Pre-Physician Assistant

The physician assistant can choose from several disciplines of medicine in which to specialize, and as such, your major can be just as varied. Biology and Chemistry are popular choices, along with Exercise Science.

But depending on your career aim, you might decide to major in a foreign language or International Studies to take your medical skills to another country. Bear in mind that additional biology, chemistry, and statistics would be necessary additions to your plan of study if you choose a non-science major.

Be sure to discuss your post-graduate plans with your SAU advisor so that you construct a plan of study that satisfies both whatever major you choose plus prepares you for graduate school.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Excellent Academic Foundation
  • Comprehensive Education
  • One-on-One Attention and Guidance

If you are considering a career in a health-related field, SAU has a program for you. Whether you choose to pursue graduate studies or directly enter the job market, our undergraduate majors are designed to give you the skills you need to succeed.

Learn about our Master of Physician Assistant Studies program

More Information About Pre-Physician Assistant Studies


The requirements for physician assistant programs focus on the biological, chemical, and social sciences.

The course requirements for admission to physician assistant programs differ for each institution, but all programs place a strong emphasis on patient contact. In fact, programs generally require a range of 500-1,000 hours of direct patient contact. Many students obtain these hours in different ways. Examples include CNA or EMT, working in the field, interning, or volunteering in a variety of patient settings.

Many of the physician assistant programs in the Midwest region require:

• General Biology + lab (BIOL 199, 200)
• One year General Chemistry + lab (CHEM 105, 106)
• One semester Organic Chemistry + lab (CHEM 207, 209)
• One year Human Anatomy & Physiology (BIOL 230, 232)
• Biochemistry + lab (CHEM 319)
• Microbiology + lab (BIOL 251)
• Statistics/Biostatistics (STAT 213)
• One year English (ENGL 101 + ENGL elective)
• Public Speaking (COMM 129)
• Intro to Psychology (PSYC 105)
• Lifespan or Developmental Psychology (PSYC 212)
• Abnormal Psychology (PSYC 324)
• Medical Terminology (HS 250)

Individual physician assistant programs may have additional requirements. Read the requirements and prerequisites needed to apply for admission to the SAU MPAS program

The entrance exam for physician assistant school is the GRE General Test. This exam includes questions related to verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.

The GRE should be completed by CASPA submission date or CASPA deadline depending on the program.

What will I learn?

At SAU, we know what kind of educational foundation students need to get accepted into PA school, because we offer a Master of Physician Assistant Studies program.

Most PA programs require a variety undergraduate coursework, including anatomy & physiology, psychology, and medical terminology. Biology, Chemistry, and Exercise Science majors will take many of the required classes while earning their undergraduate degree. Non-science majors will likely have to pick up a few classes, but we make that easier by offering a list of summer courses, as well as some winterim courses, too. Your advisor can help craft a plan of study that is right for you.

We recommend you get some hands-on experience in a health-related profession, and our Career Center can help find an internship that is right for you. There are several major hospitals and healthcare providers in the area, giving you many options to explore.

St. Ambrose is a university rooted in the Liberal Arts. That means we focus on academia and we focus on you. We encourage inquiry, discussion, diversity, and critical thinking. We also give you opportunities to contribute to the community. You can lead an on-campus organization or volunteer to help build homes, mentor youth, etc.

SAU provides you with a high quality and comprehensive education experience.

Scholarships and Grants


St. Ambrose offers excellent scholarships and grants, work-study and other financial aid options! Full-time students may be eligible based on your strong academic performance in college, your talent in fine arts or athletics or your demonstrated financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The SAU school code for the FAFSA is 001889.

First-Year Scholarships and Institutional Aid 2024-2025

Merit-Based Scholarships

4.0 GPA: $24,000
3.75-3.99 GPA: $22,000
3.0-3.749 GPA: $20,000
2.5-2.99 GPA: $18,000
2.0-2.49 GPA: $14,000
If GPA is 2.0-2.49, additional documents and review required for admission.

Merit-Based Scholarships

4.o GPA: $17,000
3.75-3.99 GPA: $16,000
3.0-3.749 GPA: $15,000
2.5-2.99 GPA: $14,000
2.0-2.49 GPA: $13,000
If GPA is 2.0-2.49, additional documents and review required for admission.


Ambrose Advantage Full-Tuition Scholarship
Pell-eligible Iowa residents, learn more here

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarship: $500 per year
Parent is a St. Ambrose graduate

Catholic Traditions Scholarship: $1,000 per year
Students with Catholic religious denomination or plans to graduate from Catholic high school 

Minority Scholarship: $500 per year
Ethnically diverse student

Athletic Scholarships: varies
Performance and ability

Fine Arts Scholarships: varies
Performance and ability in music, art and theatre

Faith Learning Justice Campus Ministry Scholarships: $2,000 per year
Recognition of involvement in church and community service and interest in strengthening faith and growing as a leader in campus ministry

Scholarships are determined by unweighted GPA, and are renewable for four years of undergraduate student. Increases in scholarship awards due to change in GPA will be reviewed until March 1.

State and Federal Grants, Work Study

Grants are money that you don't repay, and they can come from government or private sources. SAU receives all financial aid funds directly - including loans and grants - then applies them to your account: once in the fall term and once in the spring term. Grants can be used to cover your tuition, books, and housing costs. You must apply for grants each academic year. If you have any loan funds in excess of your costs, you may receive a refund. If you are a first-time borrower, there is a 30-day hold on your first disbursement. For all of these grants, you must complete the Free Application Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as it is available.

Iowa Tuition Grant
To be eligible for the Iowa Tuition Grant, you must be a resident of Iowa as defined by the State Board of Regents and currently enrolled or planning to enroll in an undergraduate degree program at an eligible Iowa college or university (SAU is eligible). Iowa College Aid administers need-based college financial aid for Iowans, such as the Iowa Tuition Grant.
Award: $7,500 maximum

Federal Pell Grant
Awarded to students of the highest need based on how much your family can contribute to your education. The U.S. Department of Education sets a threshold. Then, when you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it computes where you land within that threshold and determines if you qualify for the grant and for how much.
Award: $6,895 maximum

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
You must file a FAFSA to qualify for a Pell Grant. This grant is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students who have submitted all required documents for review and in time for the review to be complete. If you are eligible for a Pell Grant or SEOG, the awards will appear on your financial aid award letter.
Award: $400 maximum

Federal Work Study
Must secure campus employment.
Award: $2,560

Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant 
Provides aid to students intending to teach in a high-need field at a school that serves low-income families (as determined by the U.S. Department of Education or a state education agency). Review criteria and all details here.
Award: up to $4,000

Outside Scholarships

There are many opportunities to receive scholarships from outside sources, here are a few websites to begin researching your options:

Another tip: Next time you're on campus, check out the bulletin board outside Student Financial Services where we post more flyers and applications for outside scholarships.

Apply Visit Info


Admissions Office
310 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

Angie King

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