Frequently Asked Questions

About the Program



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What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?

PAs are highly trained and licensed medical professionals who practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers. PAs are graduates of accredited PA educational programs who have passed a nationally certified board exam and are state-licensed to practice medicine with the supervision of a physician.

What are my chances of getting into your PA Program?

Typically, we receive over 1600 applications for 30 seats. We strive to have a holistic application process, with the goal of selecting students who can succeed in our intense and fast-paced curriculum. The typical admission profile is an applicant with a 3.5 GPA (both cumulative and science) and a 305 total on their GRE score. This does not mean we do not accept those who don’t meet this average, but our program applicants are very competitive.

How long is the program and how many students are accepted each year?

The program is 24 months in length and begins in January of each year. The first year consists of a didactic curriculum with the second year focusing on clinical education and a summative experience. We currently accept up to 30 students each year.

Can I be accepted before I have completed all of my prerequisite courses?

Yes, you can be conditionally accepted, which means that before you enroll in January, all prerequisite coursework must be completed successfully. Although all required coursework does not have to be completed when you apply, you should have completed at least half of a sequence.

What do you believe is your program’s greatest strength?

Our strength lies in our passion to provide you an excellent education. We are located within a world class Health Science Center (University of Tennessee Health Science Center) where you will enjoy exceptional teaching and simulation facilities as well as a caring faculty who are invested in your success as a PA.


I have taken several biology courses, but I have not taken any labs. Are labs really required or will the biology lecture suffice?

Eight hours of biology science are required as well as three hours of microbiology. The eight hours of biology must include labs, usually a biology course will be 3 credit hours for lecture and 1-hour lab.

Microbiology does not require a lab.

I have a Bachelor’s Degree I obtained online. Will that suffice?

Online programs will suffice, but your Bachelor’s degree must be from an accredited university to apply to our PA program.

Please note that you still must meet the basic science requirements.

It has been over five years since I took some of my science courses. Will I have to retake them?

Prerequisites older than five years may be accepted; however, the admissions committee reserves the right to request the applicant take additional courses to ensure they are appropriately prepared for the classroom setting.

Do you consider scribing to be qualified as patient care experience for your program?

Yes we accept scribe hours.

Which patient care experience do you prefer?

The admissions committee recognizes direct patient care experience to include directly taking vitals, taking or recording patient histories, assisting in surgeries and procedures, drawing labs, giving injections, etc.  Shadowing MDs, as well as PAs will make you stand out more from other applicants. The more experience in these areas, the better.

If I provide you the course name and number, can you tell me if it will meet the prerequisites for your program?

Due to the incredible amount of applications we receive we cannot look up individual classes.

What are the prerequisites needed to be accepted into your program?

The items are listed on our prerequisites page

I am not a Tennessee student. What are my chances of being admitted?

Excellent! Historically about half of our students are from Tennessee.


What kinds of financial aid is available?

Please visit the Office of Student Financial Aid’s website or call 901-448-5568.

Are there many job opportunities for physician assistants?

Yes! There are many job opportunities, not only in Tennessee but also nationwide per year depending on location and clinical setting.

The documentation on your website states that “IF you retake a course to improve your GPA, despite it being replaced in your transcript, UTHSC will AVERAGE the grade.” Does this mean the process would be the same if the class was taken at two different institutions?

That is correct. We will average the grade from the two classes.


What is the schedule like for the 24 months as a student in the PA Program?

Classes begin in January of each year. Students begin their PA education during the didactic year which is where they receive their formal medical education. The second year of PA education focuses on clinical rotations, 9 of which are required and 2 are elective. The last month of the second year is a summative experience where students are back on campus.


How will the program help me to be prepared to take the Boards at the end of the program?

Our curriculum focuses on integrating each body system with regards to clinical medicine, history and physical exam, pharmacotherapeutics, and building clinical decision making skills. Students take the PACKRAT three times as well as complete KAPLAN and PanceMaster questions during their clinical year. During the summative experience students also receive a board review course delivered via webcast.

Student’s academic progress is monitored by the program to identify not only at-risk students, but also to identify those areas which students should focus on to better prepare them to pass the PANCE.  UTHSC students also have access to student support services which are provided by the University.


Will I have an advisor to assist me through the program?

Yes. During the didactic year each student is assigned an advisor who meets with them on a regular basis. During the clinical year the student’s clinical regional director serves as their advisor.

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Contact Us

Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant Program

66 North Pauline, Ste. 116
Memphis TN 38163
Phone: 901-448-8000