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Overview

Physician Assistants (PAs) are valuable members of a multidisciplinary healthcare team. The profession was established in 1965 to help physicians provide healthcare services to under-served and rural  populations. While the profession remains committed to its historical mission, PAs are now employed in  almost all medical and surgical specialties.
PAs are healthcare professionals licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician.  Individual state practice laws and hospital bylaws define the scope of practice and prescribing authority of  physician assistants. In general, most states authorize PAs to prescribe non-controlled substances and  perform any task delegated by a supervising physician.
To be eligible for licensure, PAs must graduate from an accredited physician assistant program and pass the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE). To maintain licensure, PAs must complete 100 hours of continuing medical education credits every two years and pass the Physician Assistant National Recertification Examination (PANRE) every six years.

1. Duke University

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The Physician Assistant (PA) profession originated at Duke, located in Durham, North Carolina, in the mid 1960s. Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr., then Chairman of the Department of Medicine, believed that mid-level practitioners could increase consumer access to health services by extending the time and skills of the physician. To meet the growing need for PAs, Duke University PA Program is a participant in CASPA (Centralized Application Service for PAs). To apply to their program, applicants must complete a CASPA application and a Duke supplemental application. Admission to the Duke PA Program is very competitive. For the PA class entering in 2015, 1889 CASPA applications were received. Two hundred and forty applicants were interviewed. Ninety applicants accepted the offer of admission for the Fall 2015 entering class.

This is a master’s degree program; a baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by the Commission on Colleges of a Regional Accrediting Organization is required. Their PA program requires eight prerequisite courses-all of which must be completed with grades of “C” or better. The first 12 months of the program are devoted to preclinical studies, and the remaining 12 months to clinical experiences in primary care and the medical and surgical specialties. During the second year of the PA Program, students complete 10 rotations. These clinical experiences are composed of eight required and two elective rotations, and a final senior seminar course. At least one of these rotations is required to take place in a medically underserved area. Their accredited program boasts that 95 % of graduates will be employed within six months of graduation.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $38,857 per year

2. University of Iowa

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Since 1974, The University of Iowa PA graduates have enjoyed outstanding achievement on the National Certifying Examination for Physician Assistants (PANCE), consistently performing among the top 5-10% of all programs in the country each year. Throughout the University of Iowa’s Physician Assistant Program history, students have been heavily integrated into the Carver College of Medicine’s medical education, taking courses and being graded on the same scale as second year medical students. Over the past seven years, the PA Program has received on average 18 applicants for every seat available. Each year, approximately 110 applicants were interviewed for the 25 seats available.

After completion of the 28-month program, the PA will be able to perform tasks of health care management presently performed by the primary care physician, thereby allowing the physician greater freedom and time for more complicated medical problems.  Since 1974 the graduates of The University of Iowa have enjoyed a first-time pass rate of greater than 99.99% compared to the national average of 85% during this same time period. No graduates have failed the exam since 1996. For the most recent performance reports of PA graduates, the University of Iowa PA Class of 2014 achieved a 100% pass rate compared to the national pass rate of 95%.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $13,862 (Iowa residents); $29,146 (non-residents)

3. Emory University

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Dr. J. Willis Hurst, who began teaching at Emory University in 1950, was the founder of the Emory PA Program. In 1957, he was named Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine. Over his 30 yar tenure at the school, Dr. Hurst established the post-graduate program of continuing education; originated the Physician Assistant program; created a cardiac catheterization laboratory on the Emory campus; and increased the length of the cardiology training program, among other achievements. In the late 1990’s, Dr. Hurst wrote and published The Quest for Excellence: The History of the Department of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, 1834-1986. Dr. Hurst also continues as Consultant to the Division of Cardiology of Emory University. Today, this acclaimed school is highly selective in their admissions: for the class of 2017, 1247 applied, 54 were accepted into the PA program.

Emory is one of a few universities offering a dual MMSc-PA and Masters in Public Health (MPH) option for interested applicants. The dual degree program offers students the opportunity to earn an MPH degree in conjunction with training in the respected and top ranked Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. The Emory University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program is a dynamic program emphasizing active learning centered on the  six competencies defined by the profession.  This 29 month-long program uses a fully integrated curriculum stresses evidence based medicine decision making, and the provision of health care to all individual while sensitive to the social determinants of health and wellness. Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree (3.0 cumulative & science GPA) from a regionally accredited institution.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $41,400 per year

4. George Washington University

Exploration Hall on The George Washington University's Virginia Science and Technology campus. Circa 1992.

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The George Washington University Hospital, located in Washington, D.C., began to employ a number of ex-military corpsmen with independent duty experience in 1969. They worked in the emergency room, under the direction of a physician. They sutured minor injuries, helped apply and remove casts, administered medications, drew blood, started intravenous fluids, took electrocardiograms, and performed simple lab tests. The GW Physician Assistant Program, established in September 1972, was built on this successful experience and was among the first in the nation in an academic medical center. With an average of 900 plus applications annually, their review process is focused on assessing an applicant’s depth and breadth of science preparation, the quantity of their previous direct patient and related healthcare experiences.

Housed within the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences and tied closely with the Milken Institute School of Public Health, the Department of Physician Assistant Studies builds strong primary care and public health foundations among its students. We offer two graduate level programs: the traditional 2 year program leading to a Master of Science in Health Sciences degree (MSHS) and the 3 year joint program leading to both an MSHS and a Master of Public Health degree (MPH). Applicants to the joint PA/MPH program must meet admission requirements for both the MSHS and MPH programs. During the clinical phase of the PA’s education, there are seven core rotations and one elective. The core rotations include inpatient medicine, primary care, surgery, pediatrics, emergency medicine, women’s health, and behavior medicine. Rotations are six weeks in length.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $41,820 ( 3 terms 1st yr); $27,880 (2 terms 2nd yr)

5. Oregon Health and Science University

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The university campus is located in beautiful Portland, Oregon. As Oregon’s only public academic health center, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) is devoted to health sciences education, patient care, research and outreach services. OHSU’s educational programs are included in the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Nursing. The PA Program was established in 1995 with the mission of preparing physician assistants to provide primary care services to medically underserved communities. The Program graduated its first class in September, 1997.  In the spring of 2001, the PA Program became a free-standing Division within the School of Medicine. The OHSU PA Program is a 26-month, full-time course of study leading to a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree. A class of 42 students is accepted each year with classes starting in June. The didactic phase of the Program is 12 months; the clinical phase lasts 14 months. The OHSU PA Program ranks 5th among graduate level physician assistant programs in the nation in the 2015 U.S. News & World Report.

The curriculum has been designed with an emphasis on primary care. To achieve this goal, the program uses the Competencies for the PA Profession, the content blueprint for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). To be considered for admission to the OHSU PA Program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, specific prerequisites,  general test for the Graduate record Exam (GRE), and health care experience. A minimum of 2,000 hours (accumulated as of the September 1 deadline) of health care experience in a position of responsibility is expected of all applicants. This master’s level degree curriculum is comprised of the Academic Year, Clinical Year, Community Outreach Project, and Rural Track (elective). OHSU and the PA program require all entering students to be current with required immunizations prior to matriculation.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $8,883 per Qtr; $79,947 (total program 9 Qtrs.)

6. Quinnipiac University

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Quinnipiac University began as a small college in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1929. In the early 1960s, Quinnipiac purchased land across from Sleeping Giant State Park, which is now the Mount Carmel Campus. Quinnipiac transitioned from a college to a university in 2000, and has since grown into a national university with eight schools and colleges and two additional campuses. The Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, located on their North Haven, Connecticut, campus, is home to the School of Health Sciences, Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, School of Law, School of Nursing and the School of Education. Quinnipiac’s physician assistant program leads to a Master of Health Science (MHS) degree and provides the clinical and academic preparation needed for the diverse responsibilities undertaken by physician assistants.

Quinnipiac’s 27-month program provides intensive course work in biology and the applied sciences and involves students in an extensive network of fieldwork experiences – including in hospitals, medical centers, extended-care facilities and nursing homes. The average applicant enters the program with a 3.4 cumulative and science GPA, and over two years of strong health care experience. The Physician Assistant Certificate/Master of Health Science degree signifies that the holder is prepared for entry into the practice of medicine.  It follows that the graduate must have the knowledge, skills and abilities to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. All students entering the Physician Assistant Program must be in good health and free of communicable disease.  Prior to entering the program, the student must show proof of meeting the school’s health requirements.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $24,840 (spring/summer period); $31,280 (summer/fall); $16,560 (fall/spring)

7. University of Colorado

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The Physician Assistant program at the University of Colorado (CU) School of Medicine, in Aurora, is a graduate level program awarding a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) upon completion.  The 36-month, full time curriculum provides comprehensive physician assistant education in primary care across the lifespan, with expanded training in pediatrics and care of the medically underserved. One class of 44 students is enrolled in the summer semester each year through a competitive admissions process. The Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant (CHA/PA) Program offers students the opportunity to participate in tracks to help personalize and extend learning beyond the standard curriculum. These tracks include exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary education:

  • Rural Track- designed to prepare students who wish to practice medicine in rural areas, especially in Colorado and Wyoming
  • Global Track- an official interdisciplinary track in the School of Medicine that is committed to equipping PA and MD students with public health skills
  • Urban/Underserved Track-  is committed to serving the uninsured and those with limited access to health care in urban areas (limit 4 students)
  • Pediatric Critical and Acute Care- critical care physicians and physician assistants at Children’s Hospital Colorado directly precept students over three years, teaching them skills in acute pediatric care (limit 4 students)
  • LEADS (Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Development, and Scholarship)- provide future healthcare professionals with the vision and skills to be leaders and advocates for patients and their needs

Applicants with GPAs of less than 2.8 for either the cumulative or science GPA will not be considered. A Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution is also required to be completed prior to matriculation to the program.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $47,838 (3 yr program for Colorado residents); $103,582 (3 yr non-residents)

8. University of Texas-Southwestern

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Established in 1972, the Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program, at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, is a full-time, post-baccalaureate program that begins once a year in May and ends 30 months later in November. The curriculum is a powerful blend of academic learning and hands-on clinical training. Students begin with four semesters of lecture and bedside demonstration in medical and behavioral sciences. This foundational coursework is followed by four semesters of clinical rotations in a wide range of disciplines and settings. The hub of your training is Parkland Memorial Hospital, a high-energy, 990-bed county facility that admits nearly 41,000 patients a year and delivers more babies than any other hospital in the nation. Parkland has earned a place on U.S. News and World Report’s list of America’s Best Hospitals for more than a decade.

In the first semester, students concentrate on basic sciences and professional practice issues. In the fall semester, the emphasis shifts to basic patient evaluation skills balanced with disease process identification, pharmacology, and pathology. In the following spring and summer semesters, students continue these studies and add clinical prevention, population health, evidence-based medicine, and psychiatry. After successfully completing your course work, students participate in 59 weeks of clinical rotations that will expose them to the entire range of medical practice. Graduates will be qualified to sit for the the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE)-UT Southwestern’s most recent first-time five year PANCE pass rate is 100 percent.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $33,682 (total 30 month program Texas residents); $74,227 (total non-residents): includes fees and books

9. Baylor University

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Impetus for the establishment of a Physician Assistant Program at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas, arose from several sources. The College’s new Ten-Point Expansion Plan for the ’70s called for establishment of a Center for Allied Health Manpower Development that would assist in the preparation of individuals to help physicians address the unmet need for medical care in Texas. The PA Certificate Program began in the fall of 1971 and it received initial accreditation from the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation in 1973. In 1988, faculty within the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Community Medicine proposed that a Master of Science degree curriculum for PA education be established within the Graduate School of the College. Baylor College of Medicine programs are consistently rank among the top in the nation.

Located in the largest medical center in the world, Baylor College of Medicine is one of the nation’s leading health science centers. The College of Medicine was the first institution in Texas and the fourth in the nation to grant a Master of Science degree upon completion of a PA program. The 30-month Master of Science Physician Assistant Program offered by Baylor College of Medicine consists of a 13-month didactic phase and a 17-month experiential learning phase inclusive of a Master’s Paper research project. The program offers a didactic curriculum comprised of basic science, behavioral and pre-clerkship sciences of medicine along with clinical and critical thinking/problem solving skills that provides the foundation required for entry to the clinical year of the program.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $18,536 (1st & 2nd yr.); $9,268 (3rd yr.)

10. University of Washington

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MEDEX Northwest, founded in 1967, offers the Physician Assistant Program at the University of Washington School of Medicine, located in Seattle; it offers a Master or Bachelor of Clinical Health Services degree (MCHS or BCHS). All students who complete the program successfully also earn a Certificate of Completion, which qualifies them to take the national certification examination. All master’s-level students will participate in the core MEDEX PA curriculum, which focuses on primary care and improving healthcare access for the medically underserved. Specific graduate-level assignments and activities will be woven throughout the regular PA curriculum.  Students in both Seattle and Spokane who have selected the master’s option will participate in additional master’s-only coursework and complete a capstone project.

MEDEX Northwest has taken a competency-based approach to their PA curriculum design since it opened in 1969.  The two primary components of the curriculum are the classroom (known as didactic) phase and the clinical phase.  Each section spans approximately one year, and master’s-level students have an additional quarter of material preparing them for advanced clinical and leadership roles. The didactic year begins with basic science review, reinforcing concepts about the fundamental building blocks that underlie the practice of medicine.  The curriculum throughout the year integrates material across courses using an organ system approach. The centerpiece of the clinical phase of training is the four-month primary care preceptorship.  This is most often completed in a family practice setting, or students may work with general internal medicine physicians and PAs.  There are also six shorter one-month rotations, called clerkships, which are intended to expose future primary care clinicians to specialty practice.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $71,710 (MCHS total: 9 qtrs.); $59,509 (total BCHS)

11. University of Nebraska

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The Legislative Act of February 15, 1869, provided for the formation of the University of Nebraska, and included provision for a college of medicine. In 1883, the University of Nebraska College of Medicine (UNMC) was established at Lincoln. The College of Medicine is a  component of the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), one of the four major campuses of the University of Nebraska System. The Physician Assistant baccalaureate degree program was also established in 1973 and was replaced in 1993 by the Master of Physician Assistant Studies. Today, Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree is offered by UNMC at Omaha and Kearney (UNK) campuses. There is also a MPAS Degree Advanced Option for current PAs seeking further education. In addition, the Medical Center has a dual degree MPAS/MPH (Masters in Public Health) for PAs.

The MPAS program requires 28 continuous months of instruction divided into two phases:

  • Phase I, the Didactic Phase, consists of 13 months of basic medical sciences, pre-clinical sciences and professional studies course work. The basic medical and pre-clinical science courses introduce students to the fundamentals of scientific and clinical medicine.
  • Phase II, the Clinical Education phase, consists of 10 months of required clerkships and 5 months of Elective clerkships. The required clerkships are in specific areas of clinical medicine, designed to provide a broad foundation for primary care clinical practice. Elective clerkships may be selected from specialty or primary care areas.

Clerkships are scheduled after mutual collaboration and agreement between the student and the Clinical Coordinator. Assignments to clerkship sites are made after careful consideration of the individual student’s educational needs, site availability and the program’s goal for clinical education.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $16,530 (yr. 1-residents); $10,440 (yr. 2); $4,640 (yr. 3/fall only); Non-residents: $47,296, $29,871, $13,276 (respectively)

12. Stony Brook University

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Stony Brook University was among the first universities to offer a physician assistant education in New York State and, indeed, the nation. Housed in the School of Health Technology and Management (then called the School of Allied Health Professions) the first class of Stony Brook physician assistant students entered the program in 1971.  In 1975, the program began granting a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree and now the terminal degree upon graduation is a Master of Science (MS) degree. Today’s applicants come to our program from a variety of academic and experiential backgrounds characterized by strong preparation in the basic sciences. A bachelor’s degree is required prior to matriculation.

 The preclinical phase of instruction consists of intensive basic, behavioral, and clinical science coursework. Emphasis is placed on insuring that students have mastered the foundation knowledge necessary to manage patients in the clinical phase of the program and as practicing PAs. The clinical phase of instruction is designed to allow students to integrate and apply information presented in the first year. The emphasis in all rotations is the evaluation and management of patient problems likely to occur in the primary care setting. These rotations occur at major teaching institutions, long term care facilities, private practices, and clinics in the region familiar with the PA role. Each inpatient clerkship lasts 4-5 weeks in various specialties, such as: Emergency Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Geriatrics, and Orthopedics. Prior to the clinical phase, there are Masters Projects designed to foster a sense of clinical inquiry and carry the process of gathering and presenting evidence-based knowledge.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $6,430 (Spring 2016 semester New York state residents); $14,405 (non-residents)

13. Wake Forest University

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The Wake Forest School of Medicine, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, physician assistant program has a unique history of curricular innovation in medical education. From its beginning in 1969, it has featured inquiry-based, small-group, self-directed learning centered around real patient medical problems. It remains one of the few programs in the country with an educational experience focused on adult and applied learning principles. Their patient-centered approach immerses students in real-life cases and fosters their clinical problem-solving abilities.

The Wake Forest PA Program curriculum is centered around inquiry-based, small-group, self-directed learning based on real patient medical problems. In inquiry-based learning (IBL), learners are progressively given more and more responsibility for their own education and become increasingly independent of the teacher for their education. The Masters Curriculum begins with The Fundamentals of Basic Science course- an intensive four-week human anatomy and physiology block presented at the beginning of the Preclinical Year. The following courses are:

  • Clinical Reasoning and Inquiry-based Learning (IBL)- a five-part course that spans the Preclinical Year
  • Being a PA-  a five-part course that introduces professional practice issues
  • Clinical and Diagnostic Skills- a four-course sequence consisting of the appropriate use and interpretation of clinical testing
  • Foundations of Medicine and Surgery- a four-part course that spans the Preclinical Year
  • Patient Care-  a four-part series that provides foundational knowledge and introduces practical skills
  • Pharmacology and Therapeutics-  four-course series affords knowledge of the application of pharmacologic agents
  • The Graduate Project-  a two-part course in which students work with the course director and a faculty mentor to formulate a relevant topic

These are followed by the Clinical Year: core rotations through different specialties.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $37,323 (1st & 2nd yr.)

14. Shenandoah University

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Located in Winchester, Virginia, Shenandoah University (SU), established in 1875,  is a private, nationally recognized applied liberal arts university with approximately 4,000 students across more than 90 programs in seven schools. The SU Physician Assistant Program is a graduate entry-level professional course of study enabling individuals who hold baccalaureate degrees to become PAs. The program is designed to prepare graduates for primary-care practice with emphasis on service to medically underserved populations and the team approach to the delivery of health care. An applicant with an undergraduate cumulative grade point average (GPA) or biology, chemistry, and physics (BCP) GPA less than 3.0 but greater than 2.80, and who has completed a minimum of 15 semester hours of relevant graduate work with a 3.0 or better GPA may be admitted with conditional status.

The Physician Assistant (PA) Program is an accredited, eight-semester, 30-month program leading to a Master of Science in Physician Assistant studies.  Students will learn on the campus of the Winchester Medical Center, a 445-bed regional referral hospital, which is part of Valley Health System. The program offers clinical rotations in medically underserved communities, and hands-on experience in full-dissection cadaver anatomy. Students can further enhance their learning with elective course opportunities in Care of Vulnerable Populations, Chronic Care and Communication (e.g. Medical Spanish). The didactic curriculum offers multiple modalities for learning, which include self-directed study, recitation, lecture, integrated clinical cases and laboratory experiences.  Learning is accomplished through independent study and preparation, lecture and discussions, small-group case-based exercises, and practical application. Interprofessional learning opportunities are integrated throughout the curriculum.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $830 per credit hour or $71,380 (entire program)

15. Drexel University

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Founded in 1891 in Philadelphia by Philadelphia financier, Anthony J. Drexel, Drexel University now engages with students and communities around the world. It is one of Philadelphia’s top 10 private employers, and a major engine for economic development in the region. In 2002, MCP Hahnemann University — a major Philadelphia health sciences institution — became the Drexel University College of Medicine, College of Nursing and Health Professions, and Dornsife School of Public Health. The Drexel University Physician Assistant Program provides graduates with a Master of Health Science degree. Students are also awarded a certificate of completion after successful completion of the program, which enables them to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).

A student will normally complete the program within nine (9) consecutive quarters if attending full time or thirteen (13) consecutive quarters as a part time student. During the didactic (primarily classroom) phase of the curriculum, most classes will be scheduled during the daytime hours. Students will be assigned to established clinical training sites provided by the DUPAP for rotations and clinical practica. At least one clinical practicum site will be in an area providing health care services to underserved populations. The program emphasizes rural and inner city sites in medically underserved areas of Pennsylvania and, preferably, where housing is available for students, but the provision of housing by the PA Program or the clinical site cannot be guaranteed. PA Program accreditation requires that every student must be certified by a licensed health care provider to be free of known health conditions.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $10,540 per semester

16. University of Alabama

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The University of Alabama (UAB) is situated near downtown Birmingham and the historic Five Points South district. The campus stretches across 95 square blocks and occupies more than 100 primary buildings. UAB is Alabama’s largest single-site employer, with more than 23,000 employees and an economic impact exceeding $5 billion annually on the state. Their Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) is the #16 graduate program in the 2015 U.S. News & World Report rankings. This program is administered within the UAB School of Health Professions which offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs sponsored by five academic departments – Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences, Health Services Administration, Nutrition Sciences, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy.

The didactic component of the PA program consists of courses in human gross anatomy, medical physiology and pathology. There are medical and surgical courses in clinical medicine, surgical diseases, pharmacology, laboratory medicine, history and physical examination, electrocardiography and simulations laboratories. The clinical year consists of 7 core rotations and 5 elective rotations. The five elective rotations are in Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, and Intensive Care Units. The clinical education sites are primarily located throughout the state of Alabama at numerous medical centers and hospitals. All applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally-accredited college/university with a minimum cumulative grade point of at least 3.0. In addition, admission requirements entail a medical clearance, consent to drug testing, and undergo a criminal background check.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $716 (1st credit hour; $493 subsequent: Alabama residents); $1,380; $1,157 respectively (non-residents)

17. Midwestern University-Arizona

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Founded in 1900 as the American College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery by J. Martin Littlejohn, Ph.D., D.O., M.D. (1865-1947), the organization was incorporated in Chicago, Illinois, to train physicians in a not-for-profit environment. Midwestern University has grown into an independent, not-for-profit corporation organized primarily to provide graduate and postgraduate education in the health sciences. The Downers Grove, Illinois Campus was purchased in 1986, and the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine moved from its prior home in Hyde Park, Illinois, to this western suburb. The Glendale, Arizona Campus was founded in 1995 with the the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine beginning in 1995, the College of Health Sciences in 1996, and the College of Pharmacy–Glendale in 1998.

The professional curriculum leads to a Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies (M.M.S.). This full-time 27-month professional program offers students the opportunity to earn a graduate degree and satisfy the eligibility requirements for the PA national certifying examination. The didactic coursework includes basic medical science coursework in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics, and microbiology. It also includes clinical preparatory coursework in clinical medicine, pediatrics, behavioral medicine, psychiatry, women’s health, and emergency medicine and surgical principles. During the remaining 13.5 months, students rotate through seven required core clinical rotations and two elective rotations. The second-year clinical program is delivered at affiliated clinical sites and facilities. Students are required to complete a minimum of one clinical rotation in a rural/medically-underserved community.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $44,014 (yr. 1 & 2); $11,404 (yr. 3)

18. Midwestern University-Illinois

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Located in Downers Grove, Illinois, this campus also offers the Master of Medical Science (M.M.S.) in Physician Assistant Studies- a continuous, full-time program extending 27 months from matriculation to graduation. The didactic coursework includes 12 months of basic science coursework in anatomy, biochemistry, neuroscience, physiology, pharmacology, immunology, genetics, and microbiology. It also includes clinical coursework in clinical medicine, behavioral medicine, professional issues, and interpretation of the medical literature. During the remaining 15 months, students are required to rotate through eight core clinical rotations and two elective clinical rotations, in addition to completing advanced clinical medicine courses and a capstone project.

The second-year clinical program is primarily delivered at affiliated clinical sites and facilities within the Chicago metropolitan area. Sites include ambulatory practice settings, small and large office-based group practices, community health centers, in-patient settings involving large and small hospitals as well as federal and state facilities. These sites are in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Students are expected to secure their own housing for local and elective rotations, and must provide their own transportation to all core and elective clinical rotations regardless of location. The rigorous didactic and clinical curriculum has prepared the students for success in the PANCE as evidenced by 98% of the 2014 PA Program graduates passing the PANCE as first time test takers (national average 95%).

Accreditation and Tuition: same as Glendale campus

19. Yale University

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The Yale PA Program was developed in 1970 under the auspices of the Trauma Program of the Department of Surgery and accepted its first class of five students in 1971. The founders of the PA Program, Jack Cole, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery, and Alfred Sadler, M.D., created the first PA Program in the United States with emergency medicine and surgery emphases. By the mid-1980’s, the program was training students as generalist PAs, preparing them for practice in diverse areas of medicine. The Yale Corporation approved the awarding of a Masters of Medical Science degree (MMSc) to be first conferred to the Yale PA Program’s Class of 1999.

 The curriculum begins with the twelve-month didactic phase that is designed to introduce students to concepts of basic and clinical sciences, principles of human behavior and research methodology. Also, throughout the entire first year, the curriculum consists of the Introduction to Research course which exposes students to the principles of research methodology and biostatistics early in their training. These principles are engaged during the clinical medicine courses as well as the journal clubs. During the clinical phase, students complete 14 four-week rotations (10 mandatory and 4 elective) as well as 2 four-week “rotations” of research. All 14 of the clinical clerkships expose students to a broad range of medical and surgical care. Students may choose to broaden their experience by selecting four elective rotations in a wide range of medical and surgical subspecialties.
Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $37,440 (yrs 1 & 2-12 months each); $12,450 (yr. 3-4 months)

20. University of Texas-San Antonio

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Founded by the 61st Texas Legislature on June 5, 1969, UTSA was commissioned as a university of the first class. Today, UTSA offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees through nine colleges and The Graduate School. In 2015, the university celebrated its 46th anniversary. Their Master of Physician Assistant Studies program is offered through its affiliated University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC), located in the heart of San Antonio’s prestigious medical center complex. All PA applicants must have completed a bachelor degree from a U.S. college/university by May of the year of entry and complete all the prerequisite coursework.

The University of Texas Health Science Center’s Master of Physician Assistant (MPAS) program is limited to a class size of 45 students. Course work in the basic sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities all contribute to becoming a well-rounded applicant, and each has relevance to the practice as a physician assistant. Therefore, students should seek a broad education during their undergraduate years. For a first time college student, the time required to earn a MPAS is typically six years: four years earning a bachelors degree (and required pre-requisites) and two years in physician assistant school. During the program, students transition from lectures and laboratories to working within the clinical setting. The clinical training is composed of 15 one-month exposures: three in primary care, five specialty rotations (ex. surgery), two electives, one selective by faculty, and one quality improvement project rotation. The student will also complete one four-month career-focused rotation.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: In-state: $17,996 (yr. 1); $12,360 (yr. 2); $4,549 (yr. 3); Out-of-state: $38,560; $25,707; $9,348 (respectively)

21. Rosalind Franklin University

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Formed in 1912 as the Chicago Hospital-College of Medicine, today Rosalind Franklin University (RFU) brings together five colleges and over 30 graduate health profession and science programs. The range of disciplines being taught on a single campus allows for team-based, interdisciplinary learning and practice opportunities—an approach that has made RFU a national leader in medical and healthcare education and research. The school’s 24-month Master of Science in Physician Assistant Practice program is available full-time only. Since its inception in 1991, more than 1,000 students have graduated from the Physician Assistant Program at RFU. All applicants must have completed the prerequisite courses as well as have earned a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education prior to matriculation into the program.

The first 12 months of the RFU of Medicine and Science consists of didactic course work. The second 12 months entails attending clinical rotations in Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, Women’s Health, Emergency Medicine, and two electives. Interprofessional Teams and Culture in Health Care is an experiential learning opportunity for students to interact in inter-professional health care teams which extends through the fall and winter of the first year. This interactive course is intended to help prepare the health care professional student to provide effective patient-centered health care through small group discussion and problem solving activities. During the clinical phase, students will be expected to travel to several clerkships at locations distant from the school. Each clerkship is six weeks in length.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $34,824 annually

22. Duquesne University

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Duquesne University was founded on Oct. 1, 1878, as Pittsburgh Catholic College by the Rev. Joseph Strub and the Congregation of the Holy Ghost. The College’s 40 students and six faculty members held classes in rented space above a bakery on Wylie Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. On May 27, 1911, the name was changed to Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost. Today, the school offers a unique five-year Physician Assistant Program. With over half of the PA programs in the country currently award a Master’s degree, only a few offer an “entry level” Masters program.  Other programs that offer a Master’s degree traditionally require 2 or more years after completion of a 4 year undergraduate program — a total of 6 years (or more) of higher education in comparison to 5 years with the Duquesne University program.

“Entry level” students come into Duquesne University as freshmen, complete the five year curriculum, and earn both a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree and a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree. The rigorous 3-year pre-professional curriculum is comprised of core curriculum requirements and pre-requisites for the accredited phase. This phase consists of a total of 91 credits. During the fall semester of the fourth year, students begin the clinical phase of the program, remaining in the didactic format. In the fall of the fifth year, students commence Clinical Externships. 

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $38,929 (yrs. 1-4); plus $15,548 (3rd yr. summer semester); plus $51,414 (Graduate level)

23. Eastern Virginia University

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Eastern Virginia Medical School commonly referred to as EVMS, in Norfolk, Virginia, United States is a public-private medical school founded by grassroots efforts in the southeastern part of Virginia known as Hampton Roads. Unlike the other public medical schools in Virginia, EVMS is not affiliated with an undergraduate institution and coordinates training through multiple medical centers in the Hampton Roads region. In 1970 fundraising by the EVMS foundation began the collection of funds for the creation of EVMS. Before acceptance of its first class, more than $17 million had been donated from community and business leaders. In 1973, Eastern Virginia Medical School accepted its first class.

The Master of Physician Assistant (MPA) Program at Eastern Virginia Medical School utilizes innovative instructional methods in conjunction with the medical school’s diverse resources to provide students with outstanding educational opportunities. The PA Program is divided into two phases, spanning 28 consecutive months over seven semesters.

Phase I, the 16-month pre-clinical year, spans four consecutive semesters (68 credit hours) and incorporates traditional classroom interaction with clinical skills development and simulated patient interaction through the Sentara Center for Simulation and Immersive Learning.

In Phase II (26 credit hours), students complete 8 clinical field experiences with supervised, direct patient care in various medical and surgical disciplines, which form the basis of the professional socialization process and adaptation to the role and functions of a physician assistant. Semesters five, six and seven are called the Clinical Year with each semester lasting approximately 4 months. Integrated into the Clinical Year are clinical electives: Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Medicine, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology (Adult & Pediatric sites), Neonatology, Nephrology, Neurology (Adult & Pediatric sites), Orthopedics, Plastic Surgery, and Trauma Surgery. The elective is one six-week or two three-week electives.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $10,409 (in-state); $11,946 (out-of-state): per semester

24. Seton Hall University

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From its founding in 1856 as Seton Hall College to the present day, Seton Hall has been dedicated to supporting the vision that its founder, Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, described as providing “a home for the mind, the heart, and the spirit.” The School of Health and Medical Sciences, established as the School of Graduate Medical Education in 1987 in South Orange, New Jersey, is a professional school within the Seton Hall University (SHU) structure.  In 2008, the school was renamed The School of Health and Medical Sciences.

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant (M.S.P.A.) program is a 96-credit, three-year professional program includes courses specific to physician assistant practice that are intended not only to provide students with the technical skills necessary to perform as certified practitioners. Clinical rotations are a distinguishing feature of the SHU PA program. While most PA programs offer 38-50 weeks of clinical exposure, the SHMS program provides 60 weeks of varied clinical experiences. Students receive hands-on experiences with patients in their first semester of study. In the first year, students obtain patient histories, perform physical exams and partake in patient observation. Intensive core clinical experiences begin in the first semester of the second year of study and continue into the third and final year of the program. These rotations, in addition to a 4-week elective rotation, involve all the major specialties, for example, Pediatrics, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Psychiatry, and Critical Care.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $1,135 per credit hour

25. St. Louis University

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Getting its start in 1929, the Doisy College of Health Sciences has provided students with the tools and education to become well prepared healthcare professionals. The Edward and Margaret Doisy School of Allied Health Professions was dedicated in 2001. The school was endowed by Margaret Doisy, widow of the 1943 Nobel laureate for physiology and medicine for his discovery of vitamin K. Doisy College of Health Sciences is located in the heart of St. Louis on Saint Louis University’s (SLU) Medical Center, home to the  School of Medicine, College of Public Health & Social Justice, School of Nursing and Saint Louis University Hospital. Before applying, all applicants must have a baccalaureate degree earned by May prior to matriculation. An exception may be considered if a student will earn an August degree, has completed all pre-requisites and has 3 credit hours or fewer to complete during the summer.  Also, an applicant needs to have acquired a minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care experience by the time his/her application is submitted.

The didactic phase consists of pre-clinical lectures, small group discussions, laboratory sessions and demonstrations. The student studies the basic medical sciences of anatomy and physiology, as well as applied behavioral sciences and the foundations of clinical medicine. Educational material is presented through organ system based courses and modules which support the integration of complex disease processes with diagnosis and treatment. The clinical phase consists of rotations in Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, Women’s Health, Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Behavioral Medicine and two rotations in clinical specialties of the students choice, Clinical Elective and Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) Clerkship.

Program Accreditation: The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
Tuition: $17,865 (1st yr. fall & spring semester); $7,730 (summer); 2nd yr: $12,730 (fall); $6,955 (spring & summer & fall)