Our admissions process is extremely competitive—we accept 30 students from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants. This helps us ensure each student gets the attention and experience they need to excel in their career.
A baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by the Commission on Colleges of a Regional Accrediting Organization is required. Your degree should be completed by December 31 the year prior to your matriculation and your coursework should be completed and reported to CASPA by December 15. You may not have more than two pending courses when you submit your application.
|Required Course||Required Semester Credit Hours|
|Human Anatomy and Physiology – Lecture||6|
|Human Anatomy and Physiology – Lab
(We encourage you to take this within two years of applying to the program, however, it is not a requirement).
|General Chemistry - Lecture||6|
|General Chemistry - Lab||2|
|Organic Chemistry – Lecture and Lab||4|
|Introductory Psychology or higher||3|
- All prerequisite courses must have been taken within the last 7 years.
- We do not accept online lab courses.
- We encourage applicants to take human anatomy and physiology within 2 years of the program application date; however, this is not a requirement.
- Courses can be taken at any regionally accredited institution, including community colleges. We will give preference to prerequisite courses taken at a four-year institution.
- All courses must be assigned a letter grade. The only exception is medical terminology, which can be Pass/Fail.
- Applicants must have a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative and a 3.0 science GPA based on a 4.0 scale.
You must have at least 500 documented health care exposure hours completed by October 1 of the year before you matriculate. You can obtain these hours through paid, volunteer or shadowing experiences. We prefer that 100 of those hours are direct shadowing of a Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner. We may have to verify these hours, so we recommend that you keep your own records.
Acceptable forms of clinical experience
- Shadowing of PA, NP, M.D./D.O.
- Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic
- Military Medic/Clinical Specialist
- Surgical Technician
- Radiological Technician
- Certified Nursing Assistant
- Laboratory Technician with phlebotomy experience
- Athletic Trainer
- Nursing (CNA, LPN, RN, CMA)
- Certified Physical/Occupational Therapist
- PT/OT Assistant
- Home health with verification of job duties
- Medical Interpreter
- Pharmacy Technician
- Respiratory Therapist
Unacceptable forms of clinical experience
- Veterinarian Assistant
- Receptionist for physician's office
- Administrator or Business Manager for physician’s office
- Massage Therapist
- Dental Hygienist/Assisting
- Inpatient Patient Transport/Orderly
- Health Fitness Specialist
- Patient Sitter
You must take the GRE within 5 years of applying to our program and no later than the July prior to matriculation. We don't have a required score, but 300 or higher is considered competitive. You may take the exam several times to improve your score. Applications will not be considered without a GRE score.
(for non-native English speakers)
If English is not your native language, you'll need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). You must take the Internet Based Test and send the scores directly from the Educational Testing Service to the PA program office. We require a total score of 93 and a speaking score of 26.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
Documentation of two doses of MMR vaccine is required for students born after January 1, 1957. A copy of laboratory report(s) in English with evidence of immunity to Measles, Mumps and Rubella may be submitted in place of immunization records.
Students who have previously completed the Hepatitis B vaccine 3-part series should submit both their dose dates and a copy of a laboratory report(s) in English of a blood test (Hepatitis B surface antibody) to demonstrate immunity. Proof of immunity may be submitted alone for students who have been immunized for hepatitis B but do not have documentation. Students who have not yet completed the series should receive the first two (2) doses of the series and indicate these dose dates. Students may complete the third dose of the series and undergo serologic testing during their first semester at the Student Health Office; vaccine and titer fees apply.
Students must present proof of immunity to Varicella (chicken pox) in one of two forms: (1) receipt of two doses of varicella immunization administered at least one month apart or (2) laboratory documentation of immunity to varicella. Students who have not previously been immunized and who do not have laboratory proof of immunity should complete the two-dose vaccination series.
Students must provide documentation of receipt of one dose of TdaP (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) immunization within the past three years. The only exception to this requirement is for those who received the old tetanus/diphtheria (Td) immunization within the previous two years, as Td and TdaP immunization should be separated by at least two years.
Documentation of three doses of IPV or OPV is required. If vaccine records are not available there are two options: (1) proof of immunity by titer may be substituted by sending a copy of the lab results or (2) a polio waiver form may be signed and submitted to student health.
Screening for tuberculosis exposure is a tuberculin skin test performed within the last three months prior to matriculation. Students with a previous history of a positive tuberculosis skin test must submit a completed TB Symptom Survey (available from the Student Health Office) and a chest x-ray report obtained within three years of entry. Skin testing is not necessary for these students.
All applicants are required to have the influenza (flu) vaccine documented after October 1st of the year prior to matriculating due to the start date being during flu season.
As a matter of policy, the physician assistant program can accept applications only from those individuals who are currently citizens of the United States or who are permitted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to reside permanently in the United States.
How to Apply
The University of South Carolina School of Medicine PA Program is a participant in CASPA (Centralized Application Service for PAs). To apply to our program, you must have a verified CASPA application and complete the USC Graduate School supplemental application. The CASPA application will be available April 26, 2019. The deadline for a verified CASPA application is September 1, 2019, and the USC supplemental application deadline is September 15, 2019, for the class entering in January 2020. Once the verified CASPA application has been received by the USC PA Program, the candidate will be e-mailed instructions on how to complete the supplemental application. Only verified CASPA applications will be considered by the USC SOM PA Program.
Priority in application review and invitation for interview will be given to those applicants who have completed their CASPA, the supplemental application and had official GRE scores reported by July 15, 2019.
The USC PA Program is a mission driven program that recruits caring individuals who are dedicated to providing competent health care. We value applicants who demonstrate a heart for service and a commitment to increasing access to health care.
Applicants who have served their communities or their countries through volunteer activities, military service, or employment opportunities greatly enhance the cultural perspective of the class. The PA Program is committed to attracting students from geographically underserved regions such as Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) in South Carolina, as well as students from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Following receipt and individual screening of the verified CASPA application by the Physician Assistant Program, supplemental application materials (including evaluations and a nonrefundable $50 processing fee) will be requested from all qualified applicants selected to receive further consideration. As a matter of policy, the Physician Assistant Program can accept applications only from those individuals who are currently citizens of the United States or who are permitted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to reside permanently in the United States. Interviews on the School of Medicine campus are at the invitation of the Admissions Committee and are a required part of the admissions process for all applicants.
The deadline date of September 1 refers only to the date by which the application materials must be verified at the CASPA office; September 15 is the deadline date for receipt of all supplementary application materials to the Physician Assistant Program. It is in the best interest of the applicant to submit the completed application as early in the application/admissions process as possible to ensure verification of the CASPA application by the September 1st deadline.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all application materials are received by the Physician Assistant Program by the deadline dates. No application will be considered until all application materials have been received. The application process is highly competitive. Please consider the strength of your application in the decision to apply.
Student Work Policy
- Students are discouraged from working in any form of employment while enrolled in the USCSOM PA program. (A3.14h)
- Outside activities and working are not considered to be valid excuses for poor academic performance or lack of attendance at required PA program activities.
- PA students may not work for the Program and will never substitute for or function as instructional faculty. (A3.04/A3.05)
- Students enrolled in the PA program cannot substitute for practicing physician assistants or provide unsupervised services common to a certified PA while at any learning or employment site while enrolled in the program. (A3.06)
- Students are not staff and/or employees of the program while in the role of a learning student and as a result may not earn a stipend/salary for their services as a physician assistant student.
- Students credentialed as other non-PA professionals cannot substitute as staff in their credentialed discipline while in the role of a physician assistant student.
- Students failing to follow the above Student Work Policies will be subject to disciplinary action ranging from but not limited to Professional Probation to dismissal from the PA program.
No Exceptions: All admission requirements listed must be met for consideration. The USC School of
Medicine PA Program does not allow exceptions.
Exemptions: Anyone with a vaccine exemption may be excluded from the University/College in the event of a Measles, Mumps, Rubella or Diphtheria outbreak in accordance with public health law.
Preferences for Admission: SC Residents, USC alumni, US veterans
Advanced Placement: We do not offer advanced placement in the PA Program.