What is the best college major for Pre-PA students?


I am not sure there is a best major. There are prerequisites. These usually include having a BS or BA degree from a 4 year college that teaches science majors. Most schools have courses that they require. Anatomy and Physiology separately or combined for two semesters. Several hours of chemistry including general, organic and biochemistry. Statistics and usually another math course. They like their students to have classes in Genetics, Immunology, Microbiology with a lab, embryology and epidemiology. You have to get these courses in, get a cumulative 3.0 and usually better if you want to go to a top 25 school. What major is best?

I you are like me, you need to focus. I needed to only focus on the courses I needed. I am not one who could major in a humanity and take all those courses on the side. I know great students who did just that and got 4.0 averages and are now great PA’s. I personally don’t look good in spandex or a cape. I focused on what I needed so I majored in a program – Applied Biology – that was intended to take you to grad school. All you could do when you graduated was take an entry position in a lab somewhere – probably processing stool specimens for parasites on the night shift. A dream job! But is was a good major if you wanted a PhD or to go to Medical, Dental or professional school in the sciences like PA school or similar medical career.

The video below is one I made earlier in 2012 while driving to work on a holiday. It addresses the issue of “What major is best if you want to be a PA?”
What should you do about it? Well the advice is general and not tailored to you. Consider it. If you really need help in your quest to become a PA
think about using me as your coach. Best wishes to you all on your PA Path.

Categories : Pre-PA HS


  1. Michelle Van says:

    Funny to imagine you in a cape Bruce. I thought Anne was your partner, anyway, I digress….. Focusing is important in every aspect in your life. However, for some college is a place to try new things and experiment. If you are headed off to college to become a PA, or know your path, then keep your GPA up, stay with what you want to do and focus! I didn’t know that nursing and a PA are totally different degrees and you can’t use one for the other..Great advice.

  2. Joel says:

    Great advice Bruce, seems like you’re a wealth of knowledge in your field and someone worth listening to and learning from!

  3. Bruce, “What is best for Pre-PA students?” – it’s an entirely different answer if by one like you, with a wealth of experience and hindsight, or if answered by a Pre-PA student, isn’t it? If we could go back to Pre-PA student days and do it all over again, we’d all take your advice to heart. To listen to and have the benefits of your insights right from the start – imagine! “What is best for your blog post and video?”: the more students of life read it, the better :-]

  4. Bruce says:

    Thanks for your comment Beat. The PA profession was originated in 1965 and training large numbers like 200 students a year did not begin until 1972. That is 40-47 years and I have been in the profession for 35 of them. The training has changed a lot and the selection process is much smoother but it boils down to being qualified and then getting noticed. Most of us need coaching in how to blow our own horn so others will notice and listen.

  5. Bruce says:

    Joel, very kind of you to say so. After these many years, what is routine for me is unknown to new PA’s. I had the experience last week of seeing a person with a routine symptom. I treated her but in my mind ruminated about it. It did not quite fit. I call the next day and arranged for her to have further testing done. It turned out she had a life threatening problem but not the typical symptoms. The report came to a colleague who was working on my day off. She is a newer PA and the patient returned to thank me. The new PA asked me as she relayed the message – “How did you know to do that?” The only answer I could give was her symptoms made me anxious. I didn’t know why but I acted on that intuition. This is the art and it is honed by watching others practice it and mentor you. What ever I am I owe to many many other Physicians and PA’s.

  6. Bruce says:

    Anne is my partner is a different project. This project was started to help some PA students have some beer I mean test book money while in school. They had both been my medical assistants before they left. Some of the very early posts are by Elizabeth. You could be a nurse and become a PA. My last training before PA school was as an LPN. But now kids get the 2 year RN associates, a suped up LPN. You could transition from that degree to PA by getting the prerequisites done and finishing your degree. If you got the BS in Nursing, I recommend you go to NP school because you have the prerequisites from your nursing degree but would be taking several semesters more of college prerequisites to attempt to get into PA school.

  7. Useful information here, Bruce. I’m sure many students benefited from this.

  8. Hi Bruce,

    Excellent advice as always. You’d be a good coach for anyone wanting to study the sciences for grad school, whether headed for a medical career or not.

    I have one piece of advice for all students for undergraduate school. I attended the flagship university in my state at the main campus. It was huge 30 years ago, it’s doubled in size since then. There were hundreds of students in all my classes for two years.

    My suggestion is to find a program just like the flagship U’s program at a smaller school that focuses on teaching rather than research. Research universities are great if you’re a junior, senior or grad student. Freshmen and sophomores are thrown into the cyclone with tons of other people, and left to succeed or fail on their own. Nobody even knows your name until at least the end of your sophomore year. You can transfer to the huge school your junior year, not be lost in the shuffle and get your degree from that school if that’s what you really want.

    I’ve found from experience at smaller schools that your professors and instructors know your name from nearly day one. Since you’re not anonymous, you’re more personally accountable just because your teachers will call on you in class or ask you to come to their offices during office hours if you’ve been under-performing your classmates. Being in smaller classes (40-50 students instead of 1000 freshman year) you can usually ask questions in class and get answers, and your teachers will have more office hours to work with you.

    Your freshman year will also set the stage for your grade point average throughout your undergraduate degree. A couple of bad grade semesters early on is extremely hard to overcome later. A’s your first or second semester hold more weight than A’s later that are trying to bring up C’s. For every C, you need an A to bring that grade up to a B. To overcome D’s or F’s, you really have hard work ahead of you.

    If you start out with say, B’s and a few A’s your first year, you have a solid GPA foundation, and you can focus on your work without worrying so much about improving your GPA. You can focus on learning, and getting a B is okay. With a GPA below 3.0, the only things that will improve it are A’s.

  9. Adam Roth says:

    Hey Bruce, you put out some really great content. I just watched a few of the videos that you have been posting through the years and I’m can’t believe you’re still posting content after all this time. I especially liked the video that you released on January 21, 2016 entitled “Recieve an Early PA Program Interview”. So far it has only received 56 views and it deserves way more. I actually run the site and blog over at and I was wondering if you would be opposed to me reposting that video on our blog? Either way, keep up the good work!

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