Pre-Physician Assistant Studies (BS)

Student working on a lab.

A vital role in healthcare. A vital role in your community.

Why Pre-Physician Assistant Studies?

Named the #3 Best Overall Job for 2020 by U.S. News & World Report, physician assistant (PA) is one of the fastest-growing healthcare professions today: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, demand for PAs is expected to grow by 31% over the next decade. U.S. News also ranked physician assistant:

  • #2 Best Healthcare Job
  • #3 Best STEM Job

Physicians assistants work as part of a larger healthcare team to examine, treat and diagnose patients in a range of medical settings and specialities. The need for PAs will be strongest in rural and underserved areas where residents have limited access to primary care physicians.

To become a physician’s assistant, you’ll need a master’s degree and licensure in your state of practice; a solid undergraduate, such as a bachelor’s in pre-physician assistant studies, will prepare for the rigors of a graduate-level PA program.

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Career Outlook & Success


acceptance rate into PA graduate programs among students with qualifying GPAs


growth rate predicted for physician assistants through 2028 (


median annual salary for PAs in Indiana, 2019 (

Why USF for a Pre-Physician Assistant Program?

Rooted in the liberal arts, built on Franciscan values and focused on patient-centered care, a USF education develops you into a reflective, ethical and compassionate healthcare provider.

Our pre-physician assistant program gives you:

  • A strong foundation in biological sciences
  • 1,000 PAID hours of patient care experience
  • Job-shadowing opportunities

USF’s PA program is internationally known, and our strong reputation in the regional healthcare community gives our pre-PA students access to quality clinical experiences, connections that lead to positions with top employers, and opportunities for meaningful service-learning opportunities.

You will graduate from USF ready to pursue a physician assistant graduate program and, ultimately, a rewarding career as a healthcare practitioner — for less than half the cost of training and education of a physician.

Hands-On Learning from the Start

Developing into a caring, competent physician assistant requires practical experience and, at USF, you will get plenty of it:

  • Project- and team-based learning
  • Paid healthcare experience in roles such as a CNA or EMT
  • Job shadowing with PAs, including USF alumni, in varying subspeciality areas
  • Service-learning and travel opportunities, such as international mission trips to Haiti

By the time you complete the pre-physician assistant program, you will have more than 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience. Additionally, you can build valuable career skills with on-campus employment with health services, athletics and related offices and departments.

Mike Bechill showing students how to do a lab.

Faculty & Facilities

You will learn in small classes from expert faculty members, including practicing PAs — and you will do so in our state-of-the-art science center, which features:

  • a cadaver lab, where you’ll learn human anatomy
  • a simulation lab, where you’ll work through real-world scenarios with life-like patient simulators
  • a resource lab, which features professional exam rooms and patient units

Campus and Community Involvement

As you prepare to enter a helping profession, you’ll be glad to know USF offers many opportunities for you to serve others through campus ministries, service-learning projects and student groups. Of particular interest to someone in our pre-physician assistant program are:

  • PA Student Society
  • Pre-Professional Healthcare Honor Society

The faculty have helped me in so many ways: at different times, they’ve kept me focused, built my confidence, and offered advice. The professors are one of the reasons we have such a strong community where we all support each other.

Brittany Kuhlenbeck ’18

Physician Assistant Career Opportunities

Once you’ve earned your master’s degree, met licensing requirements and officially become a physician’s assistant, you can find positions in a broad range of settings, including:

  • Primary care and family medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Internal medicine
  • Emergency medicine
  • General surgery
  • Psychiatry

With additional training, you may also develop expertise in one or more medical subspecialties — such as cardiology, neurology or geriatrics — which will broaden your career possibilities.

Graduate & Professional School Opportunities

Graduates of our pre-physician assistant program often earn their master’s of science in PA studies, and others have pursued their graduate studies at schools such as:

  • University of Saint Francis
  • Butler University
  • Kettering University
  • University of Findlay
  • University of Toledo
  • Trine University

Ready to start?

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Academic Plan

An academic plan is a general blueprint showing how one might complete the degree, semester by semester. Get an idea on what each semester could look like.

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