Physician Assistant Programs in South Carolina

From Charleston Southern University to Presbyterian College, there are several options for those looking to complete a physician assistant (PA) degree in the state of South Carolina. Additionally, South Carolinians may be interested in pursuing a physician assistant degree online, in which case there are several other options available. Since there are different types of programs available, it can be challenging to sift through the choices to determine which programs might be best for you. This guide will help you narrow down that list!

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

The list of physician assistant programs you apply to may be dictated by constraints in your schedule. For example, if the only time you have available to complete your degree is at night, you will not be applying to programs we’re classes take place during business hours. Additionally, if your work schedule changes every week, you may need a program that allows you to choose what time you complete class. These needs can quickly narrow down your list of programs you may be interested in. In addition to filtering out what is not possible, consider what programs may be more challenging to complete for you. If a potential is over an hour away, the commute may greatly chip into your free time, and you may want to consider other options.

Once you get rid of the options that are not feasible, you can start thinking about how you can best set yourself up for success in terms of learning style. Think about whether you would learn better at home or in the classroom. Think about whether there are distractions you need to get away from in order to be the best student you can be. Will you learn better if discussion is a big part of the classes you are taking? If so, an on campus or synchronously delivered online program may be the right call for you. These are all factors that can vary greatly by the type of program you enroll in, so thinking about your preferences can further narrow down the list. 

Last Updated: 9/27/21

On Campus PA Programs in South Carolina

There are currently five accredited on campus PA programs in South Carolina. Anyone who has earned a degree on a college campus before knows some of what to expect on campus PA program. Classes are completed on the campus in the classroom which students report to on a regular basis. Additionally, students will need to complete clinical experiences, which are a necessary means of earning real world experience in order to be certified. Many PA programs require some healthcare experience hours before applying, so you may have some familiarity with working in a clinical setting already. Likely, your clinical placements will take place in the general area surrounding the university.

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

Online PA Programs

Online physician assistant programs allow students to complete class from an office, kitchen, or other location of choice. Students may find that the ability to go to class online frees up their schedule or offers flexibility in some way. For some, completing a PA degree would be impossible without this added flexibility. While some online PA programs will simply get rid of commute time, others may allow you to complete class at whatever time is most convenient for you. If you are looking for an online program that more mirrors the structure of an on campus program, there are also many options that have a more structured schedule, which means you report to class at set times and are able to have more discussions and collaborate with professors and peers during class.

Even though your classes are online with these kinds of programs, your clinical experiences will not be online. However, the program you attend may be able to help place you at local clinical sites. Ask the program’s you’re interested in if they offer this kind of help and what they could do to help you secure your clinical placements locally. Earning real world experience is an important part of becoming prepared to be certified as a physician assistant.

Hybrid PA Programs in South Carolina

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

Physician Assistant Program Online Learning Formats

When researching different online programs, you may have heard the term synchronous and asynchronous thrown about. A synchronous online program is taught in real time – students log in in order to attend lectures and have discussions. While many associate synchronous learning with webcam delivered lectures, other media that allows real-time participation is also considered synchronous, such as chat discussions. Isn’t being delivered in real time, it is asynchronous delivery. You may find that your program of choice has some synchronous deliverables and some asynchronous deliverables.

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

Master’s in physician assistant studies (MPAS) programs may take between two to four years to finish (PA programs are approximately 27 months, according to American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)). If you are a physician assistant who became certified before an MPAS was required, you may be looking to complete a bridge program, which may take less time. Bridge programs are not accredited by the AAPA.

Online Physician Assistant Programs Available to South Carolina Students

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

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 South Carolina

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

Program City Time to Complete GPA Requirement
Charleston Southern University Charleston 24 months 3.0
Medical University of South Carolina Charleston 27 months 3.0
North Greenville University Tigerville 24 months 3.0
Presbyterian College Clinton 24 months 3.2
University of South Carolina, SOM Greenville 27 months 3.0


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

To become a physician assistant in South 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 may 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 South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners 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 South 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 South Carolina’s state board for exact requirements.