Physician Assistant Programs in Pennsylvania

Those interested in applying to a masters in physician assistant studies (MPAS) program in Pennsylvania have options. Multiple universities in Pennsylvania offer PA programs around the state, from Drexel in Pennsylvania to Penn State in State College to the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally, there are online options from schools not located in Pennsylvania that students can complete from the Keystone State. Narrowing down the list of schools to apply to can be challenging. This guide can help you make your decision about what physician assistant programs in Pennsylvania are best for you.


Online vs On Campus Physician Assistant Programs in Pennsylvania

When deciding whether to complete your physician assistant (PA) program in person or online, you should think about what program format will provide you with the experience and flexibility you need. For example, you might be interested in an on campus program because you are seeking a traditional campus experience. Or, you may prefer an online program so that you can avoid dedicating time commuting or have more flexibility over when you complete your work.

Usually, those who opt for online programs are seeking some sort of flexibility that they feel they can’t get from an on campus program. It may be something as simple as being able to complete a faraway program without leaving one’s residence. It might be the chance to save commuting time. For some, the ability to complete coursework at any time, without showing up for or tuning into live lectures, is a necessity.


Fully Online PA Programs vs Hybrid PA Programs

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


Online PA Programs

A true online masters in physician assistant studies program will offer all classes online. This can be done in a variety of formats, which are described later on. It is important to note that PA programs are more than just coursework – they also require clinical experiences. 


Hybrid PA Programs

Hybrid programs offer students the opportunity to complete some but not all coursework online. Students who opt for these programs can enjoy some of the benefits of online learning while having a traditional campus experience as well. 


Pennsylvania Physician Assistant Program Online Learning Formats

The delivery format of online PA program coursework can vary greatly – it is important to know how the programs you are considering are experienced so you can determine if they are the right fit for you. Some programs facilitate real time learning and have set class times where students and professors interact – these are called synchronous programs. There are also asynchronous programs, where lectures are pre recorded and watched on one’s own time, to maximize flexibility for the student if it is needed. 


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 – according to American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), PA programs are approximately 27 months.


Typical Online Physician Assistant Programs Available to Pennsylvania Students

The following online physician assistant programs are available to students in Pennsylvania. Note that some of these options are for students who are already certified PAs but do not hold a master’s degree:

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.


On Campus PA Programs in Pennsylvania

The following physician assistant programs can be found on Pennsylvania campuses. There are campuses all over the stat, from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.


Program City Time to Complete GPA Requirement
Duquesne University Pittsburgh 27 months 3.0
Gannon University Erie 40 months N/A
King’s College Wilkes-Barre 24 months 3.2
Lock Haven University Lock Haven 24 months 3.0
Marywood University Scranton 24 months 3.0
Mercyhurst University Erie 24 months 3.2
Misericordia University Dallas 25 months 3.2
Penn State University State College 24 months 3.0
Pennsylvania College of Technology Williamsport 24 months N/A
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Philadelphia 26 months 3.0
Saint Francis University Loretto 24 months 3.0
Salus University Elkins Park 25 months 3.0
Seton Hill University Greensburg 27 months 3.2
Slippery Rock University Slippery Rock 24 months 3.3
Temple University Philadelphia 26 months 3.0
Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia 27 months 3.3
University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh 24 months 3.0
University of the Sciences Philadelphia 24 months Unknown


General Tips on How to Become a Physician Assistant in Pennsylvania

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

  1. Earn your Physician Assistant Degree – This will take you about two to three and a half years. Consider looking 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  Pennsylvania State 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 Pennsylvania 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 also required. This is a high-level overview, make sure to check out Pennsylvania’s state board for exact requirements.


Last Updated September 2020