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Your Physician Assistant Academic Experience

Make the Most of Your Time

  • Determine your top physician assistant program choices.

    Each program will have specific course requirements you need to take as an undergraduate. Once you know those, it’ll be easier to plan your Illinois State academic schedule.

  • Take any prerequisites.

    Illinois State offers the classes you need to apply for a physician assistant program. Before you get to that level, you might have to take a handful of other classes to get ready.

  • Get experience.

    Many physician assistant programs require a few years of healthcare experience.

  • Talk to us.

    There’s a lot of coordination and planning that needs to happen to make sure you do everything you need before graduate school. You don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to help.


Your physician assistant program will have specific requirements, but here are some common ones.

Typical Medical School Requirements

  • General Chemistry - 2 semesters

  • Organic Chemistry - 2 semesters

  • Biochemistry - 1 semester

  • Biology - 2 semesters

  • Physics - 2 semesters

  • Anatomy and Physiology - 2 semesters

  • Math - 2 semesters

  • English - 2 semesters

  • Medical Terminology - 1 semester

  • Psychology - 1 semester

What to Take at Illinois State

Some classes require prerequisites.

  • General Chemistry CHE 140 and then 141

  • Organic Chemistry CHE 230/231 and CHE 232/233

  • Biochemistry CHE 342

  • Biology BSC 196 and BSC 197

  • Physics PHY 108 and PHY 109

  • Math Talk to your advisor for the best options.

  • English ENG 101 and then ENG 145

  • Medical Terminology HSC 105

  • Psychology PSY 110

Our recommendations for classes

  • Biology: Take more than the minimum required Biology courses. Physician Assistant programs value this. Genetics, Cell Biology, Immunology, and Microbiology are good additional courses to take.

  • Math: Several schools require Statistics. Basic statistics knowledge will also be helpful for the GRE. We recommend PSY 138 or MAT 150.

  • Psychology: Take more than the minimum required Psychology course. Physician assistant programs value this. Lifespan Development, Psychopathology (Abnormal Psychology), Cognition and Learning, and Physiological Psychology are good additional courses to take.

Course Finder gives you descriptions for all your classes and any prerequisites you need.

Launch Course Finder

A Little Advice

  • Work hard. Physician assistant programs are competitive. Keep your GPA at 3.5 and even higher for science and math grades. This helps you compete for your top choice with the best of them.

  • Check your Advanced Placement (AP) credit. Some schools don’t accept AP credit for any prerequisite course. Others limit the number of courses earned via AP credit. Explore your physician assistant program’s specific policies.

Applying to Physician Assistant Programs

Most students apply to physician assistant programs the fall of senior year. Before you apply, you’ll need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Your courses at Illinois State will help prepare you to take the GRE with confidence.