Major in college if I want to be a Physician Assistant?

Hello! I am a high schooler who has always been wanting to pursue a career in health care and medicine. I recently found out about Physician Assistant and now that’s like my main goal. So I was just wondering about which major would help me on the journey in college. I found a few majors, but I’m not sure which would be better. There’s neurobiology, psychology, nutrition sciences, nursing science, or human biology. I’m still exploring, but those are the ones I’m most interested in doing in college.

I was hoping I could get some opinions on which major I should do, and if you have majored in one of these, what was your experience like? Will these majors still be useful in finding other careers if PA school doesn’t work out? Or just any advice on how to choose a major. That would be really helpful :slight_smile:

Any of those majors will work for potential PA applicants.

In fact, there isn’t a specific major required or expected from PA applicants.

Most accepted PA applicants have some variety of a biology major (bio, neuroscience, microbiology, biochemistry) simply because those majors include most of the most commonly required pre-reqs classes for PA school. (Intro bio, gen chem, microbiology, human anatomy, human physiology, psychology)

However, pre-reqs for PA school vary by program and you will need to investigate what coursework is required by your target programs.

Here’s list of certified PA programs and their requirements:

Besides PA, there is a huge variety of other healthcare careers that are open to you if you have some sort of bio degree.

Here’s a website that will help you explore a wide variety of other healthcare career options:

Whether these majors will be useful in finding another career should you decide not to pursue PA school—well that all depends on you and what you do to make yourself an attractive candidate for biology-related careers. You can improve your employability for any of those majors by:
• taking a statistics or biostatistics class (or even better take both!)
• taking a class or teaching yourself some basic computer coding skills (you don’t need to take a CS class, but a 1 credit class that teaches MatLab or R programming will be extremely useful)
• doing a industry based summer internship (agriculture, environmental and pharmaceutical companies hires lots of bio grads)

In general, a nursing degree (BSN) offers reliable employment.

Nutrition and neurobiology are more niche fields and offer fewer post-graduation employment options than does a plain vanilla bio degree.

Psychology degrees have less employability than any of the science/health care majors and most entry level psych jobs tend to be in HR departments of businesses, unless you plan to pursue graduate education.

(As a side discussion, I know one very successful psych major who works counseling/evaluating sex offenders in prison. She ended up in that job kind of by chance and it required her to get some additional training, but she is very good at what she does and has not problems finding jobs even she has to relocate several times to follow her partner around the country for his career.

So a degree/major is what you make of it. It’s a starting point for a career, not a defining pathway.)

My advice about choosing a major–pick something you enjoy because it’s easier to get good grades if you actually like the material you’re studying.


I just found this website that addresses your question directly–

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Okay, thank you so much! This was very helpful to me :smile:

My son is at DeSales university in Pennsylvania and they have a well respected 5 year PA program. He isn’t in the program but I have heard and read very good things about it.


Okay, thank you! I’ll go check it out :smile:

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Good info. I don’t think that Desales is the only one that does this.

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There are 42 direct entry 5 years BS/MS combined programs for people who want to be physician assistants.

The list is here: Direct Entry and Dual Degree BS/MS Pre-Physician Assistant Programs | The Physician Assistant Life


Thanks for posting that, Wayoutwestmom. Not only are those direct entry, but some of them. Like Quinnipiac and Marquette are among the best PA programs of any type in the country.

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