Almost all accredited PA programs confer master's degrees, but there are a few schools that provide professional bachelor's degree programs in the field. Relevant programs are available at public and private universities around the country.
10 Physician Assistant Schools
These ten schools provide physician assistant programs:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition (In-state, 2015-2016)*|
|Baylor University||Waco, TX||4-year, private not-for-profit||Master's||$27,270|
|Yale University||New Haven, CT||4-year, private not-for-profit||Master's||$38,700|
|Northwestern University||Evanston, IL||4-year, private not-for-profit||Master's||$48,624|
|Duke University||Durham, NC||4-year, private not-for-profit||Master's||$47,590|
|Rutgers University-New Brunswick||New Brunswick, NJ||4-year, public||Master's||$16,272|
|Duquesne University||Pittsburgh, PA||4-year, private not-for-profit||Combined Bachelor's Master's||$33,778 (undergraduate), $21,402 (graduate)|
|Emory University||Atlanta, GA||4-year, private not-for-profit||Master's||$38,800|
|Howard University||Washington, DC||4-year, private not-for-profit||Master's||$30,545|
|Oregon Health and Science University||Portland, OR||4-year, public||Master's||$20,412|
|Rush University||Chicago, IL||4-year, private not-for-profit||Master's||$32,608|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
When choosing a school, here are some considerations to keep in mind:
- It is important to make sure that the program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.
- Students may want to explore the internship and clinical experience opportunities provided by the program to make sure that they will gain experience in the setting in which they hope to pursue a career, such as an urban or rural medical facility.
- It can be helpful to find out what the pass rate is for graduates on the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE) offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), which is required for licensure.
- Prospective students should make sure that they have fulfilled the prerequisite undergraduate courses required for admission, which usually include basic biology, chemistry and mathematics courses.
Master's Degree Programs
The most common educational option for aspiring physician assistants is a Master of Science (MS) degree program. In these two-year programs, students take advanced lecture- and lab-based biomedical courses in topics such as pathology, human physiology and pharmacology. They also gain hands on experience with patient diagnosis and treatment methods through supervised clinical rotations in different medical subfields, such as internal medicine, emergency medicine and pediatrics. Graduates are prepared to take the PANCE exam.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
There are a few universities that offer bachelor's degree programs for aspiring physician assistants. These highly intensive programs require students to complete undergraduate pre-PA coursework in the sciences. Graduate-level medical courses are typically included in master's degree programs and clinical rotations in medical facilities. Some result in a combined bachelor's/master's degree; these programs typically take five years to complete. There are also professional bachelor's degree programs that can be finished in four years, but it is important to note that students must take courses during the summer.
Aspiring physician assistants can find a variety of accredited institutions that provide relevant coursework, real-world training and licensure preparation.