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How to Apply

Surgical First Assistant students looking at a skeleton in the lab.

Admission requirements

Before you apply to the Surgical First Assistant Program at Mayo Clinic, please review the full list of prerequisite information, technical standards (nonacademic criteria), and complete admission requirements.

We review the many attributes and qualities that make up an applicant and look forward to reviewing your application!

Enrollment options

There are three ways to enter the SFA Program. You must either:

  • Have completed a bachelor's degree and met the admissions requirements.
  • Have an associate of applied science degree in surgical technology and have at least three years of full-time operating room experience (equivalent to 6,500 hours) in the last five years.
  • Be enrolled at Mayo Clinic's affiliated academic institution, University of Minnesota, Rochester (UMR). UMR has agreed to accept our training as a valid fourth-year completion of their bachelor's degrees (3+1 option).


These prerequisite courses are required:

  • Anatomy and physiology with lab, human recommended (six credits)
  • General biology (three credits)
  • General chemistry with lab (three credits)
  • Microbiology (three credits)
  • Medical terminology (two credits)

The applicant must have completed the above prerequisite courses within the past 10 years. A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.9 is required. A higher GPA is strongly recommended.

Applicants must possess problem-solving skills and have a self-directed learning approach to education.

Competitive applicants

Students will be most competitive if they meet the following criteria:

  • GPA. A higher GPA is strongly recommended.
  • Strong manual dexterity. The ability to use one's hands to skillfully manipulate objects and perform intricate tasks in a precise and accurate manner. 
  • Teamwork. Being able to work in a team-based environment, with healthcare professionals in close proximity. 
  • Healthcare Experience. Direct patient care experience may be met by such roles as a phlebotomist, certified nursing assistant (CNA), emergency medical technician (EMT), personal care assistant (PCA) or any other patient care careers, or volunteer roles.
  • Professionalism. Consistently exhibits behavior that reflects integrity, ethical conduct, and respect for others in professional settings.

Technical standards

Applicants must meet the technical standards (with or without reasonable accommodation) necessary to acquire or demonstrate competence in health professions as outlined in the Surgical First Assistant Program technical standards.

To seek exceptions to these standards or reasonable accommodations, students accepted for admission must initiate a request with the program director at least six weeks before the program begins.

Admission policies

Non-U.S. citizen applicants

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.

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.

Application process


The Surgical First Assistant Program admits 20 students every year on a competitive basis.

Application timeline

Application window Program start date Apply
April 1 - July 12 January Online application

Application instructions

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 - Surgical First 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

  • Essay is to include the following and then be uploaded in the Supplemental Items section.
    • Why do you want to become a surgical assistant?
  • Two professional 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. References should be individuals who are/were an authority figure in your current/previous schooling or place of employment (i.e. supervisor, teacher).
  • Unofficial college transcripts may be uploaded in the Supplemental Items area for application purposes. If accepted to the program, all official transcripts will be required prior to the start of the program. They must be sent directly from the institution by email to (preferred) or by mail to:

Tracy Auns
Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
Siebens Building, 7th floor
200 First St. SW
Rochester, MN 55905

Interview process

The selection committee carefully reviews each application. Individuals considered for acceptance are interviewed on campus by the committee.


Acceptance letters are emailed approximately two weeks post-interview. Replies are expected within two weeks.