Creating a Master Schedule
- Choose one of the following online forms (Bio 100 already taken or Bio 101/102 already taken) to tentatively organize your courses from freshman to senior year.
- Write down your pre-physician assistant courses in the semesters you want to take them. The sequence and pace is up to you as physician assistant schools don't care whether you take pre-physician assistant courses within the first two years or spread them out over all four years. Take into consideration:
- The sequence and pace that will enable you to best master the material. Note that your major may also have implications for the sequence of courses. More on that below.
- Other major time commitments (e.g. varsity sport, orchestra) that may interfere with your academic performance.
- Whether or not you want to study abroad. If so, it is best to assume that you will not take any pre-physician assistant requirements abroad. So block off either the fall or spring semester of your junior year.
- The requirements of your desired major (see #3).
3. Map out potential majors by dropping into the schedule the required courses. Refer to the College Catalogue for information on requirements and course offerings for concentrations (majors). But note: specific course offerings may vary from semester to semester so consult Web Advisor prior to each semester to confirm that a course is being offered. You may also contact the chair of the department to ask about potential changes in a department. Pay attention to:
- The number of credits/courses required. For example, a concentration in biology consists of 12.5; chemistry consists of 8; economics consists of 9.
- Specific courses that are required. For example, Neural Plasticity and Cellular Neurobiology are required courses for neuroscience; a concentration in math consists of six specific requirements plus three electives.
- When courses are offered. Many are only offered in fall (e.g. Chem 120, Biochemistry 346, Intro to Brain and Behavior) while others are only offered in the spring (e.g. Genes and Genomes, Organic Chemistry, Neural Plasticity). Note the letter F or S following the course number.
- Course pre-requisites. For example, a concentration in biochemistry/molecular biology requires either Biophysical Chemistry or Physical Chemistry for which the prerequisite courses include calculus and physics – in addition to Chem 270 for Biophysical Chemistry and either Chem 125 or 190 for Physical Chemistry. Pre-requisites are noted in the College Catalog.
- Whether a course is a “lab” course, meaning that there are three hours of lab in addition to three hours of classroom instruction.
- The senior thesis/project. Some departments require only a one-semester thesis/project; some require two; some give students the choice. A thesis in biology is two semesters but is 1.5 credits.
Mapping out potential majors alongside pre-physician assistant requirements will enable you to see what is manageable. If it results in three lab sciences in one semester, then you probably should consider other options and may need to make some difficult decisions. Think of it like a complex puzzle or problem that you have to solve. As a pre-physician assistant student, this will be just one of many!
It may help to work backwards from senior year in order to determine if prerequisite courses need to be taken.
4. Don’t forget to plan for courses that you WANT to take (outside of the sciences)! Remember what drew you to a liberal arts college in the first place.
Meet with an Academic Advisor for Course Selection
- Make an appointment with your academic advisor once you have worked to better understand the trajectory of your pre-PT requirements. Create a tentative master schedule before meeting with your advisor in order to productively discuss time commitments and course trajectory during your meeting. Your advisor can help you to identify and determine an appropriate sequence for completing your pre-PT requirements and your other educational objectives. She/he will also ensure that you are meeting other requirements for the College, such as writing-intensive classes as well as foreign language requirements for study abroad programs.