PA school applicant with low GPA

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New Member
Dec 18, 2021
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Hi there,

Really just a quick general question to ease my own mind. This is my second cycle applying to PA school. I was told to do better on the GRE (I did well, but not GREAT) and to complete my last science pre-req with an A (I did, biochem). I currently hold a Master of Public Health and much of my HCE comes from direct care and work with patients in clinical trials and working with physicians/ provider teams in decision-making, outcomes research, and medical evaluations. Unfortunately, my undergrad years were really hard socially, and greatly impacted my GPA. There is an upward trend in grades and I have a great GPA from my graduate program and most recent grades (around 3.8). However, my overall GPA remains to be a 2.97 and my overall science is a 3.26. Any insight on whether a program with a 3.0 minumum might screen me out entirely? I have received a couple of rejections from this cycle with a list of reasons. One of them was that I did not meet the min GPA. Know it seems simple, but is this likely the case for my other applications for schools who wait until last minute? Thanks in advance for the advise!

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Good job on the great recent performance! Not sure about the screening out process, but I imagine there are programs that would screen out with a 3.0 requirement. You are not far from a 3.0, so maybe try to raise it to that?
Also PA school is tough, but have faith. If you don't make it, maybe try RN and then NP? I know becoming an NP is way easier academic wise.
A lot of PA programs will tell you where their cutoff is, either when you call, or else on their website. You can also glean an impression of their average accepted candidate from posted stats within their website. Many programs won’t give you straight answers because they make money on application and supplemental apps from folks that have no chance at all of making their cutoff. They will let anyone send in money based on a thread of hope. $100 multiplied by 200 folks with no business applying is $20,000. That’s a decent down payment on the application process for everyone else that does have a chance. That’s why most folks get supplemental apps required of them too.

For a long time, 3.0 was the magic cutoff for most programs, and certainly seemed to be the case back when I applied to PA school 10-ish years ago. Programs make life a lot easier on themselves to set the standard somewhere so that they can focus on who truly belongs in a fast paced academic environment. My guess is that standards have tightened a bit, but things also could have loosened up with the increase in PA programs. If the economy tanks, you’ll see a flood of folks into professional school, because that’s a familiar pattern. Nursing sees it in waves too. Right now folks are hearing about $8,000 per week travel nursing contracts, and if the economy goes south, folks will flee to the places where they see opportunity. Right now, there are jobs in other sectors that don’t require education or the time commitment. You see the waves change in nursing where a lot of the folks will be nurses who have their sights set on transitioning quickly to being NPs or CRNAs. Other years, you’ll see a lot of folks looking to upgrade their lot in life from being CNAs or MAs to being nurses. Right now seems to be one of those times where a lot of folks coming out of nursing school seem to be more centered on staying within nursing as RNs. PA goes through these cycles as well, albeit more tame, when you see a lot of folks with good grades and diverse majors flocking to apply when times are lean vs years where you see many MAs and EMTs getting in with slightly less stellar stats. On forums during a good economy, you see fewer folks posting and asking things like “hey, I’m a business major that wants to switch gears and become a PA… can they really make $170k the first year, and what’s the minimum GPA?”.

So while it used to be 3.0 that was the cutoff, I’d do some research and see what the cutoff is now. That’s why you are asking this, but I guess the main point I’m stressing is that yes, there does seem to be a hard cutoff, but where that cutoff is could easily vary.
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