Bachelor of Science in Biology
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's license
allows one to perform any medical or surgical duties that are
delegated to him/her by the physician. This usually involves
working as part of a team in the big hospitals or being the only
medical care provider in smaller, remote, and inner city
A physician assistant’s duties include preventing, maintaining,
and treating human illness and injury. They provide a broad range
of health care services that were traditionally performed by
physicians. PA’s routinely conduct physical exams, diagnose and
treat illnesses, order and interpret tests. They may also counsel
on preventive health care, assist in surgery, give medical orders,
and write prescriptions.
Pre-Physician Assistant at the Mount
The pre-physician assistant concentration at Mount Saint Mary
College is intended for students who plan to make application to a
graduate program in physician assistant studies. The curriculum has
been designed to satisfy the requisite course admission
requirements for most institutions that offer the graduate degree.
Most graduate programs also require a certain number of contact
hours in a health care setting. The total contact hour requirement
and the allowed environments differ among institutions. The Career
Center at Mount Saint Mary College will assist pre-PA students in
obtaining experiences that may satisfy some or all of these
requirements. It is the responsibility of the student to
investigate the specific pre-requisites for the graduate program(s)
for which he/she intends to apply and, as appropriate, to acquire
the necessary contact hours.
The Pre-PA Program at Mount Saint Mary College has standards
that must be met by the student to remain in the concentration.
Admission to graduate PA programs has become increasingly
competitive and simply satisfying the minimum requirements may not
result in a successful application.
The Pre-PA curriculum at MSMC leads to a bachelor’s degree in
biology. While it is not necessarily required that an applicant to
a graduate PA program have a degree in the sciences, the
pre-requisite courses best fit into the sequence of courses taken
by an undergraduate biology major. Most institutions have
prescribed liberal arts requirements and those courses have been
included in the MSMC curriculum.
In order to remain in the pre-PA track, a student must achieve a
minimum GPA of 3.2 by the end of the first academic year. By the
end of the second academic year, a student must then earn a minimum
GPA of 3.4 overall and in prescribed science and mathematics
courses. A minimum grade of B- is required in all science
In order to enhance the success of graduate applications,
students are expected to participate in College and divisional
activities. There are many opportunities for students to
demonstrate involvement in professional, cultural, and recreational
activities. Active participation in one or more of these areas is
looked upon favorably when graduate admission applications are
It is essential that students consult the specific admission
requirements for graduate programs in which they are interested.
This must be done in a timely manner to ensure that any necessary
changes in course scheduling can be accommodated. Students are
responsible for adjusting their course schedules to meet graduate
admission requirements. Students must also be aware of the number
and type of contact hours required and have a plan to address this
requirement. Students must also arrange to take any required
entrance exam (e.g. GRE).
Opportunities for Student Involvement
Beta-Beta-Beta (Tri-Beta) is the biological
sciences honor society on campus. The Lambda Theta Chapter was the
first MSMC 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
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 by registering for one of two different courses,
BIO/CHM 4910, Special Problems in Scientific Research for four
credits, or BIO/CHM 4920, Student Research in Industrial
Laboratories for three or four credits. In the former, a student
has the opportunity to carry out an independent research project
under the supervision of a member of the faculty. Students must
develop a proposal and obtain a faculty mentor to oversee the
project which would involve both laboratory and library work.
Students registering for BIO/CHM 4920 work on a research problem
identified in a local industrial laboratory. The nature of the
particular activity will depend upon that outlined by the
laboratory supervisor, student, and faculty advisor. This will
depend upon the needs of local industry as well as student and
faculty interest and expertise. To enroll in either course,
students must obtain permission of the Division.
Students are also encouraged to apply for admission to summer
research programs at MSMC (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