Pre-PA Basics

PA programs are looking for applicants with strength in the following three areas: 

High aptitude in the sciences

This is demonstrated through having a strong GPA in the sciences as well as a competitive score on the exam required for the program (Some PA programs require the GRE). To ensure your academic success, build a strong foundation by using support resources such as the Learning Resource Center here at UMass Amherst. 

Knowledge of the field through patient care experience

This is demonstrated by working in one of the many entry-level jobs in healthcare such as CNA (certified nursing assistant), EMT (emergency medical technician), MA (medical assistant), ER technician, PCT (patient care assistant), and others. You can find more information about this on the Getting Hands On Experience page of the PreMed/PreHealth Advising website.

Excellent communication skills with people from all walks of life 

This is demonstrated through maintaining a consistent history of community service as well as actively participating in campus groups of various kinds. Check out our resources on Getting Involved on Campus and Local Volunteer Opportunities for ideas on where to look for good places to start. 

Admissions Requirements for PA School

(Always confirm Admissions Requirements on individual PA program websites)

Completion of the following courses would permit application to a broad range of PA schools in Massachusetts and beyond:

Course UMass Course Title  Possible Substitutions  Pre-requisites (at UMass) 
Anatomy & Physiology I & II   Kin 270, 272  none  one of the following: Kin 100 or 110, Bio 151, Chem 110 or 111 
Introductory Biology I & II with lab   Bio 151, 152, 153  none  none
General Chemistry with lab  Chem 111, 112  Chem 121H, 122H  Math placement score > 20
Biochemistry  Biochem 320 (prev 420)  Biochem 423 (majors)   Chem 250 or 261 
General Microbiology  Microbio 310, 265 (lab)   Microbio 312 (majors)  none
Statistics  Stats 240 Psych 240, ResEcon 212, PubHlth 223   Psych 100 and Math 104 (for Psych 240 only)
Psychology  Psych 100  none  none

What Other Classes Should I Take for PA Programs? 

Course requirements for PA programs can vary widely from school to school. Students should look a tthe admissions websites at specific schools to be sure they are on track with pre-requisite coursework and to confirm that the requirements have not changed. 

Other courses that can be required by some PA programs include (but are not limited to): 

Course UMass Course Title
Genetics BIO 311, BMB 311
Organic Chemistry CHEM 261, 262, 269
Upper-level Biology BIO 280, 288, 311, 372
Social / Behavioral Science (Specific courses in Psychology or Sociology)
Public Health and Social Justice SRVCLRNG 192, PUBHLTH 389
Ethics PHIL 160 or 164
Medical Terminology Classics 250, KIN 297T
English ENG WRT 112 plus Junior Year Writing in your major department



Applicants to PA programs use CASPA, which is a common application service for most PA schools.

CASPA provides this helpful QUICKSTART GUIDE and list of FAQs.

An important step in the application process is getting your transcripts sent to CASPA from any/all schools you attended for college credit. Check with both CASPA and the REGISTRAR'S office(s) here at UMass Amherst and any other schools you attended for their instructions on how to transmit your transcript(s).