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Physician Assistant Master’s Degrees: Best Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

Joyce Manrique - October 29, 2021


A physician assistant master’s degree is a must if you want to work in the field as it prepares you for the national licensure exam. The theoretical knowledge, training, and real-life experience that you need can come from this program of study. This guide has some of the best master’s degrees to enroll in to become a physician assistant.

What Is a Physician Assistant?

A physician assistant works in a clinic or hospital and practices medicine under the guidance of a licensed doctor or surgeon. You examine patients, provide a diagnosis and any necessary prescriptions, and assist a doctor with any relevant procedures. To qualify for this role, you must have completed a relevant degree of study and passed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

What Is a Physician Assistant Master’s Degree?

A physician assistant master’s degree is a program that can be taken by entry-level or professional physician assistants who want to receive further training in the field. It normally takes two to three years for you to acquire the clinical skills needed to practice the profession. The program combines coursework with rotating assignments at different clinics or hospitals.

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Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Requirements

The basic requirements for a physician assistant master’s degree are an official transcript from an undergraduate degree program, letters of recommendation, and an interest in the subject. The majority of the programs require that you have working experience in the field. Enrolling in a master’s degree program also means that you want to receive training and review for the PANCE.

How Much Does a Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Cost?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the average cost for a graduate program is $19,314 as of 2019. Studying at a public institution costs an average of $12,171. This does not include other expenses like housing and transportation. For-profit private institutions cost $14,208 and non-profit private institutions cost $27,776.

Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Financing Options: How to Pay for Your Physician Assistant Degree

You can fund your master’s degree education through scholarships, federal grants, private loans, and aid such as the GI Bill. Looking for additional financial help is normal when pursuing postgraduate studies. Universities and local governments offer incentives and scholarships that you may apply for.

Best Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Monmouth University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Northern Arizona University Master of Physician Assistant Studies Higher Learning Commission
Northeastern University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies New England Commission of Higher Education
Pacific University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Shenandoah University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Stanford University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
University of Detroit Mercy Master of Science Physician Assistant Higher Learning Commission
University of Michigan – Flint Master of Science in Physician Assistant Higher Learning Commission
University of South Alabama Master of Health Science in Physician Assistant Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
University of South Carolina Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Colleges for Physician Assistant: Top Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Programs

Looking for the university that best suits your desired study pace takes a lot of contemplation and evaluation. Here are some of the best universities for in-person physician assistant master’s degree programs.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant | Monmouth University

The physician assistant program at Monmouth University can be completed within three years for a total of 95-credit hours. It is mainly composed of coursework and hands-on experience through clinical practice. Some of the topics covered include complex medical issues, management of patients with substance use issues, public health, and emergency care.

Master of Physician Assistant Studies | Northern Arizona University

The 103-unit physician assistant master’s degree program at Northern Arizona University trains its students to conduct physical exams, interpret test results, and diagnose patients. The program will take you through the practice and importance of providing the appropriate therapy to patients. It also improves your critical thinking skills and ability to maintain ethical behavior.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies | Pacific University

Pacific University’s physician assistant program combines coursework and clinical practice. It can be completed within 27 months. The program study is concerned with evidence-based healthcare and utilizing technology to provide quality healthcare. A graduate research project and community service are expected to be completed as part of the requirements.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies | Northeastern University

The physician assistant studies program offered by Northeastern University covers the important core courses related to providing healthcare. You will learn about anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, and the principles of surgery. Once you complete the two-year program, you are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies | Shenandoah University

Shenandoah University’s entry-level professional physician assistant studies program is for undergraduate degree holders. For 30 months, you will be trained in the practice of providing primary care and medical service. You also have an option to take up a double degree with a Master of Public Health to combine the training time.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies | Stanford University

This nine-term physician assistant program covers clinical research, health services, policy research, community health, and medical education. The coursework is completed over five quarters, after which you will complete a 12-month clinical clerkship. To graduate from the program, you need to submit a capstone project on an important healthcare topic of your choice.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant | University of Detroit Mercy

This program prepares you for work in primary care and a wide range of patient care responsibilities. The two-year program combines coursework to build your theoretical knowledge with clinical rotations. Some of the topics covered by the curriculum are anatomy, clinical medicine, patient diagnosis, and healthcare policy.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant | University of Michigan – Flint

University of Michigan’s physician assistant program provides you with the theoretical and practical knowledge to prepare for the licensure exam. The 103-credit curriculum is composed of relevant physician assistant courses and different experiences for clinical rotation. You also have an option to take up a double degree in business administration.

Master of Health Science in Physician Assistant | University of South Alabama

This 27-month program is a combination of coursework and clinical rotations. The first four semesters cover medicine basics, including lab work and other forms of practice. The clinical rotation requires you to complete a certain number of hours of work in hospitals or clinics within a 75-mile radius of the university, including rotations in rural primary care and pediatrics clinics.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies | University of South Carolina

This program covers classwork, clinical rotation, and technology in its physician assistant master’s degree program. The curriculum covers conducting physical exams, performing diagnoses, interpreting results, and assisting in surgery. The university also offers a review session for students who are planning to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam.

Best Online Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Augusta University Master of Physician Assistant Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Pace University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Middle States Commission on Higher Education
State University of New York Master of Science in
Physician Assistant Studies
Middle States Commission on Higher Education
South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Stony Brook University Physician Assistant Post-Professional Master’s Program Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Touro College Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Middle States Commission on Higher Education
University of Nebraska Master of Physician Assistant Studies Higher Learning Commission
University of North Dakota Master of Physician Assistant Studies Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Master in Physician Assistant Studies Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Yale University Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant New England Commission of Higher Education

Best Colleges for Physician Assistant: Top Online Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Programs

Earning a physician assistant master’s degree is possible with online learning for a graduate degree . Various reputable and accredited institutions are now offering this as a remote learning program to ease the burden on students. Here are some of the online programs from well-known universities that you can choose from.

Master of Physician Assistant | August University

The online program by Augusta University is a bridge program of 30 units for undergraduate students and licensed physician assistants. The curriculum is composed of advanced topics in the field that you will need for clinical practice. Some of the topics covered are medical terminologies, diagnostics and pathology, airway management, and pharmacotherapeutics.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies | Pace University

The physician assistant completion program by Pace University takes 12 months of part-time study. The core courses revolve around healthcare promotion, evidence-based medicine, epidemiology, and research methods. You need to have completed an undergraduate program and clinical rotation to qualify for this program.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant | South University

South University’s physician assistant master’s degree program is focused on training students to ensure they will perform their duties ethically and legally. The curriculum covers therapeutics, diagnostics, counseling, evaluation, and monitoring. Its program is a mix of on-campus and online instruction.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant  | State University of New York

State University of New York’s physician assistant master’s degree is a 30-unit program that is designed for professionals. If you are aiming for a management or administrative position, this program provides training to enhance your knowledge in clinical care. You can also use this program to work in the research or education fields.

Physician Assistant Post-Professional Master’s Program | Stony Brook University

This post-professional master’s degree program is meant for physician assistants aiming for managerial or administrative positions. The curriculum is research-oriented and can also provide training to work as a physician assistant professor or instructor. Some of the topics in this program are healthcare delivery, pharmacology, evidence-based medicine, and ethics in healthcare.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies | Touro College

The master’s completion program at Touro College is made for individuals who are looking to update their credentials as physician assistants. The core courses cover epidemiology, medical research and methods, and ethics and policy. You must also create your own healthcare-related project to complete the program.

Master of Physician Assistant Studies | University of Nebraska

The 28-month program from the University of Nebraska is a mix of online and on-campus learning. The curriculum focuses on anatomy, biology, interpretation of lab results, behavioral medicine, and pediatrics. You have an option to take a dual degree in public health if you want to expand your career opportunities or pursue a research position.

Master of Physician Assistant Studies | University of North Dakota

This blended online and on-campus physician assistant master’s degree is a 90-credit program that can be completed in two years. You will be trained to improve your skills in assessing your patients and be involved in healthcare development projects. It is research-oriented so you will learn techniques and methods to contribute to the primary care field.

Master in Physician Assistant Studies | The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

This physician assistant master’s degree program prepares you for a full-time program. There will be three clinical tracks to accomplish through an online setup to help enhance your competencies. Some of the main topics covered are patient care, medical knowledge, communication skills, and professionalism.

Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant | Yale University

Yale University’s online program prepares aspiring physician assistants for the national licensure exam. The classes are blended, with coursework conducted online while students need to be physically present in their respective assignments for clinical rotations. Additionally, you will also undergo three immersion programs within the campus to get more practice.

What’s the Average Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Salary?

Physician assistants earn a median salary of $115,930 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, if you explore other healthcare fields with your physician assistant master’s degree, the average annual salary is between $27,080 to $208,000 . You may need training and additional licenses if you want to qualify for other healthcare jobs.

Top Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview

Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Jobs Average Salary
Physician $208,000
Physician Assistant $115,390
Physical Therapist $91,010
Radiation Therapist $86,850
Occupational Therapist $86,280
Dental Hygienist $77,090
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist $76,340
Respiratory Therapist $62,810
Athletic Trainer $49,860
Surgical Technologist $49,710

Best Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Jobs Explained

A doctor and two assistants perform a procedure on a patient. Physician Assisting Master's Degrees
A physician assistant master’s degree opens up many job opportunities to apply for once you complete your program.

Physician

Physicians provide diagnoses to patients based on their medical history. They conduct physical exams and treat illnesses when needed. A state license is needed to be able to perform the duties of a physician.

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants primarily work together with physicians and surgeons to perform diagnoses and examine patients. Their training and licenses also allow them to prescribe medicine and suggest treatment management.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are in charge of pain management and helping patients recover from an injury or chronic illness. They plan therapy programs and monitor the progress of their patients. They are present during the therapy along with other medical assistants.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists mainly work with cancer patients. They must thoroughly explain the treatment plan. It is also their duty to operate the machines and technology needed and ensure that the proper safety measures are being meant.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists aid patients in recovering from injuries or illnesses that affect their day-to-day lives. Their scope covers illnesses caused by living or working conditions, as well as assessing possible home or workplace improvements to prevent these problems.

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists ensure that patients follow preventive measures to avoid oral diseases. Their duties include assessing the patient’s condition and providing a solution, as well as educating them about oral health. They also perform routine cleanings.

Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

Occupational health and safety technicians oversee the efficiency of a workplace environment and ensure that safety protocols are being followed. Their main responsibilities include designing processes to ensure the smooth flow of operations and to protect workers from dangerous working conditions.

Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists assist patients who have trouble breathing due to certain medical issues and provide the appropriate treatment plan for them. If there is a respiratory-related emergency, they are also expected to be among the first responders.

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers specialize in providing proper training to athletes to prevent injuries. During a game, they also provide any necessary emergency treatment to prevent further issues and potentially career-ending injuries.

Surgical Technologist

Surgical technologists work closely with surgeons during operations by preparing the operating room and assisting with surgery. They ensure that the equipment and tools are sterilized and ready so the process runs smoothly and avoids any issues.

Benefits of a Physician Assistant Master’s Degree

  • Comprehensive curriculum . The important core courses covered in the curriculum are specific to the essential knowledge that you need to work in the field.
  • Rich clinical experience . Graduate students are required to spend half of the program in clinical rotations for hands-on training.
  • Immersion opportunities. Onsite experience is a must for the physician assistant profession hence more immersion opportunities give you the necessary practice that you need to excel in the job.
  • Gives you a competitive career edge . A master’s degree does not only build your skills and knowledge but also prepares you for higher career opportunities involving management and leadership.
  • Prepares you for the PANCE . Most physician assistant master’s degree programs prepare you for the national certification exam through training and review.

Should You Get a Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant?

A Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant is a good educational pathway to improve your strengths in the field. Receiving training through the required clinical rotations and immersion develops your ability to connect with patients. It prepares you for a multitude of opportunities, including earning the physician assistant certificate.

Physician Assistant Master’s Degree FAQ

Is a master’s degree required to be a physician’s assistant?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the entry-level education requirement for a physician assistant is a master’s degree. You also need to pass the exam and acquire a license from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.


What master’s degree should a physician assistant have?

A physician assistant must have a master’s degree in physician assistant. Numerous universities are offering this program on-campus or online, though you still need to do clinical rotations in-person even with a distance learning setting.

How long is a physician assistant master’s program?

The typical program length is 24 to 27 months, which is a little over two years. Some students may take about three years to complete the program depending on the curriculum and course schedule.

Should physician’s assistants have a master’s degree or doctorate?

A master’s degree is the required degree if you want to practice this profession. However, you may opt to continue studying for a doctoral program if you wish to expand your knowledge.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Joyce Manrique

About the author: Joyce covers online courses, learning platforms, and tech careers for the Career Karma publication. She graduated with her AB in Philosophy and her BS in Management of Financial Institutions from De La Salle University. After graduation, she found immediate success in the finance sector of an oil and gas company. After some years, she decided to pursue her love of writing, leading her to join the Career Karma team in October 2020. Her work has been published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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