Make a direct impact on the lives of patients as a physician assistant (PA) by obtaining a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Saint Joseph’s University, a leader in professional health sciences education.
Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS)
Make a direct impact on the lives of patients as a physician assistant (PA) by obtaining a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Saint Joseph’s University. Our 24-month Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) program prepares you to deliver a broad range of medical services as a physician assistant, including acute patient care, research and education.
You’ll become a leader and innovator in this fast-growing and rewarding medical profession through this physician assistant graduate program. You’ll learn how to take medical history, administer exams, evaluate lab tests and provide health counseling. You’ll also work with patients of all ages in the Greater Philadelphia area and neighboring states through 45 weeks of nine clinical rotations, under the supervision of a physician or a licensed PA, putting your knowledge into practice.
What Sets Our Program Apart
You’ll obtain detailed anatomy instruction through the Touch of Life Technologies VH Dissector platform on Anatomy Toltech tables. This technology provides innovative and adaptive high-resolution virtual views for learning both in the lab and at home on desktops/laptops. This platform also allows for the incorporation of anatomical concepts with real-world clinical applications which is useful in understanding radiology, surgical procedures and other important areas of clinical medicine.
All PA students complete nine clinical rotations: two family medicine rotations, emergency medicine, pediatrics, behavioral medicine, surgery, women’s health, behavioral health and an elective.
Our experienced faculty collectively have 30+ years of physician assistant education teaching experience and 60+ years of clinical experience, with support from additional University scientists and clinicians who are renowned in their fields.
You’ll be given individualized advisement and learning resources at the programmatic and University levels to ensure successful degree completion, preparation to sit for the NCCPA national certifying exam, so you can take your place as an outstanding healthcare provider in all fields of medicine.
What Can You Do with an MSPAS Degree?
Physician assistants continue to be an in-demand specialty in the healthcare field. Since PAs are not burdened with the administrative and insurance aspects of the medical field that physicians manage, they tend to have a higher job satisfaction rate. In fact, physician assistants ranked #3 on the list of best jobs to have in the United States. Additionally, employment prospects for PAs are projected to grow 31% from 2020 to 2030 — much faster than the average 8% for all occupations.
With a PA degree, you can work as a physician assistant in a number of diverse environments, including:
- Community health centers
- Doctors’ offices
- Outpatient care centers
Physician assistants also work in federal or state government institutions and in colleges and schools.
During your first three semesters, your didactic education will focus on clinical medicine for every system of the body. Then, under the guidance of a physician or a licensed PA, you will put what you learn into practice. Saint Joseph’s graduate program offers 45 weeks of nine clinical rotations. These five-week rotations encompass:
- Family medicine (2 consecutive rotations)
- Internal medicine
- Emergency medicine
- Women’s health
- Behavioral medicine
Upon successfully completing the program, you will be prepared to sit for the NCCPA national certifying exam, which explores all aspects of medicine. Moreover, you will be ready to contribute to a healthcare team in any medical field or specialty.
Each physician assistant program has unique requirements. Please visit the academic catalog to view the curricular requirements for Saint Joseph's PA program; the 2022-2023 version will be available in mid-June 2022. Please also see the Physician Assistant Student Learning Outcomes and Competencies. Contact us if you have any questions about the program curriculum and/or coursework requirements.
Any student whose cumulative grade point average (GPA) falls below a 3.00 or receives one course grade below a 70% (C) will be notified that they will be placed on programmatic academic probation and referred to the Student Progress Committee.
For more information, see the corresponding section of the PA Student Handbook regarding Programmatic Academic Probation.
Pre-Physician Assistant Program
Saint Joseph’s University’s pre-physician assistant program prepares you for intense professional training in a graduate PA program. Choose from an accelerated, three-year track or a traditional, four-year undergraduate track to earn a bachelor’s in biomedical sciences degree and get a guaranteed interview to our master’s in physician assistant studies program.
Visit the Department of Physician Assistant website to learn more about our program mission and goals.
Learn more about our Clinical Site Procurement Policy and Student Employment Policy on the Department of Physician Assistant website.
The tuition for Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) students entering fall 2022 is $50,000* per year.
*Pricing does not include room and board, health insurance or any professional, clinical or transportation fees. Visit our program's Costs & Financial Aid page for a detailed cost breakdown.
The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Saint Joseph’s University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Saint Joseph’s University. Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding
Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.
The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at http://www.arc-pa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Accreditation-History-University-of-the-Sciences.pdf.
View our Student Attrition Report on the Department of Physician Assistant website.
Following successful completion of the PA program, you will be qualified to sit for the PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE). You will also be required to obtain a license to practice as a PA in your chosen state(s) upon passing the PANCE.
Learn more about licensure requirements and view our PANCE pass rate on the Department of Physician Assistant website.
View the Technical Standards that apply to all clinical training students in Saint Joseph’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program on the department website.
Why Study Physician Assistant Studies in Philadelphia?
Most clinical rotations at Saint Joseph’s are offered in the greater Philadelphia region, home to multiple world-class, U.S. News and World Report–ranked hospitals and doctors, with opportunities to build local and regional healthcare networking and employment after graduation.
Partnering with our pharmacy, occupational therapy and physical therapy programs as well as with medical schools, social work programs, nursing schools and communities in Philadelphia also allows for unique interprofessional learning experiences (IPE) and provides a competitive edge in the thriving healthcare sector.
Physician Assistant Admissions Information
We will begin accepting applications for the 2023 cycle via the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) in June 2022. Application deadline is January 15, 2023.
*CASPA will collect and summarize all of the applicant's data - application form, transcripts, 3-5 letters of recommendation, and personal statement). Early application is highly recommended.
You must meet the following requirements to be considered for admission to the physician assistant program:
- Minimum 3.00 overall and science GPA required, however 3.20 overall AND science GPA preferred. Applicants with lower than a 3.20 overall or science GPA may not be considered for an interview.
- Grades for prerequisite coursework must be “C” or better.
- 350 hours of healthcare experience.
- Shadowing is not required at this time — Candidates are encouraged to shadow a physician assistant, but there is no minimum requirement of shadowing hours.
- Letters of recommendation requirements:
a. One letter from a professor with whom the completed undergraduate coursework
b. One letter from a supervisor or manager, preferably from the supervisor or manager of your patient care experience
c. One letter from someone of the applicant’s choice
- **If any courses, degree completion or healthcare experience hours are in progress at the time of application, they must be completed by matriculation. Documentation will need to be submitted as requested by the program. Students with more than 3 required prerequisite courses that are outstanding or incomplete at the time of application are encouraged to apply in the next year's admission cycle. Applicants with less than 350 hours of patient care experience or missing letters of recommendation may not be considered for an interview.
- Interviews are by invitation only and are granted on a rolling basis.
International students: Please refer to Saint Joseph’s admissions page for international students for additional admissions information and requirements.
Meeting the minimum recommended requirements does not guarantee an interview or acceptance into the program.
Prerequisite courses must be completed within 10 years of matriculation (Fall 2013- Present). All prerequisite coursework must be completed at a regionally accredited college or university with a grade of "C" or better. Online courses and labs will be accepted. All prerequisite coursework must be completed before matriculation into the program.
All prerequisites must be completed before matriculation.; If you have 3 or more prerequisites incomplete or outstanding at the time of your application, it is recommended that you apply in the next year’s admission cycle. All grades need to be reflected on your transcript at the time of submission, otherwise, your application will be flagged as “does not meet minimum requirements.” Priority will be given to applicants with all prerequisites completed. Applicants will be denied if they do not meet the minimum admission requirements.
- General Biology I + II with lab (8 credits)
- General Chemistry I + II with lab (8 credits)
- Organic Chemistry with lab or Biochemistry with lab (4 credits)
- Microbiology with lab (4 credits)
- Statistics (3 credits)
- Psychology (3 credits)
- Human Anatomy and Physiology I + II with lab (8 credits)
- Medical Terminology (1 credit)
Under no circumstances will a student be given credit towards courses in the PA Program.
- Athletic trainer (certified or student)
- Cardiac bypass technician
- Cardiovascular perfusionist
- Dental Assistant
- Dental Hygienist
- Certified Nursing Assistant
- Clinical Nutritionist
- Clinical Research Assistant with direct in-person patient contact
- Community Health Worker with direct patient contact
- Emergency Department Technician
- EKG Technician
- Exercise Physiologist (cardiac rehab)
- Foreign Medical Graduate (physician)
- Health Care-Related Technician
- Home Health Care Aide (not housework or personal assistant)
- Laboratory Assistant with direct patient contact
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Corpsman
- Medical Scribe
- Military Medic
- Nurse (RN or LPN)
- Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nursing Assistant
- Occupational Therapist
- Occupational Therapy Aide
- Orthopedic Technician
- Physical Therapist
- Physical Therapy Aide
- Radiographer/Radiologic Technologist
- Respiratory Therapist
- Speech Therapist
- Surgical Technician (OR Tech)
- Ultrasound Technician
Along with the University, the PA Program strives to create a safe and welcoming environment that embraces differences Saint Joseph’s University recognizes that a diverse campus community is essential to enriching intellectual exchanges and enhancing cultural understanding, and as such, values equality of opportunity, mutual respect and diversity. The University does not discriminate in admission, employment or administration of its programs on the basis of gender, age, disability, race, religion, creed, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or in violation of federal, state and local laws or executive orders. Applicants who are first-generation college students, economically disadvantaged, and/or from populations that are underrepresented in medicine are encouraged to apply.
Applications from students who meet minimum requirements will be reviewed, but meeting minimum requirements does not guarantee an interview or acceptance to the program. Saint Joseph’s PA program reserves the right to update or revise, without notice, admissions criteria and procedures and to make exceptions to admissions policies when it is deemed appropriate.
Special consideration will be given for academic excellence, outstanding patient care experience, community service activities, socioeconomically disadvantaged status, first-generation college graduates and groups underrepresented in medicine, active military, veterans and students in the peace corps.
The PA Program has been designed to incorporate a diversity of student populations.
Along with the University, the PA Program strives to create a safe and welcoming environment that embraces differences. Saint Joseph’s University recognizes that a diverse campus community is essential to enriching intellectual exchanges and enhancing cultural understanding, and as such, values equality of opportunity, mutual respect, and diversity. The University does not discriminate in admission, employment or administration of its programs on the basis of gender, age, disability, race, religion, creed, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or in violation of federal, state and local laws or executive orders.
Special considerations will be given for those with academic excellence, outstanding patient care experience, shadowing a physician assistant, performing community service activities, those who have a history of socioeconomically disadvantaged status, first-generation college graduates, and groups underrepresented in medicine, active military, veterans, and applicants in the peace corps.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
To become a physician assistant (PA), you’ll need to:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree. Most PA programs prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s in science or a health-related field.
- Apply and get accepted to a PA school with an accredited PA program, such as Saint Joseph’s 24-month MS in Physician Assistant Studies degree.
- Complete and graduate from an accredited PA program, which involves clinical experiences
- Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) to get certified, then obtain a license in the state you want to practice in
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, it takes around three years (26 months) to complete an accredited PA program. At Saint Joseph’s University, you can earn your PA degree in just 24 months. After graduating, you can sit for the PANCE exam and pass it to become certified and take the next steps to obtain a state license.
Saint Joseph’s University undergraduate students in the Pre-Professional PA Program are granted an interview for admission to the MSPAS Program if all progression requirements of the Pre-PA program and all admission requirements of the Graduate PA program are met. Students in the accelerated track who meet all requirements may apply to the graduate PA program between the end of their sophomore year, and the fall of their junior year, with an application deadline of December 1, 2022. If accepted, they will earn the remaining credits to complete their bachelor’s degree with the completion of the didactic phase of the MSPAS Program. Undergraduate students in the traditional four-year Pre-Professional PA program who meet all progression criteria and all admission requirements of the Graduate PA program are also granted an interview. If granted an interview, this does not guarantee acceptance to the MSPAS Program.
All applicants to the MSPAS Program must apply through the CASPA application portal and follow the same admissions process.