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.

We especially 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 is currently accepting applications for January 2024 admissions. Apply now through March 1, 2023.

Carefully review the requirements for January 2024 admissions within the tab below. Further details regarding requirements can be found in the FAQ tab.

Advising Worksheet

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

Applicants interested in starting the program in January 2024

The UNC PA program participates in the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) online application process. Follow the steps below to complete your application:

  1. CASPA applications will open October 3, 2022 and close March 1, 2023. Only applications in CASPA with a verified status by March 1, 2023 will be considered.
  2. Complete a CASPA application and submit a UNC supplemental application by March 15, 2023 along with an 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.
  3. 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.

The UNC supplemental application will be emailed to applicants 3-5 business days after submission of their CASPA application to the email provided on their application. The UNC supplemental application and $95 application fee must be received by March 15, 2023 to remain eligible for admissions consideration.

Admissions Requirements


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

Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (includes all academic coursework)


Last 60 semester hours of 3.0


Bachelor’s Degree

Degree from a regionally accredited institution in the U.S. to be conferred by January 15, 2023.


Prerequisite Coursework

Minimum cumulative prerequisite GPA of 3.2. See below for accepted coursework and click to find out if your courses will count.

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

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

Notes: Prerequisite courses must be completed with grades “C” or better (not C minus) . 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. All coursework must be completed by January 15, 2023.


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 the application deadline, March 1, 2023.
  • Applicants are required to confirm their patient care experiences during application on our program Patient Care Experience Verification Form. Download the Patient Care Experience Verification Form.



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 March 1, 2023.

Recommended GRE scores for competitiveness:

Verbal & Quantitative  – 50% or higher | 150 or higher in each section

Analytical Writing – 3.5 or higher


Letters of Recommendation

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation are required and should include the following:

  • 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.
  • It is strongly recommended that letters of recommendation are from references who have known you for at least one year.


Technical Standards

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


General Admissions

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. 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?

Applicants applying for the January 2023 admissions cycle: We expect to finalize admission decisions in October 2022.

Applicants applying for the January 2024 admissions cycle: We expect to finalize admission decision in July 2023.

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. 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. Am I eligible to apply?

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


Prerequisite Coursework

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.

Do you accept courses taken online or at a community college?

Courses can be taken at regionally accredited four-year institutions or community colleges (online or in-person) and are considered equally.

Are labs required in addition to the lecture for your prerequisites?

No. We do not require labs for our prerequisite courses.

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.

Do you accept AP/IB/CLEP credits or Pass/Fail grades for prerequisite courses
No. Pass/Fail courses will only be accepted for the Spring and Summer sessions of 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19.
Do you accept Pass/Fail or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grades for prerequisite courses due to COVID-19?

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, 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 be submitted from the Dean verifying your completion of the course and numeric/letter grade traditionally received for credit.

Do you accept survey level courses for prerequisite courses

No, we do not accept survey level coursework (i.e. Survey of Organic Chemistry) towards the fulfilment of our prerequisite requirements.

Will you accept any coursework completed on my Joint Service Transcript (JST)?
Completion of SOCM course or equivalent are accepted with appropriate JST or equivalent transcript records towards the fulfilment of our Anatomy and Physiology prerequisite requirements.
Will you accept ______ course to fill a prerequisite?

Applicants should be able to reasonably match most of the required courses with ones that they have taken or plan to take as posted on our website.  For example, a “General Statistics” course may be also named “Introductory to Statistics”. Additionally, applicants can review the list of previously accepted coursework for course equivalencies from other NC institutions here.

Will you accept any courses I have completed at another PA program?
The program will not accept transfer credit from other physician assistant programs.


Patient Care Experiences

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 CASPA application deadline.

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.

Can I substitute the PA-CAT for the GRE?

No, we require GRE scores as part of the application process. However, students are invited to submit an official PA-CAT score report as part of their application by designating UNC Chapel Hill as one their programs.

Is the GRE still required if I already have a graduate level 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 the CASPA application deadline. 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.