Physician Assistant

Program Type
Master of Science
Radford University Carilion in Roanoke, VA


The Physician Assistant program prepares graduates to provide diagnostic and therapeutic medical services under physician supervision. Physician assistants provide high-quality, cost-effective healthcare while maintaining patient satisfaction. Students collaborate with other master’s and doctoral students to gain skills necessary for future practice.

Why Study Physician Assistantship at Radford?

  • You’ll be part of a well-prepared class of 42 students—typically selected from about 600 applicants.
  • We have a nationally diverse class with students enrolling from Virginia, the surrounding region, and the rest of the United States.
  • You’ll be enrolling in classes with a broad range of professional experiences, including emergency medical technician (EMT), certified nursing assistant (CNA), ED Scribe, medical assistant, physical therapy assistant, military medic, mental health counselor, radiology technician, respiratory therapist, and others.
  •  We have an active Physical Assistant Student Society.

Careers and Internships

Healthcare is considered one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the U.S., with an estimated 2 million new positions (a 13% increase) projected between 2021 and 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Learn more about a career as a physician assistant.

Opportunities for Physician Assistant students at Radford

Students have opportunities to participate in community service activities, such as for Habitat for Humanity and the Rescue Mission. The program sent the first group of students to a clinical rotation in Tanzania in June 2023.

Admissions Requirements

Admission to the Radford University Carilion (RUC) Physician Assistant (PA) program is very competitive, but students are evaluated thoroughly and given every opportunity to demonstrate their skills, passions and preparation for the program. Through written statements, in-person interview and a careful review of each application by a panel of faculty and staff, students are treated as individuals in the application process and those deemed most prepared to handle all aspects of the program from the academically rigorous classwork to the level of teamwork required to deliver quality healthcare will find success.

We offer a rolling admissions process (applications are reviewed as they are received), so we encourage you to apply early. 


Applicants must apply through CASPA, the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants, and submit a supplemental application to Radford University. Deadline for submission is Nov. 1. DO NOT send application materials directly to RUC or the PA program.


We recommend three references: one each from an academic advisor, a clinical supervisor and an employer. Substitutions may be made if all three are not available, but at least one reference should be from someone familiar with you in a work or professional setting. Submit these directly to CASPA using CASPA's forms.


The CASPA application includes a written essay, which will be reviewed by our admissions committee. The essay should be of high quality and demonstrate graduate-level writing.


A bachelor degree from a regionally accredited institution is required. We accept degrees from all disciplines provided you meet the PA program's course prerequisites. 


The RUCPA program requires a cumulative GPA on undergraduate and post baccalaureate work of at least 3.0. You must have earned a "C" or better on all prerequisite courses. Pass/Fail or placing out of a required prerequisite is not permitted, although AP credit appearing on college transcripts will be counted. Please contact the program if you have concerns about specific prerequisite coursework. We give no advanced standing/advanced placement or prior learning credit for PA program coursework. Each PA student must complete the entire curriculum at RUC. 


Send all transcripts to CASPA, not to RUC. Students are to send transcripts to RUC only after they are accepted and have paid their deposit. 


All successful candidates must have 500 hours of healthcare experience, paid, volunteer, or as a student, prior to enrollment in the PA program. This experience should be in areas with direct patient or client contact, for example, EMT, medical technology, nursing, and phlebotomy. Patient contact in fields such as health education, health promotion, and social work may be considered as long as work was in areas of patient or client services. The 500 hours need not be completed by the time of application. Applicants with formal certifications in a health-related field should provide a copy of license or certification upon request. 


The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required.

As of April 2, 2020, Educational Testing Service (ETS), who administer the GRE exam, have made provisions for test takers to take the exam in their homes, monitored online by a live human proctor. Please see the ETS web page for additional information. Our program will accept these at-home exams as equivalent to exams taken at testing centers.


International students must have their transcripts submitted for independent evaluation of equivalency by an acceptable credentialing evaluation agency. The Program suggests World Education Service. Students for whom English is not their primary language are required to submit their TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign language)score. The minimum score accepted for admission is 550 for the paper-based test (equivalent requirements are 80 for internet-based and 215 for computer-based tests). We encourage international applicants to have some coursework at an accredited U.S. or Canadian institution. 


Applicants must have completed the following prerequisite coursework before beginning the program. At least 12 hours of this coursework must have been completed within the past three years.

  • Anatomy and Physiology I & II with lab: 8 hours 
  • General Chemistry I & II with lab: 8 hours
  • Biochemistry or Cell Biology: 3 hours
  • Microbiology with lab: 4 hours
  • Genetics or Immunology: 3 hours
  • Statistics: 3 hours
  • Medical Terminology: 1 hour
  • Psychology: 6 hours; at least one upper-level course is required (Abnormal Psychology or Developmental Psychology are recommended as upper-level courses) 

Requests for waivers of any of these requirements will be considered on an individual basis, must be made in writing to the program, and must be supported with excellent reasons.


  • Deposit: An accepted applicant has two weeks after receipt of notification of acceptance to submit a $500 deposit, which is counted toward tuition.
  • Health Requirements: Enrolling students must complete the College health requirements.
  • Criminal background checks are required for all enrolling students. The enrolling student is responsible for the costs.
  • BLS: Certification of Basic Life Support (BLS) is required before entering the program.
  • Technical Standards: Students must be able to comply with all of the PA Program’s required Technical Standards.
  • Contingencies: Applicants will be required to complete all unfinished prerequisites before matriculation, and may be required to complete those prerequisites with a grade of B or higher.


All students must possess the following abilities and skills in order to meet the technical standards of the Radford University PA Program. Students who do not demonstrate these standards during the course of the program are at risk for dismissal.

  1. Intellectual: A student must have the mental capacity to assimilate and learn a large amount of complex and technical information.  He or she must be able to conceptualize and solve clinical problems.  It will be imperative that the student be able to synthesize and apply concepts and provide or understand detailed information to or from various disciplines in order to formulate diagnostic and therapeutic plans. Students must be able to learn to read and comprehend technical materials, laboratory reports, and understand pharmacokinetics.
  2. Observation: The ability to be observant is required for attention to demonstrations and visual presentations, laboratory evidence, and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. A student must be able to observe patients accurately and completely, at a distance and in close proximity. This requires functional vision, hearing, and somatic sensation, and is enhanced by a sense of smell.
  3. Communication: A student must be able to speak with, hear, and observe patients in order to elicit information, perceive nonverbal communication, and describe changes in mood, activity, and posture. The student must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively in English with patients from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Students must be able to develop professional rapport, efficiently and effectively communicate with the healthcare team, orally and in writing.
  4. Motor: A student must have motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, percussion, and auscultation, as well as carry out diagnostic maneuvers. He or she must be able to execute movements required to provide general care and emergency treatment. Such skills require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and sensation. Students must have sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control, and eye-to-hand coordination in order to use standard medical/surgical instruments.  One must possess sufficient control of the upper extremities to meet the physical requirements for training and for performing a safe physical examination.
  5. Emotional: A student must have the emotional health to use fully his or her intellectual ability, exercise good judgment, and carry out all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. The Physician Assistant Program at Radford University is demanding, both intellectually and emotionally. Students must display sufficient emotional health to withstand stress, uncertainties, and changing circumstances that characterize the rigors of our Program and the reality of life as a dependent practitioner. Physician assistant students must be able to work cooperatively with other students, staff, faculty, and patients.  These qualities will be assessed during the course of study.
  6. Interpersonal: A student must be able to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and colleagues. The ability to tolerate physical and emotional stress and continue to function effectively is a necessity. Students must be adaptable, flexible, and able to function in the face of uncertainty during the course of study and in clinical practice. Students must have integrity, the motivation to serve, a high level of compassion, and a consciousness of social values. Students need interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, ethnic backgrounds, and beliefs.  Included in the interpersonal technical standards is the responsibility of the student to be on time for class so as not to be disruptive to classmates, faculty, or guest lecturers.  Students who are responsible for the care of others, such as parents or children, will need to secure care for these individuals that will allow for appropriate attendance. Reliable transportation is also a necessity.

The Radford University PA Program does not offer advanced placement.

“You can tell the personality of the program based on student-faculty relationships during interviews. RUC had great relationships between the students and faculty. It felt like a family with only 42 students in the program. After the interview, I felt strongly it would be a good fit for me.”

Whitney Hewitt ’21
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