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The special Pre-Physician Assistant Studies track is a “3+2” program that is highly selective and requires provisional acceptance before being approved for this major. As a provisionally accepted undergraduate in the Pre-Physician Assistant Studies track in the Medical Studies program, students will have the opportunity for entry into the Lenoir-Rhyne University Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program if they have met all of the requirements and have successfully completed the required three years of the BS in Medical Studies program at Lenoir-Rhyne University, which includes the practicum and a successful interview with the Admissions Committee of the MSPAS Program. All applicants to the program must apply through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Accepted applicants enter the program in January each year. If they fail to meet the requirements or do not have a successful interview they may continue into their fourth year to complete the B.S. degree in Medical Studies.

The minimum criteria for consideration into first-year admission of the special undergraduate cohort for the “3+2” Bachelor of Science in Medical Studies are:
  • Class rank in the top third of the high school graduating class and/or a cumulative 3.3 grade point average and a 3.3 science GPA (The GPA requirement is 3.3 but the program reserves the right to accept candidates on a case by case basis who possess extraordinary qualifications)
  • No less than a “B” in math and science courses taken in high school
  • Minimum combined SAT score of 1160 (combined) for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math or equivalent ACT composite score of 24.
To maintain status in the Pre-Physician Assistant Studies track, the student:
  • Will be reviewed and evaluated annually to determine if s/he qualifies for continuation in the program;
  • Must maintain a 3.3 or better overall GPA and science GPA;
  • Must make a minimum of a “B” in all science and math courses in the medical studies curriculum. (Students should strive for a “B” or better in all courses);
  • Must maintain good academic standing as defined by the university; and
  • Must have no record of university disciplinary sanctions;
  • Pre-Physician Assistant Studies track students who do not have an appropriate background and experience in a patient care-related health science profession are required to obtain training and experience through a certificate course/program in an area such as: Phlebotomist, Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), Patient Care Technician etc. prior to entry into the MPAS Program.

At the end of the third year the students Pre-Physician Assistant Studies track go through a final review (e.g., final assessment of grades, meeting all other requirements, and interview with the Physician Assistant Studies Program Admissions Committee). If all requirements are satisfied, these students are accepted for admission into the M.S. Program, to begin in January each year. If they fail to meet the requirements, they may continue into their fourth year of the B.S. degree.

During the fall semester following the successful completion of their three-year program, Pre-Physician Assistant Studies track students complete an extensive practicum in preparation for January entry into the Physician Assistant Studies graduate degree. This practical experience is designed to prepare these select students for entry into the Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program. Students will work a minimum of 20 hours per week utilizing the skills learned in their required certification program/course of study. Additionally, the students must be able to demonstrate their exposure to a practicing Physician Assistant through their employment or obtain 50 hours of shadowing experience. Students must complete a minimum of 200 hours of volunteer work with an agency that provides health related services i.e. health fairs, health screening activities, free clinic, homeless program, prevention and health education etc. As part of this multiple hour course, students will complete assigned readings and videos, a written mid-term and final examination on the assigned materials, and an observed structured clinical evaluation (OSCE).


In addition to extensive laboratory experiences through all of the biology, chemistry, and physics courses, there are many opportunities for Medical Studies students to learn and develop skills outside of the classroom. Students may choose to participate in practicum experiences in a wide array of medical and healthcare settings. Work study opportunities are also available on campus, through which students can gain valuable experience serving as lab and/or faculty assistants. The Pre-Physician assistant Studies students will also develop strong relationships with the LR Physician Assistant Studies faculty as they prepare for transition into the graduate program in their fourth year. To facilitate this transition, LR provides a special faculty advisor in Medical Studies specifically trained to assist students making these preparations.

The School of Natural Science hosts the Steelman Lecture Series through which renowned scientists and scientific writers are invited to speak to the campus and surrounding community. Career and graduates school nights are also held annually. These events feature former students and respected professionals in the field who speak with current students, offering information and guidance about various career options.


Students graduating with the BS in Medical Studies are qualified to pursue a variety of graduate programs in medicine in addition to Physician Assistant programs. These would include (among others) medical technology, physical therapy, and other graduate programs in biology.


The Medical Studies Standard Track major earns a BS degree. The special cohort Pre-Physician Assistant Studies track satisfies the requirements for the BS in Medical studies after an adequate number of graduate hours are completed to meet the general expectations for an LR BS degree (normally following one’s first year in the Physician Assistant Studies MS program).


Medical Studies Major Requirements


Program Contact

Dr. Marsha Fanning

Professor of Biology, Chair of the School of Natural Sciences
Hickory Campus