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Best Online Master’s Programs for Physician’s Assistants

Physician Assistant
physician assistant programs online

Are you thinking of getting a PA degree online?

Smart move.

A master of physician assistant program will open the door to countless career opportunities.

And like many online programs, this kind of degree will give you hands on experience in all kinds of health care settings.

You’ll get real world experience with other healthcare workers. You’ll complete clinical rotations. And you’ll take core courses that prepare you for PA certification.

You’ll learn how to perform examinations. You’ll develop treatment plans. You’ll learn everything there is to know about clinical and hospital medicine in a degree program like this.

Physician assistant graduates are well-prepared to work in all kinds of health care delivery systems. When you get your physician assistant license, you can work in a variety of settings. For example:

  • Rural communities
  • Women’s health
  • Orthopedic surgery/surgical assistants
  • Laboratory medicine
  • Healthcare management
  • Patient assessment
  • Geriatric medicine
  • Health technology
  • Health care policy
  • Direct patient care
  • Community health/public health
  • Clinical service managers
  • Clinical research

All in all, this is a growing field with a high earning potential. A physician assistant post professional degree will help you meet the increasing need for PAs everywhere.

And why an online degree? An online program is a great option for someone who is working in the medical field. You’ll have maximum career flexibility.

While it will often take at least two years to complete a degree and obtain certification, an online physician assistant master’s degree is the right fit for a busy professional. In some cases, you can finish your classes in just one year but only taking online classes.

So what are you waiting for? Ready to complete an online physician assistant master’s program? Let’s dive on in!

Check out our ranking of the 10 Best Online Master’s Programs for Physician Assistants.

See Also: 50 Best Online Master of Science in Nursing Degree Programs

Best Online Physician Assistant Master’s Degrees



Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University is known for being an excellent academic institution. Faculty here are leaders in their fields of research and teaching.

SBU offers one of the top Physician Assistant programs in the country. The PA degree offered at SBU is a post-professional master’s program. This means it has been designed for certified PAs. 

Students study the latest developments in:

  • health care delivery
  • changing demographics
  • insurance regulations and reimbursements
  • new practices and the use of new technologies

The master’s degree’s curriculum builds on students’ existing clinical and administrative knowledge.

The master’s degree program consists of 30 credit hours, or 10 courses. Working students can complete classes within five years. Students take a mixture of core courses and electives.

Some of the courses offered in the program include:

  • Clinical and Psychosocial Aspects of Palliative Medicine
  • Nutrition in the Media: Making Sense of the Science
  • Strategic Planning for Health Programs, Facilities and Networks

All coursework can be completed online. Students do need to own their own computer and have a WiFi connection.

Admission Requirements:

Admission requires an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. You should have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. 

Applicants must also provide a photocopy of a current National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants certification or recertification. You will also need three letters of recommendation. Finally, you will need an essay with a clear statement of purpose. 

See Also: Best Master’s Graduate Schools



University of Wisconsin-Madison

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a land-grant research institution of higher education. It enrolls more than 42,000 students each year. The school’s research output is well-regarded. UW is considered a “Public Ivy.” This is a designation it shares with a handful of other prestigious public universities around the country. The campus in Madison is the flagship site for the University of Wisconsin system. It was the first higher education institution in the state. 

UW offers a Master of Physicians Assistant Studies degree program. It is delivered online through video lectures. These are offered in an asynchronous format. That makes it quite flexible. The program is designed to be pursued on a full-time basis. Applicants who reside or work in areas with an underserved population are given application priority.

Any applicant who shows a commitment to serving an underserved population will receive a similar preference for admission. Most of the classes are offered online. There are some on-campus requirements. 

The program takes three years to complete. The first two years are focused on didactic or instructional courses. The last year is devoted to clinical experiences.

Classes in the program include:

  • Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases of Human Beings
  • History & Physical Examination

Clinical experiences for the master’s degree include a 1-year, full-time, community-based clinical experience in the community where students live. There are also five 8-week rotations in different areas of medical specialty. The overall aim of the program is to help students synthesize and deploy their knowledge. That’s in key concepts in:

  • evidence-based medicine
  • advanced technology
  • research activity
  • competency-based training

See Also: 20 Best PA Master Programs in the USA

What the Program Requires for Admission:

Admission to the program is competitive. Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a 3.2 GPA. They must also have completed several prerequisites. These should be in in biology, chemistry, physiology, and statistics. 




You know you’ve got clout when you were around before there was even a state to oversee you. The University of North Dakota opened six years before North Dakota became a state. The Dakota Territorial Assembly authorized the institution in 1883. At first, UND focused on the liberal arts. This was to bolster the training of teachers and other professionals as the territory moved toward statehood.

Later, the school began to emphasize the sciences, like aeronautics. The flagship campus is in Grand Forks, ND. 

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies offers a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree. UND’s PA program started in 1970. It was to address shortages in the state’s health care industry. It has focused on training PAs for rural communities. These are oftentimes underserved.

Supervised clinical experiences can be completed in a student’s home community. The final semester is comprised of clinical rotations, a capstone scholarly project, and a final didactic class. The program is competency-based. This means that future physician assistants must demonstrate the ability to:

  • assess patients
  • show proper knowledge of the scientific content needed for the field
  • have completed a major research project

Admission Requirements:

UND continues to stress serving underserved communities where shortages persist. Admissions preference is given to aspiring physician assistants from around the country who live in or serve in such areas.

Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. They should have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Those who hold a health- or science-related degree will be given admission preference. Prerequisites for the program include courses in statistics, biology, physiology, and anatomy. 



University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is the biggest university you have never heard of. It has multiple locations scattered across south Texas. One reason why you may never have heard of UTRGV? It opened just six years ago, in 2013.

UTRGV offers a Master of Physician Assistant Studies through its Graduate College. The program is available 100% online. It is described as a Bridge Program. 

Three of the courses are focused on clinical experience. They emphasize:

  • gaining additional knowledge of the field
  • interpersonal communication skills
  • patient care
  • the application of evidence-based science
  • practice in a clinical setting

The final class is a research course. In it, future physician assistants learn additional research skills. They are equipped to be life-long learners. This is an absolute must in an industry that changes often.

What the Program Requires for Admission:

Admission requires a bachelor’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies from an institution with regional accreditation. You must have a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.0. Applicants must also submit their National Committee on Certification of Physicians Assistants certification and licensure. You should be employed as a PA.



University of Washington-Seattle Campus

UW opened in Seattle about 10 years after the city first came into being. It had the express purpose aiding in its economic and cultural development. UW later moved out of downtown, to its current location. It grew to become the large public research university that we all know and love. 

MEDEX Northwest belongs to the UW School of Medicine. It offers a Master of Clinical Health Services degree.

The program is distance-based. Aspiring physician assistants must attend classes at sites located throughout the region.

UW has campuses in:

  • Seattle, WA
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Spokane, WA
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Kona, HI

Clinical experiences happen in a variety of local settings across the six-state region that MEDEX serves. This includes:

  • Washington
  • Wyoming
  • Alaska
  • Montana
  • Idaho
  • Hawaii

The first-year phase is didactic. It focuses on reviewing basic scientific concepts and content. For example, you’ll learn about integrating coursework in pathophysiology and anatomy. The approach is described as a “body system” approach. Content in one course is meant to reinforce what is learned in other courses.

The first year also includes professional competency courses. These are in topics like management and professional development. The second-year phase is dedicated to clinical experiences at six sites. Each rotation lasts one month.

Clerkships happen in a variety of settings. These include:

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Behavioral Medicine
  • Family Medicine

Students also work on their capstone research project during the second phase. 

Admission Requirements:

You must have clinical experience in a setting with an underserved population. Prerequisites for the program include both academic and clinical requirements. Aspiring physician assistants must have completed courses in:

  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • statistics

The clinical requirements include at least one year, or 2,000 hours, of paid clinical experience. Competitive applicants will also have lived in the region that the program serves. 



Nova Southeastern University

NSU is a mid-sized private university offering more than 150 areas of study. 

The Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences at NSU offers a Master of Health Science degree online. The program is designed for individuals with bachelor’s level training in the health care field. The program does not require a Physician Assistant undergraduate degree. It also does not require applicants to be working as licensed PAs.

A great benefit of the program at NSU is its wide list of available concentrations. Future physician assistants can choose one of six concentrations. They can also choose to follow the generalist path.

One concentration is in Higher Education. This concentration is well suited for individuals interested in moving into an academic setting.

Students take classes such as:

  • Educational Theories and Psychology
  • Curriculum and Instruction in Health Care Education
  • other traditional classes in the health sciences

Another concentration is in Health Law. This concentration is for students who are interested in learning about the legal aspects of the industry.

Students take classes like:

  • Law of Accreditation and Licensing
  • Pharmaceutical Law

Other concentrations include:

  • Leadership in Health Care
  • Health Care Risk Management
  • Health Care Administration

All of the tracks offered consist of 37 credits. They include a mixture of core classes, a practicum, and classes that are all devoted to the concentration. 

What the Program Requires for Admission:

Applicants must have some prior health care experience. They should also have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. You’ll need at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA. Aspiring physician assistants may also transfer up to six credits from other graduate-level programs.

Interested students should check out NSU’s accelerated MHS and DHS dual degree program. This program allows students to pursue both master’s and doctoral-level degrees. This can be done in a single program over 3-7 years. 



Pace University

Pace University first opened in the New York Tribune Building. This is where the Pace brothers offered classes in accounting and business. It has since grown quite a bit!

Today, PU is a mid-sized private university. It has a main campus in New York City. There is another campus in Westchester County, NY. The College of Health Professions at PU offers an online Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree.

The program takes 12 months to complete on a part-time basis.

Aspiring physician assistants take four classes online:

  • Leadership and Theory in Health Care
  • Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

There is also a class in Research Methods. Future physician assistants are expected to write and publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal. This is their capstone experience. Students receive advanced standing for 3600 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical experience. The coursework addresses subjects not covered in a bachelor’s level program. 

Admission Requirements:

Classes in the program begin every January. Applicants must submit documentation for 3,600 hours of clinical experience. They must be certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

They must also hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school with a PA program. This must include at least 40 weeks of supervised clinical experience. Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores.



University of Southern Florida

The University of South Florida is in Tampa. It has an annual enrollment of over 50,000 students. It’s the fourth-largest university in the state. USF is part of the State University System of Florida. It has sister campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee. 

USF offers a Master of Science in Medical Sciences. It has a concentration in Health Sciences degree. The master’s degree is available 100% online.

The program stresses an interdisciplinary approach. USF believes that graduates need to be able to cross traditional health care boundaries.

The Health Sciences concentration, in particular, is interested in preparing aspiring physician assistants for further doctoral studies in the health sciences. It stresses intellectual rigor. Graduates can show their ability for additional graduate work. 

The program takes four semesters to complete. It is comprised of 11 courses.

Classes in the program include:

  • Basic Medical Microbiology & Immunology
  • Human Structure and Function
  • Health Sciences Ethics

What the Program Requires for Admission:

Admission to the program is competitive. Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree from an institution with regional accreditation. They must have a 3.0 GPA. They are also required to submit GRE, MCAT, or DAT test scores.



Rutgers University at New Brunswick

Rutgers University is the eighth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It was chartered in 1766. This was before the country even came into being. It was first known as “Queens College.”

Rutgers’ School of Health Professions is a top- ranked institution in health care education. It offers a Master of Science in Health Sciences, with a track in Aging.

The MSHS program shares an emphasis with many PA programs. It is aimed at serving the aging population.

Students can rest assured that they will be exposed to cutting edge thinking and practice in the field. Students are grounded in evidence-based research. They are allowed to take electives in areas of interest like mental health, nutrition, and leadership.

Future physician assistants are encouraged to think not only about gerontological health care practices but also to consider policy advocacy. It’s an essential part of representing the interests of older adults.

The master’s degree consists of 11 classes. These can be completed all online.

Required classes in the program include:

  • Social Health Care Policy for Older Adults
  • Principles of Transcultural Health Care
  • Health Services, Issues and Trends

Aspiring physician assistants also complete an academic, clinical project for a capstone experience. The program’s electives are grouped into several clusters. These include:

  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Pharmacology
  • Management and Leadership
  • Health Promotion

Admission Requirements:

Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. This should be with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

You’ll also need:

  • two letters of recommendation
  • an essay and purpose statement
  • resume
  • current licensures



University of Saint Francis

SFU is a small, private Catholic liberal arts university near Loretto, in central Pennsylvania. The location makes for a bucolic setting. It is ideal for studying.

SFU was founded by Franciscan friars from Ireland back in the 19th century. It was the first Catholic institution founded west of the Allegheny Mountains. It was also the first Franciscan institution of higher learning in the U.S. 

The School of Health Sciences and Education at SFU offers a Master of Medical Science degree online. The program is designed for aspiring physician assistants who are completing their clinical rotations as Physician Assistants who wish to obtain a master’s degree. 

To this end, SFU has developed an affiliate network that includes several community colleges. That’s along with the Stanford University Primary Care Associates Program. 

Aspiring physician assistants enter the program and complete its 33 required credits during their clinical year. The courses are delivered in an asynchronous format. This makes for a very flexible format, a must during clinical rotations.

The program enhances students’ skills in evidence-based research and diagnosis. It emphasizes the need for graduates to be aware of current pharmacotherapeutics used in clinical practice.

Students take a total of four classes over four semesters. Classes in the program include:

  • Clinical Applications in Primary Care
  • Clinical Residency Project
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Research Methodologies

What the Program Requires for Admission:

Applicants should submit an official undergraduate transcript verifying their bachelor’s degree program with one of SFU’s affiliates or that they hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA.


#11. A.T. Still University of Health Sciences 

Location: Kirksville, MO

Degree: Master of Science in Advanced Physician Assistant

Net Price: $28,016


#12. Yale University

Location: New Haven, CT

Degree: Master of Medical Science

Net Price: $42,100


FAQ About Physician Assistant Master’s Programs

What Master’s degree should I get for PA?

There are all kinds of physician assistant master’s degree programs you can consider. Look for an accredited degree program that will give you the clinical knowledge you need and also prepare you to sit for the physician assistant national certifying examination. 

An accredited PA program (like by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or the MIddle States Association) will not only prepare you for the national certification exam but also enable you to prescribe medications and gain the other sort of professional experience you need to be successful. 

What is the highest paying physician assistant specialty?

The PA profession is lucrative. The median salary is around $110,000 per annum according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, there are some specializations that offer the highest monetary rewards. These include:

  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Neurosurgery
  • Orthopedics

Can you get a masters in PA?

A master’s degree in physician assistant will take two to three years for full-time students. Classes and clinical rotations in these physician assistant master’s programs may be completed online or on-campus. Sometimes it is a combination of both.

Aspiring physician assistants are required to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) after graduation. This allows prospective students to become a certified PA.

How long does it take to get a Master’s degree in PA?

If you complete a physician assistant master’s program online, it will often take two to three years of full time study. 

It depends on which online PA program you choose, but online students tend to take less time to complete the program. You can take online courses based on your own schedule. 

What are the physician assistant master’s degree requirements?

A master’s degree in physician assistant will include didactic coursework covering topics such as:

  • Organ systems
  • Organizational behavior
  • Considerations for surgical PAs
  • Family medicine
  • Strategies to treat patients
  • Considerations for private practices
  • Surgical procedures
  • Healthcare policy
  • Medical ethics
  • Diagnostic methods and diagnostic tests
  • Ethical issues for real patients
  • Research methods
  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Clinical medicine
  • Emergency medicine
  • Human physiology/human anatomy
  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Reading x rays
  • Internal medicine

You will learn how to conduct physical examinations and examine patients based on their needs, complaints, and medical histories. You can work in a variety of health-related professions and in some cases, prescribe medications. You will build your critical thinking skills and investigative skills. 

You’ll gain professional experience so you can complete many of the same duties as doctors. Many physician assistant studies MPAs contain two or three clinical tracks that you can explore as well to gain more practical experience.

What are the best online physician assistant programs?

There are great online PA programs out there for all online physician assistant students! No matter where you want your physician assistant studies to take you, you’re sure to find master’s programs that fit the bill. 

In addition to the programs for health care professionals cited above, you’ll find excellent student support and quality coursework at accredited college programs offered by:

  • University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Stony Brook University
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Yale University
  • Pace University 

Are there accredited online physician assistant programs?

An accredited college is not hard to find, even online. Some online MPAS programs are accredited by ARC-PA. Others are accredited by the accreditation review commission. Many online physician assistant master’s programs have hybrid models that combine online coursework with on-campus clinical practicums.

What are the cheapest online physician assistant programs?

Look for PA master’s degree programs that are offered in an online format. Hybrid programs can also help you save money on your PA education. Most programs charge the same tuition for out of state students as they do for their on campus counterparts. 

State residency won’t make a difference in your tuition cost, plus a physician assistant degree online will give you more flexibility as you complete coursework. Online learning is ideal for working professionals who want to save money on a physician assistant degree!

Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor