PA Program Prerequisites & Requirements

transforming students into compassionate medical professionals who are dedicated to exemplary patient care

Welcome to the CUNY School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. Take a tour of our program, learn about our mission, meet our faculty and staff, and find out what makes us unique in the field of physician assistant education.

The Physician Assistant Program is committed to increasing the number of physician assistants of African-American, Latino, and other ethnic backgrounds, whose communities have historically been under-served. It also encourages representation for individuals and families living in the communities in which they practice. As such, its mission and goals are consistent with those of the Sophie Davis Biomedical Education Program/CUNY School of Medicine.

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Physician assistants work in a variety of medical settings, ranging from family medicine and primary care to sub-specialty surgery. P.A.s practice in-patient, out-patient and emergency medicine. The CUNY School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program is a mission-driven program, attracting students with a commitment to providing excellent care to those in greatest need. One of the oldest P.A. Programs in the country, over 900 physician assistants have graduated from the P.A. Program.

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Become a Physician Assistant

P.A. Program Requirements

In evaluating candidates for admission into graduate programs, CUNY will not disadvantage students who present P (pass) or CR (credit) grades in their transcripts for courses taken during Spring 2020 – regardless of whether their school imposed the flexible grading policy on all students or gave them the choice to opt-in. In addition, CUNY will not disadvantage students whose pre-requisite courses were transitioned online due to COVID-19.


Online hybrid courses, taken before Spring 2020, will be accepted towards the fulfillment of the core prerequisite science courses. The online laboratory components, taken before Spring 2020, will not be accepted. Due to COVID-19, 2020-2021-2022 online courses and laboratory components will be accepted. Spring 2023 and beyond lab components must be taken in-person.

PA Admission Fast Facts

  • ARC-PA has mandated that by 2020, all physician assistant programs grant a graduate degree at the end of their curriculum. Therefore the national trend is for all PA programs to transition to master’s level programs.
  • Degree Offered: Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies The Physician Assistant Program is 28 months in length, starting in August and ending approximately 2 ½ years later in December.

Admissions Requirements

As of April 18, 2019, The CUNY School of Medicine PA Program has made revisions to the admissions requirements. Please review the admissions criteria before submitting an application.

  1. Applicants will submit applications through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). CASPA collects all elements of the application, verifies the validity of each transcript, and then forwards completed applications to the program.
  2. International students whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Examination.  A minimum score of 550 (or 75 Internet Based Testing) must be achieved. Or IELST 6.5 score is required. 
  3. The CSOM CASPA application will open on July 1st, 2023. The deadline for applications is January 15th, 2024. Applications must be complete and verified by CASPA by January 15th, 2024. Applications must be verified by 11:59 PM ET on the deadline date. Applications can only be verified once all payments, transcripts, and letters of evaluation have been received. To ensure your application is verified on time, try to complete your application at least four weeks before the deadline.  For more information, please see CASPA user guide: CASPA User Guide
  4. Prerequisite requirements will include a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution including the following prerequisite courses:

Biology I & II with laboratory

8 credits

Chemistry I & II with laboratory

8 credits

Microbiology with Laboratory

3 credits

Statistics (Any three credit statistic course will suffice)

3 credits

Two of the following courses:


Cell & Molecular Biology

3 credits


3 credits

Mammalian Physiology

3 credits

Anatomy & Physiology I & II with laboratory (count as one course)

8 credits


3 credits

A CASPA cumulative undergraduate total GPA of 3.0 or above as well as a cumulative CUNY School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or above.

  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Personal Statement.
  • CASPA Program Questions-Essay

It is MANDATORY that the following pre-requisite courses be completed no more than seven years prior to the date of application:

  • Microbiology with Laboratory
  • Statistics

And two of the following courses:

  • Cell & Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Mammalian Physiology
  • Anatomy & Physiology I and II with laboratory 
  • Biochemistry

Additional Information:

  • The program will accept 1 year of sequential Organic Chemistry I & II with labs (8 credits) as a substitute for Chemistry I & II with lab requirement.
  • Advanced Placement for prerequisite courses will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 
  • The GRE is not required.
  • The program does NOT have rolling admissions.

Pending Courses

All pending courses at the time of submission must be successfully completed with a “B” grade by the end of Fall 2023.  Applicants may apply with no more than TWO outstanding prerequisite courses.  All prerequisite courses must be completed by December 31, 2023, for the class entering August 2024, Winter 2023 (December 2023 – January 2024). Intersession prerequisite courses are not accepted.  Pending courses will not be calculated towards the GPA once an application is submitted.

Pending Degree

The baccalaureate degree may be in progress, as long as conferral will occur by June 15th, 2024.  All pending Spring 2024 courses must be successfully completed with a “B” grade.


The program does not require a minimum number of hours of health care experience, patient care experience, PA shadowing, or volunteer work, but highly recommends that applicants have shadowing/volunteering experience.  It is important that applicants spend time with PAs to ensure an adequate understanding of the PA role in healthcare.  A competitive applicant will be able to demonstrate familiarity with the PA profession.

International Students

International students whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Examination.  A minimum score of 550 (or 75 Internet Based Testing) must be achieved.

Foreign Medical Graduates (FMG)

Please note:

  • Required coursework graded Pass/Fail or credit obtained by CLEP Examination will not be accepted for any of the prerequisite courses.
  • FMG’s and graduates from foreign institutions must use the WES evaluation service.
  • No groups or individuals are favored in admissions or enrollment practices.
  • While we encourage health care and community service, neither are required for admission.
  • There is no advanced placement for curricular content within the program for any student regardless of degree or institution.


Applicants selected for an interview will be contacted on a rolling basis starting late January until mid-March.


Admission decisions are made by the PA Program Admissions Committee, which assesses each applicant on the basis of cumulative GPA and science GPA, reference letters, personal statement, previous experience, personal attributes such as fitness with the mission of the Program, an on-site written essay and interview skills. Final decisions for admittance are made by the Committee.  All admissions decisions will be sent on April 1, 2024.

Academic Criteria

  • A CASPA cumulative undergraduate total GPA of 3.0 or above and CUNY Med prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or above is required.
  • Grades below “C” are not accepted.

Physician Assistant Education Program Description

The program requires 28 continuous months of instruction divided into three phases and leads to a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.

Phase I, the Didactic Phase

Consists of 12 months of basic medical sciences, pre-clinical sciences, and professional studies course work. The basic medical and pre-clinical science courses introduce students to the fundamentals of scientific and clinical medicine. The professional studies courses are designed to provide an understanding of professionalism, legal aspects of practice, medical ethics, practice-based learning and improvement, and systems-based practice.

Phase II, the Clinical Education Phase

Consists of 12 months of required clerkships and elective clerkships. The required clerkships are in specific areas of clinical medicine, designed to provide a broad foundation for primary care clinical practice. Elective clerkships may be selected from specialty or primary care areas.

Phase III, the Research Phase

Consists of 4 months of required courses and completion of a capstone project.

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