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School of Medicine Columbia

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Admission and Application

Our application and admission process is both thorough and competitive. Each year we admit just 30 students to maintain our small student-to-faculty ratio. Prospective students will be required to submit an application both through CASPA and the USC Graduate School. Interviews are conducted each September with final decisions made in October.


We recommend applying as soon as all prerequisites and admissions requirements are complete. This allows at least two weeks for CASPA to verify your application and for the admissions team to review your application. Applying early will also allow you to receive USC supplemental application materials well in advance of the admissions deadline on September 1, 2024.

The University of South Carolina School of Medicine PA Program is a participant in CASPA (Centralized Application Service for PAs). To apply to our program, you must have a verified CASPA application and complete the USC Graduate School supplemental application. The CASPA application will open in April 2024. The deadline for verified CASPA application AND supplemental for students matriculating in January 2025 is September 1, 2024. Please note, the anticipated deadline for students matriculating in January 2026 is August 1, 2025. Once the verified CASPA application has been received by the USC PA Program, the candidate will be e-mailed instructions on how to complete the supplemental application. Only verified CASPA applications with completed prerequisites and GRE scores will be considered by the USC SOM PA Program.

Following receipt and individual screening of the verified CASPA application by the USC Physician Assistant Program, USC supplemental application materials will be requested from all qualified applicants selected to receive further consideration. As a matter of policy, the Physician Assistant Program can accept applications only from those individuals who are currently citizens of the United States or who are permitted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to reside permanently in the United States. Interviews by the USC PA Program are at the invitation of the Admissions Committee and are a required part of the admissions process for all applicants.

All application materials (prerequisite courses, GRE scores, verified CASPA application, and supplemental application materials) are due by September 1, 2024. It is in the best interest of the applicant to submit the completed application as early in the application/admissions process as possible to ensure verification of the CASPA application by the September 1, 2024 deadline.

We will offer one program preference interview day in July for our highest ranking applicants. We will offer at least five seats for admission in the week following the interview. Application deadline to be considered for the program preference interview day is July 1, 2024. Please apply early to be considered for this interview day. Applicants who have not completed all application materials by this deadline or are not selected for admission during the program preference day interview will still be considered for September interviews. 

After we receive your verified CASPA application that meets our admissions criteria, you will get an email with instructions on how to complete the supplemental application.

The supplemental application is generated by the USC Graduate School. If you see a request for transcripts when accessing the supplemental application, please disregard. The USC Graduate School may need additional transcripts only if you are accepted into the program.

If English is not your primary language, the USC Graduate School may require you to pass a language proficiency exam with the following minimum scores:

Please note that applicants to the PA Program must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited United States institution. This is an ARC-PA accreditation requirement. We also do not accept courses that have been credentialed by a third party such as WES

Interviews on the School of Medicine campus are at the invitation of the Admissions Committee and are a required part of the admissions process for all applicants.

Although we ask for specific prerequisites, we evaluate your application on its individual merits. Evidence of academic potential, knowledge of the health care system, motivation, personal maturity, self-assurance and good interpersonal skills will weigh strongly in the admission decision.

You must take the GRE within 5 years of applying to our program and no later than August 15, 2024. We do not have a required score, but preference is given to scores of 297 and above. You may take the exam several times to improve your score.  We superscore the GRE by combining the highest verbal and quantitative scores if multiple scores are reported. We do not review the Analytical Writing portion. Applications will NOT be considered without a GRE score. The GRE requirement is optional ONLY for applicants who have previously completed a Master’s degree or higher from a U.S. regionally accredited institution.

If English is not your native language, you will need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). You must take the Internet Based Test and send the scores directly from the Educational Testing Service to the PA program office. We require a total score of 93 and a speaking score of 26.  

Documentation of two doses of MMR vaccine is required for students born after January 1, 1957. A copy of laboratory report(s) in English with evidence of immunity to Measles, Mumps and Rubella may be submitted in place of immunization records.

Students who have previously completed the Hepatitis B vaccine 3-part series should submit both their dose dates and a copy of a laboratory report(s) in English of a blood test (Hepatitis B surface antibody) to demonstrate immunity. Proof of immunity may be submitted alone for students who have been immunized for hepatitis B but do not have documentation. Students who have not yet completed the series should receive the first two (2) doses of the series and indicate these dose dates. Students may complete the third dose of the series and undergo serologic testing during their first semester at the Student Health Office; vaccine and titer fees apply.

Students must present proof of immunity to Varicella (chicken pox) in one of two forms: (1) receipt of two doses of varicella immunization administered at least one month apart or (2) laboratory documentation of immunity to varicella. Students who have not previously been immunized and who do not have laboratory proof of immunity should complete the two-dose vaccination series.

Students must provide documentation of receipt of one dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) immunization within the past three years. The only exception to this requirement is for those who received the old tetanus/diphtheria (Td) immunization within the previous two years, as Td and Tdap immunization should be separated by at least two years.

Documentation of three doses of IPV or OPV is required. If vaccine records are not available there are two options: (1) proof of immunity by titer may be substituted by sending a copy of the lab results or (2) a polio waiver form may be signed and submitted to student health.

Screening for tuberculosis exposure is a tuberculin skin test performed within the last three months prior to matriculation. Students with a previous history of a positive tuberculosis skin test must submit a completed TB Symptom Survey (available from the Student Health Office) and a chest x-ray report obtained within three years of entry. Skin testing is not necessary for these students.

All applicants are required to have the influenza (flu) vaccine documented after October 1st of the year prior to matriculating due to the start date being during flu season.


Our admissions process is extremely competitive — we accept 30 students from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants. This helps us ensure each student gets the attention and experience they need to excel in their career.

In response to the concern over COVID-19 impacting applicants, the University of South Carolina Physician Assistant Program will consider exceptions to our usual policies.

1) While our preference remains a letter grade for all prerequisite courses, except Medical Terminology, courses taken between January 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021 and awarded a Pass or Satisfactory on a grading scale from an institution that moved to a Pass/Fail grading scale, will be accepted. Please note that a Pass or Satisfactory grade does not impact the GPA and the USC PA Program will only consider the CASPA overall, overall science, and prerequisite GPA calculations.

2) Lab courses or courses taken with a lab component that transitioned to an online format will be accepted.

3) All other prerequisite and admissions requirements remain the same.

A baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by the Commission on Colleges of a Regional Accrediting Organization is required.  Your degree must be completed by August 15, 2024.  Your prerequisite coursework must be completed at the time of applying and verified by CASPA for consideration. You may not have any pending prerequisite courses when you submit your application. A list of common prerequisite courses that our students take can be found here.

Required Course Required Semester Credit Hours
Human Anatomy and/or Human Physiology – Lecture and Lab
  • We do NOT accept comparative, animal, or mammalian anatomy and/or physiology courses

6 credit hours lecture

2 credit hours lab 

General Chemistry  - Lecture and Lab

6 credit hours lecture

2 credit hours lab

Organic Chemistry – Lecture and Lab
Introductory Psychology or Higher Level Psychology
Medical Terminology (can be a certificate) 1
  • Prerequisite courses, with the exception of Anatomy and Physiology do not expire. Anatomy and Physiology courses completed prior to the fall 2017 academic term will NOT be accepted.
  • Prerequisite courses must be taken at a United States regionally accredited institution, including community colleges. However, medical terminology may be taken through a United States institution, healthcare institution, or employer for a certificate or CEU hours.
  • All prerequisite courses must be assigned a letter grade. The exception is medical terminology, which can be Pass/Fail, a certificate, or CEU hours.
  • All prerequisite courses must be passed with a “C” grade or better. “C minus” grades or below will not be accepted for prerequisite credit
  • Applicants must have a minimum of a 3.0 prerequisite GPA as calculated by CASPA. In the event of a course retake, it is the applicant's responsibility to accurately enter the prerequisite course/grade to be calculated by CASPA. We will not manually calculate the applicant's prerequisite GPA.
  • We will accept AP/IB courses for prerequisites.. 
  • We give preference to cumulative and/or science GPAs of 3.2 or higher as calculated by CASPA and based on a 4.0 scale.
  • Prerequisite courses taken on a quarter system must meet the minimum required semester hour equivalent. 

You must have at least 500 documented health care exposure hours completed by the time you submit your CASPA application. Preference is given to applicants with 2,000 or more hours. You can obtain these hours through paid, volunteer or shadowing experiences. We do not accept virtual shadowing hours. We reserve the right to verify those records, so we recommend that you keep your own records. We do not require updates to healthcare exposure hours after the application deadline has passed.

  • Shadowing of PA, NP, M.D./D.O.
  • Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic
  • Military Medic/Clinical Specialist
  • Corpsman
  • Surgical Technician
  • Radiological Technician
  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Laboratory Technician with phlebotomy experience
  • Phlebotomist
  • Athletic Trainer
  • Scribe
  • Nursing (CNA, LPN, RN, CMA)
  • Certified Physical/Occupational Therapist
  • PT/OT Assistant
  • Home health with verification of job duties
  • Medical Interpreter
  • Dietician
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Respiratory Therapist
  • Ophthalmic Technician
  • Veterinarian Assistant
  • Receptionist for physician's office
  • Administrator or Business Manager for a physician’s office
  • Massage Therapist
  • Chiropractic
  • Acupuncture
  • Aesthetician
  • Dental Hygienist/Assisting
  • Inpatient Patient Transport/Orderly
  • Health Fitness Specialist
  • Patient Sitter
  • Optometric Technician
  • Behavioral therapy / ABA therapy
  • Applications are reviewed as they are verified and received from CASPA. Due to a limited number of admission slots, early application is encouraged. 
  • We do NOT review applications until they are verified by CASPA, include all prerequisite courses, and include GRE scores.
  • A University of South Carolina supplemental application is also required for consideration for an interview. Only applicants with verified CASPA applications, including GRE scores, that meet our minimum requirements will receive a supplemental application. ALL application materials must be completed by September 1, 2024.
  • University of South Carolina Physician Assistant Program Admissions Committee will review and score all applications meeting our minimum requirements. Applicant scoring is based on the following:
    • GRE scores for verbal and quantitative (297 and above is preferred)
    • Number of patient care hours
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Personal statement
    • Preference is given for South Carolina residents, University of South Carolina alumni, United States veterans, overall CASPA GPA of 3.2 and higher, overall science CASPA GPA of 3.2 and higher, GRE scores of 297 or higher and 2,000 or more health care exposure hours.
  • The most qualified applicants will be contacted and invited for an interview. The exact dates of the interview will be communicated to candidates with the offer to interview. Candidates who have been interviewed will be notified of the Admissions Committee’s decision as early as two weeks following an interview. If you are placed on a waitlist, we are unable to tell you your ranking on the waitlist. Candidates that are offered a seat in the program will be required to submit a nonrefundable seat deposit of $1,000.
  • Interview dates for the 2024 cycle are July 19 (program preference interview day) and September 16, 17, 18, and 19. 
As a matter of policy, the physician assistant program can accept applications only from those individuals who are currently citizens of the United States or who are permitted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to reside permanently in the United States.
  1. Students are discouraged from working in any form of employment while enrolled in the USC School of Medicine Columbia PA program. 
  2. Outside activities and working are not considered to be valid excuses for poor academic performance or lack of attendance at required PA program activities.
  3. PA students may not work for the PA Program and will never substitute for or function as instructional faculty. 
  4. Students enrolled in the PA program cannot substitute for practicing physician assistants or provide unsupervised services common to a certified PA while at any learning or employment site while enrolled in the program. 
  5. Students are not staff and/or employees of the PA Program while in the role of a learning student and as a result may not earn a stipend/salary for their services as a physician assistant student.
  6. Students credentialed as other non-PA professionals cannot substitute as staff in their credentialed discipline while in the role of a physician assistant student.
  7. Students failing to follow the above Student Work Policies will be subject to disciplinary action ranging from but not limited to Professional Probation to dismissal from the PA program.

While the University Of South Carolina School Of Medicine Physician Assistant Program fully endorses the spirit and intent of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992, it also acknowledges that certain minimum technical standards must be present in candidates for admission, retention and graduation.

Those individuals who would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of themselves or others are not considered suitable candidates for admission or retention in physician assistant school. Those technical standards can be found, here.

No Exceptions or Exemptions

No Exceptions: All admission requirements listed must be met for consideration. The USC School of Medicine PA Program does not allow exceptions.
Exemptions: Anyone with a vaccine exemption may be excluded from the University/College in the event of a Measles, Mumps, Rubella or Diphtheria outbreak in accordance with public health law.
Advanced Placement: We do not offer advanced placement in the PA Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to any questions you may have regarding our program, the application process, the admissions cycle and more.

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