Physician Assistant Programs in Alabama

When it comes to earning a physician assistant degree on campus from an accredited program in Alabama, you have four choices – Faulkner University, Samford University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and University of South Alabama. While this narrows down the search for a program a lot – those who want more choices can also explore the accredited online programs that can be completed while living in state. This guide will help you figure out how to determine which options are best for you.

Online vs On Campus Physician Assistant Programs in Alabama

It is good to think about the benefits of both online and on campus learning when thinking about which type of physician assistant (PA) program you want to enroll in. Online programs tend to be focused on flexibility – at the very least they erase commuting to campus from your schedule and with many you can have the flexibility to learn on your own time. For those looking to forge real connections with students and professors, a campus experience or even an online program where classes are attended in a live format via webcam can bring you any sense of community you are seeking. It is also important to consider how you focus best and how any of these options impact that focus.

Last Updated: 12/21/20

Fully Online PA Programs vs Hybrid PA Programs

Aspiring physician assistants can apply to various types of online programs:

Online PA Programs

Online programs take away the necessity to be on a campus in order to attend class by moving the learning experience online. This allows students to complete coursework from the comfort of home or wherever they are. Since becoming a physician assistant requires clinical skills, there are clinical components of these programs that cannot be completed online, but typically they can be completed in the area where one lives so that moving near campus is not necessary in order to complete the degree.

Hybrid PA Programs

Hybrid PA programs offer some of the same online experiences that online programs offer, but do also require students to come to campus for some portion of their coursework. For this reason, one must live within commuting distance to campus in order to complete a hybrid program. This format still grants students some of the advantages of lessened commuting, while offering that on campus experience that some seek.

Alabama Physician Assistant Program Online Learning Formats

There are two main types of delivery for online PA programs:

  • Synchronous – Synchronous learning experiences are held in real time, so the whole class must log on together at a set class time. Synchronous delivery can range from a live chat discussion to live classes via webcam.
  • Asynchronous – Pre recorded lectures and other do-on-your-own-time deliverables make up asynchronous learning experiences. This format allows students to learn on their own time without being held to a specific schedule.

Some online PA programs will blend elements of both synchronous and asynchronous learning.

How Long do Physician Assistant Programs Take to Complete?

Including clinical requirements, it typically takes between two and three and four years to complete a physician assistant program.

Typical Online Physician Assistant Programs Available to Alabama Students

The following online physician assistant programs are available to students in Alabama. Note that these are masters program options for students who are not already physician assistants:

Fully online PA programs

If you wish to become a PA, here are eight physician assistant programs that are completely online. Some require you to be online at scheduled times for certain classes, discussions or exams; others do not. Some also require you to be NCCPA certified in order to apply.

School Degree level Live classes On-campus requirements Length of program Accreditation
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

 

Doctor of science in physician- assistant studies (DScPAS) No None 3 years, but accelerated program is two years ARC-PA accreditation
Pace University

 

MPAS for already- certified PAs No None 12 months N/A (program for already certified PAs)
Stony Brook/SUNY

 

MPAS Some None 24 months ARC-PA accreditation
Touro College

 

MPAS for already- certified PAs No None 12 months N/A (program for already certified PAs)
University of Nebraska – Medical Center

 

MPAS for already-certified PAs, or MPAS/MPH dual No None Five semesters N/A (program for already certified PAs)
University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley

 

MPAS for already- certified PAs No None 28 months N/A (program for already certified PAs)
University of Wisconsin – Madison

 

MPAS Some First summer semester / 12 weeks 36 months ARC-PA accreditation

1ARC-PA probation is a temporary accreditation status for programs that are making substantial progress toward all accreditation standards but need more time to become compliant.

2ARC-PA provisional means that a program has the plans and resources needed to meet all accreditation standards but has not yet enrolled students; or that a program is demonstrating progress toward the standards as it prepares for its first graduating class.

Hybrid physician assistant programs

Here are three hybrid physician assistant programs, all of which require a combination of online and on-campus work. 

School Degree level Live classes On-campus requirements Length of program Accreditation
Miami Dade College

 

MDC-PA, M.H.Sc. Some All clinicals are in Florida 27 months ARC-PA accreditation
University of North Dakota MPAS Some 15 weeks 24 months ARC-PA accreditation

On Campus PA Programs in Alabama

The following physician assistant programs can be found on Alabama campuses. 

Program City Time to Complete GPA Requirement
Faulkner University Montgomery 27 months 3.0
Samford University Birmingham 27 months 3.0
University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham 27 months 3.0
University of South Alabama Mobile 27 months 3.0

General Tips on How to Become a Physician Assistant in Alabama

To become a physician assistant in Alabama, here are some common steps:

  1. Earn your Physician Assistant Degree – This will take you about two to three and a half years. Look for physician assistant programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) to ensure you meet certification requirements in the future.
  2. Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) – You can learn more about the PANCE on our guide to becoming a physician assistant.
  3. Get Licensed – Check with the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners as early as possible to make sure you are on track to meet all current requirements for licensure. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), licensure in Alabama requires graduation from an accredited bachelor and physician assistant program and passage of the PANCE exam. Current certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is not required. This is a high-level overview, make sure to check out Alabama’s state board for exact requirements.