Skip to main content

The UNC Physician Assistant program is a graduate program awarding a Master of Health Sciences in Physician Assistant Studies. Our program is committed to diversity in the student body and in the physician assistant workforce. We encourage persons from all socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and religious backgrounds to apply. Especially, we encourage veterans from all areas of the U.S. Armed Forces to apply to our program. We recognize that your service and experiences would provide a valuable perspective in our program. We give preference to veterans who served in a medical capacity while serving in the military, particularly, Special Forces Medical Sergeants. Preference is also given to applicants who meet the mission and goals of the program.

How to Apply

The UNC PA program participates in the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) online application process. Applicants must complete a CASPA application and submit a UNC supplemental application and applicant fee of $95. Applicants should carefully read over CASPA’s application instructions early in the application period to familiarize themselves with the application process and requirements. It is the responsibility of the applicant to meet the required established deadlines.



UNC Health announced that they will require employees and matriculated students to complete their vaccination series (i.e. receive two shots of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) by Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. As a result, matriculated students with clinical experiences at UNC Health and other clinical sites that have such requirements, regardless of curriculum phase or duration, must complete their vaccination series by the deadlines set by the placement sites. To facilitate placement, vaccinated matriculated students should upload a copy of their vaccination record to CastleBranch, Inc.


Matriculated students seeking approved medical or religious exemptions must submit a request via a link that will be shared in the coming weeks. Matriculated students who cannot show proof of vaccination or who otherwise do not meet clinical site requirements may not be permitted by the clinical sites to work in these clinical settings. Additional questions or concerns may be submitted to the Program Director.


Please view our FAQs for further details.


In response to COVID19, the following modifications are being made to our admissions requirements for the April 2021 application cycle


  • We will accept remotely proctored GRE examination offered by ETS. Scores must be officially reported by ETS to CASPA using code 6945. No other coding designations will be accepted by our program.

Prerequisite Coursework:

Prerequisite coursework submitted during the Spring and Summer sessions of 2020 receiving Pass/Fail, Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading are eligible for prerequisite fulfillment. Pass/Fail and Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grades will not be included within your GPA calculations. Additionally, the program reserves the right to request a letter from the Dean verifying your completion of the course and numeric/letter grade traditionally received for credit.


Applicants must meet the following GPA thresholds (no exceptions):

  • Minimum cumulative GPA (all courses taken at all levels) or last 60 credit hours > 3.0
  • Minimum cumulative prerequisite GPA > 3.2

Bachelor’s Degree

Degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or Canada to be completed by the end of the spring semester of the application year. Applicants with a baccalaureate degree from a non-U.S. or Canadian institution may apply for admission if their prerequisite courses were completed at a regionally accredited U.S. or Canadian institution.


Semester HoursQuarter HoursUNC Chapel Hill EquivalenciesNC Community College Equivalencies
Anatomy*35EXSS 175 or BIO 252 & BIO 253*BIO 168 & BIO 169*
Physiology35EXSS 276 or PHYI 292
Biochemistry or Organic Chemistry35CHEM 261 or CHEM 430CHM 251 or CHM 271
Microbiology35BIO 422 or MCRO 251BIO 175 or BIO 275
Sociology or Psychology35PSYC 101 or higher or SOCI 101 or higherPSY or SOC prefix course
Statistics or Biostatistics35STOR 151, 155 or PSYC 210BUS 228, MAT 152 or PSY 285
Medical Terminology**CLAS 126MED 121 & MED 122
Notes: All prerequisite work must be done at a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S. The program will not accept transfer credit from other physician assistant programs. Prerequisite courses must be completed with grades “C” or better. It is strongly recommended, but not required, that all prerequisite courses be taken within the last seven years. Students with prerequisite courses older than seven years are encouraged to audit or retake courses to refresh their understanding of the subject matter. AP/IB/CLEP credits, PASS/FAIL, or survey level courses (i.e. Survey of Organic Chemistry) cannot be used to fulfill prerequisite requirements. Additionally, work experience may not be used as a substitute for prerequisite course requirements.

* A&P Human-based highly preferred. Applicants completing A&P I are required to take A&P II. Completion of A&P I and A&P II do not require additional physiology coursework. Completion of SOCM course or equivalent are accepted with appropriate JST or equivalent transcript records.

** A certificate of completion may also be accepted in lieu of academic credit.

For course equivalencies from other NC institutions, please refer to Transfer Equivalencies

Courses can be taken at regionally accredited four-year institutions or community colleges (online or in-person) and are considered equally. Applicants may have up to two pending prerequisite courses in progress at the time of application. In progress courses must be completed by August 31 with final grades available by September 1. Coursework completed after September 1 of the application year will not be considered as part of the application.

Patient Care Experience

A minimum of 1,000 hours of direct, hands-on patient care. Examples include experiences in which you are directly responsible for patient care: prescribing medication, performing procedures, directing a course of treatment, work as an active nurse, EMT, etc. Positions may be for pay or volunteer. These hours must be completed no later than September 1 of the application period. Additional documentation will be required to confirm an applicant’s patient care experiences. Applicants may download the Patient Care Experience Verification Form here.


The GRE is a required component of the admissions application. GRE scores are required to be sent to CASPA using the code 6945. Scores must be appended to the applicants CASPA application by September 1. Recommended GRE scores: verbal, 50% or higher; quantitative, 50% or higher; analytical writing, 3.5 or higher.

Letters of Recommendation

3 Letters of Recommendation are required. At least two of the three letters are required from experienced health care professionals who observed or supervised you in a clinical setting; it is highly recommended at least one letter come from a practicing Physician Assistant. No personal recommendations are accepted.

Technical Standards

Students must meet technical standards for admission, progression, and graduation from the PA program.

Advising Worksheet

Use this tool to monitor your preparation progress and review helpful tips.

General Admissions

What is the application deadline?

The application will open April 2021 and close September 1, 2021. Only applications in CASPA with a verified status by September 1, 2021 will be considered. A verified status is given when an application is e-submitted and all transcripts, payments, at least three letters of reference have been received and verified by CASPA and attached to the application. Documents should be sent several weeks prior to this date to ensure items arrive on time. GRE scores must be received by CASPA and attached to your application by September 1, 2021 to be considered for admission.

Where do I send my application materials?

All application materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation, supporting documents) will be sent through the CASPA application system. Nothing should be sent separately to the PA program. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure all application materials are received by CASPA by the appropriate deadline. The supplemental application will be able to pull most of your application data from CASPA. Unofficial transcripts maybe submitted with your supplemental application but are not required. Materials submitted directly to the program will not be accepted unless specifically requested by the admissions committee.

How many applications do you receive?

Each admission cycle’s application submissions vary year to year. On average we receive approximately 700-800 completed applications.

How many applicants do you admit each year?

We admit 20 students each year in January.

When can I expect to hear a decision?

We expect to finalize admission decisions in October. Accepted applicants will receive a phone call invitation with a follow-up formal email letter of invitation.

Is there a deposit if I am accepted?

Yes. A $1,000 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your seat in the program. Your deposit will be used towards your first semester tuition bill.

Is there a waitlist?

Yes, waitlisted applicants will be notified in their decisions letters indicating their placement and position on the waitlist. We cannot guarantee or estimate probability of acceptance based on an applicant’s position on the waitlist. Acceptance offers extended to applicants on the waitlist are distributed in order of position and maybe extended up until the first day of classes in January.

Do you offer rolling admissions?


Do you offer deferred admissions?

No, the cycle of admission runs annually. Anyone wishing to defer acceptance will have to reapply to the program.

Do you offer advanced placement/transfer students?

No. The PA program does not waive curriculum requirements or accept transfer of credit from other PA programs or other graduate degree programs. Admitted students, regardless of level of education, are required to complete all curriculum requirements. All relevant coursework required for graduation must be completed in the UNC-Chapel Hill PA program.

Can I work while enrolled in the program?

The UNC PA program admits only full-time students. The program strongly discourages employment while enrolled. It is very difficult to maintain even part-time employment while enrolled in the PA program. Students must comply with the program’s academic schedule, and employment responsibilities are not a justification to miss scheduled learning activities or an explanation for poor performance.

Do you accept foreign applicants?

All applicants, including graduates from foreign institutions, must hold either U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status at the time of application. Candidates with pending citizenship or permanent residency will not be considered. All applicants for whom English is not their first language must submit test scores to demonstrate their English proficiency. We accept TOEFL. Our TOEFL code is C182. Strong applicants typically score 100 or higher.

Do you require a criminal background check?

Applicants are required to self-disclose any misdemeanors or felony convictions, other than minor traffic violations, including deferred adjudications, with the understanding that non-disclosure/falsification may lead to dismissal and disclosure may prevent enrollment. Additionally, in response to requirements in the professional practice environment stating that facilities providing care to patients must minimize the risk to patients that may be presented by persons with prior criminal activity, a criminal background check will be completed on all accepted applicants prior to matriculation and again prior to clinical rotations.

Bachelor's Degree

Do I need to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the health sciences to apply?

No; however, a baccalaureate or graduate degree earned at a regionally accredited U.S. or Canadian institution is required (regardless of major), as well as the required prerequisites.

What do you mean by regionally accredited institutions?

Regional accreditation means courses approved by one of the six regional accreditation organizations. Please see this link for a listing of the six organizations. Be aware that many for-profit institutions do not have regional accreditation, but only national accreditation.

I completed my baccalaureate degree in a foreign institution. Will you evaluate my application?

If you have a baccalaureate or graduate degree from a non-U.S. or Canadian institution you can apply for admission if your prerequisite courses were completed at a regionally accredited U.S. or Canadian institution. There are no waivers of this policy.


Can substitutions be made for required prerequisites?

No, we do not accept substitutions for our required prerequisites, no matter your work experience or education level. We do not waive them for students who are already working in health care or who have already completed graduate education. There is a general level of knowledge that we want all students to have when starting our program.

Do you prefer that I take my prerequisites at a four-year college?

No. Courses taken at a community college are accepted and are considered equally. Taking them at a four-year college does not help or hinder your application. The institution should be regionally accredited. Online courses taken at regionally accredited institutions will also be accepted.

If I retake a prerequisite course, how will you determine my prerequisite GPA?

If you retake a prerequisite course, we will use the higher of the two grades to calculate your prerequisite GPA. For example, if you originally earned a “D” in a prerequisite course and retake it and earn a “B”, we will use the “B” grade in your prerequisite GPA calculation. You can retake the course at a different educational institution. Please note, however, that all of your courses (including courses that are retaken) will be used to calculate your overall cumulative GPA.

Patient Care Experience

What does your program consider as acceptable patient care experience?

We look for patient care experiences where applicants are directly responsible for assessing a patient’s condition or providing a form of treatment. We do not accept shadowing hours, experience received during training, for academic credit, or administrative/clerical positions.

Examples of acceptable hands-on patient care experience include:

  • Clinical nutritionist/dietitian
  • Clinical research assistant
  • Emergency medical technician/paramedic
  • Military medic, including Special Forces Medics
  • Radiological or laboratory technologist (with patient involvement)
  • Certified nursing assistant
  • Licensed practical nurse; registered nurse
  • Physical therapist
  • Physical therapy assistant
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Ophthalmic technician
  • Hospital pharmacy technician
  • Radiology technician
  • Surgery technician
  • Scribe

Examples that do NOT qualify as hands-on patient care experience include:

  • Clerical positions
  • Medical transcriptionist
  • Medical translator
  • Patient transporter
  • Ski patroller
  • Lifeguard
  • Aerobics instructor
  • Unit clerk
  • Insurance clerk
  • Medical secretary, or other clerical/administrative positions

Do you have any suggestions on how I can obtain the recommended 1,000 hours of patient care experience?

Seek a job in a setting that provides direct clinical patient contact. Check with local practices in your area and through personal connections for opportunities.

Can I submit my application while I am still gaining hours?

Yes. We will continue to accept experience hours until the application deadline, September 1.

My supervisor/manager no longer works where I gained my hours. Who should sign my verification form?

Human Resource personnel may substitute for a manager/supervisor to verify your experience. Applicants are required to provide verification forms for at least 1,000 hours. It is in the best interest of the applicant to provide as many verified hours as possible.


Can I substitute the MCAT or GMAT for the GRE?

No, we require GRE scores as part of the application process.

Is the GRE still required if I already have a master’s degree?


When should I take the GRE?

GRE scores must be taken within five years of application submission. Applicants should plan ahead in scheduling the GRE so scores will be appended to the applicants CASPA application by September 1. Scores received after the deadline will not be accepted.

I have taken the GRE a few times. Which scores will you use?

If the GRE is taken multiple times, the program considers the highest cumulative score for the test taken on a single date.

I don’t meet the GRE requirements listed. Should I still apply?

Yes. We do not have strict GRE requirements. Recommendations are provided for applicants to view competitive scores.

I sent my GRE scores to the UNC Graduate School code 5816 or Physician Assistant program code. Why can’t you see them?

Official GRE scores must be reported to UNC CASPA code 6945. Scores sent to other UNC codes or categorical designations are non-transferable.

*All information listed on this page is subject to change as the program goes through its approval and accreditation.