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Admission Requirements

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Admission to Pre-Professional
Admission to Professional Phase
Clinical Experience

The MSPAS curriculum is open to applicants who have earned, or will earn, by the end of the fall semester prior to spring semester entry, a baccalaureate degree and have met, or will have met, by the end of the fall semester prior to spring semester entry, the following prerequisites:

***The following admissions requirements must be completed by the time of interview unless otherwise noted.

  • Completed CASPA application
  • Completed PA Supplemental application
  • An earned bachelor’s degree with an overall cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a scale of 4.0
  • A minimum average of 3.0 on a scale of 4.0 in required pre-requisite courses
  • A minimum of 3.0 average on a 4.0 scale in the sciences as figured by Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA)
  • Ability to fulfill any university admission requirements
  • Successful completion (as defined above) within ten years prior to admission of the following undergraduate science courses:
    • Anatomy with lab (Human preferred)- 3 semester hours or more
    • Physiology with lab (Human preferred)- 3 semester hours or more
    • Microbiology with Lab- 3 semester hours or more
    • Medical Terminology
    • Biology electives- 6 Credit Hours (Must be upper level Biology courses, Highly recommend genetics, molecular biology, histology, immunology)
    • General Chemistry 1 and 2 with labs- 3 semester hours or more
    • Organic 1 or Biochemistry
    • Psychology (Abnormal or developmental preferred)- 3 semester hours or more
    • Statistics- 3 semester hours or more
  • Direct Patient Contact Hours (minimum of 500 hours of paid employment or volunteer hours; must include a minimum of 50 hours PA shadowing)
  • Completion of the GRE (Score of 300 or higher is considered competitive)
  • Submission of 3 letters of recommendation (Acceptable references: MD, DO, PA, or NP as well as academic advisors)
  • Successful completion of an interview with and positive recommendation from program faculty
  • Completion of a satisfactory level 1 background check, urine drug screen, and physical exam with documentation of required immunizations prior to matriculation.
    • Proof of TB Test (positive results will require the students to receive a chest x-ray and further evaluation)
    • Proof of Hepatitis B vaccine and positive Hep B Ab (titer)
    • Proof of MMR vaccine or immunity
    • Proof of Varicella history of vaccination
    • Proof of Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis vaccine
    • Annual influenza vaccine while on clinical year
    • Proof of Meningococcal vaccine**
    • Pneumococcal polysaccharide PPV vaccine**
    • **These vaccinations are not required by the program based on current CDC guidelines. If a clinical site requires these vaccinations, students must comply with facility guidelines
  • Demonstration to program principal faculty of ability to meet the following technical standards:
    • Sufficient capacity for observation in academic, clinical, and other medical settings; functional vision, hearing, and tactile sensation sufficient to observe a patient’s condition and perform procedures regularly required during a physical examination
    • Effective written and verbal communications skills sufficient to both academic and healthcare settings
    • Sufficient motor function to carry out movements necessary for patient diagnosis and care; for free movement in patient care and between facilities and buildings in academic and healthcare environments; physical stamina to complete didactic and clinical coursework
    • Sufficient intellectual ability to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize, in the context of medical problem-solving and patient care
    • Sufficient emotional health and stability required for exercising good judgment and promptly completing all academic and patient care responsibilities

** Waivers will be considered by the admissions committee on a case-by-case basis. If requesting a waiver for one of the admissions criteria, please contact the MSPAS program. Under no circumstances will the minimum requirements for entrance to the program be waived.

English Fluency
International students who have not graduated from an accredited college or university in the United States and whose native language is not English, must achieve satisfactory scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or complete and approved English as a Second Language (ESL) course.

Admission to Pre-Professional

Undergraduate students interested in applying for early admission to the University’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) program must complete the following coursework in total or in part at the University of the Cumberlands as Pre-PA Biology majors. Additionally, students must complete all requirements of the General Education curriculum for undergraduates as outlined in the University of the Cumberlands Undergraduate catalog. Admission is made during the third year of undergraduate study. Students must complete all PA admissions requirements by time of application. Completion of the Pre-PA curriculum does not ensure acceptance into the MSPAS program.

Students who complete the Pre-Professional PA curriculum but do not continue on to the Professional phase of the PA program will need nine hours of biology, five hours of chemistry and sixteen hours of electives to complete a major in biology. Alternatively, they can complete a Biology of Science degree in Independent Directions with a focus on applied health sciences. A third alternative is to complete a Bachelor of General Studies degree. Information on these alternatives may be found elsewhere in the University of the Cumberlands’ Undergraduate catalog.

Students who successfully complete the pre-physician assistant curriculum and are accepted into the MSPAS program are awarded a Bachelor of Health Science degree by the University after the successful completion of the first year of didactic coursework in the MSPAS program. Students are then awarded the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree after the successful completion of the second year of coursework.

In addition to the admissions requirements noted above for general applicants, the following courses are required prior to application for Pre-professional students:

BIOL 113 - Intro. to Population Biology Lab.
BIOL 114 - Intro. to Cellular Biology Lab.
BIOL 121 - Medical Terminology
BIOL 133 - Intro. to Population Biology
BIOL 134 - Intro. to Cellular Biology
BIOL 244* - Human Physiology OR BIOL 443 - General Animal Physiology
BIOL 246 - Biodiversity
BIOL 340 - Genetics
BIOL 343* - Human Anatomy OR BIOL 442 - Comparative Anatomy
BIOL 345 - Microbiology
CHEM 111 - General Chemistry Lab. I
CHEM 132 - Chemistry 1 w/ lab- 3 semester hours or more
CHEM 211 - General College Chemistry Lab. II
CHEM 232 - Chemistry 2 w/ lab - 3 semester hours or more
CHEM 321 - Organic Chemistry Lab. I
CHEM 322 - Organic Chemistry I
Biology electives (6 credit hours of 300 level or higher courses in addition to BIOL 340 - Genetics. Highly recommended: molecular biology, histology, embryology, and immunology)
Upper-level Psychology courses


Admission to Professional Phase

University of the Cumberlands Pre-professional Physician Assistant students are not guaranteed admission to the PA program however pre-professional students that meet all requirements for admission will be granted an interview. Each PA applicant that meets all admissions requirements is graded using an admissions rubric that awards points based on academic performance, geographic location of applicant, clinical work experience and letters of recommendation.

Clinical Experience

Direct Patient Contact Hours: Applicants are required to have a minimum of 500 hours of direct patient contact by August 1st. A minimum of 50 of these hours must be PA shadowing. Other experience can be paid or voluntary. Examples of acceptable direct patient care include EMT, paramedic, LPN, CNA, therapists (RT, PT/PTA, OT, SLP), medical assistant, medical scribe, pharmacy technician, xray technician, surgical technician, athletic trainer, and phlebotomist. Non-acceptable options include lifeguard, pharmacy representative, medical secretary, or transporter. Other questions regarding acceptable options can be directed to the Graduate Admissions Department. The number of direct patient contact hours will be used as part of the applicant ranking process for all applicants that meet all other admissions requirements. Points will be awarded as follows:

Direct Patient Care Experience Hours

Number of Hours

Points Rewarded


20 points


15 points


10 points

>50 hours of PA shadowing

5 additional points


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