How to Choose the Right Pre-Physician Assistant Major

If you’re thinking about becoming a Physician Assistant, you’re probably questioning what the “right” or “best” path is towards getting into PA school. The majority of students question which major will give them the competitive edge needed to get into the best PA program possible. Students that are in the process of completing their undergraduate degree or those who have decided to return to school often think that majoring in biology, pre-med, or even a dedicated pre-PA program are the only options if they want to become a PA. While this vein of thinking is completely logical, challenging majors like these aren’t always your best bet. 

Choosing a Pre-Physician Major

PA programs are looking for well-rounded candidates that excel! While you need to have knowledge of the PA profession and a good amount of science related prerequisite courses under your belt, you don’t need to be the valedictorian of your biochemistry department in order to become a PA. The right pre-PA school major will allow you to have outstanding academic performance, give you a good motivation for working as a PA, and provide a true sense of humanity and individuality.

When we break these 3 criteria down, we start to see that your specific major might not actually matter. Your overall academic performance in that major as well as your reasoning for pursuing that major are much more significant than you majoring in a directly related field.  That being said, majoring in something completely unrelated to the medical field like dance or photography won’t help your chances because it’ll be hard to prove you’re interested in medicine.

One of the most detrimental things you can do as a pre-PA student is choose a major simply because it sounds impressive.  Let’s say you choose to major in biology but you have a really hard time with the subject material.  You push through because you’re convinced that you need to be a bio major to get into a reputable PA program but end up graduating with a 2.3 GPA overall.  The fact that you majored in biology won’t outweigh your poor academic performance and low GPA.

PA programs are competitive and having a low GPA could be the reason why you don’t get invited for an interview.  Health-based majors like nutrition, sports physiology, kinesiology, or social sciences such as psychology and sociology can be great pre-PA majors to consider if you don’t excel at math and chemistry.  Regardless of the degree title, you want to pick a major that checks all of the following boxes:

  • The material excites you
  • It applies to medicine and healthcare OR gives you a believable stepping stone towards working in medicine
  • You can excel in it and handle the material

Additionally, there are schools that offer a pre-PA major, but be wary of choosing this major if you don’t have other interests and activities.  You could come off as very one-dimensional in your application if you don’t show some type of individuality.

If you’re still undecided about your pre-PA major, a great place to start would be to contact schools you’re interested in and ask them if they prefer any specific types of majors from their candidates. Every program is different so some may not have a preference, but getting this information ahead of time may help influence your decision.

Just remember, you’ll always be able to make up any pre-requisite classes your major didn’t include. There is no “best” pre-PA major, only the major that’s right for you and your needs!