Physician Assistant Studies - Master of Science

The rigor of this training program and the skills and responsibility necessary for clinical practice as a physician assistant (PA) require the program to seek applicants with a strong academic background, along with refined interpersonal skills and maturity. Prior healthcare experience is also an indicator of a career commitment to clinical practice.

While academic preparation is the primary criterion used in the admissions review process, nonacademic factors may contribute to the strength of an application. These may include qualities such as demonstrated leadership, involvement, and/or adding a diverse dimension to our campus community. Diversity is essential to our university and profession. Individuals from underrepresented, disadvantaged, or marginalized communities, and military veterans, are encouraged to apply.

The program's admission process will consider each applicant's strengths and select for admission those applicants best qualified to meet the program's mission: "In collaboration with nationally renowned partners, we develop exemplary PAs, in an inclusive culture, who equitably optimize the health of our region." To align with this mission, current employees of Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic, Marshfield Clinic, or UW-L who are interested in advancing their career as a PA are encouraged to apply.


Application process

To be considered for admission applicants must have all of the following completed:

  1. An application with the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) including three letters of reference. CASPA is a national application service that collects and verifies application materials and calculates various GPAs before forwarding the applicants file to the programs selected by the applicant. For details, visit CASPA.
  2. A UWL - Gundersen - Mayo - Marshfield PA Program Supplemental Application.
  3. Submission of the program application fee.
  4. International applicants have additional requirements.

To be considered for an interview, all references, transcripts, and GRE scores must be received by CASPA by August 1. The program application fee must be submitted to UWL by August 1 as well. CASPA stops accepting materials after the deadline passes. For details, visit CASPA.

Admission requirements

  1. An earned bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.
  2. A minimum cumulative GPA (as calculated by CASPA) of 3.00 calculated on a 4-point scale.
  3. A minimum science (as defined and calculated by CASPA) GPA of 3.00 on a 4-point scale.
  4. Submission of Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores is required with scores forwarded to UWL and the PA program. GRE scores are used as another measure of academic aptitude along with GPA. Thus, there is no minimum required score.

Interview selection factors

An interview is required for admission to the program. Factors considered in the interview selection include the following:

  • Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA), as calculated by CASPA
  • Science GPA, as calculated by CASPA
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores
  • Current employment at Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic, or Marshfield Clinic (minimum employment of at least 12 months at the time of application submission)
  • UWL students currently enrolled at least part-time (> 6 credits) and on track to earn a bachelor’s degree prior to the program start or those who have graduated from UWL within 12 months of application submission

Final admission selection

  • Written application including references
  • Background predictive of potential for future practice in the service areas of the program's partner institutions
  • Knowledge of the PA profession and the profession's role in the healthcare system
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Quality and extent of healthcare related experience
  • Rigor of undergraduate education

Strong GPA and GRE scores are necessary to gain an interview, and ultimately, admission.

Any offer of admission will be contingent on acceptance of the candidate by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Office of Admissions, and successful completion of all degrees and current coursework, including prerequisites.

Program prerequisites

Applicants must have the following coursework completed prior to beginning the PAS program. Students may apply with outstanding prerequisite courses so long as they demonstrate a plan to complete those courses before matriculating in the program.

Biology: At least 11 semester hours of biology in the following areas including at least two lab courses:

  • Anatomy and Physiology: One semester of human anatomy AND one semester of human physiology; OR a two-semester sequence of combined human anatomy which must be at the 200/sophomore level or above. Though vertebrate and mammalian anatomy and physiology are acceptable, human anatomy and physiology is strongly preferred.
  • Microbiology: One semester at the 200/sophomore level or above.
  • Chemistry: A minimum of 11 semester hours of chemistry including the following courses, at least two of which must include a laboratory:
  • General Chemistry: One semester of general or introductory chemistry.
  • Organic Chemistry: One semester at the 200/sophomore level or above.
  • Biochemistry: One semester at the 300/junior level or above. Molecular or cellular at the 300 level or above is an acceptable alternative.

Mathematics: A minimum of two semesters of mathematics including:

  • Pre-calculus/Calculus: One semester of college algebra with trigonometry or pre-calculus or calculus.
  • Statistics: One semester of statistics.

Psychology: A minimum of one semester of general, introductory, developmental, or abnormal psychology.

Health Care Experience: Prior direct patient care health experience is expected but not required. Such experience provides evidence of a career commitment to healthcare as a PA. In the program's competitive admission process, the length and depth of healthcare experience is a selection factor.

Technical Standards of Performance: Applicants must also meet the program's technical standards of performance in the areas of observation, communication, motor function, intellectual/conceptual, integrative and quantitative ability, and behavioral and social attributes. The Physician Assistant Program has posted these standards online. Applicants may have accommodations to meet these standards.

Applicable UWL courses:

BIO 312Human Anatomy and Physiology I (BIO 103 or BIO 105 and CHM 103 are prereqs)4
BIO 313Human Anatomy and Physiology II4
MIC 230Fundamentals of Microbiology (BIO 103 or BIO 105 and CHM 103 are prereqs)4
CHM 103General Chemistry I5
CHM 104General Chemistry II5
Organic chemistry
Select either:
CHM 300Fundamental Organic Chemistry4
CHM 303
CHM 304
Organic Chemistry Theory I
and Organic Chemistry Theory II
Select either:
CHM 325Fundamental Biochemistry 14
CHM 417
CHM 418
Biochemistry I: Macromolecules
and Biochemistry II: Metabolism and Genetic Information
MTH 151Precalculus4-5
or MTH 207 Calculus I
STAT 145Elementary Statistics4
or STAT 305 Statistical Methods
Select one from:
PSY 100General Psychology3
PSY 212Lifespan Development3
PSY 204Abnormal Psychology3
PSY 356Infancy and Childhood3
PSY 357Adolescence3
PSY 358Adulthood3

 BIO 435 or BIO 315 are acceptable alternatives.

Professional PAS curriculum

The PA Program curriculum includes a total of 108 required credits including 64 credits of didactic and professional development and 44 credits of supervised clinical experiences. Matriculating students are enrolled full-time as a cohort and pre-clinical courses are offered once per year. Students must successfully complete the pre-clinical year to advance to the clinical year.  

The clinical year is also full-time and composed of required (PAS 720-732) and specialty rotations (PAS 734) as well as a professional development seminar series. The rotations do not need to be completed in a specific order and sequence is subject to availability of clinical sites. 

Pre-clinical year courses (listed in order of enrollment)

59 credits

PAS 509Human Gross Anatomy3
PAS 510Applied Human Gross Anatomy3
PAS 626Physiology for the Medical Professional4
PAS 640Introduction to the Physician Assistant Profession1
PAS 680Pathology1
PAS 630Clinical Pharmacology I3
PAS 642Medical History and Physical Exam3
PAS 643Applied Medical History and Physical Exam1
PAS 654Evidence Based Practice for PAs2
PAS 681Medical Diagnostics1
PAS 682Internal Medicine: Cardiology3
PAS 683Gastroenterology2
PAS 685Pulmonology2
PAS 703Endocrinology1
PAS 707Hematology1
PAS 711Clinical Neuroscience I2
PAS 800Clinical Assessment I1
PAS 637Clinical Practice Skills I1
PAS 649Health Care Administration, Law, and Ethics1
PAS 717Rheumatology1
PAS 628Infectious Diseases2
PAS 631Clinical Pharmacology II2
PAS 647Applied Clinical Practice Skills2
PAS 652Clinical Procedures (one credit repeated twice)2
PAS 701Nephrology1
PAS 709Emergency Medicine1
PAS 712Clinical Neuroscience II2
PAS 760Obstetrics - Maternal/Fetal Care1
PAS 762Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine1
PAS 763Genitourinary Medicine1
PAS 764Applied Genitourinary Medicine1
PAS 770Principles of Surgical Medicine1
PAS 771Orthopedics1
PAS 772Principles of Surgical Medicine III: Surgical Subspecialties of Otorhinolaryngology and Opthalmology1
PAS 773Dermatology1
PAS 801Clinical Assessment II1
PAS 700Society and Population Health1
Total Credits59

Clinical rotations

44 credits

Completion of required rotations (PAS 720-732) and specialty rotations (PAS 734) do not need to be completed in a specific order. Sequence is subject to availability of specific sites.

Required clinical rotations
PAS 720Family Medicine Rotation4
PAS 722Internal Medicine Rotation4
PAS 724General Surgery Rotation4
PAS 726Women's Health Rotation4
PAS 728Pediatric Rotation4
PAS 730Behavioral Health Rotation4
PAS 732Emergency Medicine Rotation4
Specialty clinical rotations
PAS 734Specialty Medicine Rotation (four credits repeated four times)16
Total Credits44

Professional Development

5 credits

PAS 790PA Professional Development I Seminar1
PAS 792PA Professional Development II Seminar2
PAS 794PA Professional Development III Seminar1
PAS 802Summative Assessment1
Total Credits5

University graduate degree requirements

After being admitted to the program of one's choice, candidates for a graduate degree must:

  1. Complete any preliminary course work and deficiencies.
  2. Complete all courses and other program requirements, including residence requirements prescribed for the degree desired in the respective school or college within a seven-year period from the date of initial enrollment, with the exception of students enrolled in the Student Affairs Administration and Leadership Ed.D. (SAA Ed.D.) graduate program. SAA Ed.D. students must complete all degree requirements within ten years from the time of initial enrollment in the graduate program.
  3. Earn a minimum of 30 credits for a master's degree; 54 credits for a doctorate or post-master's degree. Earn at least one-half of the minimum number of credits required in the program in graduate-only level courses (700, 800, 900, and non-slash 600 level courses). Some UWL graduate programs require more than 30 graduate credits. Please review the individual program requirements listed in the catalog for the exact number of credits required.
  4. Earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00.
  5. Satisfy dissertation, thesis, seminar paper, terminal/graduate projects and internships, or comprehensive examination, where applicable. A dissertation or thesis approved by the committee must be submitted to Graduate & Extended Learning for editorial review and approval by the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. The recommended initial submission date for review is two weeks before commencement. Ordinarily, a seminar paper or project report does not have to be approved by the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. However, if the seminar paper or project report is to be archived in Murphy Library, the student must follow the same rules as they apply to the dissertation/thesis requiring approval from the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. For further research/dissertation/thesis guidelines, see Graduate & Extended Learning.
  6. File a completed "Intent to Graduate" form online via the WINGS Student Center immediately following registration for the final semester or summer term in residence. December graduates and winter intersession should file by May 1. May and summer graduates should file by December 1.
  7. Pay the graduation fee and remove all other indebtedness to the university. Payment of graduation fees does not imply readiness for graduation and does not take the place of applying for graduation.
  8. Complete all requirements within 30 days after the official ending date of a term in order for a degree to be awarded for that term. (See #5 above for separate deadline for written capstone experience.)

Course schedule by semester:

Pre-Clinical Year
PAS 5093PAS 6303PAS 6491PAS 6282
PAS 5103PAS 6423PAS 6371PAS 6312
PAS 6264PAS 6431PAS 7171PAS 6472
PAS 6401PAS 6542 PAS 7011
PAS 6801PAS 6811 PAS 7091
 PAS 6823 PAS 7122
 PAS 6832 PAS 7601
 PAS 6852 PAS 7621
 PAS 7031 PAS 7631
 PAS 7071 PAS 7641
 PAS 7112 PAS 7701
 PAS 8001 PAS 7711
   PAS 7721
   PAS 7731
   PAS 8011
 12 22 3 19
Clinical Year
PAS 652 (2)11Clinical rotations, four 4-week rotations. Select four of the following:16Winter Intersession and Spring Semester  
Clinical rotations, three 4-week rotations. Select three of the following:12PAS 7204Clinical rotations, four 4-week rotations. Select four of the following:16 
PAS 7204PAS 7224PAS 7204 
PAS 7224PAS 7244PAS 7224 
PAS 7244PAS 7264PAS 7244 
PAS 7264PAS 7284PAS 7264 
PAS 7284PAS 7304PAS 7284 
PAS 7304PAS 7324PAS 7304 
PAS 7324PAS 7344PAS 7324 
PAS 7344PAS 7922PAS 7344 
PAS 7001 PAS 7941 
PAS 7901 PAS 8021 
 15 18 18  
Total Credits: 107

PAS 652 will be taken in the Summer after Pre-Clinical Spring semester for a total of two credits.