Physician Assistant Programs in Washington

The University of Washington is the only on-campus option you are looking at if you are interested in completing a physician assistant (PA) program in the state of Washington. In addition to this program, there are also online programs offered throughout the country that you can complete while staying in your home state. This leaves you with some different choices, and it can be difficult to decide which kind of a program might be best for you. This guide was designed to help you ask yourself the right questions so that you can pick a PA program that is the best fit for you. 

Online PA Programs vs On-Campus PA Programs in Washington

To start forming the list of physician assistant programs you want to apply to, a good first step is to rule out any programs that do not mesh with your schedule. If you have commitments at night time, for example, you will not want to choose a program that requires you to go to class regularly at night. Also, Washington is a big state, and if you aren’t close to Seattle you will not be close to the only on-campus program in the state. If this is the case, you may want to think about whether you want to move closer to campus or stick to applying to online programs so that you can stay where you are. Another factor that can naturally limit your choices is variability in your schedule. If you have commitments that change in their timing from week to week, you may need a program that allows you to complete deliverables and go to class at whatever time is most convenient for you during any given week. Fortunately, some online programs make this possible through what is called asynchronous learning, which we will discuss later. 

After ruling out any programs that do not fit within your life and schedule, you can start thinking about what your optimal learning environment looks like. Is your home a good place to learn or is it a distracting environment for you? If it is distracting, is there another place you could go to participate in lectures if you ended up enrolling in an online program? Are you seeking a program that allows you to immerse yourself in a collaborative environment? If so, you may either want to attend an on-campus program, or find an online program that delivers classes via webcam so that you can get involved in discussions with students and professors.

Last Updated: 10/20/21

On Campus PA Programs in Washington

By virtue of being interested in graduate education, it is likely that you have a bachelor’s degree under your belt, so odds are you know a thing or two about the on-campus learning experience. Like any on campus program, PA students go to class to earn credits towards their physician assistant degree. They listen to lectures, complete assignments, and take exams. In addition to this, students also complete clinical experiences at clinical placement sites in order to gain the experience they need in order to become certified. Typically with an on-campus program, these sites will be in the general area around the university. 

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

Online PA Programs

With online physician assistant programs, you can go to class from your living room, an office, or any other location that is a good place for you to learn. Because you can learn from wherever you like, you are able to cut away commuting time. Depending on the online program of your choosing, you may have additional layers of flexibility built in such as the ability to complete class anytime that is convenient for you. While learning on your own time through means such as pre-recorded lectures does not allow you to engage in class discussions or have a traditional class experience, this type of learning does make it possible for the busiest of students to fit a degree into their lives. Think about what you need more – a collaborative environment or flexibility – as you pick the programs you will apply to.

No matter what kind of online program you choose, you will still need to complete those clinical requirements. With online programs, you may be able to be placed at a clinical placement site local to where you live. Make sure to ask the programs that you are interested in that what they can do to help you secure local placement sites.

Hybrid PA Programs in Washington

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

Physician Assistant Program Online Learning Formats

Synchronous learning and asynchronous learning are the two kinds of ways through which online programs are delivered.

  • Synchronous learning is anything that requires you to login in real time. Usually synchronous learning is collaborative or facilitates discussion.
  • Asynchronous learning is anything that can be done on one’s own time. A pre-recorded lecture is an example of asynchronous learning.

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

PA programs are approximately 27 months, according to American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). However, the time to complete any specific program can be as little as two years or as many as four years or more. Bridge programs for current PAs without a master’s degree may take less time to complete.

Online Physician Assistant Programs Available to Washington Students

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

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

Program City Time to Complete GPA Requirement
University of Washington Seattle 27 months 3.0

General Tips on How to Become a Physician Assistant in Washington

To become a physician assistant in Washington, 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 Washington Medical Commission 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 Washington 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 Washington’s state board for exact requirements.