Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to take all of the courses in the physician assistant program curriculum even if I've already taken the same course before?

Yes. The physician assistant program has no policy for advanced placement. Once admitted, all PA students must take the entire PA curriculum.

This is usually only a concern for off-campus applicants who have already earned degrees and, as a result, have taken courses similar to those in the PA program.

One exception would be if a candidate has a bachelor’s degree or above in that exact discipline, they would not be required to take the course. For example, a microbiology bachelor’s degree holder would not be required to take microbiology during the program.

The other exception would be if a Marquette undergraduate has completed the exact same course as the one required within the physician assistant curriculum and has scored a C or better. Two of the courses in the curriculum would need to be audited even if the student has completed it prior. These are BISC 4145: Human Physiology and BISC 7120: Medical Pharmacology. Other identical courses do not need to be repeated.

What kinds of experiences count toward the 200 hours of healthcare experience?

Most healthcare experiences count. Both paid and/or volunteer experiences count. Ideally, experiences should be healthcare-related. Some students have earned nursing assistant certification, working summers in hospitals or nursing homes. Some students have received on-the-job training in nursing homes.

Volunteer experiences are just as valuable. Applicants have volunteered at summer camps for children with disabilities or who suffer from other afflictions. Some volunteer at group homes for individuals with disabilities or in recovery.

Activities that do not count include lifeguarding, babysitting or medical activities not involving patients, such as working in medical records. Although strongly encouraged of all applicants, healthcare shadowing does not count towards the healthcare experience requirement.

Do all my health care experience hours need to be completed by the time I apply?

Yes, a minimum of 200 hours must be completed by the time of CASPA application submission. Additional hours reported outside of the CASPA application will not count toward the 200 hours. Having 200 hours or more demonstrates a commitment to the admission process and to a career in healthcare as a Physician Assistant. Please note, shadowing hours do not count toward the 200 minimum hours, but they do enhance an application.

 How many people apply for the program?

The PA program receives between 850-1000 applications each cycle. 

 How many do you accept?

 We accept a total of 75 students per year. 25 +/- 5 students are accepted from Marquette undergraduates with the other 50 +/- 5 students admitted from outside Marquette.

 What GPA do I need?

 A minimum total GPA of 3.0 as calculated by CASPA is required.

 What if I don't get in?

 Application to PA programs across the country is highly competitive. Undergraduate students continue their work towards their Biomedical Sciences degree and may re-apply.

Can I apply as a junior or senior?

 Absolutely. Some students become aware of the PA profession after declaring majors in other fields. These students must realize that if admitted to the PA program, they become biomedical sciences majors and must complete their undergraduate requirements before beginning PA studies.

 Do experience hours from high school or many years ago count?

 Applicants may submit healthcare experience hours earned during their junior year of high school and later. In addition, applicants should try to augment these experiences with more recent ones as well.

 Should I shadow a PA?

 Shadowing is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory. It shows the admission committee that you have made effort to explore the profession.

 What types of references do you recommend I obtain for my application?


Although there are no requirements as to the format or content of the three reference letters we require, we do have some suggestions as to who these references might come from.

  • Someone who knows you academically. This would ideally be someone whose course you have taken and can comment on your preparation for the rigors of an intense professional academic program.

  • Someone who knows your work ethic. This would ideally be from someone in the healthcare field with whom you have worked with, or worked for, and can comment on your work ethic, passion for healthcare, etc.

  • Someone who knows you personally. This would ideally be from someone in the community who can comment on your character, your goals, etc.

 What if I have additional questions about the program?

 For answers to other questions, go to the Physician Assistants and Physician Assistant Education website.