Frequently Asked Questions

What are the UT Southwestern PA Program Goals and Outcomes?

Program's Success in Achieving Goals


  • Exceed the U.S. national average first-time pass rate on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).
  • Provide student clinical education opportunities in diverse settings within medically underserved areas/populations.
  • Demonstrate excellence in scholarship, leadership and service.
  • Provide longitudinal educational experiences in evidence-based medicine and quality improvement/patient safety.

Success in Goal Accomplishment

    • For the past five years, 100% of students passed the PANCE on their first attempt exceeding the U.S. national average each year. Read the official NCCPA report.
    • 100% of students completed clinical education opportunities in diverse and medically underserved areas/populations.
    • Across their careers, the faculty and staff have held 16 state/national leadership positions
    • Served on >85 professional, institutional, and community committee; received >75 awards and honors to include international research recognition and various teaching awards from state and national organizations.
    • From 2017-2018, our faculty contributed to 12 published manuscripts, 3 funded grant submissions and 16 presentations and workshops at local and national professional meetings. Our students contributed to 2 manuscripts submitted for publication, 1 funded grant submission and 5 presentations at local and national professional meetings. 
    • 100% of students complete our EBM curriculum that includes longitudinal experiences focused on critical appraisal of research articles and application to clinical care. This includes completion 1 credit didactic course followed by an EBM module as part of the 8-week Family Medicine rotation. Additionally, students have the option of selecting EBM as the focus of their graduate project.
    • 100% of students complete didactic phase lectures addressing the basic concepts QI/PS and how to conduct QI/PS projects. In the clinical phase, all students participate in a workshop design to enhance implementation of QI/PS projects upon graduation. 
Is the UT Southwestern PA Program accredited?

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of Texas. 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 March 2023. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Standards and ARC-PA policy.

What are the regional accrediting organizations?
What is the length of the program and what degree is awarded?

The program is 30 consecutive months. It begins in May and ends 30 months later in November. A Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree is awarded.

What does the curriculum consist of during each phase?

The didactic curriculum is designed to provide students with basic science knowledge, concepts of health care and disease, as well as medical history and physical examination skills.

The clinical curriculum includes rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, women’s health, pediatrics, surgery, psychiatry, emergency medicine, infectious disease, and a primary care preceptorship.

How many candidates are accepted to the Department of Physician Assistant Studies?

The Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program will admit 60 students each year to begin classes in May.

How many applications are received and how competitive is acceptance?

The Department receives a large volume of completed applications annually. Total numbers of applications for the past three years have exceeded 1,500. Applications are welcome regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability.

Do you interview candidates for your program and what is the format?

Yes. A multiple mini-interview is conducted for the most competitive applicants to the PA program. Approximately 180 applicants are invited to interview each year.

Friday evening “Meet and Greet” and Saturday interview dates for the cycle of 2019/2020 are as follows:

  • August 23/24
  • September 13/14
  • October 18/19
  • November 8/9
What are the characteristics of an ideal candidate for your program?

An ideal candidate has a strong work ethic and embodies the program's vision and mission with a commitment to primary care practice and diversity in the workplace. They will have a combination of life, work, and academic experience that demonstrates their ability to perform under the demands of a challenging academic and professional program.

How important is an individual’s GPA in getting an interview and how do I make myself more competitive?

A required minimum cumulative and science GPA is 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. All required courses must be passed with a grade of “C” or better. As with other universities or colleges, higher GPAs make a more competitive candidate. Science grades above a “C” are more competitive. The goal is to be competitive and academically prepared to successfully handle the demands of the program’s curriculum.

However, the admissions committee does not base its decision solely on grade point averages. It evaluates the application packet as a whole. Therefore, the quality and quantity of academic preparation, strong letters of recommendation, prior “hands-on” health care experience, community service activities, leadership evidence, and awards are all part of the evaluation process.

Must I take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required of applicants who have a U.S.-acquired Master's degree or higher. All other applicants are required to submit GRE scores to the UTSW registrar as part of the application process. There is no minimum GRE score required for admission. Scores from the GRE general examination must be received by the September 1 application deadline. Applicants may choose to submit scores from a previously taken examination if within the past five years.

In order for my GRE scores to be sent to the Physician Assistant Department at UTSW, what is the GRE code?

The UT Southwestern Medical Center institutional and departmental GRE Code is 6686.

Is it beneficial to have health care experience prior to application to the PA program?

Yes, hands-on patient care experience is beneficial. (see Pre-Admission Clinical Experience)

What are my chances of getting accepted into the program?

A variety of people with various backgrounds apply to the program each year, and a variety of applicants are accepted. There is no way to say who will or will not be admitted, nor can any guarantee be made about anyone’s admittance. A good strategy is to present yourself as well as possible on paper.

If I were accepted into the program, when does it begin?

Annually in May.

Can I attend this program part-time?

No. Due to the fixed sequence of the didactic curriculum, all students must enroll on a full-time basis.

Can I work while enrolled in the program?

It is recommended that students do not work while enrolled in the program.

What is the advanced placement policy for the program?

With the exception of undergraduate-level courses that meet the University of Texas credit transfer criteria, (such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credit awarded for undergraduate course credits toward a bachelor’s degree), advanced student placement, or waiving of required or department courses are not available for applicants to the physician assistant program. All students must complete all required courses, even if medically related courses have been taken in a previous academic setting.

I already have a medical degree from another country. Do I have to complete all required coursework?

Please refer to the International Applicants section of the website.

Is there a time limit on the required coursework?

Time limits: All prerequisite courses must have been completed within the past 10 years from the date of anticipated matriculation.

May I apply and interview even though I lack required credits?

No. All prerequisite coursework must be completed by the time of application.

Is housing available on the UT Southwestern campus?

Yes. The Medical Center has a complex that provides 282 apartments. For information, call 214-956-9300 or visit Campus Housing.

Is UT Southwestern’s Physician Assistant program ranked by the U.S. News & World Report?

Ranked 7th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in “America’s Best Graduate Schools 2020.”

What is the most recent five-year Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) first-time pass rate?
Is a supplemental application required?

No supplemental application is required.

What is the application deadline?

September 1.

Where can I find Physician Assistant shadow opportunities?
What are the PA program policies and procedures for refunds of tuition and fees?

Please see the school catalog.