School of Health and Medical Sciences

Physician Assistant Dual Degree Program

The Department of Biological Sciences and the School of Health and Medical Sciences (SHMS) offer a dual degree program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Science in Physician Assistant (B.S./M.S.P.A.). This six-year program offers the opportunity to study in a traditional liberal arts environment as well as in diverse clinical settings.

The Bachelor of Science in Biology is awarded at the completion of four years of work and the Master of Science in Physician Assistant is awarded at the completion of the sixth year of study.

Physician assistants (PAs) are healthcare professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and prescribe treatments. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA's practice may also include education, research, and administrative services. Physician assistants are found in all areas of medicine. They practice in the areas of primary care medicine (family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology) as well as in surgery and the surgical subspecialties.

Admission Criteria

Admission to the program is open to applicants who successfully completed a high school college preparatory curriculum, including courses in the social sciences, biology, mathematics, physics, English, a foreign language and chemistry. The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores are required of all applicants. International students must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores.

Applicants are encouraged to volunteer or work in a local hospital or other healthcare setting to strengthen interpersonal skills and to develop an understanding of the needs and capabilities of patients and the role of physician assistants.

The combined B.S./M.S.P.A. program is unique because it accepts students for enrollment in the entire program. Students who meet the requirements outlined below as an undergraduate are guaranteed admission into the final three years of professional studies. Due to a limit on the number of PA students in each entering freshman class, admission into the program is extremely selective.

Prerequisite Undergraduate Coursework

The following undergraduate coursework is designed to provide a solid foundation for the study of clinical medicine. All of the prerequisite courses must be completed by June 1st of the junior year. All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of "C" or better:

General Chemistry I (CHEM 1123)
General Chemistry I Lab (CHEM 1125)
General Chemistry II (CHEM 1124)
General Chemistry II Lab (CHEM 1126)
Calculus I (MATH 1401)*
Psychology (PSYC 1101)
General Biology I (BIOL 1201)
General Biology II (BIOL 1202)
Microbiology (BIOL 3411)
Anatomy & Physiology I (BIOL 3338)
Anatomy & Physiology II (BIOL 3339)
*as required by the dual degree program

Healthcare Experience Requirement

Students are required to complete a minimum of 100 hours observing or participating in the delivery of healthcare in a clinical environment. This requirement may be met through paid or volunteer experiences. Past experiences students have used to meet this requirement include but are not limited to: shadowing a PA or physician in an office or hospital; volunteering or working as an emergency medical technician; working as a nurse, nurse's aide, respiratory therapist, paramedic, athletic trainer or other healthcare provider, or volunteering in a healthcare facility. The healthcare experience is intended to strengthen interpersonal skills and to develop an understanding of the role of a healthcare provider. Students are required to arrange their own healthcare experience. Doing so helps to demonstrate the level of commitment and motivation necessary to become a physician assistant. Documentation indicating the completion of a minimum of 100 hours of healthcare experience must be provided to the Department of Physician Assistant by June 1st prior to entering the professional phase of the program.

Undergraduate Academic Standards

Students must demonstrate that they are prepared to meet the demands of the professional phase of the program. Students must complete all of their college core, University core and biology dual degree requirements in the first three years of their undergraduate curriculum with a prerequisite and overall GPA of 3.2 as described below. Failure to maintain the required cumulative and prerequisite GPA will result in dismissal from the dual-degree program.

Students are required to achieve and maintain a 3.0 cumulative and prerequisite GPA by the end of sophomore year.

Students are required to achieve and maintain a 3.2 cumulative and prerequisite GPA by the end of junior year.

Students dismissed from the dual-degree program may become biology majors. Such students are free to apply to the professional phase of the physician assistant program following graduation. 

Transfer Credit

Students may apply to transfer into the undergraduate portion of the physician assistant dual-degree program. All such applications must demonstrate outstanding academic ability and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The following prerequisite courses must be taken at Seton Hall University even if previously taken elsewhere: Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Microbiology. Students will only be accepted as transfers into the dual-degree program as freshmen or sophomores.

Progression into the Physician Assistant Program

Students enrolled in an undergraduate dual degree program must declare their intent to continue matriculation into the physician assistant program no later than June 1st prior to their junior year. Students who successfully complete all of the above requirements and the other course requirements within the Department of Biological Sciences will enter the physician assistant program after their junior year. Students will be awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree following the successful completion of the first year of the program.

First Year

Fall Semester Credits
BIOL 1201 General Biology/Organism 4
CHEM 1123 General Chemistry I 3
CHEM 1125 General Chemistry Lab I 1
MATH 1401 Calculus I 4
CORE 1101 Journey of Transformation 3
CORE 1001 University Life 1

Spring Semester
BIOL 1202 General Biology/Cell 4
CHEM 1124 General Chemistry II 3
CHEM 1126 General Chemistry Lab II 1
ENGL 1201 Core English I 3
MATH 1411 Calculus II 4
MATH 2111 Statistics for Science Majors 4
COST 1500 Foundations in Oral Rhetoric 2

Second Year

Fall Semester
BIOL 2211 Genetics 4
CHEM 2321 Organic Chemistry I 3
CHEM 2315 Organic Chemistry Laboratory II 1
PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology 3
ENGL 1202 Core English II 3
Arts & Sciences Core* 3

Spring Semester
BIOL 2229 Cell Biology 4
CHEM 2322 Organic Chemistry II 3
CHEM 2316 Organic Chemistry Laboratory II 1
CORE 2101 Christianity and Culture in Dialogue 3
Arts & Sciences Core* 6

Summer Semester Sophmore Year
Health care experience time. This is a prerequisite for admission to the program. Students are responsible for arranging their own healthcare experience time.

Third Year

Fall Semester
BIOL 3338 Human Anatomy & Physiology I 4
BIOL 3411 Microbiology 4
PHYS 1701 General Physics I 3
PHYS 1811 General Physics Laboratory I 1
Arts & Sciences Core* 6

Spring Semester
BIOL 3339 Human Anatomy & Physiology II  4
PHYS 1702 General Physics II 3
PHYS 1812 General Physics Laboratory II 1
CORE 3101 Engaging the World 3
Arts & Sciences Core* 6
*Consult the College of Arts and Sciences core curriculum for information regarding these courses.

Fourth Year

Fall Semester
PAFY 4001 Human Anatomy 4
PAFY 6111  Human Physiology 3
PAFY 4108 Health Maintenance Education 2
PAFY 4104 Psychiatry 2
PAFY 4203 Intro. to Clinical Medicine I 4

Spring Semester
GMED 4102 Neuroscience 3
PAFY 4107 Pathophysiology 3
PAFY 4112 Pharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics 4
PAFY 4204 Clinical and Diagnostic Methods 4
PAFY 4205 Intro. to Clinical Medicine II 4

Fifth Year

Fall Semester
GMPA 6211 Clinical Transitions 2
GMPA 7311 Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine 6
GMPA 7402 Clinical I 5
GMPA 8510 Biostatistics


Spring Semester
GMPA 7402 Clinical II 15
GMPA 7404 Research Methods I 2

Sixth Year

Fall Semester
GMPA 6102 Principles of Epidemiology 3
GMPA 7303 Biomedical Ethics 3
GMPA 8507 Internship I 10

Spring Semester
GMPA 8509 Research Methods II 1
GMPA 8603 Healthcare Policy 2
GMPA 8602 Internship II 12

Contact an Adviser:
Dr. Gerald Ruscingno
Program Director for Biology Dual-Degree Programs
College of Arts and Sciences
(973) 275-2015
Web: B.S. in Biology degree program

Undergraduate Admissions & Enrollment Services:

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