PA Program: Admission Requirements

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Admission Requirements

    General Admissions Information

    Marywood University Physician Assistant (PA) Program operates on a rolling admissions process.

    The Admissions Cycle opens in mid-April every year, and the deadline for admission is October 1st.  Any application that is received or incomplete after that date will not be reviewed and the applicant will be ineligible for consideration during that cycle. 

    Admission to the PA Program is extremely competitive, with nearly 900 applications for 60 seats annually.  Our admissions committee thoroughly reviews each application and chooses the most competitive applicants for an on-campus interview. 

    Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible

    There are three points of entry into the Professional Phase of the PA Program:

    Incoming Student Profiles at a Glance

    Class of 2022

    Number of Applications Received
    Number of Applicants Interviewed
    Number of Students Enrolled
    Average Overall GPA
    Average Prerequisite GPA
    Average GRE score (combined verbal & math)
    Average Patient Care Hours

    Class of 2021

    Number of Applications Received
    Number of Applicants Interviewed
    Number of Students Enrolled
    Average Overall GPA
    Average Prerequisite GPA
    Average GRE score (combined verbal & math)
    Average Patient Care Hours

    Prerequisite Courses

    All prerequisite coursework must be completed prior to matriculation into the PA Program, which begins in May.  Applicants may apply with courses in progress or planned. 

    All science courses must be “Science Major Level”.

    Prerequisite Courses include:

    • General Biology I with Lab
    • General Biology II with Lab
    • General Chemistry I with Lab
    • General Chemistry II with Lab
    • Anatomy with Lab*
    • Physiology with Lab*
    • Organic Chemistry I with Lab
    • Organic Chemistry II with Lab
    • Microbiology with Lab
    • Immunology with Lab**

    *If taking Anatomy & Physiology as a combined course, two semesters with lab components must be completed.

    **Immunology with Lab preferred, but if not available, another 300 or 400 level science course can be substituted.  Possible courses include Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, or Virology.  Any other decisions regarding equivalent courses for Immunology will be made on a case-by-case basis.  

    In most cases, these courses must have been completed within the last seven years.  Applicants requesting an exception to the seven-year limit due to healthcare work experience will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

    Applicants must also successfully complete a Medical Terminology course from an accredited institution within the last two years prior to matriculation.

    Marywood University does not accept transfer credits from other Professional PA programs nor does Marywood offer advanced placement or credit for experiential learning.

    GPA and Grade Requirement

    • Overall (Baccalaureate) GPA of 3.0 or better on a scale of 4.0
    • Prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or better on a scale of 4.0
    • Applicants must achieve a minimum of C on all prerequisite courses.  Any grades of C- or lower will not be accepted.

    Standardized Test Requirement

    All candidates for the 2021 Admissions cycle must take either the GRE or the PA-CAT. 

    • All candidates taking the GRE must submit their official GRE scores to Marywood University at the time of their application. The GRE code for Marywood University PA program is 2407.
    • All candidates taking the PA-CAT must notify the program at the time of their application. Applicants must take the PA-CAT prior to November 10, 2021 in order for the score to be processed and received by Marywood University in time to be included in their application.

    Marywood Pre-PA/Internal applicants should submit their test scores with their internal application. GRE/PA-CAT scores must have been received before an interview can be scheduled. MCAT scores are not accepted in place of GRE/PA-CAT scores.

    Marywood University does not require a specific score for acceptance into the program, but points are awarded during the interview for applicants scoring a combined GRE (verbal and math score) of 290 and above. 

    Information on both tests can be found here:

    Letters of Recommendation

    Applicants must provide three recommendation forms at the time of their application.  An additional letter can be included with the recommendation form, if desired, but is optional. 

    Interviews will not be scheduled until the required forms are received by the department.

    • One recommendation form must be from a nationally certified and state licensed Physician Assistant (PA-C) with whom the applicant shadowed/worked during actual patient-care activities.
    • The remaining recommendation forms may be written by college professors, work supervisors, and/or other medical professionals who have first-hand knowledge of your skills, strengths, and weaknesses.
    • Recommendation forms from friends, family members, and Marywood PA faculty members are not appropriate and will not be accepted.

    Health-Care Related Experience Requirement

    All applicants must complete a minimum of 500 hours of direct patient contact experience by the time of matriculation.

    The following list gives examples of ways to obtain direct patient contact/healthcare experiences.  Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of healthcare experiences.

    • Athletic trainer (certified)
    • Cardiovascular perfusionist
    • Caregiver
    • Dietician
    • ED Technician
    • EMT/Paramedic
    • Exercise physiologist
    • Home healthcare aide
    • Medical assistant/technologist
    • Medical scribe
    • Midwife
    • Nurse
    • Nursing assistant/CNA
    • Orthopedics technician
    • Pharmacy technician
    • Phlebotomist
    • Physical therapist/assistant
    • Radiologic technologist
    • Respiratory therapist
    • Surgical technician

    Marywood University does not accept lifeguarding or personal trainer hours.  If you have questions regarding any other specific experiences, please reach out to the PA program.

    Hours do not need to be fully completed at the time of interview, but applicants will need to explain their plan regarding how they will complete their hours by the time of matriculation.

    Although the program has a minimum requirement of 500 hours, additional points will be awarded during the interview to those applicants who complete more than 500 hours. 

    PA Shadowing Requirement

    For the 2022 Application Cycle: We recognize that COVID-19 has made it difficult to obtain PA shadowing hours. While we highly recommend applicants complete a minimum of 50 hours of PA shadowing, if you are unable to obtain these hours, please note this in your application. You must still obtain a minimum of 500 healthcare hours. 

    Applicants must complete a minimum of 50 hours of shadowing with a nationally certified and state licensed PA (PA-C) during direct patient care activities. 

    • Applicants who work as a medical scribe with a PA-C may count those hours as shadowing as well

    These 50 shadowing hours count toward the overall requirement of 500 direct patient care hours.

    Extracurricular/Service/Leadership Activities

    Applicants should highlight any, and all, extracurricular/service/leadership activities in their applications.  Experiences may include (but are not limited to) the following:

    • Volunteer work
    • Club participation on or off-campus
    • Mission work
    • Service trips
    • Collegiate athletics
    • Art, music, dance experience

    In accordance with the mission of Marywood University, the PA program seeks applicants who have shown a commitment to service in their communities. 


    The Admissions Committee reviews applicants only after an individual’s application is fully completed, including GRE scores and recommendation forms.

    • Healthcare hours and courses do not need to be complete at the time of the interview, as long as the applicant has a plan to complete prior to matriculation in May.

    Selected applicants will be invited to join us for an on-campus interview day.  A successful interview is required for acceptance into the PA program.  Candidates should be able to demonstrate a desire for and understanding of the profession, maturity, professionalism, good judgment and character, self-confidence, and good interpersonal skills.

    Interview Day:  What to Expect

    • 8:45 am – 9:00 am: Candidates arrive
    • 9:00 am – 9:30 am: Welcome and PA Program Presentation
    • 9:30 am – 11:30 am: Candidates rotate in stations including:
      • Individual interview with Admissions Committee members
      • Timed writing sample
      • Activity with current PA students
    • 11:30 am – 12:00 pm: Q&A session/Department & Campus Tour

    An identical afternoon schedule will run each interview day from 1:00-4:00pm. 

    Interview Dates 2022 (interviews will be conducted on Zoom for 2022)
    • August 27, 2022
    • September 17, 2022
    • October 22, 2022 

    What Makes a Strong Applicant?

    It is important to know that meeting the minimum entrance requirements in no way guarantees acceptance.  The most competitive students will meet and exceed the minimum entrance requirements.

    The student selection process ensures that admitted students are both committed to our mission and able to withstand the rigors of PA education.

    The most competitive applicants will not only meet, but exceed, the minimum entrances requirements and have one or more of the following characteristics:

    • Exceed the minimum required overall and prerequisite GPA
    • Exceed the minimum 500 hours of required healthcare experience
    • Have three excellent letters of recommendation
    • Have a history of extensive, varied extracurricular, service, and leadership activities

    It is also important to note that not having such characteristics does not preclude an invitation for interview or acceptance into the program.  It is equally important to note that having such characteristics in no way guarantees an interview, acceptance into the program, or success in the program. 

    Marywood Pre-PA/Internal Application Materials

    INTERNAL MARYWOOD STUDENTS ONLY: Please reach out to Lauren Tokash in Graduate Admissions for the link to apply internally via Slate ( Applications will be accepted beginning April 28th. All application materials must be submitted via Slate, and will not be accepted through email or hard copy. 

    Please note these materials are for Marywood students only.  All other students should apply via the Centralized Application System for Physician Assistants (CASPA). 

    All application materials must be submitted by the October 1st deadline to be considered in the current application cycle. 

    Technical Standards

    The Technical Standards for Marywood University Physician Assistant Program have been established to ensure that students have the ability to demonstrate academic mastery, competence when performing clinical skills, and ability to communicate clinical information. 

    A candidate for the physician assistant profession must have the abilities and skills of five varieties including observation, communication, motor, integrative and behavioral, and social.  Reasonable accommodations can be made in certain situations in conjunction with the Office of Disability Services, but on an individual basis, and such a candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.  The following skills are required, with or without accommodations. 

    • Observation

    Candidates must be able to observe in the lecture hall, laboratory and both the inpatient and outpatient setting.  Vision, hearing and tactile sensation must be adequate to observe a patient’s condition and elicit information from a physical exam that includes inspection, auscultation and palpation.

    • Communication

    Candidates must be able to communicate effectively in the academic and health care settings.  Candidates should possess effective written and verbal communication skills to allow for communication with patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications.

    • Motor

    The ability to perform the basic diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures such as palpation, percussion, is required.  Candidates must have sufficient motor function to execute movements reasonable required to provide care to patients.  Candidates must be able to move between settings such as clinical, classroom, and hospital.

    Physical stamina is also required to complete the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study.  Long periods of sitting, standing and moving are required throughout both the didactic and clinical phases.

    • Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

    Candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize.  Problem solving is one of the critical skills required for physician assistants.  The candidate must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures.  Candidates must be able to read and comprehend medical literature.

    • Behavioral and Social Attributes

    Candidates must possess the emotional health and stability required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities.  The exercise of good judgement, and the prompt completion of all academic and patient care responsibilities must be possible.  The development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients and other members of the health care is essential.  The ability to function in the face of uncertainty is inherent in clinical practice.  Flexibility, compassion, integrity, motivation, interpersonal skills and concern for others are requirements of the profession.  The ability to function under stress is essential.


    Guaranteed Seat Program

    The criteria for an automatic transition from the Pre-PA phase to the professional phase of the PA Program are as follows:

    • Overall GPA and Pre-requisite Science GPA at or above 3.5
    • Completed all other pre-requisites, i.e., 500 healthcare hours (of which at least 50 hours must be shadowing a PA)
    • All courses must be Marywood courses (8 credit maximum may be transfer credits - with prior approval of both the Science Chair and the PA Program Director)
    • No Disciplinary actions on record
    • Successful interview with the Admissions Committee for the PA Program

    If you do not meet the above criteria or are a transfer student you will be guaranteed an interview and be alleviated from applying through CAPSA, however, neither of these conditions is a guarantee that you will be accepted into the Professional PA Program.