The Postbaccalaureate Pre-PA Certificate (PPA) program at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) in Claremont, CA, is designed specifically for those looking to enhance their academic credentials to gain a competitive advantage for admission into Physician Assistant (PA) programs. Students also have the opportunity to complete a master’s degree during the glide year when applying to PA programs.

Do you need additional clinical hours? Are you looking to complete anatomy, physiology, and/or microbiology to apply for PA school? Do you want to differentiate yourself from other PA school applicants? KGI’s PPA program can help you achieve your goals!

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Program Quick Facts

Program length
It takes 9-15 months to complete the PPA program.
Full or part-time program
The PPA program is a full-time program with classes during the day.
Online or in-person classes
All classes are done in-person along with clinical experience.
Type of program
The PPA program combines the best of an “academic enhancer” (AE) program and a Special Master’s Program (SMP).
Can I earn my master’s degree?
Students are eligible to enter KGI’s MS program during the second year.

PPA Program Details

  • KGI’s one-year PPA program combines the best of an “academic enhancer” (AE) program and a Special Master’s Program (SMP). It’s an AE because it’s an opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability to succeed in a rigorous graduate environment and to learn unique knowledge and skills from the biomedical industry offered by physician assistant schools. It’s similar to an SMP in that our students may have the option to continue towards completing a master’s degree with an additional year. 

  • KGI’s curriculum consists of graduate-level courses within the applied life sciences, which combines courses in science and business.

    There are additional upper-level undergraduate courses offered over the summer that are often required or highly recommended by many PA programs. Options include:

    • Human anatomy with lab
    • Human physiology with lab
    • Microbiology with lab
    • Biochemistry

    PPA students must earn 24 units to complete the certificate.

  • PA programs require a wide range of clinical hours, from 0 to 2,000. Students in the PPA program can earn up to 560 clinical hours over the fall and spring terms, but students in need of additional hours can accumulate up to 1,000 hours by continuing afterwards through summer.

    PPA graphic on clinical experience

  • Students are eligible to enter KGI’s Master of Science in Applied Life Sciences program during their second year after completing their PPA certificate. Learn more.

  • Last year’s cohort created many memories during our trip to 13 PA programs, including a trip to Arizona to visit programs in the Grand Canyon State.

    Students love our program for the ALS 398 course, which was designed exclusively to support students with their applications, GRE prep course, and effective practice interviews. Our students also gain a tremendous amount of personal and developmental value through the program’s individual financial planning, collaborative culture, mentoring, and connection to our strong alumni network.

    The following is a list of some of the activities and opportunities for our students:

    • Field trips to local and regional PA schools
    • Meet with professionals from various medical specialties
    • Simulated individual interviews, group interviews, and multi-mini interviews (MMI)
    • Guest speakers from various PA schools
    • GRE prep course (additional fee required)
    • Network opportunities with KGI alumni
    • Research opportunities
    • Clinical and shadowing opportunities
  • One of the greatest benefits of our program is the highly individualized support. Our advising team is dedicated to working with each of our students to help navigate through the admission process, and is readily available as evidenced by ample hours of walk-in appointments. In addition, we have a course in the fall specifically designed to help students produce their best application by learning about relevant concepts from educational psychology, such as theories of motivation and learning strategies. In the spring, we spend time on personal statements and interviewing skills.

  • The PPA program is best suited for students who are not only looking to further improve upon their credentials, including the need for additional clinical hours but to develop both breadth and depth to enrich their future careers in healthcare.

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Program Leaders


Joon Kim, EdD

Senior Director and Instructor of Postbaccalaureate Programs
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Elba Muñoz, MA

Assistant Director, Postbaccalaureate Premedical Certificate Program (PPC)
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Physician Assistant Pathway: Video Playlist

"In preparing for PA programs, students want to put themselves in the best competitive position. Having a higher GPA, clinical experience, and strong interpersonal skills gives them more options."
Joon Kim
Postbac Pre-PA Certificate and Postbac Premedical Certificate
Program Director

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If there’s anything we can do, be sure to connect with our admissions team. You can also check out more information on cost and aid and how to apply.