1. PA Program
  2. Student Life
  3. Admissions
  4. Research
  5. Faculty & Staff
  6. Alumni
  7. Make a Gift
  8. Positions
  9. Links
  10. Contact Us
After coming to the open house and meeting some of the students and faculty, I knew that there was no other place for me.

Frequently Asked Questions

How competitive is your program?  How many applications do you receive each year?
Approximately 1889 CASPA applications were submitted for the class of 2017, while 1342 supplemental applications were completed.  Between 200 and 240 of the most qualified applicants will be invited for a personal interview conducted at Duke University Medical Center. From this group, a class of 88 will be selected. Evidence of academic potential, knowledge of the health care system, motivation, personal maturity, self-assurance, and good interpersonal skills will weigh strongly in the admission decision.

Are my scores competitive?
The ranges of academic and experiential qualifications for the middle 50 percent of accepted applicants for Fall 2015 were as follows:

  • Overall GPA: 3.4 – 3.8
  • Natural science GPA: 3.3 – 3.8
  • Total natural science credits: 49 – 76
  • GRE General Test scores:
    • Verbal: 155 – 161
    • Quantitative: 153 – 158
    • Analytical Writing: 4.0 – 4.5
  • Months of full-time patient care experience: 16 – 43

What can I do to be more competitive?
Compare your scores and patient care with the middle ranges listed above.  Target areas where you fall below the listed range.  Demonstrate a passion for the profession and a clear understanding of the PA role.

How long is the Physician Assistant program?
The Duke PA Program is  24 months split between the preclinical and clinical phases of the program.

Is there a fee for your supplemental application?
There is a $50 fee for submitting our supplemental application.  This fee is waived for military veterans, as well as those who qualify for the CASPA fee waiver (proof of CASPA fee waiver eligibility must be submitted before supplemental application).

Do you require a bachelor’s degree?
We do require a bachelor’s degree.  Degrees in progress are considered as long as the completion date is prior to matriculation.

Do I need to have a biology degree or other science degree?
We do not require any specific major.  A science degree may result in a higher number of natural science credit hours, but is not required.

Do you accept online courses or courses from community colleges?
Yes. We accept prerequisites from any regionally accredited university or college, online or in person, including community colleges.

What prerequisite courses are required?
For your convenience we have provided you with a worksheet to help navigate the required courses.

Does biochemistry count as biology or chemistry?
Biochemistry courses can count as either biology or chemistry (though one course cannot count as both)

My Anatomy and Physiology courses were combined; do I need to take another? 
Combined anatomy and physiology courses can count as either anatomy or physiology.  Taking Anatomy & Physiology I and Anatomy & Physiology II would satisfy both requirements. 
Do prerequisite courses need to be completed before the application is submitted?
You may submit an application with courses in progress.  However, all courses must be completed with a satisfactory grade by December 31st of the application year.

Do you accept Advanced Placement (AP) credits?
We do not accept Advanced Placement credits.

Do you accept pass/fail courses?
We do accept pass/fail courses that have a grade of pass.

What grade do I need to receive on a course in order for it to count as a prerequisite?
All prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of C or better (not C minus).

Should I retake courses in which I scored poorly, or take upper level courses instead?
Either is acceptable, however it may better show your capabilities to take, and do well in, a more rigorous course.

Do all courses need to have been completed within a certain time frame?
Although we have no expiration date on course completion, recent prerequisite coursework may demonstrate readiness for entry into a rigorous academic environment.  All pre-requisite courses must be completed by December 31st of the application year.

In what time frame must the GRE be completed?
GRE must have been taken within four years of January 1st of the admissions year.  For example, to apply during the 2014 – 2015 cycle you must have taken the GREs no earlier than January 1, 2010.  (Note:  ETS keeps scores for five years, so please be aware of your test date).  The test must be completed no later than October 1st of the application cycle.

I am planning to re-take GRE - should I submit the application with old scores, and update when new scores are available?
We suggest waiting to apply until your new scores are available to submit.  If you submit with old scores we will not hold the application, and it may be processed before your new scores are sent to us.

What is your GRE code?
Please send GRE scores to the CASPA’s Duke code:  0422.  We will not accept scores sent directly to Duke.

Do I have to have all 1000 patient care hours completed before I apply?
Our deadline for patient care hours is October 1 of the admissions year.  If you apply prior to October 1st you are able to project anticipated work hours up until October 1st of the admissions year.
What type of patient care counts and what does not? 
The Duke PA Program values direct patient interaction and experiences.  As long as there is a strong patient care component, examples of experience that will count towards the required 1000 hours of experience include, but are not limited to:

Athletic Trainer
Clinic assistant
Clinical Research Assistant
EMT or Paramedic
Exercise Physiologist
Health educator
Patient care attendant, CNA, or Nurse’s Aide
Peace Corps volunteer or other cross-cultural health care experience
Pharmacy Tech (hospital or nursing home setting)
Physical therapy aide
Respiratory Therapist
Technologist with patient interaction
Therapist or Clinical Social Worker

Although valuable, experience that will not count towards the required 1000 hours includes, but is not limited to:

Aerobics instructor
CPR or ACLS instructor
Insurance clerk
Life guard
Medical secretary or other clerical positions
Non-clinical research assistant positions
PA or physician observer or shadow
Patient transporter
Pharmaceutical representative (unless there is strong direct patient interaction)
Pharmacy Tech (in retail environment)
Candy striper or junior volunteer position
Ski patroller (without medical licensure)
Student clinical experience (student nurse, student EMT, student athletic trainer, or other health care student)
Student intern or clinical experiences for course credit
Unit clerk
Wilderness Medicine Instructor

If you have any questions about your patient care experience, please contact us for clarification.


Do you require shadowing of a PA?
We highly recommend and value, but do not require, shadowing a PA.

I am missing one of your requirements.  Do you make exceptions?  Should I apply anyhow?
If you are not able to complete one of our requirements you should wait for a future admissions cycle to apply as we are unable to make individual exceptions to our requirements. 

I graduated from a foreign institution.  What do I need to know?
You must have your transcript verified by a credentialing service such as World Education Service.
You must complete all prerequisite requirements.
You must take a MINIMUM of 30 semester hours of coursework in a regionally accredited US college.
If you are not a US citizen you will be required to pay your tuition and fees in full before your Visa can be secured. 

Are there any important dates within the admissions cycle of which I should be aware?
April 22 – CASPA opens
August 15 – Early application deadline
October 1 - Duke CASPA verification deadline (Normally, CASPA takes about 4 weeks to verify applications. Supplemental invitations are sent via email once we have your verified application.)
October 1 - GRE deadline
November 1 - Supplemental deadline
October – January - Interviews
December 31 – All outstanding courses must be completed
Early March – All outstanding decisions mailed

Do you have a rolling admissions process?
Yes, we do have a rolling admissions process; however we continue to accept applicants until the final decisions are mailed.

Do you give preference to in-state applicants?
Duke is a private institution and does not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state applications. 

Should I mail transcripts at the time of application?
Official transcripts are only required should you be invited to interview.

What type of recommendations do you require?
We require three recommendation letters, and at least one must be from a healthcare professional who can speak to your patient care qualifications.

May I send an additional letter of recommendation?
Yes, you may send one additional letter directly to our program. 
For USPS please send to:
Duke PA Program Admissions
DUMC 104780
Durham, NC 27710

I was selected for an interview, what happens next?
All candidates are notified in writing of the admission committee’s decision. Candidates who have been interviewed are notified of the admission committee’s decision as early as 10 days following interview and no later than March 1. Candidates confirm their place in the class by submitting the $1125 registration and deposit fee by the specified date on the acceptance letter. These fees are nonrefundable; however, $475 from this fee is deducted from the first semester’s tuition for candidates who matriculate, $475 is used for registration fees, $100 for a health screen fee, and $75 for a criminal background check prior to matriculation.

Each year, a ranked alternate list of 20 to 40 candidates is selected from those candidates who have been interviewed for a position in the class. Should an accepted candidate withdraw from the program prior to the start of classes, the position is offered to the highest ranked candidate on the alternate list.

Can you mail me more information?
All of our information can be found electronically via website; as such we do not mail information.  If you have extenuating circumstances, please contact us directly.

Can I arrange a tour or meeting with your admissions department?
Prospective applicants who are planning to visit the program are asked to make an appointment with our admissions coordinator.  Please contact Wendy Elwell in advance to ensure availability.  To reach Ms. Elwell, please call 919.668.4710 or email wendy.elwell@duke.edu.  Be aware that she is unable to meet one-on-one with current applicants during the admissions cycle; however she is available to answer general questions.