Nov 30, 2021  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
2018-2019 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physician Assistant Studies – Undergraduate Pre-Professional Program, Years 1–3

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Our vision is that our graduates will strive for excellence in all academic endeavors, develop a passion for caring for others, and prepare for a future in healthcare.


The mission of the USciences undergraduate pre-professional physician assistant program is to educate highly qualified students through an accelerated curriculum that prepares them to be academically successful in a graduate physician assistant program and that nurtures their qualities necessary to become competent and compassionate physician assistants.


To accomplish our mission and vision, the undergraduate pre-professional physician assistant program at University of the Sciences (years 1–3) includes the following objectives:

  • To identify those students at the pre-professional level who have the interest, motivation, and potential toward the physician assistant profession.
  • To promote in our students the importance of lifelong learning, professionalism, responsibility and ongoing self-evaluation.
  • To develop in our students the ability to work collaboratively as part of the healthcare team.
  • To prepare the students academically, clinically, and professionally for intense professional training in a graduate professional PA program.
  • To socialize students into the role and expectations of the physician assistant.

Physician Assistant – BSHS Major in Conjunction with PCOM

Physician assistants (PAs) are licensed health professionals who practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. PAs are educated with a focus on primary care medicine. They deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in rural, urban, and suburban communities throughout the country. With the physician assistant education, the graduate may choose to work in primary care, emergency, surgical, and other specialty practices. The PA profession has numerous employment opportunities and was recently rated as the second best job and the fastest growing healthcare career in the U.S.

The undergraduate pre-professional physician assistant program partners with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) graduate physician assistant program in collaboration to foster excellence in education.

Undergraduate students enrolled in the accelerated entry-level program will complete the prerequisites in natural and social sciences and general education courses as well as physician assistant–specific coursework at University of the Sciences (years 1–3). Those students who are admitted at the entry level identify the PA program as their program of study. Students applying to the program should have a minimum 3.00 GPA; SAT scores: 550 Math, 550 Verbal, 500 Writing, or ACT score of 27; knowledge of the PA profession; work or volunteer hours in the healthcare field; somatic and exteroceptive sensation; functional use of vision, hearing, and smell; gross and fine motor skills and stamina; critical-thinking ability; and communication and interpersonal skills. Students must also comply with technical standards.

Acceptance into the pre-professional phase at USciences does not guarantee admission into the graduate professional program. In order to achieve progression into the graduate professional program at PCOM (years 4–5), students must maintain a minimum required GPA, have sufficient patient contact hours, and complete the application for admission via CASPA during the summer prior to their third undergraduate year. A successful interview with faculty is also required. Requirements for progression are described in the Physician Assistant Handbook and PA student contract. After successful completion of the fourth program year, students will be awarded a bachelor of science in health science from USciences. This degree does not qualify the graduate as a physician assistant. Students will complete, if accepted, the graduate program to earn a master of science from either PCOM. Graduates will then sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). Successfully completion of the exam allows the graduate to be employed by a supervising physician and apply for licensure as a PA.

Degree Requirements

Students will sign a “pre-professional academic performance agreement” upon entrance into the program. Successful completion of the undergraduate pre-professional program at USciences provides a guaranteed interview to the graduate professional program at PCOM only after the student has fulfilled all required criteria:

  • Successful completion of all required pre-professional coursework at USciences with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.20 and minimum natural science GPA of 3.20. These minimums must be earned and maintained from second year through graduation. There are also requirements at the end of first and second year to advance. (Note: grades of “C-” or lower in any natural science and “C+” or lower in PA-specific courses do not qualify). All second- and third-year natural science and PA-specific courses must be taken at USciences. Transfer credit is at the discretion of the program director.
  • Completion of the graduate program application via CASPA (an online application service), which includes three letters of recommendation (one must be from a physician assistant), and a one-page narrative describing the applicant’s motivation for a career as a physician assistant. The narrative should demonstrate knowledge of the profession, motivation, interpersonal skills, and maturity.
  • Documented completion of a minimum of 400 hours of direct patient contact that offers the students an awareness of the intricacies of healthcare and/or human service with exposure to care of the sick or injured. Hours may be shadowing, volunteer, or paid service. Students are strongly encouraged to become familiar with the depth and breadth of the physician assistant role.
  • Demonstration of professional behavior, good judgment, maturity, motivation, and ability to perform well.
  • Successful interview with the graduate program faculty.
  • The meeting of program technical standards.

Physician Assistant Undergraduate Pre-Professional Program Degree Requirements (years 1-3)

General Education and Foundation Courses

  • Electives Credits: 12
  • General Education Humanities Discipline Requirements Credits: 6
  • Multidisciplinary Inquiry Requirement Credits: 6 

Sample Physician Assistant Pre-Professional Curriculum (years 1-3)

 Students entering in Catalog Years 2018 and beyond (graduating classes of 2022 and beyond)—with general education.

First Year

 Minimum of 50 hours of shadowing/patient contact required prior to start of first year.

Second Year


Minimum of 150 documented hours of shadowing/patient contact hours required prior to start of second year.

Fall Semester

  • Multidisciplinary Inquiry Requirement Credits: 3 
Credits/Semester: 20

Spring Semester

  • Humanities Discipline Requirement Credits: 3
  • Multidisciplinary Inquire Requirement Credits: 3 
Credits/Semester: 20

Third Year


  • Application to graduate professional program(s).
  • Minimum of 300 documented hours of patient contact required by start of third year.
  • Minimum of 400 documented hours of patient contact prior to start of professional program.

Fall Semester

  • Elective Credits: 3
  • General Education Humanities Discipline Requirement Credits: 3
Credits/Semester: 20

Spring Semester

 Elective Credits: 9

Credits/Semester: 19

Total Credits: 113


Must be taken at USciences.

General Notes:

  1. Second-year transfer students are required to take PHA 100 .
  2. Note that second-year students are required to shadow  as part of their academic curriculum during the school year.
  3. Students will receive their BSHS degree after successfully completing their first semester in the graduate program (total of 124 credits needed for BSHS degree). 

Graduate Professional Program Curriculum – PCOM (years 4–5)

Further information regarding the specific graduate professional phase didactic and clinical curriculum can be found by consulting the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s website at: This website offers information regarding curriculum, technical standards. and faculty. Students can also call 215.871.6772 or visit the PA Program offices at PCOM.

The professional phase of the program will provide intense, comprehensive medical education to students, preparing them for a lifetime career as a physician assistant. During their education, students will find a wealth of physician assistants, osteopathic physicians, and other healthcare professionals to act as mentors for their didactic and clinical training, offering ongoing support and evaluation of them as future healthcare providers.

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