Physician Assistant

Physician assistants are medical professionals who work alongside doctors in a medical setting such as a physician's office or a hospital. Usually, physician assistants can prescribe medications (with limitations in some states), make diagnoses, make decisions about treatment options for patients, and assist with surgeries. Physician assistants are mainly concerned with preventative medicine. Although physician assistants have a multitude of responsibilities, their job does not require as much schooling as a medical doctor, and they can usually complete a physician assistant program in two years after the completion of a bachelor's degree.

Generally, physician assistants need at least a master's degree in the field in order to obtain employment. There are many physicians assistant programs across the United States; however, entry into a program can be extremely competitive. In addition to schooling, a physician assistant must perform a substantial amount of clinical training or residency training in their chosen field of specialization before he or she can begin working.

Physician assistant schools are governed by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Students must attend a school accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and then pass a national exam to become certified as a physician assistant. There are currently 156 accredited schools for physician assistants in the United States. Although there are many schools to choose from, the top physician assistant schools in the country are: Duke University, the University of Iowa, the University of Utah, Emory University, and George Washington University. When choosing a school, prospective students should look for programs that have high pass rates on the national certification exam, a solid job placement record, and an excellent student faculty ratio.

This career field is expected to grow faster than usual before 2016, so there will be a higher than average number of jobs available to graduates.

Master's Degree

All physician assistants must have a minimum of a master's degree in order to become licensed and employed. Colleges and universities that offer programs will usually offer a master's degree in Medical Science (MMS), a Master in Clinical Medical Science, or a Master of Science in Physician Assistant. The programs generally take 2 years to complete, and it is an intense degree program that involves coursework, lab work, and clinical training.

In order to be granted admission to a physician assistant program, prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree. Usually, a bachelor's degree in any subject is acceptable. In addition to a bachelor's degree, numerous prerequisite classes are required. In most programs, applicants must have taken several biological science classes, at least two chemistry courses, and have completed courses in the behavioral sciences such as psychology or sociology. Because physician assistant programs are highly selective, most prospective students have an above average undergraduate GPA. Furthermore, programs usually require above average scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Many programs also require that applicants have some hands on experience in the health care field such as an EMT, nurse, or nurse's aide. Letters of recommendation are also necessary to gain admission into a program.

Once accepted into a physician assistant degree program, students can expect a rigorous schedule consisting of one year of pre clinical instruction and one year of clinical instruction. It is recommended that students do not work a job during the program as it can involve 35-40 hours of class time per week. During the first twelve months, students will need to enroll in required courses such as:

  • Basic Medical Sciences
  • Fundamentals of Surgery
  • Patient Assessment I, II
  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • The Physician Assistant Role in Modern Healthcare

After the first year of schooling is completed, students will then begin their second year engaging in clinical training. Clinical training is usually performed in a physician's office or in a hospital. Some schools also require that students work in medically under served areas during their clinical training. Clinical experience generally consists of ten different clinical rotations. Usually there are eight required rotations and two elective rotations. Some of the required rotations are:

  • Emergency Medicine
  • General Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics / Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Geriatrics

In addition, possible elective rotations include:

  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Endocrinology

After all of the coursework and clinical training have been satisfied, students are then eligible for graduation and to take the certification exam to become a licensed physician assistant. A licensed physician assistant can then seek employment in

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Physicians' Offices

Featured Schools

Programs offered:

Locations:  Atlanta

We found 107 schools offering physician assistant degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 107 Physician Assistant Colleges in the U.S.

Physician Assistant Schools Ranked By US News and World Report

1
Duke University
Durham, NC  |  Total Enrollment: 12192

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
2
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA  |  Total Enrollment: 28311

Degrees Offered: Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
2
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT  |  Total Enrollment: 24948

Degrees Offered: Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
4
Emory University
Atlanta, GA  |  Total Enrollment: 11398

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
4
George Washington University
Washington, DC  |  Total Enrollment: 20527

Degrees Offered: One but less than two years, Associate's, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
6
Oregon Health & Science University
Portland, OR  |  Total Enrollment: 1905

Degrees Offered: One but less than two years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
6
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 1192

Degrees Offered: Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
8
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Newark, NJ  |  Total Enrollment: 4666

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
8
The University of Texas Southwest Med Ctr - Dallas
Dallas, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 1505

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
8
University of Washington - Seattle Campus
Seattle, WA  |  Total Enrollment: 36139

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate

Browse All 107 Colleges With Physician Assistant Programs


Title City State Enrollment
A T Still University of Health Sciences Kirksville MO 1028
Alderson Broaddus College Philippi WV 751
Anne Arundel Community College Arnold MD 11761
Arcadia University Glenside PA 2736
Augsburg College Minneapolis MN 3040
Barry University Miami FL 8650
Baylor College of Medicine Houston TX 1192
Butler University Indianapolis IN 4168
Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant MI 26845
Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science Los Angeles CA 99
Chatham College Pittsburgh PA 1002
City Colleges of Chicago - Malcolm X College Chicago IL 8638
College of Southern Idaho Twin Falls ID 5452
Cornell University Medical College New York NY 717
Cuny City College New York NY 11055
Cuny College of Staten Island Staten Island NY 11115
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland OH 19518
Daemen College Amherst NY 1824
Desales University Center Valley PA 2549
Duke University Durham NC 12192
Duquesne University Pittsburgh PA 9667
Dyouville College Buffalo NY 2397
East Carolina University Greenville NC 18750
Emory University Atlanta GA 11398
Foothill College Los Altos Hills CA 14193
Gannon University Erie PA 3377
George Washington University Washington DC 20527
Grand Valley State University Allendale MI 18569
Hartnell College Salinas CA 7757
High Point University High Point NC 2788
Howard University Washington DC 10010
Hudson Valley Community College Troy NY 9304
Idaho State University Pocatello ID 13040
Jefferson College of Health Sciences Roanoke VA 508
Kettering College of Medical Arts Kettering OH 498
Kings College Wilkes Barre PA 2233
Lenoir - Rhyne College Hickory NC 1515
Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania Lock Haven PA 3948
Loma Linda University Loma Linda CA 3153
Long Island University - Brooklyn Campus Brooklyn NY 7780
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center at New Orleans New Orleans LA 2720
Loyola College in Maryland Baltimore MD 6111
Marquette University Milwaukee WI 10892
Mars Hill College Mars Hill NC 1219
Mcp Hahnemann University Philadelphia PA 2500
Medical College of Georgia Augusta GA 1932
Medical University of South Carolina Charleston SC 2346
Methodist College Fayetteville NC 2134
Metropolitan Community College Area Omaha NE 11534
Miami Dade College Miami FL 46834
Midwestern University Glendale AZ 979
Midwestern University Downers Grove IL 1499
National Institute of Technology Cross Lanes WV 491
Northeastern University Boston MA 23897
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale FL 18587
Oakwood College Huntsville AL 1767
Oregon Health & Science University Portland OR 1905
Pasadena City College Pasadena CA 22948
Philadelphia University Philadelphia PA 3316
Quinnipiac University Hamden CT 6477
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester NY 14106
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science North Chicago IL 1360
Rutgers University - New Brunswick/piscataway New Brunswick NJ 35236
Saint Francis University Loretto PA 2129
Saint Louis University - Main Campus Saint Louis MO 13847
Salem College Winston Salem NC 1027
Seton Hall University South Orange NJ 9920
Seton Hill University Greensburg PA 1706
South University - Savannah Savannah GA 491
Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale IL 22552
Springfield College Springfield MA 4722
St Vincent S Catholic Medical Centers of Ny Staten Island NY 41
St. Johns University - New York Queens NY 18621
Stony Brook University Stony Brook NY 19924
Suny Health Science Center at Brooklyn Brooklyn NY 1470
The Community College of Baltimore County Dundalk MD 18168
The University of Findlay Findlay OH 4510
The University of Texas Health Science - San Antonio San Antonio TX 2543
The University of Texas Medical Branch - Galveston Galveston TX 1927
The University of Texas Southwest Med Ctr - Dallas Dallas TX 1505
Touro College New York NY 8092
Trevecca Nazarene University Nashville TN 1709
University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham AL 14951
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center Denver CO 2399
University of Detroit Mercy Detroit MI 6023
University of Florida Gainesville FL 45114
University of Iowa Iowa City IA 28311
University of Kentucky Lexington KY 23114
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Newark NJ 4666
University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha NE 2695
University of New England Biddeford ME 2684
University of New Mexico - Main Campus Albuquerque NM 23670
University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth Forth Worth TX 729
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Oklahoma City OK 2759
University of Saint Francis Fort Wayne IN 1570
University of South Alabama Mobile AL 11673
University of South Dakota Vermillion SD 7487
University of Southern California Los Angeles CA 29194
University of Washington - Seattle Campus Seattle WA 36139
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse La Crosse WI 9409
 1 2 >