Pre-physician assistant

A rewarding career in health care.

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A physician assistant (PA) is a nationally certified and state-licensed medical professional who practices medicine as a member of a health care team. PAs practice and prescribe medication in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and in the uniformed services. 

Why become a Physician Assistant?

Now is an exciting time to join the physician assistant profession. According to US News & World Report, the physician assistant profession ranks #2 on the 2022 list of Best Health Care Jobs in America and #3 on the 2022 list of Best Jobs in America. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median annual salary of PAs at $121,530 and projects that the field will grow at a rate of 31% (much faster than average) between now and 2030.

For more information on what PAs do, visit the AAPA’s What is a PA? website.

Union’s accelerated Pre-PA program was an excellent option that allowed me to save time and money by graduating earlier—all while spring boarding me into my physician assistant career. The rigorous academics prepared me for the graduate level classwork of the PA program and studying at Union allowed me to connect with the PA faculty who coached me to academic and professional success.

Tanner Huckabee
2015 graduate—now works at Kearney Regional Medical Center in Kearney, Nebraska
photo Tanner Huckabee

Experience the fast track to a medical career.

years to become a PA

Combine undergraduate and graduate degree and finish in six years with Union's Accelerated Pre-PA Biomedical Science program.

Why prepare for PA school at Union College?

Preferred status for PA school—Union College students get preferred status when applying to the Union College PA program. So earning an undergraduate degree at Union means you have the inside track to one of the top PA programs in the country (100% first-time board pass rates).

Start practicing sooner—PA school only takes 33 months after a four year bachelor’s degree—years less than medical school. And with our Accelerated Pre-PA Emphasis (3 years+3 years), you can be practicing in just six years! (see the description below)

The best programs to prepare for PA school—Union offers several undergraduate programs that will give you great preparation to get accepted into PA school.

  • Biomedical science—A four-year bachelor of science degree focused on human health with emphasis in pre-PA studies. This degree also offers space to take classes in a supporting area like business or music and even earn another minor and still finish in four years.
  • Biomedical Science Accelerated Pre-PA Emphasis—A unique bachelor of science degree program that allows you to start the PA program after three years of undergraduate studies. You'll finish your bachelor's degree after completing of the first year in the PA Program, allowing you to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in only six years.
  • International rescue and relief—A degree which prepares you for medical work overseas or in rugged and less-than-idea conditions. You'll receive a variety of emergency medical training and spend a semester overseas learning about global health and conducting medical clinics.
  • Business—If you plan to run a practice, learning leadership, management and financial skills will prove very valuable. Plus Union's business degree with a science emphasis makes it easy for you to integrate your science courses into the program.

Need more reasons?—Explore why so many students have discovered that Union College is a great place to study. Start here

Union’s PA program has been a great fit for me because of the small class sizes and approachable teachers. I appreciate the emphasis on service and interactive learning. My undergrad program at Union challenged me to understand why and how processes work and laid a solid foundation for my transition to PA school.

Michelle Vietz
Current PA student
photo Michelle Vietz

Majors and minors

Union offers several great options that will prepare you for graduate school and give you preferred status when applying to Union's PA program (see above for descriptions).

Why PA vs. nurse practitioner or physician

Physician assistant

Be trained in a medical model and have the ability to practice medicine in any speciality. Finish graduate school and start working on medical team with physicians and other care providers in just three years.

Job outlook
27% (much faster than average)

Median pay


Manage patient care in a specific chosen specialty and oversee a care team including nurses and PAs. Typically requires an additional six to eight years of training after a bachelor's degree.

Job outlook
3% growth (average)

Median pay

Meet the team