PA Prerequisites

To be considered for admission to the PA program, prospective students must ensure they have completed the prerequisite requirements outlined below.

  • All academic coursework AND a bachelor's degree from an accredited university/college (no specific discipline or degree) must be completed before submitting an application to the PA program or it will be considered incomplete and therefore NOT eligible for review by the PA Admissions Committee. Individuals previously trained as physicians (M.D. or D.O.) WILL NOT be considered for this program. This includes all graduates of U.S. and foreign medical schools.

    Final transcript(s) of the applicants’ bachelor’s degree must be confirmed with an official, final transcript by the issuing institution and must include a degree conferral date. All transcripts must be submitted through CASPA by the deadline.

    These are the requirements for the upcoming admissions cycle. Prerequisites are subject to change for future admissions cycles.

    Pass/Fail grades for prerequisite courses will be accepted for the spring 2020 and summer 2020 semesters only. Students will be required to upload a statement from the College or University where these prerequisites were completed in CASPA, documenting that pass/fail grades were utilized instead of the standard letter grades for spring and summer 2020 semesters due to COVID-19.

    Required Courses

    • Human Anatomy and Physiology (I & II)
      • 2 semesters
      • 1 semester of anatomy and 1 semester of physiology for science majors will also be accepted
    • General Biology (I & II with lab)
      • Any combination of 2 biology courses (basic or upper level)
      • 2 semesters
      • Each semester with lab
        • Courses may include general biology (for science majors), genetics, immunology, histology, infectious disease, pathophysiology, cell biology, molecular biology
    • General Chemistry (I & II with lab)
      • 2 semesters
      • Each semester with lab
      • Organic chemistry will be accepted
    • Microbiology (with lab)
      • 1 semester
      • Course must be accompanied with a lab
    • Statistics
      • 1 semester
      • Can be an introductory course


    CASPA provides applicants the ability to view individual CASPA–calculated GPAs. GPAs are based on all credits reported on official transcripts. Tufts primarily focuses on the overall GPA, the science GPA, and the prerequisite GPA.

    A GPA of 3.0 is required for the science GPA and prerequisite GPA. The ideal minimum overall GPA is 3.2.

    • Overall GPA - all undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and graduate courses taken, both science and non-science. Ideal GPA is 3.2.
    • Science GPA - all courses with subject codes of Biology/Zoology, Chemistry (Inorganic, Organic, and Biochemistry), Physics, and other science. Required GPA is 3.0.
    • Prerequisite GPA - all courses and labs listed as a required course (Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, and Statistics). Required GPA is 3.0.

    Completing Prerequisite Courses

    • All prerequisites must be completed with a grade C or better. Pass/fail courses are not accepted. If a course is repeated, the repeated course needs to be a grade C or better and will be averaged with the original course to calculate the GPA. Courses can be taken at the undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or graduate levels.
    • Accreditation can be regional or national--the Tufts School of Medicine PA program accepts only degrees and courses from institutions accredited by agencies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • All prerequisite courses must be taken within 10 years of your intended program start date. If prerequisite courses were taken over 10 years ago, you will need to take one of the following:
      1. Higher level courses (ex: upper level bio such as immunology or genetics)*
      2. Repeat the introductory courses

    *Please note that at least ONE lab is required to fulfill the prerequisite. For example, if you completed BIO I + lab and BIO II + lab over 10 years ago, you must complete TWO higher level courses and at least ONE BIO lab, or repeat BIO I + lab and BIO II + lab.

    • The rigor of the institution will be taken into consideration, and it is strongly recommended that all courses be taken at a 4-year accredited institution. However, courses from 2-year accredited institutions will be accepted.
    • While online courses are accepted (including online labs), it is preferred that courses be taken as traditional, face-to-face classroom courses.
    • A strong science background is necessary to ensure that the applicant is prepared for the intensive first year curriculum. The science prerequisites need to have the breadth and depth to prepare a candidate for the rigor of PA education. Courses that are available for non-science majors will be accepted, but are not viewed as competitive.
    • A course or lab cannot be used to meet more than one requirement.

    Strongly Recommended Courses

    • Medical Terminology
      • Must be a stand-alone course, but can be taken online.
      • A certificate of completion will suffice.
    • Biochemistry
      • May only be applied to prerequisites when biology or chemistry was taken longer than 10 years ago or AP credit was received.
      • Will be considered a chemistry course unless categorized as a biology course by the granting institution on the transcript.
    • Psychology

    Other Credits?

    • No advanced standing, transfer credit, or credit for experiential learning will be granted.
    • International Baccalaureate (IB) program credits will be accepted for prerequisites.
    • CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) and DSST (Dantes) test scores are not accepted.
    • American Council on Education (ACE) courses are not accepted.
    • If Advanced Placement (AP) credit has been awarded by your educational institution for a Tufts PA program prerequisite course, you will then need to take higher level courses to satisfy the prerequisite for which you received AP credit. For example, if you received AP credit for part of a prerequisite (e.g., credit for BIO I, but not BIO II), you must take an upper level course+Lab that has BIO I as a prerequisite to the course, as well as taking BIO II+Lab, to fulfill the Biology requirement. If AP credit has been received for a full prerequisite (e.g., credit for BIO I and BIO II), two upper level courses must be taken, as well as at least ONE lab to fulfill the requirement.



  • Required direct patient care experience = 1,000 hours

    Recommended minimum = 1,500 hours

    Required direct patient care experience MUST be completed before submitting an application to the PA program.

    • All patient care experiences must be clinical as opposed to custodial/administrative.
    • At least one reference from a supervisor in this setting should substantiate the applicant’s experience and performance.
    • All direct patient care experiences are subject to review by the program.
    • Most of the required hours must have been completed within the last 5 years.

    The Admissions Committee is looking for direct patient care experience that will allow candidates to mature, experience whether health care is the right career path for them, and be exposed to the types of duties and functions that a health care professional provides. Although an applicant’s file is reviewed in its entirety, experience that does not involve direct patient care may not be accepted and/or considered highly competitive.

    Direct patient care experience can be obtained through a paid or volunteer experience. Each case will be weighed on its own merits. We are interested in the quality of the experience. The experience should allow a candidate to receive enough exposure to function (e.g., taking vitals, evaluating/triaging patients, bed side care, drawing blood, obtaining EKGs, casting/splinting, wound care, placement of IVs, etc.) in a clinical capacity that will allow them to begin to understand medical terms and interact with a wide variety of patients and clinical situations. It should also give a supervisor an opportunity to assess skills for the purpose of generating a reference.

    Examples of accepted direct patient care experiences:

    • Nurse
    • Physical therapist
    • Dental hygienist
    • Emergency Room Tech
    • Respiratory therapist
    • Clinical nutritionist
    • Emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic
    • Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
    • Patient care assistant
    • Medical assistant
    • Athletic trainer (if working with injuries/rehab)
    • Exercise physiologist (in a clinical setting, e.g., cardiac rehab)
    • Optometric assistant (if not just a clerical position)
    • Patient care technician
    • Ophthalmology technician
    • Surgical assistant

    The following, while valuable healthcare experiences, do not meet the requirements for direct patient care experience: personal trainer, patient navigator, physical therapist aide, chiropractic assistant, acupuncture assistant, pharmacy technician/clerk, clinical office assistant, medical scribe, counseling, observational positions, or non-clinical related positions (housekeeping, transport, etc.). Additionally, counseling patients, consenting and enrolling patients in studies, and dispensing medication are examples of duties that do not require “hands-on” activity and are not considered direct patient care experience.

    Obtaining direct patient care experience

    Paid positions may be found in nursing homes, ERs, hospitals, community health centers or private physician offices. Depending on skills, training, and medical experience, one may need to obtain certification (e.g., EMT or CNA). CPR is another certification that could be useful in obtaining a paid or volunteer position. It is important to find a situation where you have clinical interactions with patients.

    Volunteer experience may also be considered if it represents a significant level of direct patient care (e.g., not just patient transport, delivery of food trays, etc.). There are various opportunities to volunteer in public or private organizations (e.g., hospitals, medical centers, homeless shelters, Red Cross). If you were to spend a month in Haiti or Africa working as a medical assistant, assisting medical professionals in daily activities of immunization, patient exams, minor surgery, etc., this would count towards the required direct patient care hours.

    PA Shadowing Hours

    PA shadowing is encouraged, but not required, for the purpose of ensuring an individual understands the profession and is making an informed decision but it will not be accepted as part of the 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience.

    Training/Internship Hours

    Training, rotation, and internship hours cannot be counted toward an applicant’s direct patient care experience.

  • Please note that submitting official tests score is optional. This means that scores are not required but can be submitted if a candidate completed the exam. If applicants would like us to consider their exam results as a component of their candidacy, we will do so in a contextual way. If students choose not to submit exam results, the application will not be penalized. Our admissions committee has a holistic approach when evaluating each application. This provides us with the flexibility to evaluate academic and experience accomplishments within a candidate’s individual context.

    If a student chooses to submit a test score, they must send it officially from the provider directly to Tufts.

    GRE & MCAT

    Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores must have been taken within five years of the admissions cycle year. There is no preference given to either the GRE or the MCAT. If neither exam has been taken, the program recommends taking the GRE. There is no current requirement for particular subject tests.

    No minimum score has been established. For the GRE, the program considers Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. Applicants are encouraged to have overall GRE scores above the 50th percentile, and MCAT scores above 500. Scores will be used in conjunction with other data to consider applicants. 

  • The Technical Standards of the Physician Assistant Program (non-academic prerequisites) define the essential functions that an applicant must be able to perform in order to be admitted to the PA program, to progress satisfactorily, and to graduate. Essential functions refer to all non-academic criteria that are necessary to participate in the educational program. These include basic motor and communication skills, intellectual abilities, behavioral and social attributes, and other requirements.

    In developing these criteria, the PA program faculty affirm the following expectations of our admissions candidates:

    * Observation: The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation. It is enhanced by the functional use of the sense of hearing and of smell.

    * Communication: A candidate should be able to speak, to hear and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, families, peers, and faculty. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.

    * Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to execute motor activities reasonably required to provide general care, to perform diagnostic procedures and to provide emergency treatment to patients.

    * Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of physicians, requires all of these intellectual abilities. Candidates and students must be able independently to access and interpret medical histories or files, identify significant findings from history, physical examination, and laboratory data, provide a reasoned explanation for likely diagnoses, and prescribed medications and therapy, and recall and retain information in an efficient and timely manner. The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and the medical literature in formulating diagnoses and plans is essential. Good judgment in patient assessment, diagnostic and therapeutic planning is crucial; students must be able to identify and communicate their knowledge to others when appropriate.

    * Behavioral and Social Attributes: A candidate must possess the mental and emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to learn the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the admissions and education process.

    Additional Standards

    * All students will undergo criminal background checks before matriculation into the program and prior to entering the clinical year of the curriculum.

    * The above are considered minimum abilities required in the educational process of a physician assistant. Each person will be evaluated on an individual basis. Tufts University School of Medicine reaffirms its commitment to be flexible, innovative, and creative in trying to meet any special needs of students. The integrity of the curriculum must be maintained and those elements deemed essential to the education of a physician assistant must be required and completed.

    Disability Support Services

    If you have documented learning or physical disabilities and will need accommodations for your classes, you will need to submit the Request for Disability Support Services to the Assistant Dean of Student Services in the department of Public Health and Professional Degree Programs.

  • The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) evaluates the ability of non-native speakers to understand and use English in an academic setting. Tufts University School of Medicine – like many other American universities, government agencies and businesses – requires candidates to submit their TOEFL scores and certificate for admission to its programs.

    The TOEFL is REQUIRED if English is NOT the candidate's first language OR the candidate has a non-U.S. academic degree.

    The TOEFL requirement is WAIVED for students who have attended a U.S. university for two or more years.

    Minimum TOEFL score required = 100 IBT