If you want to get into one of the Physician Assistant programs in Canada, you need to be ready to face some serious competition. There are three Physician Assistant (PA) programs in the country, each with its own curriculum, set of admission requirements, admissions process, and so on. Considering the PA acceptance rates in Canada, you'll need to create an application that stands out if you want to get into one of the programs, which requires information. This blog will give you a detailed overview of each program, including admissions stats, admission requirements, and much more. We even share a few tips to help you improve your chances of admission. So, keep reading to learn all you need to know to get into a PA program in Canada.
Please note: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa. If you see an error here, please notify us with the updated information, and we’ll send you a FREE copy of a BeMo ebook of your choosing! You can receive our Ultimate Guide to Med School Admissions, our Ultimate Guide to MMI Prep, our Ultimate Guide to Medical School Personal Statements & Secondary Essays or our Ultimate Guide to CASPer Prep! Please email us at content [at] bemoacademicconsulting.com with any corrections, and we’ll arrange to send you your free ebook upon confirming the information.
Want us to help you? Applicants and students, book a free strategy call here. Universities, businesses, or student organizations representative, book a free call here.
There are only three Physician Assistant programs in Canada, and while they have some similarities when it comes to their admissions process, they all have admission requirements and acceptance rates. As you go through the different school profiles below, you will find that some schools have stricter admission requirements than others but that they are all quite selective due to the limited number of seats available. Furthermore, admission rates seem to be getting even more competitive as more and more people learn about some of the similarities and differences between being a PA vs. an MD.
If you want to be one of the lucky few who get into these programs every year, you need to know what each school has to offer and what they require from applicants. So, without much further ado, let's take a look at the four PA programs in Canada:
McMaster University Physician Assistant Education Program
- Average acceptance rate: 2%
- Class size: 24
- Minimum GPA required: 3.0
McMaster’s PA Education Program Mission Statement: “The mission of the McMaster University Physician Assistant Education Program is to educate energetic, innovative, committed, and caring individuals to become role models in a new health care delivery model practicing medicine under the supervision of a physician to expand health care access for the people of Ontario.”
Located in Hamilton, Ontario, McMaster University is one of the most popular universities of Ontario and home to one of the 4 PA programs in Canada. McMaster University offers a Physician Assistant Education Program. This PA Education Program is a two-year course of study delivered over 24 months, usually beginning in September. The first twelve months of study consist of clinical science courses, and the following year is more focused on clinical training. Upon successful completion of the two years of full-time study, students graduate with a Bachelor of Health Sciences Physician Assistant (BHScPA), ready to take their licensing exams and become providers. Students should expect to pay up to $12 500 per year in tuition fees.
McMaster only admits only 24 students per year, but they receive over 1200 applications, the highest number of applications of any other PA school in Canada. It is, therefore, not surprising to hear that the school has an average acceptance rate of around 2%. For context, this acceptance rate is even lower than that of the McMaster medical school, which is one of the most competitive medical schools in Ontario.
To be eligible to apply to the McMaster PA program, you need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. You will need the following:
All applications to the program must be submitted through the Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC) system. Applicants must complete the OUAC form 105 and submit their GPA, and transcripts by the deadline. Applicants who meet the admission requirements will then be invited to complete the McMaster PA Supplemental Application through Kira Talent. Access to this application will be provided to applicants in mid to late February, and they will have one week to complete it in one sitting. The supplemental application includes written components such as personal statements, although students may choose to submit a timed video. It is also worth noting that McMaster's PA program does not consider any letters of recommendation as part of its admissions process.
The final step in the admissions process for this PA program is a Multi-Mini Interview. Typically, only 60-80 candidates are invited for these interviews. Considering the highly competitive nature of this PA program, this is your best chance to impress the committee and convince them that you are the best candidate for their program.
Check out this infographic to learn how to write a strong PA personal statement:
PA Consortium (the University of Toronto, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, The Michener Institute for Education at UHN)
- Average acceptance rate: 5%
- Class size: 30
- Minimum GPA required: 3.0
University of Toronto’s BScPA Program Mission Statement: “Our mission is to deliver Physician Assistant education programs built on a foundation of social accountability, particularly to rural, remote and underserved communities.”
The Physician Assistant Consortium is the second Bachelor's degree in Physician Assistant studies offered in Canada. Students attend classes on the University of Toronto campus in Ontario, but this Physician Assistant program is offered by the University of Toronto, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the Michener Institute. The general structure of this program is quite similar to that of McMaster University's PA program. Students are expected to complete two years of full-time study, and they receive a Bachelor of Sciences Physician Assistant Degree (BScPA) upon completion. This program costs about $11 500 per year in tuition fees.
However, the PA Consortium offers distance and distributed education program (online) classes for the first year of PA School. The only exception is the "residential blocks", which take place throughout the year and require students to attend in-person classes on campus in Toronto. The second year of PA School consists of clinical rotations in different areas of medicine in Northern and Southern Ontario.
The PA Consortium receives up to 1000 applications every year on average, but they only accept 30 students per application cycle. Their average acceptance rate is 5%, which is highly competitive. This program is also relatively more selective than McMasters. To be eligible, students must fulfill the following admission requirements:
It is worth noting that this Physician Assistant program gives preference to in-province candidates and those who have recent (within the past five years) hands-on experience in a clinical setting. This is not to say that if you are an out-of-province applicant, you won't get in because if your application is strong enough, you definitely can. However, applicants who reside in Ontario have a competitive advantage.
As with the other Canadian universities in the province, students must submit their initial application by the deadline through the Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC) system. They will then be given the opportunity to complete the supplemental application, which includes a written section with short answers and mini-essay questions on health care experience. Once the applications have been reviewed, competitive applicants will be contacted for interviews. This PA program uses a virtual version of the MMI, and students typically receive invitations for these approximately two weeks before the actual interview. Therefore, we suggest you start to prepare for your MMI as soon as you submit your OUAC application to be well prepared.
University of Manitoba Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)
- Average acceptance rate: 8.3%
- Class size: 15
- Minimum GPA requirement: 3.5
MPAS mission statement: “Commitment to educating outstanding Physician Assistants as generalist medical providers and leaders committed to our communities’ service, wellness, and healing.”
Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the University of Manitoba is the only school in Western Canada to offer a Physician Assistant program. It is a full-time program that requires two years of full-time study. Unlike the other two programs we have seen so far, it is not a bachelor's degree but a Master's of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS). Students attend classes within the University of Manitoba medical school campus close to the Health Sciences Centre, which is ideal since the program's curriculum combines classroom learning with clinical rotation over two years.
The school uses a horizontally integrated spiral curriculum, which focuses on building foundations in anatomy, physiology, organic chemistry, and biochemistry to build a strong foundation in medicine. The program then builds upon the core courses in addition to clinical experiences. PA students revisit the material in increasing complexity throughout the curriculum to reinforce previous learning.
The University of Manitoba PA program only accepts 15 students per year. However, they also receive the smallest number of applications - an average of 180 applications per year, so the average acceptance rate for this program is 8.3%. To be considered for admission, students must meet the following requirements:
Unlike the schools in Ontario, universities in Manitoba don't use a centralized application system. Students must apply to the University of Manitoba directly by the hard deadline of January 15. Students will have to fill out the supplementary application, which has more components than the other Physician Assistant programs in Canada. Not only do students have to complete the CASPer test, but they also need to submit their Pre-PA resume, two letters of recommendation, a statement of intent ( 1000 words), and a self-declaration statement confirming that they have no criminal record.
By late February, the University of Manitoba invites competitive applicants for an interview. The school uses both the Panel interview format and the MMI. We recommend preparing for both formats so that you are not caught off guard. Remember that contrary to popular belief, the CASPer test and MMI are highly coachable, so you can actually prepare for these situational judgment tests and improve your chances of getting into the University of Manitoba's PA program. If you're not sure how to do so, you may want to enroll in a CASPer test prep course or reach out to an academic advisor.
Not sure how to prepare for a CASPer test? This video can help:
Conclusion - How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into a Physician Assistant Program in Canada
Given the minimal number of Physician Assistant programs in Canada and their limited number of available spots for students, submitting a strong application that stands out is necessary to get into one of the programs. To help you do so, here are our top three tips:
Physician Assistant applications have a lot of different components, and most of them require quite a bit of strategic planning. We recommend that you start planning as early as possible. Take the time to research each school, and understand what it is looking for. The mission statement is usually a good place to start because it tells you what the school values, thus giving you a chance to prepare your application accordingly. The earlier you start, the more time you can spend working on components such as your PA personal statement or letter of intent. These are essays that, when done correctly, can solidify your candidacy and secure your interview invitation.
Prepare for the Interview Well in Advance
Multiple Mini Interviews can be very tricky if you are not well prepared. The format of the exam alone tends to throw students who did not know what to expect off-guard. That is why we highly recommend participating in mock interviews and reviewing MMI practice questions. Most schools will only give you a few weeks' notice before your interview, so it would be best to start preparing as soon as you submit your initial application.
Get Professional Help
If you want to maximize your chances of admission, then you may want to seek some physician assistant application help to help you with your PA school application components or invest in MMI interview coaching to prepare you for your interviews, specifically. Working with professionals who know this admissions process inside and out can give you a competitive edge and significantly improve your likelihood of getting into your chosen program.
1. How many PA programs are there in Canada?
There are three PA education programs recognized by the Association of Physician Assistants in Canada.
2. How competitive are PA programs in Canada?
Very! The Physician Assistant programs in Canada all have acceptance rates lower than 10%, which means that for every 100 students who applied, less than 10 of them get admitted.
3. What GPA do I need to get into a PA program in Canada?
Each Physician Assistant program has its own admission requirements, so you will need to verify the minimum GPA for your chosen school. However, generally speaking, a 3.5 GPA would make you a competitive applicant.
4. Is PA school harder to get into than med school?
The numbers suggest so. The average med school acceptance rates in Canada are higher than those for PA schools, but medical schools have stricter requirements and tend to be more selective.
5. Do I need a college degree to become a PA in Canada?
Only if you wish to attend the University of Manitoba. Most of the Physician Assistant programs in Canada only require you to have a specific number of courses or credit hours, but the UofM offers a Masters program and requires students to have a four-year degree to be considered for admission.
6. Can I really prepare for the MMI?
Yes, you really can. It is possible to prepare for the MMI and other situational judgment tests. If you're not sure how, we'd be happy to tell you more. Reach out to our team for your free strategy call.
7. Do PAs have an excellent work-life balance in Canada?
Physician Assistants tend to have a much better work-life balance than MDs, DOs, RNs, and many other professionals in the medical field.
8. How can I improve my chances of getting into PA school in Canada?
You can strengthen your application by getting some clinical experience, giving yourself time to research the different schools before preparing your application components, and seeking professional help for additional guidance and support.
Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!
Anything we didn't cover? Have a question? Ask below or share your comments!