Physician Assistant

What is a Physician Assistant?

A Physician Assistant (PA) provides healthcare services under the supervision of physicians. PAs are formally trained to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive healthcare services as delegated by a physician. Working as members of healthcare team, they take medical histories, examine and treat patients, order and interpret laboratory tests and x-rays, make diagnoses, and prescribe medications in most states.

Pre-Physician Assistant Information Sheet

Definition taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook
Web Site: 

Educational Requirements

Most University of Maryland (UM) students interested in becoming a Physician Assistant (P.A.) complete a Bachelor's degree along with a certain number of professional school prerequisites, in addition to accumulating patient care hours, as required by the P.A. schools to which they are applying. In essence, most UM students, complete the following "Master's" pathway to P.A. school:

  • "Master's" Option
    • Bachelor's degree + professional school prerequisites (20-60 credits) + most require health related, patient care experience (100-2000 hours) + 2 years of professional school = Master of Science or Master of Physician Assistant (MPA) or Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) or Master of Health Professions or Physician Assistant Certificate
    • Note that some physician assistant programs require applicants to have previous health care experience and some college education. The typical applicant already has a bachelor's degree and at least two (full-time) years of health care experience. Commonly nursing assistants, EMT's, and medical assistants apply to PA programs. Check the particular prerequisites of the PA educational programs that interest you. Most Master's level P.A. programs require GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores.
  • "Bachelor's" Option
    • Another route to becoming a P.A. is as follows (an option not available at UM):
    • Students can complete a Bachelor's of Science degree from an accredited Physician Assistant baccalaureate program and earn a BS in Physician Assistant Studies. Some baccalaureate programs accept junior-year transfer students.

Professional School Programs for Physician Assistant

To conduct a broad PA program search utilize the interactive map offered by PA Educational Association Online:

Regional Programs:

George Washington University

University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES)
(410) 651-7584

Towson University - CCBC Essex
(443) 840-2854  

Ann Arundell Community College
(410) 777-7310

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Associations  Contact Information

American Academy of Physician Assistants
950 North Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-1552


Pre-Physician Assistant Prerequisites

George Washington University (GWU) - Physician Assistant Prerequisites
Phone: (202) 994-2807

Printable Format: Pre-Physician Assistant Information Sheet

Pre-requisites are subject to change! Contact the GWU program for most current requirements.

  • Application deadline is early November. Early application is encouraged.
  • All prerequisites must be completed with a grade of B- or better.
  • One year of direct patient care experience is highly recommended by the admissions committee.
  • Prerequisites must be completed by July 31 prior to the beginning of the program. Applicants may apply to the program with only one outstanding prerequisite.
  • College seniors are eligible to apply provided that they will have fulfilled all the baccalaureate requirements before matriculating in August.
  • The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) must have been taken within the past five years. Individuals already awarded a post-baccalaureate degree are exempt from the GRE requirement, but are asked to submit prior scores if available. Applicants who take the computer-based test should do so by November 15 to allow adequate time for the scores to be received by the deadline.

Pre-P.A. is not a degree-granting program at UMCP. The above prerequisites are required prior to matriculation in the professional curriculum for GWU. Admission to professional schools is competitive and is not guaranteed by UM.

Physician Assistant Website Resources

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook

Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants

Physician Assistant Education Associaton Online

PA Focus