Top Physician Assistant Schools in the United States

Learn about programs for physician assistants, which are medical professionals who provide primary care to patients under the supervision of a doctor or surgeon. Read about the programs at three high-profile universities, and use the accompanying table to find other schools for physician assistants.

School Information

Degree programs for physician assistants (PAs) are typically offered at the master's degree level and consist of supervised clinical training, laboratory work and classroom instruction. Top programs can be found at Yale University, an Ivy league school. The University of Florida and The George Washington University, a leading national university, also provide top-notch training for physician assistants. Eligible graduate must also pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).

Top U.S. Schools with Physician Assistant Programs

1. Yale University in New Haven, CT

In 2012, Yale University ranked third among national universities by U.S. News & World Report. The university offers a Master of Medical Science through its physician associate program. This 28-month course of study helps students acquire clinical and research skills through lectures, discussion groups and clerkships. In addition to coursework in anatomy and physiology, aspiring professionals learn about clinical care standards, surgical assisting, pharmacology and preventive medicine.

At Yale University, classroom studies are supplemented with hands-on training and lab work in suturing and dissecting; students also participate in PA role-playing activities. Original research activities and completion of a master's thesis are also part of the program.

2. University of Florida in Gainesville, FL

The Princeton Review ranked the University of Florida as one of the best colleges in the U.S. for 2012. Students who have completed a bachelor's degree can apply to the 2-year Master of Physician Assistant Studies program. The first year is devoted to didactic learning, while the second year consists entirely of clinical training rotations in emergency, intensive or primary care; obstetrics and gynecology; pediatrics; surgery or psychiatry. The first-time PANCE pass rate for graduates was 97% in 2011, compared with the national average of 93%.

3. The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

U.S. News & World Report ranked The George Washington University among the 50 best national universities in 2012. The university offers a master's degree program for physician assistants in which students attend some classes with other aspiring health science professionals, such as medical or nurse practitioners. Students take classes and rotate among both inpatient and outpatient settings, which may allow for specialized practical experiences in emergency medicine and surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics or long-term care, among other areas. The programs can lead to a Master of Science in Health Sciences (MSHS) or MSHS/Master of Public Health (MPH), which takes three years to complete.

List of Ten Good Physician Assistant Schools in the United States

School Name Distinction Location
Emory University One of the best colleges in the U.S. in 2012, according to The Princeton Review Atlanta, GA
The George Washington University More than 1,000 physician assistants are alumni Washington, D.C.
King's College Offers a 5-year accelerated Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program Wilkes-Barre, PA
Philadelphia University Major-related employment rate for graduates is above 90% Philadelphia, PA
Seton Hall University Joint Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master of Science in Physician Assistant program South Orange, NJ
Stony Brook University First-time pass rate for PANCE was 97% in 2010 Stony Brook, NY
University of Florida Only state-funded graduate physician assistant program in Florida Gainesville, FL
University of Iowa Ranked second among physician assistant programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2011 Iowa City, IA
University of Utah One of the oldest programs for physician assistants in the U.S. Salt Lake City, UT
Yale University Does not use a traditional credit-hour system New Haven, CT

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