Guide to Accredited PA Schools

Below is a list of online, accredited Physician Assistant programs from schools around the country. Find additional schools offering Physician Assistant programs and other programs that may be interest you by using the widget to the left or further down. Fill out the “Request Information” forms with the links provided to get free information from each school.

Click here to see more Online Physician Assistant programs

Complete Collection of Universities with Physician Assistant Degrees

1) What Types of Physician Assistant Degrees Exist and What are They Called?

With requirements for physicians assistants varying, there are many educational and degree options, a few of which are listed below.

  1. Associate of Allied Health
    Many healthcare professionals choose this two year degree as a way into the workforce or as a stepping stone to another degree.
  2. Associate – Pre-Physician Assistant
    Designed to provide the first two years of the curriculum leading to a bachelor’s or master’s degree, students get a foundation for biology, anatomy, physiology, and more.
  3. Bachelor of Science in Biology
    Because a four year degree is needed to enter a master’s degree program, many students often choose biology as a major.
  4. Bachelor – Pre-Physician Assistant
    This Pre-Physician Assistant Studies major is designed to prepare students to enter a master’s degree physician assistant studies program and covers many related subjects.
  5. Master – Physician Assistant
    The master’s degree is the most common path to becoming a physician assistant and is available in several specialties.
  6. Master of Science – Physician Assistant
    Similar to the above, the MS degree is also designed to prepare students for careers as a physician assistant.
  7. Master of Health Studies – Advanced Physician Assistant
    In addition to learning how to become a physician assistant, students can choose specialties such as family medicine, sports medicine, and many others.
  8. Physician Assistant Program
    Because each state has its own regulations to becoming a physician assistant, there are many programs that specialize in just that.

While there are many associate’s, bachelor’s, and even certificate programs to help become a physician assistant, the most common degree is a master’s in the field.

2) Where Can I Find Physician Assistant Degree Rankings?

Before choosing a physician assistant degree, make sure it has been accredited and approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. There are currently over 150 approved programs that can be looked up alphabetically or by state. Of these programs, four offer a certificate, four offer an associate’s degree, 19 offer a bachelor’s, and the remaining 127 offer accredited master’s degrees as a physician assistant.

If looking for a ranking of schools that offer graduate degrees as a physician assistant, visit U.S. News & World Report. They constantly rank the top colleges in many areas, including this ranking for physician assistant. They also feature an About the Rankings section that tells more on how they calculate the rankings, along with how students should use them.

Before looking to any ranking system to choose a physician assistant degree, students should know what the requirements in their state are before entering an educational program to ensure that graduating from the program will assist them in becoming a physician assistant. Once the field is narrowed down to a few choices, students can and should apply to them all. This will let them know which they are accepted into, how much financial aid they qualify for, and how many transfer credits can be extended to them.


3) Can I Transfer Physician Assistant School Credits?

Those who hold a college degree or who have completed college-level courses should look into how many transfer credits for a physician assistant degree they qualify for before entering a school. Because transfer credits can put students farther ahead in their studies, they save both time and money. This is why it is important to ask as early as possible about your current or future school’s transfer credit policy before making any decisions.

When attempting to obtain transfer credits, one of the most common obstacles is the issue of national versus regional accreditation. This issue can arise when students switch from a regionally accredited school to one that offers a nationally accredited physician assistant degree or vice versa. Because different agencies may have accredited the past and future schools, transfer credits can be less likely to happen. If both the old and new schools have been approved by the same accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, transfer credits are more likely to happen and in greater quantities.

If you already have a degree from an accredited institution, there can be far fewer hassles concerning transfer credits. For example, those with qualifying associate’s degrees can begin studying for their bachelor’s degree as a physician assistant at the halfway mark, depending on the school(s). With a qualifying bachelor’s degree, students take an average of two years to get a master’s degree as a physician assistant, even if the bachelor’s degree is in a different field, depending on the school and state.


 


4) What Sorts of Careers are Common With a Physician Assistant Degree?

Although physician assistant is the primary career, there are many specialties within the career.

  1. Adult Care Physician Assistant
    Patients in this career range from young adults to those about to enter their senior years.
  2. Contract Physician Assistant
    These PA’s work on a temporary basis that usually lasts for a few weeks to months.
  3. Cardiothoracic Surgery Physician Assistant
    Work as part of a team that performs a variety of complex heart procedures and surgeries in this career.
  4. Emergency Physician Assistant
    These PA’s often work in the emergency room of hospitals and provide advanced care to all sorts of patients.
  5. Neurosurgery Physician Assistant
    The nervous system and all of its issues and care are the focus of this career.
  6. Rheumatology Physician Assistant
    Joint health, movement, and related areas are all part of this healthcare profession.
  7. OB/GYN Physician Assistant
    Work with expectant and soon to be mothers as patients in obstetrics and gynecology medicine.
  8. Pediatric Physician Assistant
    The care of patients from infants to teens is part of this PA job.
  9. Travel Physician Assistant
    This career involves both caring for patients and traveling.

Just as there are many specialties in medicine, there are also just as many with the proper training as a physician assistant.


5) How to Become a Physician Assistant?

The first step to becoming a physician assistant is to be accepted into and complete an accredited physician assistant program. Click here to view a list of programs by state or utilize the online programs directory. There are over 150 programs all across the country that have been approved.

Whether getting an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, the standards for the two years spent studying to become a physician assistant are similar and require two years of study. The first year involves courses such as anatomy, microbiology, pathology, and medical ethics, while the second includes classes on family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, and psychology. All who pass sit for the same national certifying exam.

To become a certified physician assistant, you must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), a multiple-choice test of 360 questions that assess basic medical and surgical knowledge. Candidates must graduate from an accredited program or have a qualifying medical education that has been previously accredited before taking it.

Those who are in between their fifth or sixth year as a certified physician assistant are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam PANRE. Given out by the same agency as the PANCE, this test is a requirement and can even allow candidates to choose specialties in medicine including adult medicine, surgery, and primary care. However, because each state is different, be sure and know what the requirements to becoming a physician assistant are before committing. To get a listing of each state’s laws and regulations, click here.


6) What is the Average Salary of Someone With a Physician Assistant Degree?

One of the best sources for pay information is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They report that the average salary for physician assistants was $81,320 per year in 2008. The best paying employer was medical and surgical hospitals with an average salary of $84,550. The worst paying employer was colleges, universities, and professional schools with salaries for physician assistants at $74,200.

A must read for anyone interested in becoming a physician assistant to learn about salary information is Allied Health Schools. Simply scroll down the page to get information on the best paying specialties for physician assistants which included cardiovascular; with an average salary of $110,468; dermatology, with an average salary of $104,474; and emergency medicine with an average salary of $99,635. Even the worst paying specialties for physician assistants still paid well and were OB/GYN and endocrinology, with average annual salaries of $79,229 and $78,956 each respectively.

If you need even more detailed information on average salary for physician assistants, check out the 2009 Census conducted by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. They divided the census into nine sections and feature a downloadable PDF for each, containing loads of information, including salary.

Finally, to get the most up to date physician assistant average salary reports, click on Payscale. They currently list median pay at $72,040 to $93,938 for PA’s across the country. You can also use them to get salary information by location, specialty, and even type of degree earned.


 


7) Where Can I Find Physician Assistant Scholarships and Grants?


 


Before running an exhausting search for physician assistant scholarships and grants, check out the ones below.

  1. FAFSA
    Because all federal grants and even some scholarships require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, fill it out first.
  2. AAPA Awards
    The American Academy of Physician Assistants offers several awards for those entering an education as a physician assistant.
  3. Paul Ambrose Scholars Program
    This program introduces health professions students to influential public health professionals and prepares them to be leaders in addressing health challenges.
  4. NCCPA Foundation
    The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants has a foundation dedicated to supporting research and developing education and includes research grants, an ethics project, and more.
  5. APPAP Awards
    The Association of Postgraduate Physician Assistant Programs has two different grants to choose from.
  6. Tylenol Scholarship
    For the current year, Tylenol plans to award 40 scholarships to outstanding students pursuing a career in the medical field.
  7. Health Professions Scholarship Program
    If you are already in or plan to attend school to be a physician assistant, the HPSP can provide tuition assistance for up to four years of school and two years for PA master’s degree.
  8. NHSCS
    The National Health Service Corps scholarship pays tuition, required fees, and some other education costs for as many as four years for students pursuing an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree as a physician assistant.
  9. Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students
    This program provides scholarships to full-time, financially needy students from disadvantaged backgrounds, enrolled in health professions including physician assistant.

When looking for physician assistant scholarships and grants be sure not to miss out on the financial aid office of the school you are attending or even plan to attend. It is their focus to ensure that students are able to pay for their education and can often connect them with many scholarship and grant opportunities not listed above. They can also help determine how much students will pay out of pocket for their education, which is important to know before deciding on which program to enroll in.