Want to serve on the front lines of healthcare and make a difference in the health and well-being of others? Our pre-physician assistant program can help you work toward a rewarding career as a physician assistant or give you the foundation you need to pursue career opportunities in a number of different natural science disciplines.
- What is a Pre-Physician Assistant Major?
- What Can I Do with a Pre-Physician Assistant Degree?
- Is a Pre-Physician Assistant Major Worth It?
- Curriculum and Degree Requirements
- Admission Requirements
What is a Pre-Physician Assistant Major?
This pre-physician assistant program prepares students for a more specialized focus in advanced physician assistant programs. Following a biology or chemistry degree track, this pre-physician assistant program offers the kind of well-rounded undergraduate education preferred by most professional physician assistant programs. Besides a focus on sciences, including physics, chemistry and biology, this pre-physician assistant program explores English, mathematics, social sciences and the humanities.
What Can I Do with a Pre-Physician Assistant Degree?
With a degree that offers a pre-physician assistant education, students can continue on to a professional physician assistant program or pursue graduate studies in a natural science discipline. Students in this program have the opportunity to ultimately take on careers in the field of physician assisting or prepare for job opportunities across the natural sciences.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physician assistants earn a median wage of $112,260 annually. Besides being a lucrative career path, this field is expected to grow 31 percent through 2029—a much faster-than-average pace! Natural science managers earn a median salary of $91,010 annually, with chemists and material scientists reportedly earning an average of $80,680. Both of these areas are projected to grow at a faster-than-average growth rate of 5 percent by 2029. Career opportunities across physician assisting and natural science fields can include:
- Certified Physician Assistant
- Clinical Physician Assistant
- Family Practice Physician Assistant
- Biology Teacher
- Science Teacher
- Natural Sciences Manager
- Laboratory Director
Physician assistants play a vital role in healthcare, practicing medicine alongside physicians, surgeons and other healthcare professionals. The rewards of this career are many—from improving patient health and well-being to achieving a higher quality of patient care at the organizational and healthcare system levels. Those taking on the challenges of roles in natural science fields can also make an impact by contributing to vital medical discovery and innovation in areas such as clinical research and chemistry applications.
Is a Pre-Physician Assistant Major Worth It?
Earning a degree with a pre-physician assistant focus builds the foundational understanding needed to be successful as you advance your education in graduate studies to, ultimately, move down the road to a fulfilling and rewarding career. Benefits of pursuing your pre-physician assistant degree at University of the Cumberlands include:
- Expanded career opportunities. A well-rounded undergraduate degree can expand your opportunities, whether you hope to join the field immediately or continue on with your studies and take aim at a career down the road.
- Dedicated advisors. Our advisors offer expertise in guiding your biology or chemistry track learning goals, from understanding the courses required for degree completion to understanding the procedures and pre reqs necessary for a postbaccalaureate education in your field of interest. Your advisor can also offer career assistance, whether that's helping you secure the right internship or building your resume.
- Meet your requirements. A pre-physician assistant program can help you meet certain academic requirements for entry to medical school. Your pre-physician assistant courses can also better prepare you for success in advanced classes in your area of interest at the graduate level.
Curriculum and Degree Requirements
Bachelor of Science with a Major in Biology - Pre-Physician Assistant Emphasis
Undergraduate students interested in applying for early admission to the University’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) program must complete the following coursework in total at the University of the Cumberlands as Pre-PA Biology majors. Additionally, students must complete all requirements of the General Education curriculum for undergraduates as outlined in the University of the Cumberlands Undergraduate catalog. Admission is made during the third year of undergraduate study. Students must complete all PA admissions requirements by the time of application. Completion of the Pre-PA curriculum does not ensure acceptance into the MSPAS program.
Students who complete the Pre-Professional PA curriculum but do not continue on to the professional phase of the PA program will need a total of 35 hours of biology courses (those listed below, plus BIOL 495 or BIOL 498, and either 6 or 10 additional hours of biology electives), 7 hours of allied science courses, and elective classes to complete the 120 hours needed to attain a Bachelor of Science with a major in biology. Alternatively, students can complete a Biology of Science degree in Independent Directions with a focus on applied health sciences. A third alternative is to complete a Bachelor of General Studies degree. Information on these alternatives may be found elsewhere in this catalog.
Students who successfully complete the pre-physician assistant curriculum and are accepted into the MSPAS program are awarded a Bachelor of Health Science degree by the University after the successful completion of the first year of didactic coursework in the MSPAS program. Students are then awarded the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree after the successful completion of the second year of coursework.
The following courses are required prior to application for pre-professional students:
- BIOL 111 Becoming a Successful Biologist
- BIOL 113 Introduction to Population Biology Laboratory
- BIOL 114 Introduction to Cellular Biology Laboratory
- BIOL 121 Medical Terminology
- BIOL 133 Introduction to Population Biology
- BIOL 134 Introduction to Cellular Biology
- BIOL 210 Introduction to Biological Literature
- BIOL 443 General Animal Physiology
- BIOL 246 Biodiversity
- BIOL 340 Genetics
- BIOL 343* Human Anatomy OR BIOL 442 - Comparative Anatomy
- BIOL 345 Microbiology
- CHEM 111 General Chemistry Laboratory I
- CHEM 132 General College Chemistry I
- CHEM 211 General College Chemistry Laboratory II
- CHEM 232 General College Chemistry II
- CHEM 321 Organic Chemistry Laboratory I
- CHEM 331 Organic Chemistry I
*Additional 6 or 10 credits of 300 or 400 level Biology courses, Upper-level Psychology courses, Statistics *preferred for the Williamsburg Campus program but not required for the Northern Kentucky Campus program
Costs for programs of study at University of the Cumberlands are competitive and affordable. Click here to view tuition rates and fees.
In order to be considered for admission to this program, click here to view the undergraduate, on-campus admissions information.
Click here to view University of the Cumberlands' accreditation information.
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