Physician Assistant M.S. Prerequisites

Cohorts begin each June | Program length 27 months | Credits 116 | Format In-person, full time

Applicants will be considered for acceptance upon completion of all admission requirements.

If your ability to meet admission criteria has been or may be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, particularly related to pass/fail grades and official transcript submission, please  contact our enrollment counselor to learn about your options. 

  • Completion of the CASPA application including the following:
    • Official college transcripts
    • Personal narrative
    • Supplemental application responses
    • Professional recommendations
    • Direct patient care experience
  • Completion of Northwestern PA Program CASPA questions and payment of application fee 
    • Short-answer questions regarding the applicant’s experience.
    • $100 non-refundable application fee, applications will not be reviewed until the fee is submitted.
  • Completion of the CASPer assessment
    • CASPer assesses applications on non-academic attributes or people skills to ensure applicants are not only academically capable but also possess the characteristics of someone who will succeed as a PA.   
    • Take CASPer assessment here
  • Overall and science GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
    Visit the  CASPA website to learn more about the calculation of GPAs.
  • Minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care experience. 
    • Direct patient care experiences are experiences in which you have direct interaction with and/or observation of medical care of patients and are directly responsible for a patient's care.
      • For example: Prescribing medication, performing procedures, directing a course of treatment, designing a treatment regimen, administering food or medication, taking vitals or other record-keeping information. These duties may be performed by actively working on patients as a nurse, paramedic, EMT, phlebotomist, physical therapist, dental hygienist, scribe, CNA (depending on job description), medical assistant, etc. These positions can be paid or unpaid.
    • 100 of the 500 hours must be completed by the time of application.
    • Applications must include a minimum of 16 hours of shadowing or working with a PA, which can be completed in a clinic, hospital, or telehealth setting. 
  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, or internationally recognized equivalent.
    • Accepted students will be required to submit official transcripts prior to matriculation
  • Meet the  PA Program Technical Standards
  • Completion of prerequisite courses with a B- or better in each course.
    • These courses must be completed at a regionally accredited United States institution.
    • Five of the eight required courses must be completed by the time of application.
  • The Northwestern College PA Program will not consider applications from individuals who have attended another PA or graduate medical school in the past.

Prerequisite courses

(The following lists Northwestern courses. Equivalent prerequisite courses may be taken elsewhere.)

PA program prerequisite
(minimum of 3 credits each)
Eligible NWC course
Human Anatomy* BIO 221 (preferred), BIO 121
Human Physiology* BIO 222 (preferred), BIO 122
Microbiology* BIO 203
Organic Chemistry CHE 321
Biochemistry CHE 326 or BIO 327WI**
Genetics BIO 202WI or BIO 327WI**
Psychology PSY 100SS or PSY 360
Statistics MAT 116QR or MAT 208QR

*Must have taken within 5 years of the projected enrollment date. For the current application cycle, any course taken during the summer of 2017 or later would meet the 5-year requirement. Applicants who took anatomy, physiology, or microbiology prior to the Summer 2017 term must complete the waiver form demonstrating active use of the knowledge obtained in the course. All waiver requests will be reviewed by the Northwestern College Physician Assistant Program Application Committee on an individual basis, however waivers will not be considered for courses taken more than 10 years ago.
**Northwestern students can select two courses from CHE 326, BIO 202WI, and BIO 327WI to fulfill the biochemistry and genetics requirements. BIO 327WI can only count for one requirement, it cannot be counted for both. 
***AP coursework will be accepted only for Psychology and Statistics and CLEP will only be accepted for Psychology.  Any AP or CLEP credits must appear on a college transcript with assigned credits.

Recommended courses

Preferred application process for Northwestern College graduates

Admission to PA programs is competitive, and the Northwestern College PA program plans to accept only 32 students per year. Preference in the application process will be given to graduates of Northwestern College, provided they meet all of the program admissions requirements. Any Northwestern College graduate who completes all application materials and meets all admissions criteria will be granted an admission interview.


The ARC-PA has granted  Accreditation-Provisional status to the  Northwestern College Physician Assistant Program sponsored by  Northwestern College

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA  Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the  Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.  Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at