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Admission Requirements and Procedures
Application to the Physician Assistant Program requires completion of a bachelor's degree (in any discipline) from a regionally accredited four-year institution and completion of academic prerequisite requirements.
Admission to the program is for the fall semester only. Admission is granted by the physician assistant admissions committee after careful review of all applications. Selections are made on the basis of a formal interview (for competitive applicants) and consideration of a variety of factors which include: academic record, type and amount of clinical experience, multicultural sensitivity, community service experience and professional experience.
Applicants are required to submit an application through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) as well as a USC Supplemental Application by November 1 of each year. Further details regarding admission procedures including those for international student applicants are provided online at usc.edu/pa.
Transfer Students or Advanced Placement
The Physician Assistant Program does not accept transfer students, nor do we allow advanced placement based on prior education or clinical experience. Each applicant who is admitted is required to complete the full Master of Physician Assistant Practice curriculum in residence at USC. No waivers or substitutions are permitted.
Students receive information regarding registration procedures during an orientation program held the week before classes begin.
Information sessions are available for prospective students who would like to receive more information regarding the program. Applicants are encouraged to attend one of the program's information sessions where PA faculty and staff describe the program, the application process and answer general questions. Information sessions are held on the Alhambra Campus, Building A11. Contact the PA Program for further details and RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (626) 457-4240. The information session schedule may be viewed at usc.edu/pa.
A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and completion of all prerequisite course work are required for admission to the Physician Assistant Program.
A one-year general biology sequence with lab and a one-year general chemistry sequence with lab, each course designed for science majors. All science prerequisites must be completed within 10 years of application to the program.
Three semester units or 4 quarter units of each of the following: human anatomy with lab; human physiology with lab; and microbiology with lab.
Distance learning courses are acceptable provided they are equivalent in all dimensions (including laboratory requirements) to courses taught in "traditional" educational settings (e.g., hybrid courses). All distance learning course credit must be provided by regionally accredited institutions of higher education.
Students are expected to have a strong competency in medical terminology.
All science prerequisites should be completed within 10 years of application to the program. Exceptions to the 10-year science prerequisite time frame may be granted on an individual basis to those individuals who have completed one of the following: 1) at least 8 semester units of graduate credit in a medically related natural science discipline with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or better, completed within seven years of the application deadline, or 2) received an advanced degree in the natural or clinical sciences (e.g., MS, DVM, PharmD, PhD, MD) within 10 years of the application deadline. In either case, all course work completed and degrees conferred must be from institutions of higher education accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. Requests for this 10-year exemption should be directed to the chair of Admissions.
Three semester units or 4 quarter units of each of the following: general psychology and statistics.
Two semesters of beginning college level Spanish language earned through course work or by placement examination. There are no language substitutions or waivers.
Two semester units or three quarter units of English composition are required for international applicants only. AP course work is acceptable.
Students who intend to apply to the Physician Assistant Program should contact the admission office for evaluation of previous baccalaureate and/or post-baccalaureate course work.
Applicants are required to take either the GRE or MCAT examination. The examination must be taken within five years of the application deadline of November 1. Official scores of the general and analytical sections of the GRE must be submitted to USC by using the Institutional Code 4852 (departmental code is not necessary). Applicants with MCAT scores must provide their AAMC verification code to the USC PA Program. GRE or MCAT scores must be submitted by November 1. The PA Program expects that all applicants earn a combined quantitative and verbal GRE score of no less than 1,000 (on the older version of the exam) and 295 (on the newer version of the exam).
Clinical Experience Prerequisite
"Hands-on" patient care experience is preferred. Most successful applicants typically have 2,000 hours or more of paid clinical hours and have worked as one of the following: emergency medical technician, licensed vocational nurse, medical assistant, medical scribe, medical technologist, military medical corpsman, paramedic, psychiatric technician, physical therapy aide, radiological technician, respiratory therapist or registered nurse. Other health care experience is equally acceptable as long as the experience is "hands-on" in nature.
Physician Assistant Shadowing Experience
Shadowing a physician assistant in a clinical setting is expected. This activity provides the applicant with the upclose experience needed to understand the role and responsibilities of the PA and may help the applicant make a better informed decision in choosing a career as a physician assistant.
Community Service Prerequisite
Community service activities/projects are expected of all applicants. Service which benefits medically underserved or disadvantaged populations is preferred.
The completion of the 33-month professional curriculum is required to earn the Master of Physician Assistant Practice degree. Students do not have choices of courses to take nor are they permitted to drop any course or courses during the semester. Progress is permitted only when the prior semester is successfully completed. Students should view the curriculum outlined here as advisory only and subject to modification.
A summative evaluation is conducted on each student during the sixth and final semester of the program to verify that each student is prepared to enter clinical practice.
Health Requirements and Technical Standards
All accepted candidates are required to meet the PA program's technical standards (physical and psychological competencies of performance) prior to entering the program and throughout training. Upon acceptance, students will be required to submit and maintain evidence of current health status and immunizations. Specific details outlining these technical standards are located at usc.edu/pa.
The Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at USC is a full-time program. Students are strongly discouraged to accept or continue outside employment while enrolled in the program. Students are not permitted to work for the program.
All USC Physician Assistant students are required to pass a background check prior to admission to the Master of Physician Assistant Practice (MPAP) Program.
All students in the Master of Physician Assistant Practice degree program must meet course and grade point average requirements. All course requirements must be completed with a grade of "B" or better. The degree will not be conferred until the student has successfully completed all degree requirements. Students are subject to the degree requirements in the catalogue current for the semester of their admission into the program.
Physician assistant students are enrolled in a standard curriculum during their 33 months in the program. The following courses must be successfully completed in order to earn the Master of Physician Assistant Practice degree. Only physician assistant students may enroll in these courses. Departmental clearance is required to enroll.