Physician Assistant M.S. Prerequisites

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

We are excited that you're interested in applying to Northwestern College's faith-integrated M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies program. Applicants will be considered for acceptance upon completion of all 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. 

 Application Requirements

  • Official college transcripts
  • Personal narrative
  • Supplemental application responses
  • Professional recommendations
  • Patient care experience
  • Northwestern PA Program-specific short answer questions
  • $100 non-refundable application fee, applications will not be reviewed until the fee is submitted.
  • 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.   
  • Only the Casper assessment is required. The Snapshot and Duet assessments are not required. 
  • Take the Casper assessment here.
  • Visit the CASPA website to learn more about the calculation of GPAs.
  • Patient care experiences are experiences in which you are directly responsible for a patient’s care. These positions can be paid or unpaid.
  • 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, or actively working on patients as a nurse, paramedic, EMT, CNA, medical assistant, phlebotomist, physical therapist, scribe, dental hygienist, etc.
  • 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 or hospital. 
  • The degree is earned from a regionally accredited institution, or internationally recognized equivalent.
  • Accepted students will be required to submit official transcripts prior to matriculation.
  • 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.
  • A single course cannot be used to satisfy multiple prerequisites. 

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 table lists the required PA program prerequisite courses and the corresponding Northwestern course that fulfills the requirement. Equivalent prerequisite courses do not need to be taken at Northwestern. 

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 BIO/CHE 326 or BIO 327WI**
Genetics BIO 202WI or BIO 327WI**
Psychology PSY 100SS or PSY 360
Statistics MAT 116QR or MAT 208QR

*Applicants must have taken anatomy, physiology and microbiology pre-requisites within 5 years of their projected enrollment date. For the current application cycle, any course that is taken during the summer of 2018 or later would meet the 5-year requirement. Applicants who took these courses outside of the 5-year limit (prior to the Summer 2018 term) must complete a waiver demonstrating how they are currently applying the knowledge attained from these courses either in their work or in their studies. Waivers are reviewed by the Physician Assistant Program Admissions Committee. The committee will consider waivers from applicants for courses that are up to 10 years old. The Committee may request an official copy of the course syllabus, and the waiver request may be denied if it cannot be provided. 
**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

The following table lists the recommended courses for applicants considering additional coursework to prepare themselves for PA school and the corresponding Northwestern course equivalent. Completion of these courses does not influence your overall application. Recommended courses do not need to be taken at Northwestern. 

Recommended course
Eligible NWC course
Medical Terminology KIN 240
Pharmacology BIO 320
Physics PHY 111SN or PHY 211SN 
Ethics PHI 214BR
Pathophysiology BIO 360
Immunology BIO 315WI
Embryology BIO 350

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