Pre-Physician Assistant


Students interested in a career as a physician assistant may pursue any major along with completing specific prerequisites. Direct-entry physician assistant graduate schools typically require the bachelor degree to be completed prior to enrolling. Students must gain a thorough understanding of the profession through a range of shadowing experiences and significant direct patient care experience through work as a Certified Nursing Assistant, EMT, Home Health Aid, etc. Some programs require a competitive score on the GRE, community service hours, and an understanding of social justice issues.

Canisius undergraduates who meet all admission requirements will be offered an interview by the Canisius Physician Assistant program. This does not guarantee acceptance to the program. A minimum of 500 hours of direct patient contact, 100 hours shadowing a physician assistant, and 100 hours of community service are required in addition to the course prerequisites. The Pre-Medical Center is able to connect students to work and volunteer opportunities. Students are encouraged to complete more than the minimum requirements. Many schools require significantly more direct patient contact hours (1000+).

Academic admission requirements vary somewhat by physician assistant program. Students should work with the Pre-Health advisor beginning in the first college year to select appropriate coursework based on their schools of interest and plan appropriate co-curricular experiences. In addition to the information in this section, please check the general information at the pre-medical and pre-health section of the catalog.

Recommended Pre-Physician Assistant Courses

Academic admission requirements vary by school, but usually include the following courses:

General Biology

At least one year of general biology with laboratory:

BIO 111
Introductory Biology I
and Introductory Biology Laboratory I
BIO 112
Introductory Biology II
and Introductory Biology Laboratory II

Anatomy & Physiology

One year of anatomy & physiology with laboratory:

Note that some schools may accept BIO 114/BIO 115 for this requirement. The Canisius PA program and other local programs do not.

BIO 324
Human Anatomy
and Human Anatomy Lab
BIO 340
and Physiology Laboratory


One semester of general microbiology with laboratory:

BIO 307
and Microbiology Laboratory


One year of general chemistry and one semester of organic chemistry with laboratories:

Note that some schools may require a second semester of Organic Chemistry (CHM 228 & CHM 228L). Please work with the Pre-Health advisor to determine chemistry coursework that aligns to your schools of interest.

CHM 111
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry I Laboratory
CHM 112
General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry II Laboratory
CHM 227
Organic Chemistry I
and Organic Chemistry I Laboratory


One semester of biochemistry. Based on your selection or your major, two semesters and/or labs may be required:

Note that CHM 228 is required for BCH 301.

Select one of the following:
Option 1:
BIO 211Biochemistry and Cell Biology I3
BIO 212Biochemistry and Cell Biology II3
Students should take both BIO 211 / BIO 212
Option 2:
BCH 301Introduction to Biochemistry3
BCH 302Cellular Biochemistry3
Students may take one or both courses of BCH 301/ BCH 302


One to three semesters of psychology must include developmental psychology; psychopathology (abnormal psychology) is strongly recommended:

PSY 101Introduction to Psychology I3
or PSY 102 Introduction to Psychology II
PSY 203Lifespan Developmental Psychology3
PSY 303Psychopathology3


One semester of statistics:

Note that some programs also require calculus (MAT 111). Please work with the Pre-Health advisor to determine math coursework that aligns to your schools of interest.

PSY 201Basic Statistics for Behavioral Sciences3 or 4
or KIN 398 Statistics and Research Design
or MAT 141 Inferential Statistics and Computers for Science

Medical Terminology

One course in medical terminology is required by some schools:

HRP 111Medical Terminology1

Additional Pre-Physician Assistant Courses

Some schools recommend additional coursework from the following:

Biology: Immunochemistry BIO 404/BIO 404L or Genetics BIO 406/BIO 406L

Sociology: SOC 110 or SOC 111

Bio-Medical Ethics: PHI 243 or RST 345

Elective Courses

HRP 101 allows students to explore different health professions.

HRP 201 and HRP 202 allow students to explore areas of medicine in more depth.

HRP 498 is an internship in medical informatics. A medical scribe internship in neurology is also available.

HRP 498A is a medical service learning trip.