As a biomedical sciences major at Saint Joseph’s University, you’ll have the opportunity to design a personalized degree in the health concentration of your choice. A rigorous and flexible curriculum covers every area of biomedical sciences and includes a variety of tracks including biotechnology, clinical science, neuroscience and physician assistant.
Pre-physician Assistant (Pre-PA) / Biomedical Sciences Major
Get a complete, real-world understanding of what it means to be a physician assistant at Saint Joseph’s University. Our pre-professional physician assistant program combines foundational coursework with patient contact and shadowing to prepare you for graduate studies and a rewarding career.
Choose from an accelerated, three-year track or a traditional, four-year undergraduate track to earn a biomedical sciences degree. If you meet all progression requirements, you’ll be granted an interview for admission to our graduate physician assistant program, known for its renowned faculty and innovative anatomy instruction.
Reasons to Pursue a Physician Assistant Degree
- It’s a growing, stable field. The field is projected to grow 31% between 2020 and 2030 (much faster than the 8% average for all jobs), and the median annual salary for PAs was $115,390 in 2020.
- You’ll have more job satisfaction. Physician assistant is the second best healthcare job, third best job overall and third best STEM job in the U.S.
- You’ll get to your career faster. Compared to medical school, graduate PA programs are shorter in length; most run from 23-28 months. That means you can start examining, diagnosing and treating patients shortly after you finish your program.
- PA is a versatile career path. You can choose to practice in any medical setting and specialty, including dermatology, pathology and family medicine.
What Sets Our Program Apart
You’ll be guaranteed an interview with Saint Joseph’s 24-month graduate PA program if you successfully complete the pre-physician assistant program by meeting all progression standards.
Discover what it’s like to be a physician assistant through a comprehensive curriculum combined with shadowing, patient contact and volunteer opportunities provided through our professional network.
Beginning your sophomore year, you’ll shadow a physician assistant, physician or nurse practitioner, allowing you to become more familiar with the intricacies of healthcare and medical services. You’ll learn physical exam techniques and common pathology of the:
- Head, eyes, ears, nose and throat (HEENT)
- Cardiorespiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), musculoskeletal and neurological systems
You’re required to complete a minimum of 350 hours of direct patient contact to be considered for an interview to Saint Joseph's graduate PA program. Shadowing a physician assistant is recommended but no longer required.
You’ll get to work in simulation labs and mock patient exam rooms inside the Integrated Professional Education Complex (IPEX) building, giving you a taste of working in a professional healthcare environment. IPEX also houses our master’s in physician assistant studies program.
This accelerated option lets you complete the undergraduate requirements in three years. If you meet all requirements, you can apply to our PA program by the end of your sophomore year and be guaranteed an admission interview. If accepted, you’ll get your bachelor’s in biomedical sciences after successfully completing your first semester in the graduate program.
This traditional option lets you add on a minor or pursue a more traditional course load. The same courses are covered, with additional electives in biological sciences or another area of your choice. If you meet all requirements, you’ll also be guaranteed an admission interview to our PA program.
The tuition for undergraduate pre-physician assistant students entering fall 2022 is $49,410* per year. *Pricing does not include room and board, health insurance or any professional, clinical or transportation fees. Visit our Tuition & Fees page for a detailed cost breakdown.
Financial aid may be available to you to help offset the cost of your degree. Explore your options on our Financial Aid page.
Saint Joseph’s undergraduate students in the pre-professional PA program are offered a guaranteed interview for admission to the MSPAS Program. If all progression requirements are met, third-year students in the accelerated track may apply to begin completion of the graduate phase of a 3+2 program. If accepted, students are eligible to begin the graduate phase of the program and earn the remaining credits of their bachelor’s degree with completion of the didactic phase of the MSPAS Program.
Undergraduate students in the traditional four-year pre-professional PA program who meet all progression criteria are also guaranteed an interview. All applicants to the MSPAS Program must apply through the CASPA application portal and follow the same admissions process.
Unsuccessful Progression to the graduate PA program:
A third-year student in the accelerated track with a science and overall GPA above a 3.20 who is denied progression to the graduate PA program will remain at Saint Joseph's and reapply during the next CASPA cycle.
Students must achieve a “B-” or better in all courses with the prefix MI (Physician Assistant specific courses).
- A student who receives less than a B- in a MI required course must retake the course and earn a B- or better. A student may take the MI course a maximum of two times to meet the required standard.
- If a student fails to meet this requirement after two attempts the student will be dismissed from the undergraduate pre-professional program.
- If a student earns a C- or lower in a MI course on their 1st attempt at any MI course they will be dismissed from the undergraduate pre-professional program.
Grades of “C” or better are required for all natural science courses in Biology (BS), Chemistry (CH), and Physics (PY)
- Students who earn a C- or lower have the opportunity to retake the course once in order to earn a C or better. Students who fail to meet this requirement will be dismissed from the undergraduate pre-professional program.
To progress to the second year of the undergraduate pre-professional program, the student must achieve a minimum cumulative GPA AND a natural science GPA of 3.00 or higher.
To continue further in the undergraduate pre-professional PA program, the student must achieve a minimum cumulative GPA AND a natural science GPA of 3.20 or higher.
- Students must demonstrate at least 350 hours of direct patient contact. Shadowing a physician assistant is recommended but no longer required.
Transfer students will only be accepted into the fall or spring semester of the first year or the fall semester of the second year of the pre-professional PA program. Transfer students are held to the same academic standards as entry level students.
Transfer credit will not be given for any of the following courses:
- Organic Chemistry I and II
- Anatomy and Physiology I and II
- History and Physical Examination I and II
- Medical Terminology I and II
Students may apply for elective credit if these courses have been taken elsewhere.
Transfer credit will be accepted for natural science courses (except those required to be taken at Saint Joseph's) only with a B or better. Transfer credit in English, math, social sciences and electives will be accepted with a C or better.
View required courses for this program in the academic catalog. Please contact us if you have any questions about the program curriculum.
Pre-PA Program Admissions Information
Special considerations will be given for those with academic excellence, outstanding patient care experience, shadowing a physician assistant, performing community service activities, those who have a history of socioeconomically disadvantaged status, first-generation college graduates, and groups underrepresented in medicine, active military, veterans, and applicants in the peace corps.
If accepted into the pre-physician assistant program, you’ll be required to complete 50 shadow hours before class begins in the fall. You’ll also need to complete a minimum of 500 hours of direct patient contact and 100 hours of shadowing a PA or physician before applying to our graduate PA program.
How to apply
- Apply online. Applications are free.
- Submit your official high school transcripts from all high schools you’ve attended. A list of senior year coursework must be present.
- Complete one of the Common Application essay prompts.
- Submit a letter of recommendation. Up to two additional letters may be submitted.
- Submit SAT/ACT scores. These are optional, but you can submit them if you feel they’ll strengthen your application.
All materials can be uploaded via the Saint Joseph’s Application or the Common Application. If you plan to submit SAT and/or ACT scores, they should be sent directly from Collegeboard and/or ACT. You can also submit your application materials by mail, fax or email.
Our regular application deadline is March 1. Visit our Undergraduate Admissions page to learn more about application deadlines.
- A minimum overall and science GPA of 3.00 is required to apply for the graduate physician assistant studies program. No science grades below a B from a community college or C from a four-year college will be accepted.
- New transfer students may enroll in the fall semester of the first or second year of the professional program. Transfers are not accepted in the spring semesters.
- A minimum of two years of study in the pre-professional phase of the program is required.
- If accepted into the pre-physician assistant program, you’ll be required to complete 50 shadow hours before class begins in the fall. Students transferring into the second year must have a minimum of 150 hours. You’ll also need to complete a minimum of 500 hours of direct patient contact and 100 hours of shadowing a PA or physician before applying to our graduate PA program.
Please contact us for a list of courses we recommend taking before transferring into the Saint Joseph’s undergraduate pre-professional physician assistant program. You may also visit our Transfer Admissions page for an incomplete list of courses from other institutions that transfer into Saint Joseph’s.
How to apply
- Apply online. Applications are free, and there is no deadline to apply. Transfer applications are reviewed on a rolling basis year-round.
- Submit official transcripts from all colleges and/or universities you attended.
- Submit an official high school transcript or an official copy of a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). (If you have an associate’s degree or 30+ college credits prior to your enrollment at Saint Joseph’s, these transcripts are waived.)
- Submit one to three letters of recommendation.
- Submit a professional goal statement — this should explain in detail your interest in the professional program to which you are applying, how you developed this interest, your career goals and any attributes and accomplishments you believe will enhance your future academic and career success. Also, please tell us why you have chosen to apply to Saint Joseph’s.
- Submit SAT/ACT scores. (If you have 24 or more credits, you don’t have to submit scores.)
Frequently Asked Questions
To become a physician assistant (PA), you’ll need to:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree. Most PA programs prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s in science or a health-related field.
- Apply and get accepted to a PA school with an accredited PA program, such as Saint Joseph’s 24-month MS in Physician Assistant Studies degree.
- Complete and graduate from an accredited PA program, which involves clinical experiences.
- Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) to get certified, then obtain a license in the state you want to practice in.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, it takes around three years (26 months) to complete an accredited PA program. At Saint Joseph’s University, you can earn your PA degree in just 24 months. After graduating, you can sit for the PANCE exam and pass it to become certified and take the next steps to obtain a state license.
Saint Joseph’s University undergraduate students in the Pre-Professional PA Program are granted an interview for admission to the MSPAS Program if all progression requirements of the Pre-PA program and all admission requirements of the Graduate PA program are met. Students in the accelerated track who meet all requirements may apply to the graduate PA program between the end of their sophomore year, and the fall of their junior year, with an application deadline of December 1, 2022. If accepted, they will earn the remaining credits to complete their bachelor’s degree with the completion of the didactic phase of the MSPAS Program. Undergraduate students in the traditional four-year Pre-Professional PA program who meet all progression criteria and all admission requirements of the Graduate PA program are also granted an interview. If granted an interview, this does not guarantee acceptance to the MSPAS Program.
All applicants to the MSPAS Program must apply through the CASPA application portal and follow the same admissions process.