Physician Assistant Program Admissions

View the brochure.

Admission to the PA Program is based on evaluation of those applicant qualities and experiences which advance the program's mission. Highest consideration is given to those applicants who:

  • Have an excellent academic record;
  • Demonstrate leadership qualities;
  • Have prior health care experience;
  • Have qualitifed personal references; and,
  • Are residents of New Mexico.

Overall Prerequisite Summary:

  • BA or BS degree completed by August 1st of the application cycle;
  • Graduate Record Exam by August 1 (UNM PA CASPA code 7347);
  • Overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (calculated from the most recent 60 credits);
  • A science GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (calculated from the pre-requisite science and math courses);
  • Grade of C or better on all prerequisite courses;
  • Applicants must have three letters of recommendation in CASPA by the August 1st deadline. Letters of Recommendation should include one personal reference and two clinical references (preferably an MD/DO or PA/NP) who have known you for six months or longer who can speak to your ability to be a PA; specifically, your clinical abilities, and your problem solving, critical thinking and interpersonal skills; and,
  • A minimum of 500 hours of clinical experience.

Required Prerequisite Courses:

General Biology/Molecular Cell Biology with lab* 4 credits
General Chemistry I & II with lab* 8 credits
Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II with lab* 8 credits
Statistics 3 credits
Psychology 3 credits
English: AP credits detailed on transcript will be accepted 6 credits


Prerequisite courses denoted with an * must be completed within the last 10 years. Credit hours are based on the semester system. Additionally, all prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of ‘C’ or better. Unless otherwise noted, Pass/Fail, AP credit, and IB credit will not be accepted to fulfill the prerequisites course requirements. All courses and degrees must be completed at a regionally accredited institution. It is your responsibility to ensure the institution is regionally accredited before taking classes.

The University of New Mexico Physician Assistant Program Admission Committee historically has required that all prerequisite courses be completed by August 1 of the application year. Though this remains preferable, beginning with the 2017 admissions cycle, applicants will be considered for admissions with one prerequisite course outstanding. This course must be completed with a B grade or better by December of the application year. Applicants chosen for admission, who do not complete the prerequisite course with the required grade, will forfeit their admissions status and will be required to reapply.

We strongly recommend that prerequisite science courses be limited to a maximum of two on-line courses. Under unique and special circumstances - active military deployment, living and working in a remote area that does not have a regionally accredited institution - we will consider, on a case-by-case basis, accepting more than two on-line courses.

Highly Recommended for all Applicants:

All highly recommended courses must be taken within the last 10 years. Additional points can be earned by completing up to six of the following course groupings with a grade of B- or higher from a regionally accredited institution:

Category I

  • Microbiology with Lab OR Virology

Category II

  • Organic Chemistry with Lab OR Integrated Organic & Biochemistry

Category III

  • Biochemistry OR Biological Chemistry

Category IV

  • Genetics OR Molecular Genetics OR Molecular Cell Biology

Category V

  • Immunology

Category VI

  • Nutrition

Category VII

  • Regional Language - Spanish OR Native American Language OR Vietnamese OR Sign Language

We require a minimum of 500 contact hours of direct patient care experience in either a patient care setting or a significant community care environment. Hands-on patient care experience is preferred. The more time invested the better. This can be in a paid position or as a volunteer. More information defining direct patient care experience can be found on CASPA's website. It is also beneficial to gain significant community or cross cultural experience in fields outside healthcare.

Applicants should attempt to work with or shadow a Physician Assistant whenever possible to better understand the details of the occupation. Shadowing is not a competitive manner to fulfill the clinical experience requirement.

Advanced Placement (AP) credit for science prerequisites, statistics and psychology will not be accepted. AP coursework is acceptable for English prerequisites if credits are detailed on applicant’s transcript.

Application for admission is made through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). The application and all supporting documents must be submitted to CASPA by August 1 each year for the class starting the following June. Applicants are encouraged to check the status of their CASPA application through the CASPA portal on a weekly basis. Please apply early as CASPA may take up to 5 weeks to process the application. The UNM PA Program will send out a supplemental application via email to applicants selected to move on in the admissions process. A separate application to UNM is required upon acceptance into the program, if not currently enrolled in a masters program.

Students are admitted once a year with classes beginning in June.

Top Ten CASPA Application Errors by Physician Assistant Education Association

Application and all supporting documents must be completed according to CASPA by August 1.

CASPA Overview

CASPA for Applicants from PAEA on Vimeo. An overview of the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants for students interested in applying to PA school.
Presented by Danielle Di Silvestro, Director of Applicant & Student Services at PAEA.

CASPA has a dedicated team that will help you with the application process. Please direct your questions to the CASPA Customer Service Team. The Customer Service information is listed below. For CASPA Customer Service:

Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm ET
Telephone: 617-612-2080
Email: caspainfo@caspaonline.org - When contacting via email, applicants should include their full name, CASPA ID number and a detailed question.

For more information, please contact the program office.

Technical Standards for the Physician Assistant

The technical standards set forth by the Physician Assistant Program reflect the minimal capabilities considered essential for practice as a physician assistant. Candidates for admission to the Physician Assistant Program must be able to meet the following technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodations:

  • Mental capacity to assimilate and learn large volumes of complex, technically detailed information, to perform clinical problem-solving, and synthesize and apply concepts and information from different disciplines to formulate diagnostic and therapeutic judgment;
  • Ability to maintain composure and emotional stability during periods of high stress;
  • Adequate sensory function to fulfill the minimum competency objectives for observation, palpation, auscultation and percussion in order to perform a competent physical examination;
  • Sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control, and eye-to-hand coordination to utilize standard medical instruments and possess sufficient control of the upper extremities to meet the physical requirements for training and perform competent, complete physical examinations;
  • Ability to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients from different cultural and social backgrounds, and develop an effective professional rapport with patients;
  • Ability to record examination and diagnostic results clearly, accurately and effectively, and then communicate effectively to the patient and colleagues;
  • Expected to learn and perform common diagnostic procedures (e.g. laboratory, cardiographic, radiologic) and interpret the results with respect to recognizing deviations from the norm and identifying pathophysiologic processes; and,
  • High degree of coordination of motor skills necessary to respond to emergency situations quickly and appropriately.

The PA Program is cognizant of its responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Accordingly, if any applicant with a disability has any questions or needs with respect to the above standards he/she should contact the Director of the PA Program at (505) 272-9864.

Class of 2018 Admissions Statistics

Gender Academic Statistics
Female 76% Overall Average GPA 3.68
Male 24% Average Science GPA 3.68
Residency Graduate Record Exam
Resident of NM 88% GRE Verbal 151
Non-resident 12% GRE Quantitative Scores 150
GRE Analytical Scores 3.9
Ethnic Breakdown Direct Patient Care Hours
White 76% Direct Patient Care Average 7,199 hours
Spanish/Hispanic/Latino/Latina 47% Direct Patient Care Range 578 - 50,100
Black of African American 0%
American Indian or Alaska Native 6%
Not Reported 12%
Age Community Experience
Average Age 27 Community Experience Average 667 hours
Age Range 22-41

If English is not your first language or if English is not the official language of your home country, you must demonstrate English language proficiency. Most applicants will need to submit official English proficiency test scores that are less than 2 years old.

The UNM PA Program adheres to the UNM Demonstrated Proficiency in English policy. Please see English Language Requirements to review the English Proficiency Test Requirements and the exceptions to the English Proficiency Test Requirements.