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Physician Assistant Program

Admissions Requirements

Physician Assistant (MS) Criteria

  1. A baccalaureate degree in any discipline from a college or university institutionally accredited and recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) such as: the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Higher Learning Commission, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. If you have any questions about whether a transfer course will be accepted, you should check with the Office of Admissions prior to enrolling in the course.
  2. A minimum, cumulative undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  3. You must submit three (3) letters of recommendation. SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University has moved toward exclusive use of electronic recommendation submissions. Letters should be written by: a current/former College Science Professor and the other from a clinician (Physician Assistant, MD, Nurse practitioner, or other Health Care Professionals e.g. Physician Assistant, Physical Therapist, and Occupational Therapist). Please visit the application instructions to learn more about the letters of recommendation requirement.
  4. A minimum of 500 hours of health-related experience (Health care experience should be obtained in the United States over a period of time in a hospital or clinical setting in which you interact with patients, physicians or other health care professionals such as: nurse, nurse's aide, corpsman, medical laboratory technologist, respiratory therapist, emergency medical technician, counselor). Volunteer direct patient care experiences and shadowing may also be used towards meeting this requirement. Activities completed in a hospital setting such as candy stripers or any other such experiences cannot be applied towards meeting the requirement for the minimum health-related experience. As part of the letters of recommendation, applicants should include a letter from their site supervisor describing their responsibilities, length of the activity, hours devoted to the activity and how they function in their role (The hours must be completed within (5) years of your date of matriculation into the program).
  5. A minimum of 250 hours of non-clinical volunteer work (Community Service)  Non-clinical community activities should not be completed in a clinical setting nor should it involve interaction with patients, physicians or any members of the health care profession regardless of the duties performed. Community services should be completed over a period of time. Our definition of non-clinical community service is an altruistic activity that is not paid or remunerated in a tangible way, such as: working in a soup kitchen, working in a homeless shelter, tutoring disadvantaged children, etc. The activity must be deemed socially responsible  towards meeting human needs. As part of the letters of recommendation, applicants should include a letter from their site supervisor describing their leadership skills, responsibilities, length of the activity, hours devoted to the activity and how they function in their role (The hours must be completed with (5) Years of your date of matriculation into the program).
    Note: The SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University PA program reserves the right to reject experiences deemed to be of little value towards fulfilling this requirement, regardless of where such experiences are completed. Below is a very partial list of organizations that provides the opportunity for meaningful volunteer/community service:
  6. Online courses will not be accepted towards the fulfillment of the core prerequisite science courses.
  7. A grade of “C+” is the acceptable minimum in the following prerequisite courses. Competitive applicants are those who have earned a "B+" or higher grades in the prerequisite science courses with labs.
Subject Credits
Anatomy & Physiology 1 with labs and
Anatomy & Physiology 2 with labs (Must be designated for Science Majors)
General Biology 1 with labs and
General Biology 2 with labs (Must be designated for Science Majors)
General Chemistry 1 with labs and
General Chemistry 2 with labs (Must be designated for Science Majors)
Microbiology (not Bacteriology) with labs (Must be designated for Science Majors) 3
Mathematics (not Remedial Math nor Statistics) 3
General Psychology 3
Abnormal Psychology or
Life Span Psychology *
English 6
Humanities or Social Science courses ** 6
One upper division science course *** (Research Science courses may not be used to fulfill this requirement) 3–4

* More than one course may be required to fulfill the Life Span Psychology pre-requisite requirement. Course must cover from birth to aging.

** Preferably writing intensive courses. Applicants may be required to submit a course description.

*** Upper division science courses are generally physical/life science courses numbered 300 level or higher. They require prerequisite course work or are designated as such by the institution. They are generally completed at 4 year colleges/universities (at the junior or senior year level). Applicants will need to consult with the Registrar’s Office at their home school to be sure the course is at an upper division level. Upper division science courses completed at community colleges will be accepted. However, applicants may be required to submit proof of the upper-division status of the course.

  1. Recommended Additional Courses:
    • Organic Chemistry
    • Genetics
    • Biochemistry
    • Embryology
    • Histology
    • Pathophysiology
    • Pharmacology
    • Or other upper-division biology courses at the 300—400 level
    • Statistics

Competitive applicants have completed more than four (4) of the above recommended courses.

PLEASE NOTE: All prerequisite science courses should have been completed within the past eight (8) years of the date expected entry into the program. Any exceptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the faculty of the Physician Assistant Program.

The Program awards interview preference as related to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students of Temple University, if selection factors and the program’s mission are met.

An invitation to interview at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University Physician Assistant program does not guarantee admission.

Physician Assistant Master's PA Completion Post Professional MS  Degree program Criteria

  1. Baccalaureate degree in PA education from an ARC-PA accredited PA program or institution.
  2. Applicants may be required to hold or be eligible to obtain a license to practice as a Physician Assistant or eligibility for such licensure
  3. Two letters of recommendations are required. The letters must be from the following:
    1. A director of the Physician Assistant program from where you graduated; or a professional colleague
    2. A current supervising physician
  4. A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5 from an accredited PA Program
  5. Successful completion of the following two courses:
    • Research Methods (any course in Research methology will be reviewed for acceptance)
    • Health Care Delivery (any course in Health Care Delivery will be reviewed for acceptance)
  6. Applicants must maintain active clinical practice experience
  7. A copy of your current resume/CV

Note: A personal interview with the Admissions Committee may also be required.

Additional Volunteer Opportunities

  1. United Nations Volunteers
    If you’re looking to take your online volunteering worldwide, this is the place to start. UNV connects you with organizations working for peace and development in need of skills like research, writing, art, and design. There are already over 12,000 volunteers from 187 countries lending their talents to organizations around the globe.
  2. Catchafire
    This volunteer search tool is exclusively for online volunteer projects. Each one has a timeline that can range anywhere from an hour to a few weeks. So whether you have an afternoon or several, you can help not-for-profit with tasks like writing thank you letters or editing photos.
  3. Smithsonian Digital Volunteers
    The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, but even they could use a little help sometimes. Help make their collections more accessible by volunteering online to transcribe historical documents or edit Wikipedia articles related to their artifacts and research.
  4. Amnesty Decoders
    Operated by Amnesty International, this network of digital volunteers helps conduct research into global human rights violations. Volunteers have used their phones and computers to verify the location of oil spills, find evidence of drone strikes, and flag abusive tweets to women politicians in India.
  5. Translators Without Borders
    For those fluent in more than one language, check out this nonprofit that combines language skills with humanitarian aid. Volunteers provide translations (10 million words a year!) to international organizations that focus on crisis relief, health and education.
  6. Crisis Text Line
    Here’s a perfect example of technology being used for good. Become a volunteer to help the Crisis Text Line continue to offer free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. If you’re at least 18 and can commit to volunteering four hours each week, you can apply to be trained for free.
  7. Zooniverse
    Zooniverse is a platform for people-powered research that literally wouldn’t be possible (or practical) without the help of online volunteers. Spend as much or as little time as you’d like identifying endangered animals, classifying galaxy systems, or transcribing Shakespearean manuscripts.
  8. Project Gutenberg
    Founded in 1971, this may just be the virtual volunteering effort that started it all. The goal is to create the largest digital library, and so far they’ve amassed 59,000 free eBooks. Volunteer by donating eligible materials, transcribing books into a digital form, or proofreading others’ work.
    DoSomething empowers young people to enact social change both online or off. Volunteer online through one of our campaigns to help solve real-world problems. DoSomething members have used the internet to successfully urge Apple to diversify their emojis, change the dictionary definition of “Black/black”, and create the largest crowdsourced anti-bullying guide.
  10. VolunteerMatch
    VolunteerMatch is a long-running volunteer organization that matches passion and talent with important causes. They have hundreds of virtual volunteering experiences in areas ranging from health and medicine, children and youth, education, to community building. They’ve also created a COVID-19 hub specifically for coronavirus volunteer opportunities.