Physician Assistant Programs in Virginia

Virginia has a handful of on campus physician assistant (PA) degree programs that you can apply to throughout the state. From Shenandoah University to Emory and Henry College, you have options. In addition to these on-campus programs, there are also a variety of online programs that you can apply to. This leaves you with a wide range of choices. It can be difficult to decide from these choices which kind of program is best for you. This guide was designed to help you ask yourself the right questions so that you can make the best choice for you.

Online PA Programs vs On-Campus PA Programs in Virginia

One of the first things you should do to start narrowing down the list of physician assistant programs is consider any scheduling limitations that you might have. If, for instance, you have other commitments going on at night time, you would not want to choose a program that requires you to go to class at night. You should also consider where the nearest campuses are in reference to your home. Are any of the programs  within reasonable commuting distance? If not, you may want to consider online options as it may be more feasible to attend class if you don’t have to travel a ways to get to campus. You should also think about what the level of variability is in your schedule. If you are working days some weeks nights others, you may need a program that allows you to choose when you complete class. With options that allow you to view pre recorded lectures for your class time, finding a flexible online option that meets your needs may be possible.

Once you shorten your list of programs that fit into your schedule, you can start thinking about how your learning style may impact which choices are best for you. If there are many distractions going on at home, you may need a program that gets you out of the house in order to go to class. Remember that you could complete an online program at a location outside of the home if this is the case. If you do learn best in the comfort of home, however, you may want to consider online options. Online programs have become better and better at delivering an engaging experience. Through webcams and other technology, live classes are able to facilitate discussions between students and peers, which maintains the collaborative environment that people love about the on-campus experience. When it comes to online programs, you should always ask the right questions to get a good understanding about how the programs are delivered – each one is different! 

Last Updated: 10/20/21

On Campus PA Programs in Virginia

When it comes to on campus programs, most people who are interested in graduate education have earned a degree and are familiar with the on campus experience. Students earn credits towards their degrees by going to class, listening to lectures, and completing assignments and exams. In addition to coursework, physician assistants students will be required to complete clinical experiences at clinical placement sites. Typically with an on-campus program, the sites will be located in the general area surrounding the university. Real world experience is a very important part of student preparation in order to become a physician assistant. 

Looking for other options? An online PA program may be for you.

Online PA Programs

An online PA program allows you to attend class from your home or any other location convenient to you. This flexibility saves you any time that you would have spent commuting to campus. Depending on the program, online programs may have other added levels of convenience, such as the ability to attend to class whenever it works best for you. Typically, there’s a trade-off between engagement and flexibility. On one end, you have the programs online that mirror the engaging aspects of the in person learning experience, such as discussions between students and teachers during class. Programs like these require you to login to class at a specific class time. On the other end, you have the programs that allow you to view lectures whenever it is most convenient for you. This means students will be logging in at different times, which means that there may be less discussion and collaboration in order to produce that level of flexibility. 

With any online program, you will still need to report to clinical placement sites for that real world experience. Make sure to ask the programs that you are interested in if they can help you secure clinical placement sites close to home, so that you do not have to relocate at any point as you earn your degree.

Hybrid PA Programs in Virginia

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

Physician Assistant Program Online Learning Formats

Online physician assistant programs can either be delivered synchronously or asynchronously. Some programs will offer a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning.

  • Synchronous learning is live, students login at specific times to complete deliverables and go to class.
  • Asynchronous learning is done on one’s own time. Students can log-in whenever they want as class is prerecorded or delivered by another means that does not require real time attendance.

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

The time it takes to complete a PA program ranges from as little as two years to as many as four years (PA programs are approximately 27 months, according to American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)).  Bridge programs for current PAs may take less time to complete.

Online Physician Assistant Programs Available to Virginia Students

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

The following physician assistant programs can be found on Virginia campuses.


Program City Time to Complete GPA Requirement
Eastern Virginia Medical School Norfolk 28 months 3.0
Emory and Henry College Emory 27 months 3.0, 2.7 Science
James Madison University Harrisonburg 28 months 3.0
Mary Baldwin University Staunton 27 months 3.0
Radford University Radford 27 months 3.0
Shenandoah University Winchester 30 months 3.0
South University, Richmond Richmond 27 months 3.0
University of Lynchburg Lynchburg 27 months 3.0

General Tips on How to Become a Physician Assistant in Virginia

To become a physician assistant in Virginia, 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 Virginia 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 Virginia 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 Virginia’s state board for exact requirements.