Pre-Health career pathways

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Pre-Physician Assistant pathway

Pre-Physician Assistant PathwayPre-health advising

You are encouraged to meet with a pre-health advisor at least once a semester to discuss options for careers in medicine, opportunities to gain relevant experience, discussing the best time to apply, preparation for the MCAT, the AMCAS application, and much more. For more information, schedule an appointment with your advisor.


Four-year plan

College year 1


  • Maintain a strong GPA and focus on coursework.
  • Make an appointment with a pre-health advisor to introduce yourself and attend the ASU Pre-Health Fair.
  • Begin to get involved with clubs and student organizations.
  • Begin volunteering and gaining clinical experience.

Involvement (Clubs and student organizations)


College year 2


  • While maintaining a high GPA, look into opportunities for research and clinical experience.
  • Build relationships with professors as they may become letter writers.
  • Attend pre-health meetings, events, and the ASU Pre-health Fair.
  • Begin to look into preparing for the GRE (Studying and Registration).
  • Meet with your pre-health advisor at least once a semester. 

Clinical experience

According to the AAPA, many PA programs will require prior experience with hands-on patient care.  Most student entering a PA program will have about three years of healthcare experience.  In Arizona, Northern Arizona University requires a minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care, A.T Still University strongly encourages that applicants obtain patient care experience, and Midwestern University does not have a specific number of direct patient care hours, but does strongly encourage clinical experience.

Explore schools

Leadership and community service 

Study abroad

Grade point average

  • CASPA GPA Guidelines - CASPA calculates a GPA for each academic year.  Those GPA’s are combined with any Postbaccalaureate coursework to create a cumulative undergraduate GPA and combined with any postbaccalaureate coursework plus any graduate coursework to create an overall GPA.  CASPA will also calculate your BCP (Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics).   
  • Grade Repeat Policy at ASU

College year 3


  • Maintain a high GPA and stay involved with campus clubs/ organizations, volunteer opportunities, and clinical experience.
  • Start prepping for the GRE (take the GRE by spring of Junior year).
  • Apply through CASPA one year prior to when you plan to matriculate.
  • Reach out to possible evaluators who will write strong letters of recommendation.
  • Continue to meet with your pre-health advisor at least once a semester.    


Prior to January

Calculate your science and overall GPA to determine your competitiveness. Begin to study for the GRE.


Begin collecting letters of recommendation.


Take the GRE no later than April.  The CASPA application will open for submissions in late April. 


Schools will start receiving applications. 


PA programs may have additional requirements such as supplemental applications as well have different deadlines.  It is important that you are aware of program specific deadlines and requirements.   


Deadline to submit CASPA. 

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Prep courses and practice exams


Personal statement

Review of personal statement offered by Pre-Health Office.

  • CASPA Guidelines
    5,000 characters long. 
    Do not make the essay school specific, as CASPA will send the same essay to all schools you apply to.  Draft by April of junior year (the year prior to matriculation into Physical Therapy School).

Letters of recommendation (LOR)  

Identify people who know you well and can firmly comment on your ability as a student and future physician assistant. You must submit at least 3 evaluators in CASPA. CASPA will only allow up to five evaluators to be submitted. Evaluators have to complete their evaluation through CASPA. Ask in advance and give your letter writers sufficient time to complete and submit.  Also, remember to stay in touch with letter writers who you may also ask in the future!

Mock interviews

Schedule mock interview with Pre-Health Office your senior year 

College year 4


  • Meet with pre-health advisor to prepare for interviews.
  • If waitlisted or denied, explore post-bac options or consider taking a gap year.

Post-bac programs