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Physician Assistant Studies

PA Direct

PA Direct is a specialized program exclusively for current undergraduates attending Mississippi College

Mississippi College Physician Assistant (PA) Early Admission Pipeline Program for Undergraduates—“PA Direct” 

PA Direct

The PA Direct program allows early identification, recruitment, selection and careful development of a small number of outstanding, highly motivated students at a point early in undergraduate training, who plan to matriculate in the PA Studies program.  These students will apply to the PA Direct program for early admission into the PA Studies program. Interviews for PA Direct will take place during the fall or early spring semester of the junior year.  If selected, applicants will not be required to interview again before beginning the program, provided they meet all pre-matriculation requirements for direct entry listed under “Selected candidates” below.  Instead, selected PA Direct candidates will have a reserved seat in the PA Studies program.       

PA Direct Mission and Goals

Congruent with the primary mission of Mississippi College’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies, this early admission program will identify, recruit, and select currently enrolled undergraduate Mississippi College students for a direct admission process by which they will be afforded the opportunity for early application, interview, and acceptance into the PA program.  

Eligibility to apply

To be eligible to apply, students must be current Mississippi College full time students who have completed two years (four semesters) of undergraduate study in the biological sciences at Mississippi College as full-time students, and be eligible to graduate after no more than two additional full-time academic years.  Transfer credits for biology or chemistry courses will not be counted toward minimum course requirements (listed below) for PA direct eligibility.  The following courses must be completed within the previous 4 years at Mississippi College, with a grade of B or above, prior to applying for PA Direct:

 Biology 111, (Biology I) Chemistry 141 (General Chem I)
Biology 112, (Biology II) Chemistry 142 (General Chem II)
Biology 305, (Cell Biology) Chemistry 303 (Organic Chem I)
Biology 306 (Genetics) Chemistry 313 (Org. Chem Lab I)
Biology 307 (Cell Biology and Genetics Lab) Math 207 (Elementary Statistics)

Strong preference will be given to applicants who are on track to achieve the minimum GPA necessary to meet admissions criteria for PA Direct candidates; that is, a minimum overall GPA of 3.5 and a minimum science GPA of 3.5. 

Evaluation of Applications for PA Direct Interview

PA Direct applicants will be evaluated on a competitive basis, using the following criteria:

  • GPA overall and science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math courses.)

  • ACT/SAT score

  • Clinical experience, community service, and other experiences, to be clearly described on the PA Direct application.  Strong preference is given to those applicants who have accrued a minimum of 100 hours of clinical experience.  A minimum of 8 hours of clinical experience must have been acquired through shadowing a practicing Physician Assistant. 

  • A minimum of 2 letters of recommendations from MC faculty and at least one from a practicing PA that the applicant has shadowed. 

  • Personal essay describing motivation for becoming a PA and vision of practice.


  • Interviews for PA Direct will be granted by invitation only.  

  • Applicants who are invited for interview will be evaluated by members of the PA Studies Program Interview Committee.  

  • Interviews are designed to assess communication skills, maturity, motivation, and other personal attributes. 

Selection of Candidates:  

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies Admission Committee will select candidates for the PA Direct program from the group of applicants who are invited for interview.   A number of PA Direct Candidates will be selected for a given cohort.

PA Direct applicants will be informed of the outcome of the application no later than March 1 of the year after which they apply.  Possible outcomes are:

  • Selection as a PA Direct candidate (reserved seat status

  • Denial of PA Direct candidate status. 

    • Any student who is denied PA Direct candidate status will be eligible to apply in the future through the regular admission process.

    • Denied applicants are not eligible to reapply for the PA Direct program.  

    • Denied applicants are encouraged to seek feedback and counseling to determine steps that may be useful to aid in development of a competitive application for regular admission in the future.  

Pre-matriculation requirements for Selected Candidates: 

Acceptance through PA Direct is conditional; candidates who meet all required conditions listed below will be granted a reserved seat in the PA Studies Program class for which they are selected.  This special consideration is offered for one PA cohort only.  Failure to meet any of the pre-matriculation requirements listed in this section will result in forfeiture of PA Direct reserved seat status. 

  1. Degree requirement: PA Direct Candidates must complete all degree requirements for the undergraduate degree prior to the day of anticipated entry into PA Program.  

  • Candidates are expected to notify the PA Program Enrollment Specialist of their degree plan and progress at the end of each semester.  

  • Candidates must remain in good academic, moral and ethical standing appropriate for students at Mississippi College and for the pursuit of eventual licensure and career as a Physician Assistant.   

  1. Prerequisite courses:  PA Direct Candidates must complete all remaining PA prerequisite courses, including the following:

  • Biology 203 and 204 Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2.  (Students in the Medical Sciences Track may substitute BIO 410 Human Gross Anatomy and BIO 412 Medical Physiology I).  If candidates choose to better prepare themselves by taking the higher level Medical Physiology and Gross Anatomy in their course of study and earn a B, these courses will not be used to calculate overall, science, or BCP GPAs.

  • Biology 414 General Microbiology

  1. Required GPA:  PA Direct candidates are expected to perform at a high level throughout the undergraduate curriculum to demonstrate that they are prepared to meet the demands of professional school.  

  • PA Direct Candidates must inform the Department of Physician Assistant Studies Enrollment Specialist of their overall and science GPA at the end of each semester.

  • At the end of the fall semester of the senior year (or the year prior to anticipated matriculation), candidates must have earned a minimum overall GPA of 3.5 with a minimum science GPA of 3.5 (biology, chemistry, and math courses.)

  1. Graduate Record Examination (GRE):  The GRE is required for admission into PA school.  PA Direct candidates are encouraged to schedule adequate time to prepare for the GRE, as well as enough time to register and re-take the test in the event that their scores are lower than PA Direct criteria. The GRE should be taken no later than January 1 of the year of matriculation.    

  • The following minimum GRE scores are necessary to meet requirements for PA Direct admission:  

    1. Verbal:   at or above 150

    2. Quantitative:  at or above 150

    3. Writing sample:  at or above 3.0

  1. Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA):  All candidates must submit an official application to the PA Program through CASPA, with all necessary documents including official GRE scores.  CASPA deadline for PA Direct undergraduate seniors who are on track to graduate and matriculate in May is September 15 of the senior year.  No more than two prerequisite courses may be incomplete at the time of the CASPA submission.   

  2. Clinical experience:  A minimum of 500 hours of clinical experience must be accrued prior to PA Direct matriculation.    

    • PA Direct selected candidates are required to document clinical experiences accrued after selection to the program on the standardized form that is provided with the PA Direct candidate packet.  

    • Documentation should be updated no less than once per semester by returning the completed form to the PA Program Enrollment Specialist   

    • Experiences must also be described in detail on the CASPA application, and updates may be provided to the PA Program Enrollment Specialist after submission of CASPA.   

  3. Community service:  In addition to accruing required clinical experience hours, PA Direct candidates should continue to participate in non-medically related community service activities.  These should also be described on the CASPA application.  Updates following submission of CASPA may be provided to the Enrollment Specialist.

  4. Required immunizations:  PA Direct selected candidates are expected to obtain all vaccinations required for the PA program prior to matriculation.  

Failure to meet all pre-matriculation requirements for PA Direct:  

PA Direct selected candidates who fail to meet all of the pre-matriculation requirements listed above will forfeit the privilege of direct admission into the PA Program through PA Direct.  If PA Direct candidate status is lost, application status will change to “regular” and the applicant will be considered for admission along with all other (non-PA Direct) applicants.  Application rules for regular admission will apply, including the requirement to interview as a regular admission applicant.  

Contact Dr. Kenneth Butler ( for more information or to obtain an application following completion of the first two years of study.