Frequently Asked Questions

1. How competitive is your program? How many applications do you receive each year?

Approximately 4,354 CASPA applications were submitted for the Class of 2021, while 2,011 supplemental applications were completed. Approximately 250 of the most qualified applicants will be invited for a personal interview conducted at Duke University Medical Center. From this group, a class of 90 will be selected. Evidence of academic potential, knowledge of the health care system, motivation, personal maturity, self-assurance, and good interpersonal skills will weigh strongly in the admission decision.

2. Do you offer transcript review?

Due to our large applicant pool, we are unable to offer transcript review. However, we are happy to answer specific questions about courses.

3. Are my scores competitive?

The ranges of academic and experiential qualifications for the middle 50 percent of accepted applicants for Fall 2019 were as follows:

  • Overall GPA: 3.51 – 3.85
  • Natural science GPA: 3.39 – 3.87
  • Total natural science credits: 57 – 81
  • GRE General Test scores:
    • Verbal: 156 – 160
    • Quantitative: 153 – 159
    • Analytical Writing: 4.5 – 5
  • Hours of full-time patient care experience: 3270-7854

4. What can I do to be more competitive?

Compare your scores and patient care with the middle ranges listed above. Target areas where you fall below the listed range. Demonstrate a passion for the profession and a clear understanding of the PA role.

5. How long is the physician assistant program?

The Duke PA Program is 24 months split between the pre-clinical and clinical phases of the program.

6. Is there a fee for your supplemental application?

There is a $50 fee for submitting the supplemental application. This fee is waived for active military or veteran applicants, as well as those who qualify for the CASPA fee waiver (proof of CASPA fee waiver eligibility must be submitted before supplemental application).

7. Do you require a bachelor’s degree?

The Duke Physician Assistant Program does require applicants to have completed a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college.  Degrees in progress are considered as long as the completion date is prior to matriculation.

8. Do I need to have a biology degree or other science degree?

We do not require any specific major. A science degree may result in a higher number of natural science credit hours, but is not required.

9. Do you accept online courses or courses from community colleges?

Yes. We accept prerequisite courses and labs from any regionally accredited university or college, online or in person, including community colleges.

10. What prerequisite courses are required?

Please see our Prerequisites page for more information, including a school comparison worksheet provided for your convenience.

11. Does biochemistry count as biology or chemistry?

Biochemistry courses can count as either biology or chemistry (though 1 course cannot count as both).

12. My anatomy and physiology courses were combined; do I need to take another? 

Combined anatomy and physiology courses can count as either anatomy or physiology. Taking Anatomy & Physiology I and Anatomy & Physiology II would satisfy both requirements. Taking only one accelerated Anatomy & Physiology course will NOT meet the requirement.

13. Do prerequisite courses need to be completed before the application is submitted?

You may submit an application with no more than TWO courses in progress. However, all courses must be completed with a satisfactory grade by December 31 of the application year.

14. Do you accept Advanced Placement (AP) credits?

We do not accept Advanced Placement credits.

15. Do you accept pass/fail courses?

Yes, we accept pass/fail courses that have a grade of Pass. For any Anatomy, Physiology, or Microbiology pre-requisite courses taken in spring 2020 or summer 2020 terms with a Pass grade, applicants will need to submit documentation from the course instructor or a school official that details the numerical course grade, as well as the letter grade equivalency at that institution. This documentation should be sent on school letterhead with the instructor or official’s signature, or in email format directly from the instructor or official from a school email account. Submit documentation to by October 1, 2020 to complete the supplemental application and be considered in this admissions cycle. If applicants have any questions or concerns about this process, please reach out to an admissions team member via email at

16. What grade do I need to receive on a course in order for it to count as a prerequisite?

All prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of Pass or C or better (not C minus).

17. Should I retake courses in which I scored poorly, or take upper level courses instead?

Either is acceptable, however it may better show your capabilities to take, and do well in, a more rigorous course.

18. Do all courses need to have been completed within a certain time frame?

All prerequisite courses must have been completed no earlier than 10 years prior to application. More recent prerequisite coursework is valuable as it may demonstrate readiness for entry into a rigorous academic environment. All prerequisite courses must be completed by December 31 of the application year.

19. In what time frame must the GRE be completed?

GRE must have been taken within four years of January 1 of the admissions year. For example, to apply during the 2020-21 cycle you must have taken the GREs no earlier than January 1, 2016. (Note: ETS keeps scores for five years, so please be aware of your test date). The test must be completed no later than September 15 of the application cycle.

20. I am planning to re-take GRE. Should I submit the application with old scores, and update when new scores are available?

We suggest waiting to apply until your new scores are available to submit. If you submit with old scores we will not hold the application, and it may be processed before your new scores are sent to us.

21. What is your GRE code?

Please send GRE scores to the CASPA’s Duke code: 0422.  We suggest that you follow up with CASPA to assure that your scores are linked to your application.  We will not accept scores sent directly to Duke.

22. Do I have to have all 1,000 patient care hours completed before I apply?

Our deadline for patient care hours is July 1 of the admissions year.   Please note that having minimal patient care hours is not extremely competitive.

23. What type of patient care counts and what does not? 

The Duke PA Program values direct patient interaction and experiences.

If you have any questions about your patient care experience, please contact us for clarification.

24. Do you require shadowing of a PA?

We highly recommend and value, but do not require, shadowing a PA.

25. I am missing 1 of your requirements. Do you make exceptions? Should I apply anyhow?

If you are not able to complete 1 of our requirements you should wait for a future admissions cycle to apply as we are unable to make individual exceptions to our requirements. 

26. I graduated from a foreign institution. What do I need to know?

You must have your transcript verified by a credentialing service such as World Education Service. You must complete all prerequisite requirements.
You must take a MINIMUM of 30 semester hours of coursework in a regionally accredited US college.
If you are not a US citizen you will be required to show evidence of financial support in order for Duke Visa Services to secure your visa.  Please note that your visa must be secured BEFORE you are allowed to matriculate, so allow ample processing time.

27. Are there any important dates within the admissions cycle of which I should be aware?
NOTE: Deadlines are earlier than they were in the past. Please plan accordingly when applying.

Deadline for minimum patient care hours completion - July 1
CASPA Deadline – September 1
Deadline for GRE completion – September 15
Supplemental Deadline – October 1
Pre-Requisite Course Completion Deadline – December 31

28. Do you have a rolling admissions process?

Yes, we do have a rolling admissions process; however we continue to accept applicants until all final decisions are e-mailed.

29. Do you give preference to in-state applicants?

Yes. As a mission-based program in North Carolina, we are committed to attracting students from our state to help meet the healthcare workforce needs locally.

30. Should I mail transcripts at the time of application?

Official transcripts are only required should you be invited to interview.

31. What type of recommendations do you require?

CASPA accepts up to five recommendation letters. We require three recommendation letters, and at least one must be from a healthcare professional who can speak to your patient care qualifications.

32. I was selected for an interview, what happens next?

During the interview day, candidates can expect to participate in two individual interviews with a faculty, PA alum, or other Duke health professional, as well as a group exercise with other applicants. Candidates have an opportunity to have lunch with first year PA students to ask questions and learn about their experiences at Duke. Candidates are evaluated on their communication and team skills, personal maturity and self-assurance, motivation, knowledge of the PA role, and the healthcare system.

33. Can you mail me more information?

All of our information can be found electronically via website; as such we do not mail information. If you have extenuating circumstances, please contact us directly.

34. Are PA students able to work while they are enrolled in the program?

Only full-time students are admitted to the PA program. Due to the rigors of the curriculum, the majority of students find it difficult or impossible to work. In efforts to promote satisfactory academic progression, the program strongly discourages students from working. Student employment may jeopardize one’s ability to remain in satisfactory academic standing and to successfully complete the program. Part-time employment over breaks and holidays is at the discretion of the student, however students may not perform any medical tasks or procedures under the auspices of their role as Duke PA students.