Natural Sciences

Biology/Pre-Physician Assistant

Bachelor of Arts in Biology
Option for Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (pending Accreditation - Provisional)


The American Academy of Physician Assistants describes a PA as a healthcare professional who is trained and licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. A PA license allows one to perform any medical or surgical duties delegated by a physician. This can involve working as part of a team in the big hospitals, or being the only medical care provider in smaller, remote, and inner city clinics.

PA duties include preventing, maintaining, and treating human illness and injury. They provide a range of health care services traditionally performed by physicians. PAs routinely conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, and order and interpret tests. They may also counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, give medical orders, and write prescriptions.

Biology/Pre-Physician Assistant program

The Biology/Pre-Physician Assistant (Pre-PA) program is a 4-year undergraduate degree program in Biology, with an option to apply and interview for the Mount's master's level Physician Assistant Studies program (pending Accreditation - Provisional).  

Alternate scenarios

Students have options available in the Biology/Pre-PA program. 

If the Mount's master’s program in PA Studies (pending Accreditation - Provisional) is not accredited, students can still complete the bachelor's degree in Biology in four years, and apply to a graduate PA program of their choice.

If students change their minds about applying to the program, or are not accepted into the master’s program in PA Studies (pending Accreditation - Provisional), they can still complete a bachelor's degree in Biology in four years.

Program Requirements

The Biology/Pre-PA program at Mount Saint Mary College seeks to admit highly qualified and motivated students. Acceptance into the program is competitive, and enrolled students must meet prescribed standards to continue in the program.

Enrolled students also must meet certain standards to interview for the competetive master's level PA Studies program (pending Accreditation - Provisional). While our undergraduate students are given preference, there is no guarantee of enrollment in the program.

*About the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies:
Mount Saint Mary College has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Mount Saint Mary College anticipates matriculating its first class in May 2016, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status at the September 2015 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Opportunities for Student Involvement

Beta-Beta-Beta (Tri-Beta) is the biological sciences honor society on campus. The Lambda Theta Chapter was the first Mount honor society, established in 1975. Active membership is open to Biology majors who have completed the first semester of their sophomore year and attained a cumulative average of 3.0 or greater in all courses in Biology. Associate membership is open to all students interested in the life sciences; students may join as freshmen. There is a one-time fee for this honor which makes one a permanent member of Tri-Beta and includes an honor cord to be worn at graduation. The society is one of many similar chapters at colleges and universities throughout the country and strives to stimulate scholarship, disseminate scientific information, promote biological research, and provide camaraderie. Members participate in field trips, lectures, and a variety of activities throughout the year.

Gamma Sigma Epsilon is the Chemistry honor society on campus. Students who have completed 16 credits in Chemistry with a B (3.0) average in their Chemistry courses are eligible to be inducted into Gamma Sigma Epsilon.

The American Chemical Society's student affiliate group is recognized as an official on-campus club and receives funding for their activities through student government. This student group sponsors trips, talks, community outreach activities, and participation in campus events. There is an annual fee to be an official student member of ACS, which includes a weekly chemical news magazine.

Alpha Chi is a national college honor society for full-time juniors and seniors of all disciplines. To be eligible, a student must rank in the highest 10% of the class.

Students may participate in the activities of Tri-Beta, GSE, and the ACS student affiliate group without officially joining any of these organizations, but joining will afford them the benefits of formal recognition of their participation.


Students may pursue undergraduate research as part of their major requirements Student have the opportunity to carry out an independent research project under the supervision of a member of the faculty. 

Students are also encouraged to apply for admission to summer research programs at the Mount (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, S.U.R.E.) or to other colleges and universities throughout the country. In addition, the Career Center offers students information about co-op/internship opportunities for research experiences during the semester and the summer. This office assists students with resume development, interviewing skills, and completion of applications for various research programs.

Career Outlook

The 2008-2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts almost a 40 percent increase in employment for PAs in the next decade. New York State is second only to the state of California in the number of PAs statewide, and the NY Metro area has the highest concentration of PAs nationally. Advisors from the medical community agree that there will be increasing local and regional need and career opportunities for PAs. 

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