Since there are currently no ARC-PA-accredited physician assistant programs in Alaska, Alaskans looking to pursue a career as a physician assistant may want to consider relocating or earning a degree online in order to become a physician assistant without leaving the state. Thankfully, there are some online options that students can pursue if they wish to stay in state. This guide will help you determine which programs you may want to consider and why.


Online PA Programs vs On-Campus Programs in Alaska

Whether a physician assistant program on campus or in an online format is best for you depends on your preferences and schedule. You may be someone who feels they need to be in a classroom to avoid distractions, or online may be the environment in which you thrive best. If you have a busy schedule, earning a degree may not be possible without some of the flexible online options that exist.

Last Updated: 2/18/21


On Campus PA Programs in Alaska

On campus programs are a known quantity – they follow the traditional format of on campus learning during set class times throughout the week. Regardless of the type of program you complete, clinical requirements will typically be completed at a separate placement site. 

Concerned about the lack of accredited on campus programs near you? You shouldn’t be! There are great online options that offer a variety of benefits, including reduced commute time, added flexibility, and the ability to connect with peers in real time despite the virtual nature of the program.


Online PA Programs in Alaska

A program is considered an online program when all classwork is completed online. These programs still sometimes require that students report to physical locations for clinical and other hands on requirements. Typically these settings are secured in the student’s own community. You may also need to visit campus a few times during the course of an online program – this varies school by school.

Online programs can often provide students with many of the benefits offered by on campus programs. Because some of these programs use technology to enable live classes via video streaming, students are still able to interact with peers in real time in some programs. Online programs either meet at set times or can be completed on a student’s own time – allowing for whatever level of structure a student needs to succeed.


Hybrid PA Programs in Alaska

Hybrid programs combine online and on campus elements – some coursework will be completed on campus and some will be completed online. The division of online vs on campus may be on a course by course basis, or courses may utilize both mediums. Hybrid programs offer the best of both worlds – some flexibility while maintaining the on campus experience.


Physician Assistant Program Online Learning Formats

Online learning falls into one of two categories:

  • Synchronous – happens in real time, either via live chat, video streaming, or other media that connects students and professors at the same time., and allows you to connect with peers in real time.
  • Asynchronous – does not require that students sign on at a specific time, so work can be completed at the time that works best for the student.


How Long do Physician Assistant Programs Typically Take to Complete?

A Physician Assistant degree program will typically take 2.5 to 4 years to complete (approximately 27 months, according to American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)). Note that some of these options are for students who are already certified PAs but do not hold a master’s degree. 


Online Physician Assistant Programs Available to Alaska Students

Alaska’s residents have these online options when applying to physician assistant programs. Please note, however, that students should be sure to check each program to make sure the program is able to operate in Alaska. Note that some of these are full PA programs and some are bridge programs for current PAs without master’s degrees:

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)
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 Alaska

There are currently no accredited on campus physician assistant programs in the state of Alaska.


General Tips on How to Become a Physician Assistant in Alaska

To become a physician assistant in Alaska, 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 Alaska State Medical Board 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 Alaska requires graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and bachelor’s degree 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 Alaska’s state board for exact requirements.