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Physician Assistant

The Physician Assistant (PA) profession is a growing field as the demand for health care increases and our healthcare system looks for new and cost-effective ways to provide quality healthcare. According to the Physician Assistant Education Association, the physician-PA team relationship is fundamental to the PA profession. PAs have their own patients, and, under a written agreement with a licensed physician, make clinical decisions. PAs take medical histories, perform physical exams, order and interpret laboratory tests, diagnose and treat illnesses, counsel patients and assist in surgery. PAs can practice all throughout the U.S.

Learn more about UT's physician assistant medicine program.

Preparing for Physician Assistant School

Earn a bachelor’s degree

Physician assistant school is a graduate program; to become eligible to apply to PA school students need to earn a bachelor's degree and take specific pre-requisites (classes that PA schools require). At UT, students can earn a bachelor's degree and take pre-requisite courses. They will need to choose a major as pre-PA is not a major or a program at UT.

Students who are interested in going to PA school typically major in biology or allied health with a concentration in medical sciences. These majors include some of the required courses for entrance into PA programs. However, other degrees can also prepare students for health professions; thus students are encouraged to major in the field where they excel and should consult the pre-health professions advisor about course work.

Basic pre-requisite* (Each PA school has its own set of pre-requisites, and students need to research the admission requirements of each school to which they are intending to apply. ) courses required for physician assistant school:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biology and/or Microbiology
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry/Organic Chemistry/Physics/Statistics/Medical Terminology: may be required depending on school

*Each PA school has its own set of pre-requisites, and students need to research the admission requirements of each school to which they are intending to apply. Search accredited PA schools in the U.S. and their pre-requisites.

Build an extensive record of relevant experiences

  • Shadow a PA – gain knowledge of the PA field and confirm if this is your passion 
  • Clinical Experience – direct/hands-on patient care in a healthcare setting is usually required or preferred
  • Volunteer/community service/work/research – in a medical setting  
  • Leadership - roles on and off-campus  

Entrance Exams

  • The Graduate Record Examination General Test (GRE) is required for some PA schools. It is about four hours long and costs $205.
  • The PA-CAT is required for the University of Tampa's PA program and a few other PA programs around the county. The PA-CAT is 4.5 hours and costs $228.
  • Students who are on the traditional plan of going to PA school directly following graduation from UT should be prepared to take the entrance exam in the late spring/early summer of your junior year.
  • Take the exam before applying to PA schools. 

Physician Assistant school applications

  • Students can start to apply to PA school a full year before they intend to start (summer of junior year through fall of senior year). 
  • Applications open in late spring and each school has its own deadline.
  • Take a look now at what is expected of the application: CASPA application  

PA School Information and Beyond

  • A traditional PA school program is about two years long and includes classroom instruction and clinical rotations.
  • There are 18 PA schools in Florida
  • After completion, the student earns a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree.
    • A student then must pass the PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE).
    • Following the exam, students must be licensed by the state in which they wish to practice.
      • As a result, they will become PA-C (certified). 


Pre-professional advising has a dedicated program specialist to help students prepare for professional school in the health sciences. The advisor would like to see all pre-health students early on to ensure they are on the path to success. Please email Jackie Mikulski to inquire about the next steps in the pre-health advising program.

Additional Resources

Explore Health Careers – Physician Assistant  
American Academy of Physician Assistants
PA Focus