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Undergraduate Preparation

Choosing a Major

There is no formal “Pre physician assistant” major. Physician Assistant programs are interested in broadly educated students who have developed excellent writing and speaking skills, possess analytic and synthetic thinking ability, and are enthusiastic, life-long learners. Understanding of the social aspects of rehabilitation medicine is just as important as understanding the science. Your major will not determine your success in applying to PT school. Your interests should determine your choice of major. Majoring in an area that you enjoy is more likely to lead to academic success than pursuing a field for which you have little enthusiasm. Regardless of your major, it is necessary to demonstrate a mastery of science; proficiency in other areas will not compensate for lack of science ability.

The benefits of choosing to major in one of the sciences is that many of the courses required to prepare for clinical medical careers and the associated standardized tests can be satisfied as part of the science degree requirements. Therefore, a student can prepare for PA school, while also satisfying degree requirements, without taking too many additional courses.

Note: Although some PA programs say that they will accept applications from students who have not completed a bachelors degree, in order to be a competitive applicant it is strongly recommended that you complete an undergraduate degree prior to entering a PA program.

Prerequisites Coursework

Entrance requirements for the Physician Assistants Program at MUSC include:







Statistics or Biostatistics


General Chemistry - includes lab


*Organic or Biochemistry


Biology - includes lab


Anatomy - includes lab


Physiology - includes lab


Microbiology - includes lab


Behavioral Sciences - General Psychology (required) plus six credits of Psychology electives and/or Sociology courses




Electives - Communication, Computer Science, Epidemiology, and Medical Terminology suggested. Courses must be liberal arts/sciences and not professional or technical in nature


       * Some PA Programs (inlcuding the PA Program at the Medical University of South Carolina) are

          now requiring one semester of Biochemistry (3 CH) CofC students must complete two semesters

          of Organic Chemistry (CHEM 231 & 232 plus labs) in order to enroll in Biochemistry (CHEM 351)

  • Completion of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

    The writing component of the GRE will be required for the 2005 application cycle. Applicants who took the GRE prior to 2002 must take the writing section at this time.

  • 90 semester hours of prerequisite courses

Applicants for admission are expected to complete their general education and support course requirements prior to admission to the professional physician assistant curriculum. The prerequisite general education requirements not only conform to college-wide degree requirements, but also include those courses deemed essential for preparation for the physician assistant curriculum.

  • Courses can only be applied towards the prerequisite requirement if a grade of "C" or higher was earned.

  • Combined Anatomy and Physiology courses are accepted; however, you MUST take Anatomy and Physiology I and II to fulfill the separate Anatomy and Physiology requirements.
  • It is preferred that prerequisite coursework in Science, Math, and Behavioral Science have been completed within the past 10 years. Coursework in these areas not taken within 10 years may not be deemed acceptable by the Program.

Note: C of C students preparing to apply to PA school should be aware that the completion of a bachelor's degree will make them a more competitive applicant, even when the school will accept 90 SH of coursework.Four years of undergraduate preparation allows time for students to explore, grow, mature, and have experiences that enrich their lives and make them better candidates.

*As of 2007, the entry-level masters PA Program is the only PA program in SC. Prerequisite requirements may vary for other PA programs throughout the US, please check the admission requirements for each school of interest.


Students are urged to do volunteer service in their intended Allied Health field. This is especially true for those interested in the Rehabilitation Sciences or a Physician Assistant program. You may volunteer only a few (e.g. 3) hours per week, but you must be dependable and your activities should extend over a significant period of time. The experience component of your applicant profile is increasingly important for some programs, so you should make the most of this opportunity. Also, you should ensure that someone familiar with your performance can serve as a reference.