Physician Assistant Programs in North Dakota

North Dakota has just one on campus physician assistant (PA) program offered within its borders, at the University of North Dakota. For those who are looking for more options, there are also a variety of online physician assistant programs offered by campuses throughout the country that students can complete from wherever they are. It can be challenging to figure out what kinds of factors to look for when selecting the right program, so this guide will help you figure out where to start.

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

When thinking about which physician assistant programs you want to apply to, you may want to start out by determining what schedule limitations you have and considering your learning style. Different students have different needs and preferences, so what is best for one person isn’t necessarily best for everyone else. Here are some questions you can start asking yourself to help parse through the options available to you:

What is my optimal learning environment? Do I learn better when I am outside my own home, in a classroom? Am I easily distracted? Am I most comfortable learning in my own home?

Can I report to campus regularly? Are there on campus programs where I live? Do I have a car or other means of transportation that will get me to class in a timely manner? Would it be easier to attend school if I didn’t have to commute at all?

How flexible is my schedule? Do I have a lot of other obligations on my plate? Am I free to attend class at the same times each week? Would I need a program that allows me to start watching a lecture whenever I am ready?

Last Updated: 8/19/21

On Campus PA Programs in North Dakota

The University of North Dakota is the only on campus PA program in the state. Like any on campus program, you would report to campus regularly to attend class. For clinical requirements, you would report to a clinical placement site. Since all students reside in the area in order to attend class, your clinical placement would likely be in the community where the university resides.

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

Online PA Programs

Students in online programs may get the added convenience of being able to attend class without having to report to campus – they can simply login from home or elsewhere to attend class or complete assignments. While this is just a nice bonus for some, others will require this level of flexibility if they are going to be able to complete a PA degree at all. Beyond the elimination of a commute, online programs may offer varying levels of additional flexibility – some may even allow you to choose what time you attend “class” which may be delivered through pre recorded lectures.

Even online physician assistant programs require you to complete clinical requirements at a physical clinical site. This is because you simply can’t prepare to become a PA without the proper real world training. Clinical experiences will get you working with professionals in the field and with real patients. That cannot be replicated online. Online programs may be able to help you secure placements in your area – make sure to ask any programs you are interested in what they can do.

Hybrid PA Programs in North Dakota

A hybrid program splits coursework requirements between campus and online. The University of North Dakota offers a hybrid PA program, which is described below.

Physician Assistant Program Online Learning Formats

An online program can be completed through either live deliverables where you log on at a specific time to stream lectures or complete activities, or through deliverables that are prerecorded or are otherwise not time sensitive. Live deliverables are known as synchronous, while non live deliverables are known as asynchronous. Some programs may deliver coursework in both of these ways.

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

It might take as little as two years to complete a master’s in physician assistant studies (MPAS). It could also take four years or longer. On average, PA programs are approximately 27 months, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). Each program will vary. For those who are interested in bridge programs because they are PAs who have been working in the field since before a master’s was required, these programs, which are not accredited by the AAPA, may take less time.

Online Physician Assistant Programs Available to North Dakota Students

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

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
University of North Dakota MPAS Some 15 weeks 24 months ARC-PA accreditation

On Campus PA Programs in North Dakota

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

Program City Time to Complete GPA Requirement
University of North Dakota Grand Forks 24 months 3.0

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

To become a physician assistant in North Dakota, 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.

Get Licensed – Check with the North Dakota Board of Medicine 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 Dakota 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 Dakota’s state board for exact requirements.