Pre-Health Professional Studies
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Pre-Physician Assistant

Required courses for professional school

Professional schools are not in total agreement concerning required courses. This is true between different fields (i.e. medicine vs. veterinary) and even within fields (Medical College of Wisconsin vs. University of Wisconsin Madison Medical School).

Therefore, listed below is only a partial list of the minimal requirements for most schools. Be sure to check with the schools that you are interested in for their specific requirements.

Introductory science (SC119 and SC120)
Inorganic chemistry (CH260)
Organic chemistry (CH221 and 322)
Microbiology (BI251)
Additional biology courses (genetics, BI351, cellular biology, BI325, anatomy and physiology, BI231, biochemistry CH/BI328)
Literature (EN210, EN310)
Pre-calculus (MT146)

Early in your academic career consult the web page of the school that you are interested in attending for a list of their required courses, then make an appointment with the pre-professional advisor to see which Alverno courses fit those requirements. This should be done EARLY in your academic career! (You would hate to wait until your senior year to find out that you do not have all the requirements for a particular school.) It is also highly recommended that at the beginning of your junior year you meet with an admissions counselor at one of the professional schools you are most interested in attending to review your academic classes against their academic admissions requirements.

Many schools also have courses that are highly recommended, but not necessarily required.

Admission Tests:

Most Pre-Physician's Assistant programs require either the GRE or the MCAT test. Some require the AHPAT. You should contact the school you are interested in attending to find out their specific requirement

GRE (The Graduate Record Exam)

Some physician's assistant schools require the GRE. The GRE general test is a computer-based exam and is administered on almost any day of the year at computer-based test centers worldwide. Appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. For registration information please refer to the GRE web page at, or call 1-800-GRE-CALL. This website provides information on test format, test dates, registration deadlines and other frequently asked questions.

The GRE general test measures three scored sections: verbal, quantitative, and analytical. The skills that are tested have been acquired over a long period of time and are not related to any specific field of study. At the start of the test, you are presented with test questions of middle difficulty. As you answer each question, the computer scores that question and uses that information to determine which question is presented next. For this reason, once you answer a question and move on to another, you cannot go back and change your answer. As long as you respond correctly to each question, questions of increasing difficulty typically will be presented. When you respond incorrectly, the computer will present you with questions of lesser difficulty. This means that different test takers will be given different questions.

MCAT (Medical School Admissions Test)

Some physician's assistant programs require the MCAT.

The MCAT assesses problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills in addition to knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. MCAT scores are reported in verbal reasoning, physical sciences, writing sample, and biological sciences.

The MCAT is offered 2 times a year, in spring and at the end of summer. Alverno College is sent MCAT registration materials in January or your can register on the web.
The following website provides information on test format, test dates, registration deadlines and other frequently asked questions:

Links to web pages of schools in the area:

Marquette University Department of Physician's Assistant Studies

Professional Organizations:

American Academy of Physician's Assistants

Association of Physician Assistant Programs