Biology Pre-Physician Assistant Studies Major

Starting in Fall Semester 2018, the new Biology Pre-Physician Assistant Studies program provides a well-rounded education in biological sciences that prepares graduates to apply for programs leading to certification as physician assistants.

Physician assistants are in-demand healthcare professionals. Nationally certified and state-licensed, PAs diagnose and treat illness and disease, and prescribe medication for patients. They work in physician offices, hospitals, and clinics as a part of healthcare teams with supervising physicians and other healthcare providers.

Saint Mary’s Biology Pre-Physician Assistant Studies major is a four-year course of instruction that leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree. Saint Mary’s biology faculty advisers work closely with students to ensure all prerequisite requirements are met and that students are prepared to successfully compete for entrance into a master’s-level physician assistant program. The Pre-Physician Assistant Studies program is planning to offer students valuable experiences in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, which could include visits to the clinic, career observations with current PAs, medical simulation activities, and participation in special lectures or symposiums, as well as social activities.

Career Options

Students who graduate from Saint Mary's with a degree in Biology Pre-Physician Assistant Studies will be prepared and equipped with the knowledge necessary to participate in a physician assistant master’s-level program. Upon completion of a PA master’s program, students will be prepared for success in the field as a physician assistant.

High School Preparation

High school coursework that will support students in their pursuit of a degree in Biology Pre-Physician Assistant Studies includes experience in biology, chemistry, and physiology and anatomy.

Enhance Your Experience

Students who graduate with a degree in Biology Pre-Physician Assistant Studies often pursue a double major or minor in Chemistry or Psychology.

Degree Requirements

A. All of the Following

B212 General Biology I: Cellular and Molecular Biology (3 cr.)

This is a general biology course that mainly covers concepts relating to the cell.  This includes cell structure and function, cellular metabolism, mechanisms of cell replication, and cellular protein expression.  This is required for a biology, biochemistry, allied health, or environmental biology major.

B214 General Biology II: Form and Function of Animals and Plants (3 cr.)

This is a general biology course that covers introductory concepts mostly in plant and animal anatomy and physiology.  An emphasis will be placed on the impact of these topics in our everyday lives.  This course is required for a biology, biochemistry, allied health, or environmental biology major.

B216 General Biology III: Ecology, Evolution and Biological Diversity (3 cr.)

This course provides an introduction to the topics of ecology, evolution, and natural selection and to the major groups of eukaryotic organisms, including protistans, fungi, plants, and animals.  For each group, emphasis is placed on distinguishing features, evolutionary trends, ecological roles, and interactions with humans.  This course is required for a biology, biochemistry, allied health, or environmental biology major.  Three lectures and one laboratory session per week.  Offered both spring and fall semesters.  

B221 Biology Field Experience (1 cr.)

This is a general biology laboratory course that is an inquiry-based field experience. Students will use scientific process to solve problems. This may include generating hypotheses, designing meaningful experiments, controlling variables, gathering relevant data, interpreting results, and drawing conclusions. This is required for a biology, allied health, or environmental biology major and will satisfy the general education requirement for a science with a lab when taken concurrently with the biology course.

B223 Biology Laboratory Experience (1 cr.)

This is a general biology laboratory course that is an inquiry-based laboratory experience.  Students will use scientific process to solve problems.  This may include generating hypotheses, designing meaningful experiments, controlling variables, gathering relevant data, interpreting results, and drawing conclusions.  This is required for a biology, biochemistry, allied health, or environmental biology major and will satisfy the general education requirement for a science with a lab when taken concurrently with the biology course.

B305 Human Anatomy with Laboratory (4 cr.)

This course explores the design and structure of the human body. Lectures present cellular and histological features of the body systems.

B311 Cell Biology with Laboratory (3 cr.)

This course is a study of the cell at the ultrastructural, biochemical, and physiological levels. Special consideration is given to respiration, photosynthesis, secretion, cytoskeleton, cell cycle, cell growth, movement, membranes, and other organelles.

B313 Physiology with Laboratory (4 cr.)

This course explores the functions of the body systems of humans. The interrelationships of organ systems processes to maintain homeostasis are emphasized. Laboratory sessions provide experiences with procedures and instrumentation to gather data that highlight the function of the body systems. Course topics are particularly relevant to the health sciences.

B392 Biostatistics (3 cr.)

This course introduces basic and fundamental statistics with emphasis on the more sophisticated tests and analyses common to biologists and other researchers. Substantial attention is given to analysis of variance procedures and experimental design. The course meets for two seventy-five minute lecture / computer laboratory sessions each week.  Credit is not granted for this course and any of the following: BU215, ST132, or ST232.

B409 Biochemistry with Laboratory (4 cr.)

The principal concepts of biochemistry are the focus of this course. The major themes include the relationship between the three-dimensional structure of proteins and their biological function and the chemistry and metabolism of biologically important macromolecules including proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids. Also offered as C409.  The course meets for three one-hour lectures and one three-hour lab session each week. 

B434 Microbiology with Laboratory (3 cr.)

This course deals with the morphology, physiology and biochemistry of a variety of microorganisms including viruses, bacteria, fungi and algae. Emphasis is placed on the control of microbial growth, the characteristics of these organisms and their relationship to disease.

B492 Experimental Planning (1 cr.)

The purpose of this course is to design a research project. The necessary reconnaissance, review of the literature, and other preparations are included. Some emphasis is also given to thesis writing and presentations. 

B493 Biology Research and Thesis (2 cr.)

The course consists of an independent investigation of a field or laboratory problem of the student's choice in a specific area of biology. A written report of the research project in the form of a thesis is required; an oral presentation may be required, at the discretion of the research advisor. This course is a graduation requirement for biology majors.

C131 General Chemistry I (3 cr.)

This course covers the fundamental principles upon which the study of chemistry is based. Stoichiometry, atomic structure, molecular structure, chemical bonding, behavior of gases, kinetic molecular theory, properties of solutions, chemical reactivity and thermochemistry are included.

C133 General Chemistry I Laboratory (1 cr.)

This laboratory is an inquiry-based approach to understanding the process of doing chemistry. Each week, as a team member with a specific role working for a consulting company, the student receives a letter from a "chemical client" requesting the solution to a chemical problem. It is the responsibility of the team to design a solution, collect data, and report the results to the client in report form.

C142 General Chemistry II (3 cr.)

This course includes the study of the chemistry of molecular forces, redox reactions, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium theory, electrochemistry, chemical dynamics, organic chemistry, phase behavior and solution chemistry.

C144 General Chemistry II Laboratory (1 cr.)

This laboratory is an inquiry-based approach to understanding the process of doing chemistry. Each week, as a team member with a specific role working for a consulting company, the student receives a letter from a "chemical client" requesting the solution to a chemical problem. It is the responsibility of the team to design a solution, collect data, and report the results to the client in report form.

C321 Organic Chemistry I (3 cr.)

Organized by chemical functional groups and reaction mechanisms, this course presents both classical and modern theories of organic chemistry while rigorously exploring chemical structure reactivity relationships. The fundamentals of nomenclature, physical properties, chemical structure, stereochemistry, organic-reactions, mechanisms, synthesis, purification, and compound characterization are emphasized. Biological, medical, and familiar real-world examples are discussed in the context of organic chemistry.

C322 Organic Chemistry II with Laboratory (4 cr.)

A continuation of C321/C323, this course builds upon the fundamentals presented in C321/C323. It is organized by functional groups and reaction mechanisms, while integrating this knowledge into chemical synthesis. Additional topics include aromaticity, NMR and IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, carbonyl chemistry, synthetic strategy, and advanced C–C bond forming reactions.

C323 Organic Chemistry I Laboratory (1 cr.)

This laboratory complements the lecture segment of the course by demonstrating and utilizing the concepts learned in the classroom to acquire, isolate, and characterize desired organic reaction products. In this laboratory, students become familiar with the equipment, glassware, techniques, and expertise required to implement the chemistry proposed on paper, to optimize it, and to communicate it to the chemical community. A practical context for the developed chemical intuition is provided.

M151 Calculus I (4 cr.)

This course provides an introduction to the differential and integral calculus. Topics include: the concepts of function, limit, continuity, derivative, definite and indefinite integrals, and an introduction to transcendental functions. Credit is not granted for this course and M148 and M149.

P201 Introductory Physics I (3 cr.)

This course is the first half of a two-semester introductory, calculus-based, physics course for all students planning to enter one of the scientific professions. It covers the fundamental principles of mechanics, oscillations, and fluid mechanics.

P202 Introductory Physics I Laboratory (1 cr.)

One three-hour laboratory is held each week covering topics studied in the lectures. Taken concurrently with P201 Introductory Physics

PY111 General Psychology (3 cr.)

General Psychology provides an overview of the methods, fundamental principles, and major perspectives which define the discipline of psychology. Intrapersonal and/ or interpersonal psychological processes involved in the biological basis of behavior, sleeping and dreaming, conditioning and learning, cognition, lifespan human development, abnormal psychology, and psychological treatment. Classical and contemporary research and perspectives including the biological, cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, humanistic, sociocultural and evolutionary perspectives are explored. Students are actively involved through application, interactive exercises, simulations, and projects.

PY211 Developmental Psychology (3 cr.)

This course explores the study of growth and development across the life span. Students are introduced to the reciprocal nature of biological, cognitive, social and cultural factors on the developing person. This is a research based introduction to understanding the expression of development in everyday life as it extends to family, friendship, youth ministry, school, neighborhood, sports, health care, and social services.