James Madison University

Prerequisites to Admission

For consideration for Admission to the PA Program candidates must successfully complete the following courses and other requirements of the Graduate School AND of the PA Program.


  • A bachelor or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher is preferred.
  • Satisfactory test scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).  Please report the code 7442.  (Satisfactory is defined by the PA program as a 25th percentile minimum on each of the three sections)
  • Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended upon acceptance.

Additional Prerequisite Requirements (courses):

Successfully complete the following prerequisite courses at the "B", 3.0 level or better:

  • Human or mammalian PHYSIOLOGY – a one semester course
  • Human or mammalian ANATOMY – a one semester course
    • The total credit hours for two semesters of anatomy and physiology should combined be at least 6 credit hours.
    • Anatomy must include laboratory work either as a component of the anatomy course or as a separate laboratory course.

Successfully complete the following prerequisite courses at the "C", 2.0 level or better

  • BIOCHEMISTRY – a one semester course (organic chemistry and courses combining general or organic chemistry with biochemistry in a single course do not meet this requirement)
  • GENETICS – a one semester course
  • MICROBIOLOGY – a one semester course
  • MEDICAL TERMINOLOGY – a one semester course

All of these prerequisite courses (with the exception of Medical Terminology) must have been completed within the past seven years.  Medical Terminology can be completed within any number of years.  This seven year time frame is calculated from the date of the course to the date of PA Program matriculation (not application).  These time periods are to assure some degree of current information in these fields.  By their very nature some working positions require people to maintain an adequate degree of current information in these basic sciences. Candidates employed in such positions should apply and include an explanation for the admissions committee on how they have maintained a degree of current information in these fields.   The committee will decide whether or not to accept the explanation as sufficient to meet the prerequisites.  This kind of exception is rarely granted.

PLEASE NOTE:  These  prerequisite courses must be accomplished prior to beginning the PA curriculum in August, not prior to applying for admission to the program.

All prerequisite courses must be taken from an accredited institution and must be taken “for credit”, i.e., they must generate a transcript and a grade for the course.

Candidates may meet the anatomy and physiology prerequisites by taking a semester course in each topic or by taking the entire sequence of combined anatomy & physiology courses at a single college.  The combined courses must cover all of the body systems and regions and must include a laboratory component in anatomy.

Additional Prerequisite Requirements (direct patient contact experience):

A minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient contact experience is required as a prerequisite to admission to the PA Program.  These hours may come from one experience or a combination of experiences and may be voluntary or paid work. Experiences having higher levels of training and responsibility are more desirable. 

The table below is intended to provide basic guidance on how the Admissions Committee evaluates direct patient care experience.  Although the table lists specific occupations as examples, the actual job title is much less important to the Admissions Committee than the tasks, duties and level of responsibility associated with it.  Therefore, in order to receive the most accurate evaluation, it is in your best interest to provide the program (through the CASPA application) with a detailed job description.

If your job entails some direct patient care duties and some duties that do not involve patient care, you should list these hours separately in the appropriate areas on the CASPA application.





-High level of responsibility

-Significant autonomy

-Makes decisions

-Leadership roles

-Physical Therapist (PT)
-Occupational Therapist (OT)
-Registered Nurse (RN)
-Registered Dietician (RD)
- Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC)
-Therapist (Psychiatrist or Psychologist)


-Some level of responsibility

-Some autonomy

-Some decision making

-Surgical Assistant/Tech
-Respiratory Therapist (RT)
-Patient Care Technician
-Cardiac Stress Technician
-Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS)
-Sleep Technologist
-Mental Health Counselor (Licensed Professional Counselor or Rehabilitation Counselor)


-Little responsibility

-No true autonomy

-Little decision making

-Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
-Radiology (X-ray) Technician
-Medical Assistant
-O.T. Aide
-P.T. Aide
-Clinical Research Assistant^^
-Mental Health Worker

-Experiences listed in Tiers I, II, and III ALL COUNT towards the 1,000 direct patient contact hours prerequisite requirement

-The Admissions Committee prefers experiences that entail higher levels of responsibility and autonomy (such as Tiers I and II), however we also understand that some of the listed experiences are not always feasible for applicants.  Having all of your hours from Tier III does NOT exclude you from admission to the Program.  In fact, applicants who have completed all of their hours in Tier III are still accepted quite frequently.


Do not involve direct patient care and/or is not considered part of the medical discipline

-Optometry Technician
-Pharmacy Technician
-Medical Scribe**
-Pathology Assistant
-Medical Technologist
-Clinical Laboratory Scientist
-Shadowing of a clinician
-CPR/ACLS Instructor
-Dental Assistant
-Dental Hygienist
-Patient Transporter
-Unit Clerk
-Candy Striper
-Tissue Recovery Technician
-Non-clinical Research Assistant
-Personal Trainer
-Massage Therapist

-Experiences listed in Tier IV DO NOT COUNT towards the 1,000 direct patient contact hours prerequisite requirement

-Applicants with one or more of these experiences should still list them on their CASPA application as it is still valuable information for the Admissions Committee to know

PLEASE NOTE:  The 1,000 hour minimum of direct patient contact hours must be completed prior to beginning the PA curriculum in August, not prior to applying for admission to the program.
^^hours as a clinical research assistant (CRA) may be counted when actual direct patient care takes place.  For example when the CRA is drawing blood, taking vital signs, performing wound care, etc.

**some medical scribes are cross-trained as patient care technicians or medical assistants.  In these situations the individual may count these hours.  It is only when someone is solely a medical scribe that the hours may not be counted towards the 1,000 hours of direct patient care.

Other professions and experiences not listed may also qualify as direct patient care.  Hours completed while in the role of a student/intern DO NOT count.  For example, hours accrued while training to be an EMT cannot be counted – only the hours completed once EMT certification is achieved.  Although desirable for other reasons, PA and/or physician shadowing experience does not count toward the required 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience. Please contact us at paprogram@jmu.edu if you have any questions regarding your healthcare experience.