Natural Sciences

Biology / Physician Assistant Preparation

Bachelor of Arts in Biology

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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 Physician Assistant (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 / Physician Assistant program

The Biology / Physician Assistant (Pre-PA) program is a 4-year undergraduate degree program in Biology that prepares students to apply for a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program. 

Program Requirements

The Biology / Pre-PA program at Mount Saint Mary College seeks to admit highly qualified and motivated students. Incoming freshmen are admitted to the college as Biology majors and are invited to apply for the Pre-Health Professions program in their sophomore year by the Division of Natural Sciences, who will work with them to get started on the track. Acceptance into the program is competitive, and enrolled students must meet prescribed standards to continue in the program.

Students in the Biology / Pre-PA program must:

  • Achieve a minimum GPA of 3.2 by the end of the first academic year
  • Achieve a minimum GPA of 3.4 overall, and in prescribed science and math courses, by the end of the second year
  • Achieve a minimum grade of B- in all science courses
  • Compile a minimum of 200 documentable hours in healthcare settings
  • Achieve certification in Cardio-Pulmonary Respiratory and BLS before their sophomore year.

Students that complete the Biology / Pre-PA program may apply to a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program.

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. It 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.

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 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, SURE), 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. 

 Lara Guindi Biology/Pre-Health major quote "I enjoy that the Biology major is challenging. I am being prepared to work under under pressure, well with others, and to critically think about any situation presented to me."