Physician Assistant Programs in North Carolina

North Carolina has a variety of on campus physician assistant (PA) programs available. From Duke University in Durham to Wake Forest in Winston Salem, there are offerings all over the state. In addition to these many programs, there are also online PA programs offered from institutions around the country that you can complete from the comfort of home. This guide will help you evaluate your options so you can figure out what kinds of programs might be best for you in terms of schedule, learning style, and more.

Online PA Programs vs On-Campus PA Programs in North Carolina

You will want to consider any schedule limitations you have as well as your learning style when determining which physician assistant programs you want to apply to. The program that one might consider to be best for them will not necessarily be best for someone else, it all comes down to individual needs. Ask yourself the following questions to hone in on what you need to look for:

What sort of space do I learn best in? Would a classroom environment help me focus? Are there distractions at home that would hinder my ability to pay attention to lectures? Does the comfort of my own home help me learn better?

Can I report to campus regularly? Are there programs I can apply to that are within a reasonable distance of my home? Do I have access to transportation that will get me to and from campus? Do I have time to commute?

Am I juggling other responsibilities? Do I need flexibility in terms of when I attend class? Do I have room in my schedule to attend class at the same time every week? How many other obligations do I need to attend to?

Last Updated: 8/19/21

On Campus PA Programs in North Carolina

The number of on campus PA programs in the state of North Carolina runs into the double digits. No matter which program you choose, there are some things you can typically expect out of any on campus program. You will report to campus regularly for classes to learn from and interact with professors and peers in real life. Additionally, you will, at some points, report to clinical placement sites for real world experience, which is required by all accredited PA programs but may not be comparable to any part of your undergraduate experience.

Those looking for a more flexible or non-traditional experience may want to consider an online program.

Online PA Programs

With online programs, students may be able to login to class from wherever they are, because class is delivered virtually. Some will find this to be a nice added convenience to their learning experience. Others will require this level of flexibility in order to complete a program in the first place. Different online programs may offer varying levels of flexibility to students – while all will help students save on commute time, some will offer additional flexibility in ways such as being able to attend a prerecorded class on one’s own time.

No matter what kind of program you attend, you will need to report to clinical placement sites in person. Even online programs require this because real world experience with patients is critical when learning to become a physician assistant. Make sure to ask any online programs you are applying to if they are able to allow you to complete placement requirements locally, and if they are able to help you secure placement sites.

Hybrid PA Programs in North Carolina

A hybrid program splits coursework requirements between campus and online. This kind of program is not currently being offered on any North Carolina campuses.

Physician Assistant Program Online Learning Formats

An online program may be completed in either a synchronous or asynchronous format (some programs deliver courses using a mix of both of these formats):

  • Synchronous- live courses and other requirements that students login for at a set time
  • Asynchronous- requirements that are not delivered in real time and can be viewed on one’s own time

How Long Do Physician Assistant Programs in North Carolina Typically Take to Complete?

A master’s in physician assistant studies (MPAS) might only take two years to complete, It could also take more than two years (PA programs are approximately 27 months, according to American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)). Each program will vary. There are also bridge programs that are not accredited but are designed for PA’s who entered the field before a master’s was required. These programs may take less time to complete.

Online Physician Assistant Programs Available to North Carolina Students

The following online physician assistant programs may be available to students in North Carolina. 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)
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.

On Campus PA Programs in North Carolina

The following physician assistant programs can be found on North Carolina campuses.

Program City Time to Complete GPA Requirement
Campbell University Buies Creek 24 months 3.2
Duke University Medical Center Durham 24 months N/A
East Carolina University Greenville 27 months 3.0
Elon University Elon 24 months 3.2
Gardner-Webb University Boiling Springs 28 months 3.0
High Point University High Point 27 months 3.2
Methodist University Fayetteville 27 months 3.0
Pfeiffer University Misenheimer 27 months 3.0
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 27 months 3.0
Wake Forest University (Bowman Gray) Winston Salem 24 months 2.0 prerequisite
Wingate University Hendersonville 27 months 3.2 science

General Tips on How to Become a Physician Assistant in North Carolina

To become a physician assistant in North Carolina, here are some common steps. Be sure to check with the state licensing agency for specific state requirements:

  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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina 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, make sure to check out North Carolina’s state board for exact requirements.