Top Physician Assistant Schools in the United States

Aug 16, 2018

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 four high-profile universities, and use the accompanying table to find other schools for physician assistants.

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  • 0:46 Yale University
  • 1:33 University of Florida
  • 2:11 George Washington University
  • 3:08 Emory University
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Students can find physician assistant programs at many colleges and universities around the country, though the best programs are often available at nationally recognized schools.

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. Strong programs can be found at Yale University, the University of Florida, Emory University, and George Washington University, all of which provide top-notch training for physician assistants. Graduates of a PA program must also pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) in order to work professionally in the field.

Yale University in New Haven, CT

In 2017, Yale University ranked third among national universities according to U.S. News & World Report. The university offers a Master of Medical Science through its physician associate program. This 28-month program 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.

University of Florida in Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida was considered one of the nation's best colleges by The Princeton Review for 2017.

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 University of Florida graduates averaged 99% for the period 2011- 2015.

George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

George Washington University was ranked as tied at #3 among all physician assistant programs on U.S. News & World Report's list for 2017. U.S. News and World Report also ranked George Washington University tied as the 56th-best national university in 2017.

The university offers a physician assistant master's degree program, 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.

Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia

Emory was named one of the best colleges in the U.S. in 2017 by The Princeton Review. U.S. News and World Report ranked Emory as tied at #20 among national universities on the 2017 list.

In addition to a program leading to a Master of Science- Physician Assistant, Emory is one of the few schools that also offers a dual degree program that culminates in a Master of Science - Physician Assistant and Master of Public Health. It is offered through a cooperative agreement between the Emory University School of Medicine and the Rollins School of Public Health.

Top Physician Assistant Programs

Here are six more universities with outstanding physician assistant programs:

School Name Distinction Location
King's College Offers a 5-year accelerated Bachelor of Science/ Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program Wilkes-Barre, PA
Philadelphia University As of 2016, the school had a 95% successful job placement rate for graduates 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 Was ranked at #35 among best college values on the Kiplinger's 2017 list Stony Brook, NY
University of Iowa Ranked second among physician assistant programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2017 Iowa City, IA
University of Utah One of the oldest programs for physician assistants in the U.S. Salt Lake City, UT

Physician assistant programs take anywhere from 2-3 years to complete and generally consist of specialized clinical training in areas such as gynecology, long term care, emergency medicine and surgery.

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