Physician Assistant Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

Periodically, General PA Information Sessions will be held at our Lexington campus in the College of Health Sciences Building, 900 S. Limestone, Lexington, KY (see our Home Page for dates and see Campus Map for directions). We also are holding less frequent PA information sessions at our Morehead campus. The schedule and map for these sessions, when they occur, will be posted on our home page as well.




How do I learn more about the PA profession?

You can found out more about the profession and the great opportunities it gives you to provide quality healthcare to all individuals. Please go to the following links to find out more.

Physician Assistants: A Fast-Growing Profession


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Are there any prerequisites required? What is the curriculum?

The prerequisites and current curriculum are stated in the University of Kentucky Graduate School Bulletin. They are may be reviewed by accessing the links provided and the Graduate School Bulletin, which is the official source.

The prerequisites are also listed in detail here.


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Do you require medical experience before application?

A minimum requirement of 1000hrs of direct patient contact- at least 500 hours must be in medical discipline such as CNA, EMT, CRNA, CMA, Medical Tech, professional hospice volunteer, etc. We will accept hours as a (Pharmacy Tech, Dental Tech, Physical Therapist Tech, Athletic Trainer), However these hours can occur in a limited capacity with 500hrs maximum.

You must have 50 hours of shadowing a clinical Physician Assistant. We prefer that you shadow a PA from various medical specialties .

Direct patient care means taking vitals, bandaging, patient care procedures, injections, "blood pressure check, bedpan duty, phlebotomy, ADL's (adult daily living) physical examinations and any other care in which the person 'lays hands on the patient.


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How do I know if the courses from my institution are equivalent to the UK courses?

*You may determine course equivalency with the University of Kentucky courses listed above by going to


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Will you accept the MCAT as a substitute for the GRE?

No. We accept ONLY the GRE. No other exam will substitute for it.


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Will my Chemistry (or Biology, Anthropology, etc.) course count as a prerequisite?

All sciences courses should be those generally taken by students declared as pre- medicine majors.

The course equivalency website can help you evaluate your courses for meeting the prerequisite course requirements.

If your course is not listed but you feel that a completed course may satisfy the prerequisite requirements, you will need to submit a syllabus for that course to the College of Health Science, Office of Student Affairs for further evaluation


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My institution offers a combined Anatomy/Physiology course. Do I have to take separate courses in Anatomy and Physiology?

You may either take separate courses in Anatomy and Physiology, or you can substitute 2 semesters of a combined Anatomy/Physiology course. Again these courses need to be those generally taken by pre medicine degree majors.


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I have courses in Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy and Comparative Physiology. Do I need to take Human Anatomy and Physiology also?

If your institution does not offer a Human ANA/PGY course, comparative anatomy may be substituted. We generally accept upper level physiology and anatomy courses in lieu of the lower level human counterparts. Please check with us to be sure for your particular courses.


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Do I need to finish all my prerequisites before I apply?

The UKPA program admission cycle will open in mid-April and close in midsummer. Applicants applying to this cycle may only have 2  outstanding prerequisite courses at the time of application. Upon completion of outstanding prerequisites, the updated transcript must be sent to the program. All prerequisites must be completed by the August 10,2015 deadline. Please refer to to the application page for additional application dates.

You may contact Julia Flannery with any concerns or questions as well as for collection of documents:


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I am already at UK. Can I take some of the courses in your curriculum before I am accepted to PA school, so I can get them out of the way?

All courses that are part of the PA program should be taken once admitted to the program. If a course has been taken and completed before admission to the PA program (ex,. PGY 412G), it will need to be repeated once you matriculate into the program.


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In August 2011, the GRE exam was revised. How will this affect me if I have already taken the exam?

First, all GRE scores must be within the past 5 years

For those who have taken the GRE before August 2011, we will be looking for a minimum combined score of 900 points on verbal and quantitative sections. Minimum scores for the new GRE must meet the minimum academic requirements for the Graduate School. Please note that the class average for GRE scores is generally around 1140 for the old GRE and average of 150 Verbal and 151 Quantitative for the new GRE. This number may be adjusted in the future, and may be subject to "special circumstances" (e.g. see Admission Criteria).

For those who have taken the Revised GRE after August 2011:

  • Verbal Reasoning scores will be reported on a new 130 – 170 score scale, in 1- point increments (versus 200 – 800 in 10-point increments).
  • Quantitative Reasoning scores will be reported on a new 130 – 170 score scale, in 1-point increments (versus 200 – 800 in 10-point increments).
  • Analytical Writing scores will continue to be reported on the same 0 – 6 score level, in half-point increments.
  • Taken from GRE website.

The minimum score has not been set at this time.

UK Graduate School GRE Institution Code is 1837.

Check the GRE site for their information on the exam, and on interpreting GRE scores in general.


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What is the best major for Pre-PA student?

There is not one particular major that a student must have to be a successful PAS applicant. However, the College of Health Sciences offers a unique program to prepare students for the healthcare professions, Human Health Sciences (HHS). The Human Health Sciences (HHS) baccalaureate program prepares undergraduate students for future healthcare careers in a dynamic, interprofessional healthcare environment. Graduates of this program will have a strong foundation in the basic sciences and develop competencies in healthcare skills and knowledge, thereby maximizing professional career opportunities. The PA program values a diversity of majors within each cohort; thus, whether students choose HHS or another major, students will be competitive in the application process, as long as they complete the pre-requisites required for entry. While we certainly have students who majored in sciences (e.g. Biology, Medical Laboratory Science, Psychology, etc.) we also see many other programs represented including (but not limited to) Music, History, Communications, Business, etc. It is important for undergraduate students to select a major that they enjoy and are likely to be academically successful. It is also critical for students to do well in the PAS prerequisite courses.

Applicants would benefit from taking some higher level science courses to that would better prepare them for the rigors of the PA program curriculum.



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What are the Technical Standards?

In order to study as a physician assistant student as well as to practice as a certified physician assistant it is vital that individuals meet certain minimum capabilities for observation, communication, sensory and motor function and coordination, intellectual capabilities and behavioral attributes. These minimum capabilities are described in the program's Technical Standards.


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My institution doesn't have a course in Developmental Psychology. Is there another course(s) that can substitute for Developmental Psychology?

The following discussion was provided by Dr. Gerry Gairola of the UK PA program. First, some college and universities have courses specifically designated as developmental psychology and obviously they would meet the requirement. Some college developmental courses will focus on only child and adolescent development, which is fine as many of the foundations for our entire development are established during this period. However, if you can get a course that covers the entire lifespan it would be preferable. Also look in departments, other than psychology for developmental courses, such as sociology, anthropology, social work, education, early childhood development, etc. The content will probably be similar in many of these courses but the application may differ.

Second, for a course not specifically designated as developmental psychology, you should review the syllabus or course description for the course and/or speak with the instructor regarding the content. The instructor should be able to help you determine whether it will have enough basic developmental psychology for someone going into medicine.

In your review/discussion you should look for the following content to determine whether the course would meet some of the content normally included in developmental psychology and which is especially relevant to clinical practice:

  • Theories of Development (e g., Piaget, Erikson, Freud, etc.) Perception, Attention, and Memory
  • Attachment Behavior
  • Cognitive Development
  • Language Development
  • Psychosexual Development
  • Affect Development
  • Moral Development
  • Psychosocial Development
  • Family Development

If a course covers at least six of these topics, then it would be considered acceptable in meeting developmental psychology prerequisite course requirement. Be sure to save your syllabus and send it when you apply to the program if you are requesting that a non-developmental course be considered for substitution.


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I am a foreign medical graduate. Can I apply to the PA program?

Yes, we do accept applications from foreign medical graduates (FMGs), but there is important information you should know:

  • We do not offer advanced placement for FMGs. You must take all of our curriculum. In general, we will also require all prerequisites, although in some cases, for example, we may waive Medical Terminology for a foreign physician who has several years of medical practice.
  • Foreign transcripts (for all foreign students) will need to be evaluated by a service to establish equivalencies to US university courses and grades. We currently accept those from:
  • You will need GRE and TOEFL scores to apply. You should consult the University regarding the type of visa that is required for students. You will need a permanent visa in order to practice as a PA.
  • If you are an international or domestic student applicant and did not attend a high school where English is the primary language, you are required to submit TOEFLiBT scores in additional to the GRE. A minimum combined TOEF iBT score of 104 is required, with a minimum of score  of 26 in all in reading, listening, speaking and writing components

The institutional code for the UK Graduate School is R1837.

  • Historically, FMGs may have had a difficult time dealing with the role of the PA because they have previously functioned as autonomous physicians.

    As a PA, you will always have to function under the supervision of a licensed physician. If you are comfortable with this aspect of medical practice as a PA, you will do well. However, if you truly wish to practice independently, you will always have some stress because of the PA role, and being a PA might not be for you. Please be absolutely sure that you understand the PA role, and that you wish to practice medicine in such a dependent fashion.


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What is the Master's Project?

A component of the Physician Assistant Master's program is the completion of a Master's Project. The project begins in the first fall semester and is completed in the following spring semester, culminating in a written paper and an oral presentation. Students will receive additional details regarding the Master's Project in the first summer semester.


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What is the tuition? Is out of state tuition higher than for KY residents?

The current tuition rates and information concerning tuition is keep current and can be accessed through the UK Office of the Registrar website.

The PA program also has additional fees listed below that are subject to change without notice.

Medical equipment, textbooks, lab coats, lab fees, student health on average are an additional $4000.

  • CPR and ACLS training, professional meeting registration, certification exam preparation, etc. will cost about $400.
  • Graduation fees and PA board exam fees will be about $600.

So, what is the total?

  • Average is $34,000 for the entire 29 month curriculum and taking the board exam (keeping in mind the probable inflation of tuition in the future). This is always subject to change.


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Can I work while in the PA program?

The Physician Assistant program has a rigorous and demanding curriculum that will require students to be in fully attentive to their responsibilities as a graduate student in this program. Therefore we, as program, highly recommend that you reframe from any outside employment.


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How many applicants apply and how many are interviewed?

Our numbers of applicants vary, and we do not share those numbers. We accept 56-62 students per class. Our class size is set at 40 slots on our Lexington campus and 16 slots on our campus in Morehead, Kentucky. We interview a number greater than the number of available slots because there are inevitably some applicants who either reject an offer of a slot, or whom we reject. The actual numbers vary from year to year.


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What is your first-time pass rate for graduating students taking the PANCE?

Our overall first-time pass rate from 1999 through 2005 has averaged 92.1%, compared with a national average for all programs of 90.6%. Our pass rates for those years, compared with the national pass rates, are shown in the table below:


UK First-time %

National First-time %















Available in 2015



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I am a University of Kentucky student. Is there a student group of "Pre-PA's"?

There is indeed a UKPPASSA, which stands for University of Kentucky Pre Physician Assistant Studies Student Association. They are an active group and they welcome new members. Information can be found here.


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Are there dual degree opportunities?

The Physician Assistant Program offers several certificate options and a dual degree option. The UK Physician Assistant Program and the College of Public Health offers the opportunity for certificates in gerontology, health care administration, or clinical nutrition. A minimum of nine credit hours of elective courses in the specific concentrations are required for completion. Information may be found in the Graduate School Bulletin.

The UK Physician Assistant Program and the College of Pharmacy offer a Dual Degree options for students currently admitted in the PharmD program. Each Program has independent perquisite courses that must be satisfied. Contact Dr. Kelly Smith to learn more about the program. Dr. Smith will provide initial guidance and then refer the student to the Dr. Gerry Gairola, PharmD/MSPAS Faculty Advisor in the College of Health Sciences. Pharmacy students must work with the specific dual degree advisor to receive program-specific academic advising Students are required to meet with their advisor in the College of Pharmacy and also PA faculty advisor, on a continual basis if considering the dual degree option..


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NOTICE: Although every effort is made to ensure that this material is accurate and up to date, it is provided for the convenience of the user and should not be considered the official version. The official version of this material is available at the UK Graduate School site. Specific information about the PA program is at the UK Graduate School PA program site. The user is advised to refer to and rely upon the official version of this material when making significant decisions or judgments.

Contact Us

Physician Assistant Program
College of Health Sciences
900 S. Limestone
Lexington, KY 40536-0200

If you are a graduate of our program seeking degree verification for application to a position or for licensing or credentialing, please contact the Registrar's Office for this service by calling (859) 257-7157, or by visiting the appropriate web page of the Registrar's Office.

If you have questions, please read the frequently asked questions below to see if your question has already been addressed. If it has not, we will answer your question by email. See the bottom of this FAQ list for contact information.