The Drexel University Physician Assistant Program provides graduates with a Master of Health Science degree. After successful completion of the program, graduates are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).
The physician assistant (PA) is a primary health care provider who, when graduated from an accredited program and nationally certified and state licensed, is eligible to practice medicine with the legal supervision of a physician.
PAs perform many duties including, but not limited to: physical examinations, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, ordering and interpretation of lab tests, assisting in surgery, performing procedures, performing hospital rounds, prescribing medicines and providing patient education.
The primary goal of the PA Program is to develop graduates who are competent, caring physician assistants, possessing the skills of life-long learning needed to incorporate new knowledge and methods into their practices and to adapt to a changing medical environment.
The mission of this program is to:
- Educate qualified primary care physician assistants
- Improve health care delivery in rural and urban medically under served areas
- Promote the physician assistant profession
Click to View the Student Handbook for 2019-2020
We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on several criteria associated with presenting your best admission application possible to the Drexel PA program. We have made adjustments to certain admission criteria for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle given the limitations the pandemic has imposed.
- We will accept additional clinical patient contact hours submitted between the time of application and December 15, 2020 to meet the 500 hour minimum requirement.
- All prerequisite courses must be completed as graded courses. If the university/college an applicant is attending only offers a pass/fail option for the Spring 2020 or Summer 2020 term, the following written documentation must be uploaded to the documents section of the application as one document: statement of university policy regarding forced pass/fail grading, statement from university regarding criteria for “Pass”, letter from course instructor(s) stating what the applicant’s grade(s) would have been if course was graded under normal system. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. We will accept pass/fail grading for non-prerequisite courses. Please note that these exceptions apply ONLY to courses taken in the spring/summer of 2020.
- We have and will continue to allow online courses, including labs, provided they are completed through an accredited college or university for college credit and a letter grade.
- We recognize that it may be difficult to obtain references from some healthcare providers at this time and will not penalize any applicant for this. Drexel does not require specific references (PA, physician, etc.). As long as an applicant submits a minimum of two references the application will be verified and reviewed. Additional references can be submitted at a later date and they may or may not be reviewed depending upon application status at that time.
The College of Nursing and Health Professions has a compliance process that is required for all PA students. Some of these steps may take significant time to complete. Please plan accordingly. Visit the Compliance page for more information.
Statistics for the Class of 2021, matriculated in September 2019:
|Average Overall GPA
|Average Science GPA
|Average Patient Contact Hours
The 2020-2021 CASPA cycle opened April 30, 2020. All applications must be COMPLETE in CASPA by September 1, 2020.
A bachelor's degree obtained from a regionally accredited US institution by the end of the spring term prior to fall matriculation is required. The equivalency of a bachelor's degree from a foreign institution is acceptable if verified on the WES evaluation.
Minimum overall cumulative GPA of 3.0 and overall science GPA of 3.0, at time of application as calculated by CASPA, are required. Applications will not be reviewed unless the applicant has attained these minimum requirements.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required or considered.
Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be sent directly to CASPA. Non-United States-based educational institutional transcripts must be evaluated by World Education Services (WES). Evaluation fees are the responsibility of the applicant and evaluations must be sent directly to CASPA. For more details visit the CASPA website.
Applicants must meet the technical standards for admission, progression, and graduation from the Physician Assistant Program. Each applicant is expected to review completely the Technical Standards. Individuals unable to meet these technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, are counseled to pursue alternate careers.
Prerequisite Courses: (click on yellow arrow)
General Prerequisite Course Information
Prerequisite Coursework Required:
- Applicants may apply with some prerequisite coursework yet to be completed. In this case, applicants must indicate all courses that are either in progress or planned in the appropriate section of the CASPA application. Applications that do not list all prerequisite coursework (either as completed, in progress, or planned) will not be reviewed.
- The deadline for completing all prerequisite courses is the end of the fall academic term prior to expected matriculation to the PA program.
- Applicants may have no more than two (2) remaining prerequisite courses in progress during the fall academic term prior to expected matriculation.
- The applicant having, at the time of initial application, prerequisite coursework either in progress or planned for completion no later than the end of the fall academic term prior to expected matriculation, may only be offered provisional acceptance. Full acceptance to the program will be offered after documentation by official transcript of successful completion of all in-progress or planned prerequisite coursework has been received by the Physician Assistant Program. Failure to provide official documentation by the deadline provided at the offer of provisional acceptance will result in the rescission of the provisional acceptance.
- Prerequisite coursework not completed by the end of the academic term as indicated will disqualify applicants from further consideration for admission.
- Courses may be completed online, provided that they are offered through an accredited college or university and the applicant receives college credit and a letter grade for the course(s).
- All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of B- or higher in order to be accepted.
- Prerequisite coursework may also be satisfied by Advanced Placement (AP) credit or College Level Equivalency Program (CLEP) examination achievement. Information is available here.
- There is no "expiration date" for completed coursework, but applicants are very strongly encouraged to complete Human Anatomy and Physiology within 3-5 years of application.
- All prerequisite courses required for admission must be completed at a United States institution without exception.
*Please note that all credits listed are the minimum semester credits hours. One quarter credit hour is equivalent to .67 semester credit hour.
- Psychology (3): One course in either General/Introductory, Developmental, or Abnormal Psychology
- Human Anatomy and Physiology with Labs (8): Regardless of the number of credits, the requirement is the complete study of the anatomy and physiology of all the major human bodily systems. Typically, this requires either two semester-long or three quarter-long courses with laboratory components to accomplish. Alternatively, a complete course in human anatomy with lab and a complete course in human physiology (with or without lab) will satisfy the requirement provided that together the two courses also constitute the complete study of the anatomy and physiology of all the major human bodily systems.
- Exercise Physiology does not satisfy this requirement.
- It is strongly recommended that anatomy and physiology coursework be completed within three to five years of application.
- General Biology with Labs (8): Regardless of the number of credits, the course sequence must constitute a complete general study of a collegiate, year-long, survey course of biology. Typically, this requires either two semester-long courses or three quarter-long courses to accomplish.
- General Chemistry with Lab (4): At least one course in general, inorganic college-level chemistry.
- General or Medical Microbiology - Preferably with Lab (3): Regardless of the number of credits, the course or course sequence must provide collective study of all the major constituent organisms included in general microbiology.
- Individual courses in bacteriology, virology, mycology, or parasitology do not satisfy this requirement.
- General or Medical Genetics - Preferably with Lab (3): One course
- Medical Terminology (1): This must be a course dedicated to medical terminology. A course containing medical terminology as only one component/unit/module of the course curriculum will not satisfy this requirement.
For those seeking suggestions for additional elective courses to take, the following is offered for the applicant's consideration and planning.
Strongly recommended electives include:
- Abnormal psychology
- Critical thinking
- Death and dying
- Developmental psychology
- Ethics/ Ethics in Medicine (Health Care) and Methodology
- Foreign languages
- Introduction to Pharmacology
- Organic Chemistry
- Advanced Anatomy
- Public Speaking/Speech
- Research Design
Two letters of recommendation are required to be submitted as part of the official CASPA application. Additional letters of recommendation (up to five) are encouraged by the program. Preferred references are from individuals who have been in a supervisory capacity over the applicant or academic instructors who have personal knowledge of the applicant. Submissions of references from friends, relatives, personal physicians, or instructors who do not possess a personal, supervisory knowledge of the applicants are discouraged.
Personal Statement/ Essay:
A personal statement recorded as part of the CASPA application.
Personal interview may be required.
Clinical Work/Volunteer Experience:
A minimum of 500 hours of clearly documented volunteer or paid direct hands-on patient contact experience, accrued by the time of application and recorded as part of the official CASPA application, are required. Ensure that all hours are accurately reported. Applicants may list the same position in multiple sections in order to account for multiple experiences (patient contact, related health care, research, shadowing, etc.) accrued in the same position as long as each hour is not reported in more than one experience category.
The Drexel Physician Assistant Program gives preference to applicants who have demonstrated significant community or volunteer service (a minimum of 100 hours recorded on the CASPA application). All types of community service and volunteer activities will be considered. If volunteer hours are accrued through patient care activities, these hours will be accepted for both patient contact hours and volunteer hours.
Commonly seen patient contact experiences:
- Athletic Trainer (Certified or Student)
- Cardiovascular Perfusionist
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
- Medical Corpsman
- Dental Hygienist/Assistant
- ED Technician
- Exercise Physiologist
- Foreign Medical Graduate-Physician
- Home Health Care Aide
- Medical Assistant
- Mental Health Technician
- Medical Research with Patient Contact
- Medical Scribe
- Orderly-Patient Transport
- Orthopedics Technician
- Physical Therapist
- Physical Therapist Assistant/Aide
- Radiologic Technologist
- Ultrasound Technician
- By-Pass Technician
- Respiratory Therapist
- Surgical Technician/OR Technician
- Veterinary Technician
This is not an exhaustive list of patient contact experiences. If you have questions about a role or position not listed, please contact the Drexel PA Program at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that administrative work performed in a health care setting will not satisfy the required 500 hours of direct patient contact, but should be recorded under the "Related Health Care Experience" section of the CASPA application. This would include positions such as medical receptionist, unit clerk, etc. The position of pharmacy technician is not considered direct patient contact.
Shadowing is strongly recommended but is not considered direct patient contact.
International applicants, as well as immigrants to the United States and U.S. permanent residents, whose native language is not English and who have not received a bachelor's degree in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom, must submit TOEFL scores directly to CASPA. A minimum overall score of 105, including a speaking section score of 26 or higher, is required for the TOEFLiBT exam.
Those with coursework completed at a foreign institution must have a course-by-course evaluation completed by World Education Service (WES) and submitted directly to CASPA. Drexel will accept the equivalency of a bachelor's degree from a foreign institution if verified on the WES evaluation. All prerequisite courses required for admission must be completed at a United States institution without exception.
Pre-Professional Options at Drexel University
Tuition and Fee Rates
While the PA program does accept students via the Accelerated BS/MHS Option, students enrolled in this program are not guaranteed admission into the Drexel PA program. Applicants from this program must meet the same academic, patient contact and volunteer hours requirements as the general applicant pool. They must also complete a successful interview.
Application Link (if outside organization):
Apply online via CASPA
The Physician Assistant Program does not grant advanced standing for coursework similar to that contained in its curriculum when completed at other educational institutions.
Submission of False or Inaccurate Information:
Any intentional or unintentional falsification, misrepresentation, or omission of any required application materials or supporting documentation, either to CASPA or the Drexel University Physician Assistant Program, may result in termination of the processing of the offender's application, the revocation of any offer of acceptance tendered, or dismissal from the PA Program if discovered after matriculation.
Progression to the Clinical Year:
- Successfully complete all didactic phase courses.
- Demonstrate professional conduct.
- Achieve a passing grade on the didactic comprehensive examination.
Graduation Requirements for the Physician Assistant Program:
To graduate students must:
- Successfully complete all required courses, rotations and practicums.
- Demonstrate professional conduct.
- Students may not earn a grade less than a "B"; in each course in the curriculum.
- Maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.
- Meet all financial obligations to the university.
- Achieve a passing grade on the Didactic Comprehensive Examination, Summative Examination and the Objective Standardized Clinical Examination.
The program is intensely challenging, both intellectually and physically; it requires stamina as well as personal and financial sacrifice on the part of the students. The program demands a high degree of integrity, self-sufficiency, motivation, self-discipline, and highly developed study skills.
Among the most important of all practitioner skills is the ability to effectively gather cogent information from patients, primarily through medical history taking and physical examination. Physical examination skills are taught early in the curriculum in laboratory sections where students learn those examination skills first by practicing on each other as partners prior to attempting examinations on actual patients. Students have long appreciated the advantages of reducing potential anxiety with practicing these new, psychomotor skills under close supervision of experienced, professional instructors, and the ability to both give and receive immediate feedback from the student-partner team afforded by this controlled, private, and "safe" practice setting.
During the didactic (primarily classroom) phase of the curriculum, most classes will be scheduled during the daytime hours; however, it may be necessary to schedule some classes during evening hours. All students are required to attend all classes as scheduled and to subordinate any personal commitments (i.e., employment or family responsibilities) to the training schedule.
In the clinical phase of training, students will be learning in diverse clinical settings with varying daily and weekly schedules that may involve daytime, evening, or weekend hours. Students must give priority commitment to assigned schedules at clinical sites.
Training begins with four quarters of didactic education, which integrates patient interaction beginning with the first quarter.
Among the most important of all practitioner skills is the ability to effectively gather cogent information from patients, primarily through medical history taking and physical examination. Physical examination skills are taught early in the curriculum in laboratory sections where students learn those examination skills first by practicing on each other as partners prior to attempting examinations on actual patients.
Students have long appreciated the advantages of reducing "student-actual patient anxiety," practicing these new, psychomotor skills under close supervision of experienced, professional instructors, and the ability to both give and receive immediate feedback from the student-partner team afforded by this controlled, private, and "safe" practice setting.
The clinical training phase consists of six (6), five-credit, five-week clinical rotations in medicine, surgery, women's health, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and behavioral health, assigned in varying order in locations across the United States. The final portion of the clinical training phase curriculum consists of two (2), 10-credit, quarter-long, primary care practica (preceptorships). During these practica, each student is assigned to primary care sites for individualized clinical training with physician preceptors.
These sites are located in a variety of locations, from rural to urban areas and private clinical practices to large hospital settings. Students may expect to gain exposures in each of these settings in order to obtain the best clinical medicine experience and training.
Training sites during the clinical year are provided by the program and are located throughout Pennsylvania and the United States. Students are welcome to identify and assist in the development of up to two clinical rotation sites and/or one 10-week primary care practicum site. (These sites must have PA Program approval.)
Students are required to relocate during the clinical phase and are responsible for all associated financial costs, including transportation and living expenses.
Accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools: Drexel University is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education representing the highest level of recognition awarded to colleges and universities.
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Drexel University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Drexel University. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.
Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be 2025. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.
Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Goals and Outcomes
- Maintain PANCE pass rate above the national average.
- From 2010 - 2017, Drexel University Physician Assistant Program PANCE pass rate has exceeded the national average.
- Provide all students with a clinical experience in an underserved area.
- 100% of the physician assistant students from the Class of 2018 had clinical experience with patients from a rural and/or urban underserved area.
- 42% of the currently matriculated students come from ethnically under-represented or economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.
- 30% of the PA Class of 2016 spent at least 50% of their time in medically underserved areas.*
- Provide all students with a service learning activity in an underserved area.
- Since 2012, 100% of students have conducted health education presentations in urban medically underserved areas.
- Strive for 30% of graduates employed in primary care.
- 84% of 2016 graduates practice in a primary care setting.*
- Strive for 75% of the DUPAP faculty represented in leadership positions at the college, university, state or national levels to promote the physician assistant profession.
- 94% of the DUPAP faculty represented in leadership positions at the college, university, state or national levels to promote the physician assistant profession.
- 41 presentations by PA Faculty and/or PA Program professional staff to promote the physician assistant profession in 2018.
- Positions held by faculty to promote the physician assistant profession:
- Ambassador, National Health Service Corps - (2) faculty members
- Site Visitor, Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant - (2) faculty members
- Section Editor, Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistant, A Difficult Diagnosis
- Co-Chair Diversity Committee, Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants
- Region 4 Representative, Greater Philadelphia Region, Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants
- Co-Chairs, Regional Affairs Committee, Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants - (2) faculty members
- Awards Committee member, Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants
- Board Member, Scientific Board of the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness
- Member, Health Ministries Committee
- Committee Member, Physician Assistant Education Association Governance and Ethics Board
- Faculty Loan Repayment Program, awardee, Health and Resources Services Administration.
- Fellow of the American College of Physicians: Ellen Feld, MD
- Distinguished Fellows of the American Academy of Physician Assistants: Geraldine Buck, DrPH, PA-C; Ryan Clancy, MSHS, MA, PA-C; Gretchen Fox, MMS, PA-C; Julie Kinzel, MEd, PA-C, Ann McDonough Maden, MHS, PA-C; Catherine Nowak, MS, PA-C
- Positions held by students to promote the physician assistant profession in 2017/18:
- Representative to the Assembly of Representatives, American Academy of Physician Assistants.
- Representative to the House of Delegates, American Academy of physician Assistants.
*Based on 13 graduate surveys returned from the PA Class of 2016
Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Five Year First Time Taker Summary Report - PDF Download
Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Exam Performance Summary Report - All Takers - PDF Download
All application materials are to be submitted directly to the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). You may apply online at http://www.caspaonline.org.
Applications made directly to the Office of Enrollment Management (Admissions) of Drexel University will not be processed.
All applicants must complete the CASPA application process no later than September 1st of the year prior to expected date of matriculation. This includes submitting the application and the receipt by CASPA of all transcripts, reference forms, and other supporting documentation such as foreign transcript evaluations and TOEFL scores. Applications remaining incomplete in CASPA for any reason after the September 1st deadline will not be processed. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early to avoid delays in processing and to facilitate the transmission of verified CASPA applications to the PA Program in a timely fashion.
Once an applicant submits the application to CASPA, it is the applicant's responsibility to track the status of his/her application from the time of submission through to the "complete" status. Please refer to CASPA's FAQ (https://portal.caspaonline.org/caspaHelpPages/frequently-asked-questions/) for information regarding tracking the receipt of transcripts and references, the GPA calculation process, and the submission of your application to the programs you selected.
Once your application has reached "verified" status, Drexel will begin the review process. Please do not contact Drexel for a status update until at least four weeks from the verified date.This will give Drexel time to begin processing your application.
If you need to update your contact information during the application process, please do so by updating the information in your online CASPA application.
NOTE: If you wish to update your coursework after you have submitted your application, you may do so via the Academic Update feature on the CASPA website any time after your application has been verified. Please see the FAQ on the CASPA website for more information. Please do not submit additional transcripts directly to the PA program unless they are specifically requested by program staff.
NOTE: If you wish to update your patient contact experience, you may do so at the interview should you be selected for one. Your application will be evaluated based on the completed coursework, patient contact hours, and references that you submit at the time of application. If you are concerned that your completed coursework and/or your patient contact hours at time of application are insufficient, you are advised to consider applying in a future admissions cycle after completing additional coursework and/or accruing additional direct patient contact hours. Please do not email, mail, or call the PA program with updates to your application unless you are responding to an inquiry from program staff.
Drexel's Review Process
Drexel utilizes a rolling admissions process. It may be in an applicant's best interests to apply early in the admissions cycle.
Once Drexel receives a verified application, it is screened by admissions personnel to ensure that the minimum GPA requirements have been met, the prerequisite coursework has either been completed or is listed as in progress or to be completed by the deadline, the minimum numbers of direct patient contact hours have been accrued, and the application was complete by the September 1st deadline.
Applications that meet these criteria are then assigned to faculty members to be screened for interview. In addition to a thorough review of all supporting documents, candidates are evaluated for their ability to handle the high demands of training, commitment to people-oriented service, and familiarity with the physician assistant's role and the PA profession. After review, the most promising applicants are invited for a personal interview.
Applicants who have been selected for interview will be notified via email and invited in for an interview session. Interview sessions are typically held June through February, and Drexel invites 20 - 25 applicants per session. Interview days run from approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and include an onsite writing sample, presentations about the program and financial aid, a tour of the campus, lunch with the program director, interaction with current students, and an interview with a pair of faculty members.
Applicants who either do not meet the minimum criteria or who are reviewed but not selected to interview will be notified via an email from the Office of Graduate Admissions of Drexel University.
Drexel's Decision Process
Drexel accepts approximately 75 students per year. Applicants are reviewed following the interview sessions, and some are offered early acceptance. All decisions should be made by the end of March. Accepted applicants will receive a phone call from the PA Program notifying them of their status, followed by an acceptance email and mailed packet from the Office of Graduate Admissions. Applicants placed on the wait list will receive an email notifying them of their status, along with a request to confirm that they accept their position on the wait list. Denied applicants will be notified via an email from the Office of Graduate Admissions of Drexel University.
If an accepted applicant has prerequisite coursework or a degree outstanding, he/she will be accepted provisionally. Official transcripts documenting the completion of outstanding prerequisite coursework by the fall academic term prior to matriculation, and/or the awarding of a baccalaureate degree, must be received by the Office of Graduate Admissions by the end of the spring academic term prior to matriculation. If all prerequisite coursework has been satisfied and/or a baccalaureate degree awarded, the acceptance will become non-provisional.
Accepted applicants must complete all requirements to confirm attendance as detailed in the acceptance email, as well as submit a $500.00 non-refundable deposit, within 15 days of receipt of the acceptance email in order to secure their place in the new incoming class.
Accepted applicants must also send any official transcripts that contain courses and or degrees not previously verified on the CASPA application directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions. All transcripts must be received by the end of the spring academic term prior to matriculation. The only exception is coursework and/or degrees awarded in the spring term prior to matriculation. Transcripts reflecting this coursework and/or degree awarded must be submitted as soon as they are available.
Additional requirements to be completed prior to matriculation will be communicated to accepted applicants via email and Blackboard during the spring and summer terms prior to matriculation.
The PA program follows the Drexel University academic calendar for quarter programs. The academic calendar can be found here: http://www.drexel.edu/provost/calendars/. Please note that the PA program holds a mandatory orientation during the week prior to the start of the fall term.
Keep the PA Program Updated!
Between the offer of acceptance and the orientation activities and the start of classes in September, much of the communication from the PA Program to incoming students occurs through email and via Blackboard. The applicant is strongly encouraged to promptly notify the PA Program of any changes to email or mailing addresses and telephone numbers. The PA Program cannot be responsible for failures of important communications due to outdated or incorrect contact information provided by the applicant.
Tips from the Drexel PA Program Admissions Staff
- Complete the prerequisite courses before you apply; at most have only one or two outstanding.
- If anatomy and physiology courses were completed more than three to five years prior to time of application, it is strongly recommended that applicants enroll in either refresher or advanced coursework in anatomy and physiology to demonstrate current competence in the subject matter.
- Be sure to list any in progress or planned coursework on your CASPA application.
- Quantity and quality of direct patient contact does matter, and so does the breadth of experience you potentially bring to the PA program through your healthcare related experience and general life experience.
- Research the profession thoroughly.
- Shadow PAs in a variety of medical settings.
- A strong foundation in the natural sciences will make it a bit easier to get through PA school - any PA school. Don't just complete the prerequisite coursework. Acquire as strong a knowledge base as possible before starting PA school by picking up as many of the recommended electives as possible.
Drexel University reserves the right to revise, without notice, admissions standards and procedures, as it deems necessary. The Drexel University Physician Assistant Program reserves the right to make exceptions to admission policies at the programs' discretion.