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Physician Assistant Program (Minnesota)

How to Apply

Physician Assistant interacting with child patient during exam

Enrollment options

There are two possible enrollment pathways for acceptance into this program. Find which path best suits your goals in becoming a PA.

3+2 program option available through our affiliated institutions

Through a 3+2 accelerated master's degree option, high school students may apply to the 3+2 programs available at one of the affiliated institutions listed below. Accepted students complete their first three years of undergraduate study at the respective campus. Their final two years are completed at Mayo Clinic.

Accepted students have a guaranteed seat in the Mayo Clinic PA Program as long as enrollment requirements while in the three years of undergraduate study are met.

Enrollment requirements are maintained by each school and include academic performance, reflection papers, and participation in occasional extracurricular PA professionalism activities.

For the next class entering August 2021, applications are due Dec. 1, 2020. To apply to the 3+2 enrollment option, applications and related information should be obtained from the respective school. Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences finds the 3+2 admission standards maintained at each institution equivalent, and we respect and support the unique distinctions of each institution.

Traditional Pre-PA to master’s degree option

Applicants who have already earned an undergraduate degree may apply directly to the PA Program at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, for the two-year master’s degree program. Applicants must meet the required prerequisites and technical standards.

Prerequisites and technical standards

By either path, admission requirements include the demonstration of academic potential, commitment to health care, and familiarity with the role of a PA.


Prerequisites: 3+2 enrollment option

If applying for the 3+2 enrollment option at one of the affiliated institutions, each institution will have individual prerequisite requirements.

Prerequisites: Traditional Pre-PA to master’s degree option

If applying for the traditional two-year program, you must have completed the following prerequisites and prerequisite courses:

  • Baccalaureate degree. A four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited U.S. college/university (or equivalent) including all Mayo Clinic PA Program prerequisite courses, completed prior to August 1 of year of admission.

  • Prerequisite courses. The most recent prerequisite courses (though not all) must be completed within seven years of admission. 

    All prerequisite courses must have a grade of C or better. 

    All prerequisite courses do not need to be completed at the time of application. The application includes a section that allows you to report your plan to complete any outstanding prerequisites by August 1 of the year of admission.

    To see if college courses meet the prerequisite requirements, upon request, our team will review unofficial transcripts and meet with inquirers to explore prerequisite course equivalence.

  • Cumulative and science GPA of 3.50 or higher. Cumulative GPA and science (biology/chemistry) GPA each of 3.50 (on 4.00 scale) in all higher education work.

    As an alternative to this prerequisite, at the discretion of PA Program Director, cumulative and science GPAs represented by the last 60 credit hours of higher education coursework may meet this requirement. Directly contact the PA Program Director and request this consideration with an explanation of your circumstances.

    If the GPA requirement is not met by the last 60 credit hours, the applicant who continues to pursue admission at Mayo is advised to explore retaking certain courses or taking additional courses to increase the GPA.

  • At least 500 hours of direct patient care experience. The minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care experience may be met by such roles as a phlebotomist, certified nursing assistant (CNA), emergency medical technician (EMT), nursing, physical therapy (PT) aid, other patient care careers, or volunteer roles, among others.

  • At least two half-days of PA shadowing. PA shadowing sufficient to distinguish characteristics common to PAs compared to other health professions is represented by two or more half-day experiences, depending on the quality of the experiences and the goals of the applicant. You are advised to complete the PA shadowing requirement prior to submitting your application for admission, as that experience will better inform you in your decisions related to your career and education.

Prerequisite courses

Biological sciences: Minimum of 16 semester hours, at least 7 hours upper division*

Required coursesUnits


1 course with lab


1 course with lab

Biology or zoology

2 courses, at least 1 with lab


1 course with lab

Chemistry: Minimum of 15 semester hours, at least 3 hours upper division*

Required coursesUnits

Chemistry (general/inorganic)

1 course with lab

Organic chemistry

1 course with lab


1 course

Additional chemistry

1-2 courses

Math: Minimum of 3 semester hours

Required coursesUnits

Statistics or biostatistics

1 course

Psychology: Minimum of 6 semester hours

Required coursesUnits

Developmental psychology

1 course

Abnormal psychology

1 course

English: Minimum of 6 semester hours

Required coursesUnits

English composition I or writing intensive course

1 course

English composition II or writing intensive course

1 course

Required total: 14-15 courses

Recommended courses: The following courses will better prepare the applicant for their studies in the Mayo Clinic PA Program.

Recommended coursesUnits


1 course


1 course

Additional upper division* physiological sciences (cell biology, endocrinology, immunology, virology, etc.)

1 course

Scientific inquiry or research course

1 course

*An upper division course is taught at a junior or senior level of college/university instruction, generally indicated by a 300- or 400-level course number. Introductory or survey courses are not considered upper division. Courses that do not clearly reflect upper division status may require the applicant to provide a syllabus for review.

Technical standards

The outlined PA Program technical performance standards must be met by all students matriculating in the Physician Assistant Program.

As individuals may have varying abilities to meet these standards, candidates are encouraged to discuss their abilities with the PA Program admissions committee. Jointly, we will consider technological and other facilitating mechanisms needed in order to train and function effectively as a PA.

Mayo Clinic is committed to enabling its students by any reasonable means or accommodations to complete this course of study.

Non-U.S. citizen inquirers

Admission to Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences is open to U.S. workers in the four categories below. Therefore, visa sponsorship is not available.

  1. U.S. citizens
  2. U.S. nationals
  3. Lawful permanent residents
  4. Asylees and refugees

Applicants whose primary language is not English must submit results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based test (TOEFL iBT). Scores from the speaking portion of the exam are given particular consideration in admission decisions. Learn more about the exam and register online at the Educational Testing Service.

The Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences code for the TOEFL iBT is 5784. The PA Program’s minimum score requirement for the TOEFL, consistent with general recommendations for graduate students in the health professions, includes a total TOEFL score that exceeds 89 with a minimum score of 25 for speaking.

Educational transcripts from schools outside the U.S. must be translated (if they are not already in English) and evaluated for U.S. equivalence by an accredited credential evaluation service company prior to submission. Please refer to the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for a list of qualified companies. The applicant pays for the examination and credential-evaluation services.

How can I improve my chances of being admitted?

Admission requirements for either admissions path meet the same three goals: applicants must show academic potential, be committed to health care, and be familiar with the PA role.

Applicants will be best suited for the Mayo Clinic PA Program by evidence of any of the following preference factors:

  • Maturity. Evidence of personal growth through life experience leading to responsible behaviors.
  • Compassion and service. Evidence of extracurricular service to others in need.
  • Resilience. Evidence of success despite challenging circumstances.
  • Leadership. Evidence of organizational engagement with meaningful outcomes.
  • Commitment to practice locally. Resident of communities served by Mayo Clinic in the Midwest.
  • Military service. Evidence of current or past military service highlighting the characteristics above (maturity, compassion and service, resilience, leadership).

Application process

Enrollment pathwayApplication windowApply
3+2: Saint Mary’s University See website Visit website for information and to apply 
3+2: University of Minnesota Rochester See website Visit website for information and to apply
Pre-PA April 1 – Aug. 1, 2020
(Application window closes at 5 pm CST)
Apply online
(review instructions below carefully)

Application process: 3+2 enrollment option

Applicants pursuing the 3+2 enrollment option at one of the affiliated academic institutions should refer to the application instructions at the respective university.

Application process: Traditional Pre-PA to master’s degree enrollment option

Applicants who have already earned an bachelor's degree or higher should complete the following steps to apply:

  1. Create an account to begin the online Application for Admission
    • Select - Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
    • Select – Physician Assistant Program
  2. Complete each section of the application and submit
  3. After submission, view the required Supplemental Items and Documents
    • Upload each required item in the Supplemental Items section
    • Complete the Recommendation Request section

Additional required items

  • Three letters of recommendation are required and must be completed in the Recommendation Request section. Each recommender will receive an email with a link to complete a rating form and upload a letter.
    • Academic: One recommendation that reflects your academic potential (from a professor or instructor)
    • Professional: One recommendation that reflects your health care commitment (from someone familiar with your personal and professional character dedicated to health care)
    • Professional: One recommendation that reflects your familiarity with the PA role (from a PA if possible, or other health professional who knows you well)
  • Essay is to include each of the following using no more than 500 words for the total essay. Upload it in the Supplemental Items section.
    • Describe why you want to become a PA as opposed to any other medical professional through your education at Mayo Clinic.
    • Tell us about an experience that offers evidence of your compassion, your resilience, or your leadership.
    • What makes you stand out from other PA applicants we are considering for admission?
  • Download the following forms, complete the information requested, and upload in the appropriate Supplemental Items section:
  • Official transcripts from each college or university that you've attended must be mailed from the institution directly to:

Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
Physician Assistant Program
Cascade Meadow 2-200
2900 19th Street NW
Rochester, MN 55901

Seats available

The table below explains the allotment of seats per path per year. Seats available indicates seats in this two-year Mayo Clinic PA Program. Please note this is pending accreditation approval.

Pre-PA path: Those who possess or will earn a four-year undergraduate degree prior to beginning Mayo Clinic PA Program.

3+2 path: High school graduates entering Saint Mary’s University or University Minnesota Rochester through the affiliated pipeline programs.

Year of admission to two-year Mayo Clinic PA ProgramSeats in Pre-PA pathSeats in 3+2 pathTotal seats available
2020 24 0 24
2021 24 0 24
2022 1 23 24
2023 2 22 24
2024 TBA 24 24
2025 TBA 24 24

TBA: To be announced as soon as available.

Admission FAQs

Discover answers to some of the frequently asked questions about admission to the PA Program at Mayo Clinic.

Is there a part-time plan of study?

The rigor of the master's PA program curriculum requires that individuals plan to be full-time students throughout their studies and clinical rotations. Nationally, PA education has explored part-time studies to capture non-traditional students (who turn into wonderful PAs). Because of the tight sequence of studies required, it typically then doubles the length of PA education for part-time students to be four years or more, which is too often undesirable for the learner.

We advise PA students to commit themselves as full-time students for the two-year program, avoiding routine employment responsibilities to attend to their own self-care and counter the inevitable stresses of this type of educational program.

Does the PA Program offer "rolling admissions"?

Our PA Program does not participate in “rolling admissions.”

All applicants who submit their application by the Aug. 1 due date are fully considered. Early acceptance processes such as “rolling admissions” encourages earlier application submissions. Though our program does not offer early acceptance, there are advantages to submitting your application early.

We encourage individuals to submit their applications as early as possible to offer more time for us to evaluate the completeness of the application. Early applicants will receive feedback from our admissions staff should there be missing items or questions that arise from our initial review. As we approach the application due date, we are less likely to manage the time needed for any questions that arise. We recommend submitting your application as early as possible to obtain the benefit of this review as long as the completed application best represents your experience, attributes, talents and plans.

What is considered appropriate for "direct patient care hours"?

A minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care experience is required, which typically includes work as a certified nurse assistant (CNA), phlebotomist, EMT, PT aid, nurse, or other patient care careers. 

The goal is ensuring that the applicant has generous experience in working with individuals who do not feel well and/or have significant medical needs.

Some health professions do not typically include care of individuals who are ill, such as some health research roles or occupations such as a pharmacy technician or personal trainer. These roles contribute excellent experience for the PA applicant, but evidence of direct patient care is still necessary. Experience as a health care volunteer is acceptable if direct patient care is notable, such as medical mission work directly with patients.

You may have participated in an unusually engaging experience that allowed you to experience patient care first-hand. If that’s the case, please contact the program with a description of the quality of the experience representing direct patient care.

I have shadowed physicians. Do I need to shadow a PA?

Yes, a minimum of two half-days of PA shadowing is required. To best understand the role of the PA, direct experience with a PA in the patient care role is necessary. Because the PA role can greatly vary, shadowing with PAs in different environments enhances the applicant’s understanding of the PA role.

How should I document my direct patient care hours and shadowing?

We recommend you keep a list of your experiences. The Mayo PA Program application will ask you to provide a brief description of your experiences, dates and hours, and a contact name and phone number. At our discretion, we may contact the individual you list to confirm the experience reported.

Can Mayo Clinic help me find a PA to shadow?

It’s a common practice for PAs across the country to anticipate calls from individuals seeking to shadow them. If you find a PA working in an area that interests you, don’t hesitate to reach out. Usually it’s recommended that you establish that contact first, so that you have a shadow experience in an area of your interest.

Many institutions have guidelines for shadowing experiences, including Mayo Clinic. Here is a link to the shadowing programs available through the Mayo Clinic HR Career Awareness.

For the 3+2 enrollment pathway, do you distinguish between candidates from the affiliated universities differently?

Mayo considers all candidates in the 3+2 pipeline equally, and has no preference between Saint Mary’s University or University of Minnesota  Rochester. Each school offers an excellent learning environment that is tailored to the individual student. Applicants should explore each school and determine which school best suits them.

Generally, questions related to 3+2 applications should be directed to Saint Mary’s University or University of Minnesota Rochester so they can respectively speak to their own program’s offerings.

If I’m accepted in the 3+2 pipeline enrollment pathway, do I have a guaranteed seat in the Mayo Clinic PA Program?

Yes, as long as matriculation requirements while in the 3 years of undergraduate study are met.

Matriculation requirements are maintained by each school and include academic performance, reflection papers and participation in occasional extracurricular PA professionalism activities.

One example of the academic performance requirements includes obtaining a 3.5 GPA across the junior year of studies.

What happens if I don’t meet the matriculation requirements?

Saint Mary’s University and University of Minnesota Rochester have advisors and coaches that will be supporting your studies at each school. If issues arise that contribute to not meeting the matriculation requirements, your university’s advisor will be counseling you and helping support you toward success. If despite all efforts, you do not meet the matriculation requirements, you may be advised to take additional studies or be involved in related remediation activities prior to moving forward into the Mayo PA Program. This may delay your entry into the Mayo PA Program.

If a student withdraws from the 3-year undergraduate curriculum design, the student may still progress to completing the same PA program prerequisites. That student would then later apply directly to the Mayo Clinic PA Program for admission upon completion of a bachelor’s degree.

For the Pre-PA enrollment option, does Mayo Clinic use CASPA (Central Application Service for PAs)?

No, Mayo Clinic is not a participating member of CASPA. Applicants will need to submit a unique application to Mayo through our own online admissions system.

For the Pre-PA enrollment option, is the GRE required for application?

No. Mayo has not found data that supports GRE outcomes as predictors for student success in PA education. However, data on GRE testing supports that GRE outcomes may limit a school’s ability to admit a diverse population of students, which works against one of our priorities.

How many letters of recommendations are required as part of the application process?

Three letters are requested.

The applicant may choose who is best able to write letters of recommendation. For many applicants, we recommend:

  • One letter reflective of your academic potential (from a professor or instructor)
  • One letter reflective of your health care commitment (from someone familiar with your personal and professional character dedicated to health care)
  • One letter reflective of your familiarity with the PA role (from a PA if possible, or a health professional who knows you well)

Applicants who have additional life experience since their academic coursework may find others are in a better position to write their recommendation letters.

Do Mayo Clinic employees have an admissions advantage over non-employees?

One of the PA Program’s six admission preference factors is "a commitment to practice locally." If an individual has worked at Mayo Clinic, can speak to a rewarding experience, and has positive references from Mayo Clinic, that offers strong support for this preference factor.

Are pass/fail courses accepted as prerequisites?


Pass/fail courses are accepted if counted toward a degree in a regionally accredited institution. However, a grade of “pass,” by itself, does not speak strongly of a candidate’s academic potential to be successful in our rigorous PA Program. The applicant should present a transcript that demonstrates a representative academic potential. If that is supported by traditional grades in only a few courses, the GPA minimum may be met (so he/she could apply), but this may not reflect well on her/his overall candidacy when compared to other candidates.

A stronger application would reflect at least a handful of upper division science courses, to include courses from other disciplines (e.g., psychology, ethics) to better demonstrate academic potential while meeting the GPA minimum.

Can I work while I'm a student in the PA Program?

PA students are generally discouraged from maintaining employment while in their PA studies, due to the rigorous nature of the curriculum. If academic difficulties arise and the student is employed, academic advisers will include counsel to resign from employment.

PA students are not permitted to work for the PA Program and may not serve as instructional faculty. During clinical rotations, students cannot function as a substitute for clinical or administrative staff, and cannot receive any payment for services provided.

Can I seek advanced placement in the PA Program?

The program does not grant advanced placement to any applicant.