Contents

    PA schools that don’t require the GRE – ranked

    PA schools that don’t require the GRE – ranked
    Contents

      Today, most physician assistant (PA) programs have removed the GRE as an application requirement.

      With the GRE phased out, PA school applicants are considered holistically; other factors, such as GPA, prior coursework, and clinical experience hours are still important.

      The best-value PA programs that don’t require the GRE come from Stanford University, University of Washington, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

      www.degreechoices.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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      Enrolling in a physician assistant studies master’s program is a smart career move on several fronts.

      Not only can physician assistants give back to medically underserved communities with quality patient care, they also earn above-average salaries while doing it: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that physician assistants earn a median salary of $126,010 (as of 2022).

      In the past, Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) have often served as an obstacle to getting into competitive PA programs – especially for those who just aren’t good at maneuvering standardized tests.

      If that sounds like you, or you’re simply hesitant to put in more time and money toward the GRE, we have good news for you: plenty of reputable PA schools don’t require the GRE.

      In this article, we’ll walk you through the best PA schools that don’t require the GRE – ranked by program cost and earning potential – to help you narrow down the right PA programs for your aspirations (and wallet).

      » More like this: Medical degrees and healthcare careers

      Is the GRE required for physician assistant programs?

      In large part, no, the GRE is no longer a requirement for most PA programs. PAEA Research’s (2021) Program Report found that only 42.6% of PA programs require the GRE exam.

      While some physician assistant schools have dropped the GRE requirement entirely, others have taken a “test-optional” route. The latter approach, however, may put non-test-takers at a disadvantage (although this is near to impossible to prove).

      Why grad schools are dropping the GRE requirement

      In recent years, the GRE’s potential as a predictor of how well students fare in PA graduate programs, and later on the PANCE exam, has been subject to debate. It appears, some opponents argue, that the only skill the GRE puts to the test is a student’s ability to take standardized tests.

      The decision to do away with the GRE also comes at a time when PA school admissions are making concerted efforts to remove barriers to entry for Black, non-white, and economically disadvantaged applicants.

      Some demographics, namely, those who are white and male, tend to score higher on the GRE than others. And, at $220 per test, not to mention the added cost of prep courses or multiple attempts at passing, the GRE puts low-income groups at a clear disadvantage.

      Should you take the GRE for GRE-optional schools?

      Between keeping the GRE and removing it completely, some PA schools are in the murkier category of “GRE-optional,” raising the question of whether taking the GRE (or submitting lower-than-average scores) is a good idea.

      If you’re lucky, test-optional schools state their preference for submitting test scores on their website. Stanford’s PA program, for example, while being test-optional, recommends submitting GRE scores.

      For GRE-optional PA schools without a clear stance on GRE scores, consider reaching out to the program admissions officers to ask for it. If you’ve already taken the GRE, check if your scores are in line with the average GRE scores of admitted applicants for the PA program you’re interested in.

      A good rule of thumb for gauging whether submitting GRE scores to GRE-optional PA schools makes sense:

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      Best PA schools in the U.S. that don’t require GRE – by value for money

      With a collective move away from the GRE, there is no shortage of physician assistant programs that don’t require it. The challenge, though, is sifting through them to find ones that offer a good return on investment, or cost-to-earnings ratio.

      To help, we’ve compiled the top physician assistant master’s programs in the United States, excluding schools that still require the GRE, and ranked them by economic score.

      An economic score is our term for the ratio of annual net program cost (after federal student aid) and average salary 4 years after graduation. Hint: the lower the economic score, the sooner the investment pays off.

      Note that our ranking methodology draws from government data only. Sources include the Department of Education’s IPEDS, College Scorecard, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

      With that, let’s go!

      #1 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      Stanford University

      Stanford, California

      Economic score 0.57

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $12,894

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $97,798

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 97%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      Topping our list of best-value physician assistant schools is Stanford University School of Medicine’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.  

      Some standout benefits of Stanford’s PA program are its clinical anatomy lab and one of the most comprehensive health-care simulation training facilities in the country.  

      Note that standardized test scores from GRE or MCAT are recommended but not required. 

      • Program length: 9 quarters
      • Minimum GPA: No minimum GPA, but 3.5 or higher overall/science GPA is preferred
      • Clinical experience required: No, but recommended
      See more
      #2 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      University of Washington

      Seattle, Washington

      Economic score 1.11

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $12,017

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $68,925

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 85%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      The University of Washington’s Medex Northwest Physician Assistant Program is located across several campuses in Washington state and one in Hawaii.  

      Core to the program is a commitment to serving critical-need areas in the nearby region and Hawaii. Increasing access to PA education for historically underrepresented populations is another priority.  

      While GRE scores are no longer required, they are still accepted (the school notes that scores are used as program data – not criteria for acceptance).  

      • Program length: 27 months
      • Minimum GPA: 3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #3 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE
      Economic score 1.17

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $12,469

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $61,915

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 91%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Physician Assistant Studies program is one of the best in the country. It is unique in its special focus on military members in the application process. 

      From 2018-2023, the majority (74%) of accepted students were from North Carolina. 

      UNC tops this list with the second-highest graduation rate of 95%

      • Program length: 24 months
      • Minimum GPA: 3.2
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #4 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      Northwestern University

      Evanston, Illinois

      Economic score 1.43

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $23,279

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $80,033

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 95%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      Northwestern University’s Physician Assistant Program is the newest clinical graduate program offered by Feinberg School of Medicine.  

      Northwestern’s PA students complete their clinical rotations in the Chicago area. 

      The school uses a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach in the classroom, affording students the opportunity to hone their clinical skills early on with a “PBL patient.”  

      • Program length: 24 months
      • Minimum GPA: 3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #5 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE
      Economic score 1.44

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $15,768

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $69,766

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 89%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      The Physician Assistant Studies Program at University of California, Davis’ Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing prepares its students to become PA leaders in various healthcare settings. 

      Students receive comprehensive training under the leadership of the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group, a large faculty team from diverse fields such as biostatistics, pharmacy, public health, and nursing. 

      According to IPEDS’ 2021-2022 data, at the school level, UC Davis has an excellent graduation rate of 89%

      • Program length: 27 months
      • Minimum GPA: 3.0
      • Clinical experience required: No, but strongly preferred
      See more
      #6 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      Stony Brook University

      Stony Brook, New York

      Economic score 1.52

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $16,119

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $66,678

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 76%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      The Physician Assistant Program at Stony Brook University offers its students an extensive clinical affiliate program for their rotations. Stony Brook’s PA rotations prioritize areas with underserved populations.  

      Since 2018, at least 90% of Stony Brook’s PA graduates passed the PANCE exam.  

      • Program length: 24 months
      • Minimum GPA: 3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #7 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      Emory University

      Atlanta, Georgia

      Economic score 1.55

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $22,597

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $72,364

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 92%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      Emory University’s Physician Assistant Program in Atlanta, Georgia prepares its students to become compassionate and competent physician assistants in the community. 

      A notable program highlight is the Emory Farmworker Project, which provides free health care to migrant farmworkers in rural Georgia.  

      Since 2018, the PANCE pass rate for first-time test takers among Emory PA program graduates was 92% and above.  

      • Program length: 28 months
      • Minimum GPA: 3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #8 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      Rutgers University, Newark

      Newark, New Jersey

      Economic score 1.62

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $15,996

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $65,661

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 74%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      An impressive 100% of Rutgers University’s 2018-2022 Physician Assistant Program graduates passed the PANCE exam.  

      PA students have the choice of 3 degree tracks, including a Master of Science/Master of Public Health dual degree for those accepted into the PA program.  

      The program places a special focus on historically underrepresented populations in health care professions, along with U.S. veterans, non-English speakers, and low-income students.  

      • Program length: 3 years
      • Minimum GPA: 3.2 (lower GPAs require a letter of explanation)
      • Clinical experience required: Yes, but no minimum-hour requirement
      See more
      #9 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE
      Economic score 1.76

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $17,234

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $65,213

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 88%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Physician Assistant Studies Program is well-suited for applicants who wish to go on to deliver comprehensive health care to underserved populations.  

      Its “Mission Match” applicants are low-income students, veterans, first-generation students, or students from medically underserved areas. In 2023, 65% of PA students met these criteria. 

      UW Madison’s PA program is offered to students on a full time or part time basis, or as a MPAS-MPH dual degree. Applicants can apply to 2 options.  

      • Program length: 24 months
      • Minimum GPA: 3.2
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #10 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      University of Utah

      Salt Lake City, Utah

      Economic score 1.77

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $13,572

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $60,590

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 75%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      University of Utah’s Physician Assistant Studies Program is one of the oldest of its kind in the Western United States. Today, it is committed to recruiting a diverse student body and serving equally diverse communities. 

      The average first-time PANCE pass rate was 90% among University of Utah PA graduates over the last five years. 

      The program’s graduation rate in 2023 was 100%

      • Program length: 27 months
      • Minimum GPA: 3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #11 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      Boston University

      Boston, Massachusetts

      Economic score 2.06

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $30,395

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $75,642

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 88%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Program prepares its students to provide patient-centered care to diverse populations, particularly those in medically underserved areas. 

      While training at one of three nearby medical centers is a popular option, students are also expected to travel to remote areas (for which they are expected to secure transportation) during the clinical phase. 

      • Program length: 30 months
      • Minimum GPA:  3.2
      • Clinical experience required: No – but applicants should know what PAs do
      See more
      #12 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      Northeastern University

      Boston, Massachusetts

      Economic score 2.26

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $29,714

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $79,786

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 89%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      Northeastern University’s Physician Assistant Program at Bouvé College of Health Sciences provides students with comprehensive training to prepare them for any clinical practice environment. The program is conveniently located near some of Boston’s top medical centers, where students can complete their clinical rotations.  

      Among its graduating classes over the last 5 years, at least 94% of first-time takers passed the PANCE exam – a pass rate consistently above the national average.  

      • Program length: 2 years
      • Minimum GPA: 3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #13 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      George Washington University

      Washington, District of Columbia

      Economic score 2.37

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $32,563

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $80,606

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 84%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      George Washington University (GW)’s competitive Physician Assistant Studies Program offers its applicants the choice of a physician assistant or dual physician assistant/public health track.  

      GW’s joint PA/MPH degree, born in the 1960s from an initiative to prepare ex-military for the field, is the first of its kind in the United States. 

      One highlight of GW’s PA program is its Class Center, a simulation center that provides PA students with hands-on experience in clinical environments before starting the clinical phase.  

      • Program length: 2 years (3 for the dual degree program)
      • Minimum GPA: 3.2
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #14 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      University of Iowa

      Iowa City, Iowa

      Economic score 2.53

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $19,401

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $58,274

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 72%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Studies and Services admits only 25 students a year, allowing its students to have close relationships with their professors and an intimate classroom setting. On average, its matriculating classes have an average GPA of 3.79.  

      The school stresses its focus on bringing clinical applications to basic science courses in its curriculum. The curriculum is comprised of 3 strands:  

      Mechanisms of Health and Disease 

      Medicine and Society  

      Clinical and Professional Skills  

      Over the past 5 years, UI PA program graduates have had an average PANCE exam pass rate of 92%.  

      • Program length: 28 months
      • Minimum GPA:  3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #15 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      Marquette University

      Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Economic score 2.54

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $30,380

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $72,489

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 82%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      Marquette University’s Physician Assistant Studies Program at the College of Health Sciences prepares future PAs for the profession in the Jesuit tradition.  

      The university’s 44,000 square-foot Physician Studies Building is one of the largest in the country, comprising state-of-the-art facilities like the Medical Simulation Center and Ambulatory Care Suite. 

      The program stands out with exceptional PANCE first-time pass rates of 100% over the last 5 years.  

      • Program length: 3 years
      • Minimum GPA:  3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #16 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      University of North Dakota

      Grand Forks, North Dakota

      Economic score 2.70

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $16,966

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $57,299

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 62%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      The University of North Dakota’s Physician Assistant Studies Program offers smaller classes (35 students on average) and a unique blend of online and on-campus learning. The program’s hybrid learning design features online coursework paired with classroom instruction and clinical practice.  

      To support PA students in securing employment after graduation, the University of Utah provides extensive job resources, including its Handshake Service, a database of job openings for UND students.  

      UND’s MPAS program graduates have had a consistent PANCE exam pass rate of 90% over the last 5 years. 

      • Program length: 24 months
      • Minimum GPA:  3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #17 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE

      University of Kentucky

      Lexington, Kentucky

      Economic score 2.77

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $18,203

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $54,458

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 66%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      The University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences’ Physician Assistant Studies Program, or UKPA, rotates between the school’s Lexington and Morehead campuses.  

      The program consists of a 1.5-year didactic phase and a 1-year clinical rotation phase. University of Kentucky PA students should complete 1 clinical rotation in rural Kentucky. Notably, the school also offers international clinical rotations. 

      Over the last 5 years, while the program’s first-time PANCE pass rate has been largely below average, the average pass rate for students who ultimately passed was 96%.  

      • Program length: 29 months
      • Minimum GPA: 2.75
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #18 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE
      Economic score 2.81

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $34,214

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $78,330

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 85%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      One of the major draws of the Physician Assistant Program at Case Western University School of Medicine is its extensive network of affiliated teaching hospitals, such as Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth.  

      Another unique feature is its pre-clinical clerkships (PCCs) component, which offers students early exposure to local clinical environments and an opportunity to develop various practical and interpersonal skills.  

      The school’s average first-time PANCE pass rate from the last 5 years is 93%.  

      • Program length: 27 months
      • Minimum GPA:  3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more
      #19 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE
      Economic score 2.87

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $20,967

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $60,740

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 70%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      The University of Colorado Physician Assistant Studies Program on the Anschutz Medical Campus is a competitive program with an admissions rate of 2% and average cumulative GPA of 3.76 for its 2023 incoming class.  

      The program’s curriculum consists of a 2-year didactic phase and a 1-year clinical phase featuring 10 one-month rotations. Students gain hands-on clinical experience in reputable affiliated institutions, such as Children’s Hospital Colorado, the University of Colorado Hospital, and Denver Health and Hospitals.  

      The program’s average first-time PANCE pass rate for the last 5 years has been 94% and above.  

      • Program length: 3 years
      • Minimum GPA:  3.0
      • Clinical experience required: No
      See more
      #20 in Physician Assistant (PA) Programs – No GRE
      Economic score 2.91

      Our economic score ranks programs based on a combination of payback and EarningsPlus. Lower scores are better. Check our methodology page for details and data sources.

      Cost $14,308

      The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

      Earnings $46,950

      Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

      Graduation rate 63%

      Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not  displayed.

      Northern Arizona University’s Physician Assistant Program is the only public university PA program in the state.  

      Students can take advantage of the university’s Phoenix Bioscience Core (PBC), a sprawling 30-acre medical campus in Phoenix comprising several life science buildings – including the Center for Simulation and Innovation.  

      The average first-time PANCE pass rate for the years 2018-2023 has been 94%.  

      • Program length:  2 years
      • Minimum GPA:  3.0
      • Clinical experience required: Yes
      See more

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      Other top-ranked PA schools that don’t require the GRE

      Not seeing a PA program that sounds right for you on the curated list above?

      Here are a few other reputable programs that don’t require the GRE – and offer the right return on investment (ROI) by cost and average future earnings.

      PA school prerequisites to keep in mind

      Without the GRE as a core requirement, PA schools evaluate a student’s application holistically.

      Common admission requirements for physician assistant graduate programs

      • An undergraduate degree. A health sciences-related degree is sometimes stated as optional (but advantageous).
      • Prerequisite coursework. Programs outline the required number of semester credit hours of science and non-science courses. While they vary by program, courses typically include biology, anatomy, chemistry, psychology, English writing and composition, and statistics.
      • Letters of recommendation. Generally, 2-3 letters are required, ideally from academic or professional contacts in healthcare.
      • Healthcare/patient care experience. Many programs – not all – require that students have earned somewhere between 500 and 2,000 hours of clinical experience. The American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) notes that applicants typically have about 3 years of experience.

      Beyond these markers of academic performance and professional experience, PA program admissions value interpersonal skills and cultural competency due to the people-focused nature of the field and the diverse populations served.

      PA school GPA requirements

      Most physician assistant programs have a minimum GPA requirement (cumulative and science). Depending on program selectiveness, that GPA typically falls somewhere between 3.0-3.6.

      That said, most top PA programs require a minimum overall GPA of 3.0.

      Remember, though, that a minimum GPA is more a tool to weed out ineligible applicants than an accurate reflection of the average admitted student.

      Often, the minimum GPA and average GPA of admitted students are 2 different things. For instance, while the University of Iowa’s PA program notes a minimum GPA of 3.0, the average GPA for the 2023 matriculated class was 3.85.

      So, while reviewing PA programs, make sure to look up their matriculation data, too, to ensure that you’re a competitive applicant. According to CASPA, the average overall GPA (science and cumulative) was 3.64 for the 2022-2023 cycle.

      (If you’re worried that your GPA may not make the cut, check out our article on colleges with lower GPA requirements).

      Should you apply to PA programs that don’t require the GRE?

      With the GRE has been phased out as a requirement in many PA programs, you’ll need to make sure you have the right educational and practical experience lined up to shine as a candidate. The good news? Without worrying about the GRE, you can dedicate more effort to honing these areas.

      While you may have little control over some elements of your application, for instance, a below-average undergraduate GPA, others can be worked on. Focus on collecting meaningful clinical or volunteer experience and developing close professional relationships in the healthcare field to secure glowing recommendation letters.

      Ultimately, PA programs are looking for demonstrated passion for the field – and good grades and test scores aren’t always the most reflective of that commitment.

      Final thoughts

      Physician assistant master’s programs are competitive, but if you showcase relevant experience and enthusiasm for the profession, they are far from impossible to get into.

      Luckily, the decision by many PA schools to remove the GRE as a prerequisite has made the application process more straightforward, and, hopefully, more equitable.

      Still on the fence about whether a PA master’s program is the right fit, but don’t know how to narrow down your choice of a healthcare graduate program? Consider taking our mini quiz below to land on a program that makes sense for you.

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