any other Direct Patient Care Experience categories not listed; include a detailed job description. Though work as a Medical Scribe is excellent exposure to healthcare, we typically do not consider it Direct Patient Care (DPC) experience.  Scribes who have been given additional responsibilities by their supervisor that include DPC (i.e. wound care, assisting with small procedures, taking vitals, etc.), may be given partial credit.  To determine if your job will satisfy any hours required for DPC experience, you may email the job description and the supervisor’s contact information to pastudies@southalabama.edu for further evaluation.

Contact

Nancy Dunn
Admissions Coordinator
University of South Alabama
Department of Physician Assistant Studies
5721 USA Drive North, Room 3124
Mobile, AL  36688-0002
Office: (251)-445-9345
Fax: (251) 445-9336
pastudies@southalabama.edu