The pre-physician assistant curriculum is just a list of courses that are required for admission to a Physician Assistant (PA) Program. It is NOT an academic major, a minor, or an emphasis area.
Physician Assistant (PA) schools typically require that students have a Baccalaureate degree (e.g. B.S., B.A., etc); however, PA schools do not require a particular major. Although most pre-PA students choose a major in one of the sciences (i.e. Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry), other majors are acceptable including those in the humanities, social sciences, or business.
Students should select the major in which they feel the most comfortable and in which they would like to work if they are not accepted into or choose not to pursue a PA program. Regardless of major, students are advised to take more than the minimum number of medicine-related science courses.
Some students already have a B.A. or B.S. and then decide to pursue becoming a physician assistant. Students in this category should consult with our pre-professional office. In general, these students lack some of the science courses required by most PA schools. In some cases, the required courses may be over 10 years old, which most PA schools do not accept. It is common for these students to take the prerequisite science or non-science courses for PA school at USM as post-baccalaureate students while also working on polishing their applications and taking the MCAT, GRE, or PA-CAT.
Some post-baccalaureate students take the prerequisite courses as a non-degree student while other students choose a second major to pursue at USM. In either case, students must go through the University Admissions Office to be admitted (or re-admitted for former students) before enrolling in courses.
The typical admissions requirements for PA school are as follows:
The following list of prerequisite courses meet only the minimum requirements of the Mississippi College PA Program.
*Students are highly encouraged to take general biology (110/111) prior to taking
anatomy and physiology (250/251); in addition, general biology is a prerequisite for
all upper-level biology courses.
Students interested in pursuing a PA program should remember to check with their desired schools for their specific requirements.
The suggested course sequence below is merely a guideline to complete the courses required for a PA program in a timely manner. Courses to fulfill the academic major must be worked into the student’s schedule. Students must consult the USM Undergraduate Bulletin, the USM Class Schedule Guide for each semester, and their academic advisor.
During the last semester of the Sophomore year, students should develop a more detailed plan for the Junior and Senior years because many upper level courses in all majors are offered in specific semesters (Fall or Spring only) and/or on a rotating two-year cycle.
a The order that students take the introductory Biological Sciences (BSC) courses does not matter; BSC 110/L covers molecular and cellular topics whereas BSC 111/L covers ecology and organisms.
b Placement in mathematics (MAT) courses depends on the student’s ACT mathematics subtest score.
c Additional courses include courses required by the student's academic major or minor, as well as supplemental courses from the student's desired PA program.
d Students are strongly encouraged to take the Hatten Externship course (BSC 392) in the Fall semester of the second year. The course can be repeated for additional credit in the Fall of the third year. Prerequisites include ENG 101 & 102, BSC 110/L & 111/L, CHE 106/L & 107/L, MAT 101 & 103 OR one Calculus course, and a 3.2 GPA overall, in the major, and in the BCPM areas
e Additional courses include courses required by the student's academic major or minor, as well as supplemental courses from the student's desired PA program.
f Additional courses include courses required by the student's academic major or minor, as well as supplemental courses from the student's desired PA program.
The application process to a PA program could begin during the Junior or Senior year, depending on the school. Students should check with the schools to which they plan to apply to determine specific variations on deadlines and required courses.
Applicants typically submit applications through the online Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). While each PA school has its own deadline, CASPA applications should be submitted more than a month in advance of these individual deadlines. For institutions that do not utilize CASPA, students should contact their respective admissions offices for additional information on how to apply.
Students should take the GRE a minimum of several months before their application date. Students may take the GRE earlier if they feel prepared, though the GRE should never be taken as a practice attempt.
There are many study materials available for the GRE, both free and paid. While the pre-professional office does not endorse any product over another, it is recommended that students take multiple practice tests to ensure they are prepared and understand what to expect.
Students are advised to practice their interview skills BEFORE attending their first interview. For interview preparation at USM you may use the online Big Interview resource. You can also sign up for mock interviews through Career Services or the pre-professional office (contact information below).