APPLICATION REQUIREMENT FOR THE 2018-2019 APPLICATION CYCLE: You will have to apply to the ECU Graduate School as well as CASPA in order to have your application processed through the PA Department. Apply for Graduate School at The Graduate School application will open July 16, 2018.

Admission into East Carolina University's PA Program is very competitive. We select up to 36 applicants to become students in each class. Our process of submission, review and interview ensures a fair selection of students to join our program.

ECU's PA program has several requirements necessary for applicants to meet, as listed below. In addition to our requirements, applicants must also meet the standards of the Graduate School.

Accepted applicants for the Fall of 2018 averaged the following scores:

  • Cumulative GPA: 3.63
  • Science GPA: 3.54
  • Prerequisite GPA: 3.6
  • GRE Score (New Scores): 312
  • GRE Analytical Writing: 4.4

Admission Requirements

Residency Status

Applicants must be residents of one of the following states; with preference given to residents of North Carolina:

  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • Washington D.C.

You must be a resident and have a permanent address in one of these states at the time of application and admission to the program. If you or your spouse is active military and stationed in NC during application and admission, then you can request a waiver from


Applicants must currently have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. The undergraduate degree must be completed by June 1st of the year of enrollment. Example: Applicants who submit application materials by September 1, 2018 must complete the undergraduate degree by June 1st of 2019 in order to enroll in the fall of 2019.

Prerequisites Courses

  • Prerequisite courses must be completed by September 1 in order to be considered for an early interview. However, applications may have one pending prerequisite course as long as it is completed and reported to CASPA and the program by December 31.
  • We prefer that all prerequisite courses are taken within the last 5 years; however, this is not a requirement. If your courses are older than that, know that we recommend refreshing them.
  • Applicants are required to have completed the prerequisite classes in the table below.
  • We encourage students to have taken anatomy and physiology within 2 years of the program application date; however, this is not a requirement.
  • We do not accept online lab courses.
  • We do not accept Comparative, Animal or Mammalian Anatomy and Physiology courses
  • Courses can be taken at any regionally accredited institution, including community colleges. We prefer that all prerequisite courses be taken at a 4-year institution. Students taking prerequisite courses at community colleges may be at a significant disadvantage during the didactic year.
  • All courses must be assigned a letter grade.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) credit is accepted for Psychology and Statistics courses. If AP credit was granted, no letter grade is necessary. Statistics in social sciences are now accepted.
  • Waivers will only be given if you have been a course instructor for the course requesting a waiver. For this waiver, e-mail
  • Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA in their prerequisite coursework to be considered for the program. A grade of B or higher in each course is recommended.
  • We do not accept more than 2 Cs in prerequisite courses.
Prerequisite Course Minimum Semester Credit Hours
Human Anatomy and Physiology - Lecture 6
Human Anatomy and Physiology - Lab 2
Genetics 3
General Chemistry or higher - Lecture 6
General Chemistry or higher - Lab 2
Microbiology 3
Introductory Psychology or higher 3
Statistics 3

Taking Courses at a North Carolina Community College?

Colleges within the North Carolina community college system use the same course name and number designations regardless of which location you choose to attend.  Use the chart below to plan and register for your prerequisite course of study.

North Carolina Community College Equivalent Courses

Course ECU Course Name & Number NC Community College Course Name & Number
Human Anatomy and Physiology with Lab BIOL 2140, 2141 AND BIOL 2150/2151 BIO 168 AND BIO 169
Genetics BIOL 2300 BIO 250
General or Introduction to Chemistry with Lab CHEM 1150, 1151 AND CHEM 1160/1161 CHM 151 AND CHM 152
Microbiology BIOL 2110 or BIOL 3220 BIO 275
Introductory Psychology or Higher PSYC 1000 PSY 150
Statistics BIOS 1500, MATH 2228 or 2283 or PSYC 2101 MAT 150 or 152

Patient Contact Hours

We require that applicants have at least 1000 documented healthcare exposure hours. All hours must be completed by September 1 in order to be considered for an early interview. However, if some hours are pending, they may be submitted by December 31. These hours can be obtained through paid, volunteer or shadowing experiences. Applications will not be reviewed unless the applicant has completed at least 750 hours at the time of application (Sept. 1, 2018).

We recommend that you keep your own records. The program may require verification of your clinical hours.

Hands-on direct patient care experiences may come from a variety of places. The extent to which an applicant is actually involved in patient care will be weighed based on the description of the applicant’s duties during those hours. The title of a position is not as important as the duties the applicant performed in terms of patient contact and interaction with patients and other healthcare providers (physicians, PAs, nurses, etc.).

Examples of direct patient care experiences may include but are not limited to: EMT, paramedic, medical assistant, scribe, patient care tech, nurse, surgical tech, athletic trainer, physical therapy aide, etc.


Applicants must take the GRE. The GRE can be taken several times; however, we will combine the top verbal and quantitative scores to determine the overall score. We do not observe a specific minimum score, but do encourage you to compare your GRE score with the accepted classes above to see if your score is competitive. There will not be a waiver for the GRE. If you have taken another exam or your exam is over 5 years old, you will still be expected to take or repeat the exam. GRE scores must be submitted by September 1 in order to be considered for an early interview. However, pending scores may be submitted to our program and CASPA by December 31. The ECU code for the GRE is 0421.

Criminal Background Checks and Drug Screens

ECU and the PA program are not responsible for reviewing background checks or paying for them. Some rotation sites require these background checks. If a student cannot complete a clinical portion of the PA program because negative items contained in a criminal background check or failure to pass a drug screening, the student will not be able to graduate. Neither ECU nor the PA program will be held liable for the student's failure to obtain state licensing. Students will be subject to institutional and ECU policies regarding alcohol and drug use.


The Department of Physician Assistant Studies complies with the immunization recommendations for healthcare personnel set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The following immunizations are required for Physician Assistant students and are based on CDC guidelines:

  • Tetanus (Tdap) (within last 10 years)
  • Hepatitis B Series OR Hepatitis A/B series AND Proof of Qualitative Hepatitis B Titer (this can take up to 6 months to complete)
  • Qualitative Varicella Titer (chickenpox)
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella)--2 doses and Qualitative titer of immunization
  • Date of completion of polio series
  • PPD (Tuberculosis skin test): Initial test must be 2 step PPD and each following PPD annually with the most recent completed within the previous 6 months of 1st day of class
  • Influenza - each fall
  • Meningococcal Vaccination - documentation of vaccination or signed declination

Each student must update their PPD status and statement of good health every 12 months or more frequently if required by a clinical site to which the student is assigned. Students should maintain a personal pocket file of current immunization status and CPR, ACLS, PALS certifications that may be easily accessed, if requested while participating in hospital ward visits and/or clinical rotations.

Students are advised that the information above may be released to third parties to facilitate their clinical placements.

All students accepted for admission must document with the program no later than July 1 that all immunizations or appropriate titers under Sections A and B of the Student Health Application have been completed or are in progress if immunization requires a series of injections. The Student Health Service web site is at:

Basic Life Support

All accepted applicants into the Physician Assistant Studies program are required to complete basic life support for health practitioners. Please contact your local American Red Cross on training courses available.

Technical Standards

A student admitted into the East Carolina Physician Assistant program must meet basic and essential requirements that are necessary for obtaining employment and performing as a Physician Assistant. The technical standards each student must master include cognitive, physical and behavioral characteristics. Reasonable accommodation for persons with documented disabilities will be considered on an individual basis, but a candidate must be able to perform in an independent manner. All students must possess the intellectual, ethical, physical and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the faculty. The following skills are required, with or without accommodation.

Critical Thinking: Students must possess the intellectual, ethical, physical and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the faculty. The ability to solve problems, a skill that is critical to the practice of medicine, requires the intellectual abilities of measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Candidates for the program must be able to perform demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences.

Communication Skills: A candidate should also be able to converse with patients as well as hear and observe them in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and posture, and perceived nonverbal communications. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written forms. Visual Ability: Candidates must be able to observe a patient accurately, both at a distance and close at hand. This ability requires functional use of vision and somatic sensation.

Hearing and Tactile Abilities: Candidates should be able to execute movements reasonably required to move from area to area, maneuver in small spaces, calibrate and use large and small equipment, position and move patients, and provide patients with general and emergency treatment.

Interpersonal Abilities: A candidate for the PA program must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his or her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of responsibilities required for diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, families and colleagues.

Admission Process

We review applications on a rolling basis as they are received from the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). The completed application deadline for CASPA is September 1. Please note: applicants should apply to the ECU Graduate School at the time of application to CASPA. Preference for interviews is given to applicants who apply early.

Application Timeline

CASPA Application Deadline September 1
ECU Graduate School Application September 1 *
Applications screened by program assistants As received
Applications reviewed by Admissions Committee Continually
Interview offers made  Rolling starting in August and ending in January
Interviews conducted  August-January
Offers of admission extended Rolling basis, starting in August
Immunizations and outstanding requirements due July 1

*CASPA applications will not be processed by the committee until the ECU Graduate School Application is submitted.

ECU PA Studies has an application preference for the following criteria:

  • North Carolina residents
  • All prerequisite courses taken within the last 5 years
  • Prerequisite courses completed at a 4 year institution
  • 100% complete application by September 1 of the application year
  • Grade B or better in upper level Biochemistry at a 4 year institution


We require 3 letters of reference, and prefer that your references come from medical professionals, supervisors, and professors. Please see below for a tier of reference recommendations. Please note that we do not allow references from family members, family friends, neighbors, or relatives. CASPA now allows 5 references. We score 3 that meet the recommendations below:

  1. MD/DO/NP/PA
  2. Supervisor during healthcare hours (paid or volunteer)
  3. Professor
  4. Other/character reference

Only the 3 letters submitted through CASPA will be considered for your application. Any additional letters mailed or emailed will not be taken into consideration.

If our website does not address your admissions question or you would like more information, please email our admissions staff at

Admission Checklist

  • Resident of one of these states: NC, SC, VA, TN, GA, and Washington DC
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • Bachelor's degree completed by June 1
  • All prerequisite courses satisfactorily completed and reported by September 1
  • 1000 documented patient contact hours completed by September 1 (for an early interview)
  • CASPA application submitted electronically by September 1
  • Apply to the ECU Graduate School by September 1st (The sooner you apply to the Graduate School, the sooner your CASPA application is processed)

Admission Notification

The most qualified applicants will be invited for a personal interview. Candidates who have been interviewed will be notified of the admission committee’s decision as early as two weeks following the interview and no later than March 1 (all applicants who apply to our program will be notified of the admissions committee’s decision by March 1). Candidates confirm their place in the class by submitting a $500 non-refundable deposit.