Physician Assistant

Physician Assistant Studies (MS) Prerequisites

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Prerequisites | International Applicants | Required Technical Standards

Prerequisites

Both academic work and hands-on patient care experience must be completed prior to applying to the program.  Admissions requirements and procedures are reviewed and revised annually.  Updates are generally made on our web page in late-April.  It is the applicant's responsibility to review the most current information prior to applying.

Due to the high volume of requests, we are unable to pre-review transcripts prior to your actually applying to the program.  However, we can answer general questions about the program that are not addressed on our website.  You can call us at 617-373-3195 or email at paprogram@neu.edu.  Please note that during the height of the application cycle (September through December), we may not be able to respond to your emails until after the start of the new year. 

The GRE is not required. The program does not have a code number.

Academics 

The following academic work must be completed prior to applying by the September 1 deadline.  Please review the FAQ section on course prerequisites for additional guidelines and explanations.

  • bachelor’s degree in any major from a regionally accredited institution 
    • overall GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale as calculated on the CASPA application
    • science GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale as calculated on the CASPA application
    • See FAQ section on Application Evaluation for additional information
  • 2 semesters of biology lecture plus 1 biology lab
    • lectures and labs must be taken at a regionally accredited 4-year institution only.  Courses taken at a 2-year community college will not fulfill biology prerequisites.
    • biology lecture courses may be taken in-class or online
    • biology lab course must be taken in-class only
    • must be designated as pre-med level courses by school offering them
    • combined biology lecture and lab courses must be 4-credit courses.  Courses worth only 3 credits generally do not include a lab component.
    • must be taken within 7 years of applying to the program
    • grades of solid B or better required in both lecture and lab components
    • course content may include cellular and organismic biology, genetics, and/or evolutionary process. Any combination of 2 biology lecture courses is acceptable including, but not limited to, general biology, genetics, microbiology, immunology, pathophysiology, infectious disease, cell biology, etc.   
  • 2 semesters of chemistry lecture plus 1 chemistry lab
    • lectures and labs must be taken at a regionally accredited 4-year institution only.  Courses taken at a 2-year community college will not fulfill chemistry prerequisites.
    • chemistry lecture courses may be taken in-class or online
    • chemistry lab course must be taken in-class only
    • must be designated as pre-med level courses by school offering them
    • combined chemistry lecture and lab courses must be at least 4-credit courses.  Courses worth only 3 credits generally do not include a lab component.
    • must be taken within 7 years of applying to the program
    • grades of solid B or better required in both lecture and lab components
    • any combination of 2 chemistry lecture courses is acceptable including, but not limited to, general chemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
  • anatomy and physiology that cover the entire body from head to toe including all body systems
    • may be taken in-class or online at either a regionally accredited 2-year or 4-year institutionSee FAQ section on Prerequisites for additional information.
    • must be taken within 5 years of applying to the program
    • grades of solid B or better required in both courses
    • most commonly offered as A&P 1 plus A&P 2 or 1 semester of anatomy plus 1 semester of physiology. Course content must be covered in sufficient depth in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of the body.  A 1-semester A&P course is not adequate.
    • a lab is not required
    • human, vertebrate, and animal A&P are all acceptable
  • 1 course in statistics
    • may be taken in-class or online at either a regionally accredited 2-year or 4-year institution
    • no time limitation requirement
    • grade of solid B or better required
    • topics covered should include hypothesis testing, probability theory, chi square, multiple regression, T tests, Z tests, ANOVAS, correlations, means, medians, modes, etc. as well as how to select and apply the appropriate statistical test, analyze the data, and interpret the results
  • a laptop computer is required in order to take online exams in class.

For a brief summary of course prerequisites click here.  

Advanced placement (AP) or international baccalaureate (IB) credits from high school do not fulfill any of our course prerequisites. For applicants who received college credits for high school biology and chemistry AP courses, upper level biology and chemistry taken in college may be substituted.  Statistics must be taken in college even if college credit was given for high school statistics.  Non-credit college courses are not accepted to fulfill any prerequisites.  Advanced placement will not be awarded to any applicant to the Physician Assistant Program, regardless of prior education or experience.

Biology and chemistry courses need to be the "hard core" science courses that are considered by the school offering them to be pre-med or science major courses.  Courses labeled "for non-science majors" are not appropriate.

For applicants who have taken introductory biology and introductory chemistry  lecture courses more than 7 years ago, upper level courses may be substituted rather than repeating those basic level courses. However, the upper level courses must have been taken at a regionally accredited 4-year institution within 7 years of applying to the program.  Any combination (general or upper level) of 2 semesters of biology lectures plus 2 semesters of chemistry lectures will fulfill the prerequisites.  Examples of upper level biology-related courses include, but are not limited to, genetics, immunology, infectious disease, pathophysiology, cell biology, microbiology, etc.  Examples of upper level chemistry-related courses include biochemistry, organic chemistry, and inorganic chemistry.

As long as you have taken college biology and chemistry labs and earned grades of solid B or better, it is not necessary to take additional lab courses even if the labs are older than 7 years.  Only the biology and chemistry lectures need to be within 7 years of applying.

There are no substitutes for anatomy and physiology. If your A&P courses are more than 5 years old at the time of application, you would need to repeat them and ensure that the entire body and all systems are covered.

Statistics courses offered by various departments (math, biology, psychology, etc.) are acceptable.  Calculus cannot be used to satisfy the statistics prerequisite.

Grades of solid B or better are required in all prerequisite courses.  " B-minus" grades or Pass/Fail grades do not fulfill any the prerequisites.

Hands-on Patient Care Experience

Hands-on patient care experience should be completed prior to applying by the September 1 deadline.  Please review the FAQ section on hands-on patient care experience for additional guidelines and explantions.

  • evidence of significant direct hands-on patient care experience is required in order for applicants to have a basic understanding of and comfort with patient care as well as a minimum level of clinical maturity. Strongest preference will be given to applicants who have approximately 2000 hours of hands-on patient care experience prior to applying to the program. Applicants with less than 2000 hours may also be given consideration depending upon the strength of their entire application.
  • hands-on patient care involves working one-on-one with patients and doing procedures that require touching patients yourself including, but not limited to:
    • taking vital signs
    • drawing blood
    • doing EKGs
    • changing bandages and dressings
    • casting and splinting
    • removing sutures and staples
    • bathing and toileting
  • partial list of hands-on patient care positions includes, but is not limited to (for a more comprehensive list of both acceptable and unacceptable positions, click here):
    • certified nursing assistant
    • medical/clinical assistant
    • ER tech
    • EMT doing more than patient transfer
    • physical therapy assistant
    • paramedic
    • nurse
    • physical therapist
    • respiratory therapist
    • medical corpsman
  • full-time paid employment done after completing your bachelor’s degree is most competitive, although part-time equivalencies will be considered if they total approximately 2000 hours.
  • all students accepted into the program are required to document their immunizations (i.e., measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, varicella, Td, and PPD) prior to the start of the program.
  • Massachusetts CORI checks are required for all students.  Some rotation sites require additional criminal background checks.
  • a laptop computer is required in order to take online exams in class.
  • access to a car or alternative transportation is necessary in order to travel to clinical sites. 

International Applicants

For applicants who have earned degrees outside of the United States, the following prerequisites must be completed prior to applying:

  • completion of all the required science courses (see list of specific courses under “Academics” above ) at a regionally accredited institution in the United States, even if these courses were previously taken in your native country
  • TOEFL score within the previous 2 years of at least 100 (internet-based) to demonstrate proficiency in English
  • a certified degree and course-by-course evaluation of foreign transcripts to ascertain equivalences to United States educational standards.  Suggested evaluation services include:

World Education Services
Bowling Green Station, PO Box 5087
New York, NY 10274
Phone: 212.966.6311
Website: www.wes.org

Center for Educational Documentation
P.O. Box 170116
Boston, MA 02117
Phone: 617.338.7171
Website: www.cedevaluations.com


Successful completion of the ECFMG or USMLE cannot be substituted in lieu of taking all of the prerequisite courses in the United States.  Advanced standing credit will not be given for courses taken elsewhere.  All students accepted into the program must successfully complete the entire 2-year curriculum regardless of previous education and degrees.

Current and ongoing hands-on patient care experience is needed in order to be a competitive applicant.  While the Admissions Committee may consider experience gained in your home country, hands-on patient care experience in the United States is also required.

Required Technical Standards

A candidate for the Physician Assistant Program must have abilities and skills in:

  • observation
  • communication
  • sensory and motor coordination and function
  • intellectual-conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities
  • behavioral and social attributes

Observation
Candidates and students must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in experiments in the basic sciences, and must observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand, noting both nonverbal and verbal signals. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and other sensory modalities.

Communication
Candidates and students must be able to: speak intelligibly, hear sufficiently, and observe patients closely in order to elicit and transmit information; describe changes in mood, activity, and posture; and perceive nonverbal communications communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing skills. Candidates and students must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written English with all members of the health care team. Students must demonstrate reading skills at a level sufficient to accomplish curricular requirements, provide clinical care for patients, and complete appropriate medical records, documents, and plans according to protocol in a thorough and timely manner.

Sensory and Motor Coordination and Function
Candidates and students are required to possess motor skills sufficient to: directly perform palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other basic diagnostic procedures; and execute motor movements reasonably required to provide basic medical care, such as airway management, placement of catheters, application of sufficient pressure to control bleeding, simple obstetrical maneuvers, etc. These actions require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities
These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of physician assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. Candidates and students must be able to: independently 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; 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 and diagnostic and therapeutic planning is essential. Students must be able to communicate their knowledge to others when appropriate.

Behavioral and Social Attributes
Candidates and students must possess the ability to: use their intellectual capacity, exercise good judgment, and promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients under potentially stressful and/or emergency circumstances; develop empathic, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients; adapt to changing environments and learn in the face of uncertainties that are inherent in the practice of medicine; use supervision appropriately and act independently when indicated. Compassion, integrity, ethical standards, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admissions and educational process.

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Contact Info

Physician Assistant
202 Robinson Hall
Tel: 617.373.3195