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The prerequisites for application to the Duke Physician Assistant Program’s Master of Health Sciences curriculum for the 2021-2022 application cycle include:

Undergraduate Degree

A baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by the Commission on Colleges of a Regional Accrediting Organization is required. College seniors are eligible to apply, provided they will receive the baccalaureate degree prior to the August starting date of the PA program. College seniors or recent college graduates may be at a disadvantage because they often have fewer months of patient care experience than other candidates. Approximately 7% of accepted applicants completed their degree within the last year.

Those candidates who received their baccalaureate degrees from colleges and institutions outside of the United States must complete at least one year (30 semester hours) of additional undergraduate or graduate study at a U.S. college or university prior to application to the program.

Prerequisite College Courses

The Duke University Physician Assistant Program requires 8 prerequisite courses listed below. All prerequisite courses should have been taken no earlier than 10 years prior to application.

  • Anatomy: 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours
  • Physiology: 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours

Combined Anatomy and Physiology courses are acceptable provided the total credits received is a minimum of 6 semester hours or 8 quarter hours. Human Anatomy and Physiology and labs are preferred but not required.

  • Microbiology: 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours
  • Other Biology course of choice: 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours
  • Second Other Biology course of choice: 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours

To fulfill the other biological science course prerequisites, the PA Program recommends courses in genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, embryology, histology, or immunology. While none of the latter courses are specifically required, they provide a good foundation for the study of medicine.

  • Chemistry course of choice with lab: total of 4 semester or 5 quarter hours
  • Second Chemistry course of choice with lab: total of 4 semester or 5 quarter hours
  • Statistics: 2 semester hours or 3 quarter hours

Applicants may apply with no more than TWO outstanding prerequisite courses. All prerequisite courses must be completed by December 31, 2021 for the class entering August 2022. All prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of “C” or better (not C minus). Courses for which credit was awarded by examination, such as AP courses, are not acceptable toward any of the prerequisite courses.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Official scores are required from the Graduate Record Examination general test (GRE) taken no earlier than January 1, 2017, and no later than September 15, 2021. No other test scores are accepted in lieu of the GRE. GRE scores are required of ALL candidates, including candidates who have already earned masters or doctoral degrees.

Your scores must be directly reported from ETS to CASPA code 0422. We encourage applicants to follow up with CASPA to assure that scores are posted to the application in a timely manner. We will not accept scores reported directly to Duke.

For further information on the GRE and registration forms, contact:

The Educational Testing Service
PO Box 6000
Princeton, NJ 08541-6000
(609) 771-7670

Experience Required

A minimum of 1,000 hours of patient care experience is required with direct, "hands-on" patient contact (e.g., EMT or paramedic, health educator, RN, patient care attendant or nurse’s aide, clinic assistant, Peace Corps volunteer or other cross-cultural health care experience, technologist, therapist, clinical research assistant, etc.). 1,000 hours of patient care experience must be completed no later than July 1, 2021.

The following types of experience are NOT accepted toward the 1,000 hours of patient care experience: PA or physician observer or shadow, non-clinical research assistant positions, pharmacy technician, student clinical experience (student nurse, student EMT, student athletic trainer, or other health care student), student “intern” experiences for which school credit is received, candy striper or junior volunteer positions, CPR or ACLS instructor, wilderness medicine instructor, patient transporter, pharmaceutical representative, ski patroller (if not EMT certified), life guard, aerobics instructor, unit clerk, insurance clerk, medical secretary or other clerical positions.

PA Schools Comparison Worksheet

We recognize that applying to PA schools can be an arduous task. Every school has different eligibility requirements, strengths, and weaknesses for your specific situation. Because we are unable to offer individual transcript review, our admissions staff always recommends creating a spreadsheet to keep everything organized. To help, we have created templates to get you started. See below for a condensed, printable version, as well as a more in-depth version that you can download and modify to meet your needs.

PA School Comparison Spreadsheet (Excel)

PA School Comparison Spreadsheet (printable pdf)