School of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Studies

Admissions Requirements

Admissions Requirements
  • Applicants to the program must have completed a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university before entering
    • No preference is given to any specific major
  • Applicants must be a US citizen or permanent resident with a degree from an accredited US institution in order to apply
  • Clinical and work experiences will not be accepted in place of coursework
  • Applicants must complete all prerequisite coursework by June 1 of the year of intended enrollment. It is also highly recommended that:
    • The majority of prerequisite courses be taken in the 10 years prior to application
    • No more than 3 prerequisite courses are in progress or planned at the time of application
  • Required coursework graded Pass/Fail, survey courses and CLEP credits will not be accepted for any of the hours. An exception for General Psychology may be permitted.  Requests for this exception must be approved by the Program Director 
  • The minimum requirement for application to the PA Program is a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. For additional information see the Selection Criteria below
  • Grades below "C" are not accepted for prerequisite coursework
Required Courses
(Survey courses will not be accepted for prerequisite requirements)

Course

Semester Hours

Quarter Hours

2 semesters of Biology with Lab

8

12

General Chemistry I w/ Lab

4

6

General Chemistry II with Lab
(or Organic Chemistry w/ Lab)

4

6

Biochemistry*

3

5

Microbiology w/ Lab**

4

6

General Psychology

3

5

Abnormal Psychology

3

5

2 semesters of Anatomy and Physiology w/ Lab***

8

12

Statistics (e.g., Biostats, General Stats, Calculus is acceptable)

minimum of 2

minimum of 4

*Combined Organic/Biochemistry are not recommended; however, if taken, it must be at the junior level or above.
**USD students - Please note USD's MICR 230/232 (Basic Microbiology) are not accepted for this requirement. Only MICR 420/421 are accepted from USD. MICR 320/321 will be accepted from previous catalogs.

***If Anatomy & Physiology are taken separately, a minimum of one lab is required if not offered with both courses.

Advanced Placement

The USD Physician Assistant Studies Program does not grant advanced placement to any applicant admitted to the Program. No program courses will be waived, and no advanced credit for any previous course work will be given even though it may be similar or identical to course work in the Program. All courses are designated as required and must be taken by every student.

Selection Criteria

The requirements for admission described in the previous section are minimum requirements.  Because admission is competitive, the Program has designed a number of "Selection Criteria" for applicants. In considering applicants for admissions, the Admissions Committee will give preference for admission to applicants who possess the following at the time of application:

  • An overall grade point average (as calculated by CASPA) of 3.2 or higher (on a 4.00 scale)
    • Grades obtained in repeat courses are averaged into this GPA by CASPA
  • A prerequisite grade point average of 3.2 or higher (on a 4.00 scale)
  • Grades for coursework taken following submission of the CASPA application are not considered in the GPA calculation and therefore not considered in selecting qualified applicants.
  • Direct patient care experience is expected with the average admitted student having more than 1,000 hours
  • Desire for future practice in primary care or in a medically underserved area
  • Significant extracurricular, professional, research, or service organization involvement and activity
  • Motivation to become a physician assistant based on a thorough understanding of the PA profession
  • Ability to communicate effectively in the personal written statement, in the application, and in the interview
  • Personality and motivational characteristics that are conducive to success as a Physician Assistant, student, and practicing provider
  • Personal qualities relating to maturity and professionalism as demonstrated in the interview and letters of recommendation
  • Resident and non-resident students are selected for admission
    • Over half of the matriculants are South Dakota residents or those with strong ties to the state:
      • one or both parents SD residents
      • graduated from high school in SD
      • graduated from an accredited SD university/college
      • member of a federally recognized tribe from a bordering state
      • For any other consideration of ties, applications are reviewed by the program and interviews are offered at their discretion.  An example of this would typically be applicants who are non-residents who lived in South Dakota previously but have moved out of state.
    • The program continues to accept non-resident students and encourages them to apply.
Graduates of Foreign Institutions
  • Applicants who are US Citizens or permanent residents may apply.  The applicant must have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited US institution.  Those who have earned college/university credit outside the US and wish for those courses to be considered must complete the Application for Evaluation of Foreign Credentials. 
  • The PA Program requires a course-by-course evaluation including verification of lab components where required to be completed and included in the CASPA Application. Admission will not be considered and credit will not be reviewed for possible transfer acceptance until a report is received.
  • Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Additional items for admission may be required. Please visit the International Graduate Admissions website or call their office at 605-677-6287 for further requirements.