There are currently no accredited physician assistant programs offered on an Iowa campus. For those in the state who don’t want to relocate while earning their PA degree, there are several online options that they can apply to.


Online PA Programs vs On-Campus Programs in Iowa

If you live in Iowa and want to attend an on-campus physician assistant program, you will need to look for programs out of state, which may require you to relocate in order to earn your degree. This may be a good idea if you have a hard time concentrating when you are not in a physical classroom. As long as this is not the case, you will likely want to consider an online program, where you can earn an accredited degree from the comfort of your own home. Not only will an online degree allow you to stay in Iowa, it will also allow you to cut commuting to school out of your schedule, and depending on the program you may have some additional benefits such as the ability to choose when you learn or to maintain the networking aspect of going to school through live online classes.

Last Updated: 2/18/21


On Campus PA Programs in Iowa

On campus programs are available at universities that offer them, but no Iowa universities currently offer a physician assistant program. 


Online PA Programs

Online programs are available in Iowa, and allow students to complete the coursework portion of their degrees entirely online. Clinical requirements will be completed at a placement site, which can be arranged by many online programs in a student’s own community. Additionally, there may be a few times where students need to report to campus, but no more than twice a year, in which case we would consider the program hybrid. There are various types of online physician assistant degree programs out there, which we will discuss later.

Given that there are no on campus programs in Iowa, there are also no hybrid PA programs in the state, which would be an on campus program where some coursework is completed online.


Physician Assistant Program Online Learning Formats

Online programs are either delivered in a synchronous format, an asynchronous format, or a mix of the two:

  • Synchronous learning happens in real time – whether through live video, chat, or other methods
  • Asynchronous learning is completed on your own time, whenever you are able to log into your school’s learning management system to complete deliverables.


How Long do Physician Assistant Programs in Iowa Typically Take to Complete?

PA programs are approximately 27 months, as outlined by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). This goes for those who are not currently physicians assistants. There are some PAs who were able to become PAs before a master’s was required, and if they are earning their master’s after the fact, they enroll in special programs just for them.


Online Physician Assistant Programs Available to Iowa Students

The following online physician assistant programs are available to students in Iowa. Note that some of these options are bridge programs for current PAs:

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

General Tips on How to Become a Physician Assistant in Iowa

To become a physician assistant in Iowa, 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 Iowa Board of Physician Assistants 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 Iowa requires graduation from an accredited 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; thus, please make sure to check out Iowa’s state board for exact requirements.