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University of Pittsburgh    
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jul 13, 2024
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Physician Assistant Studies, MS

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Program Requirements

Prerequisite course work

  • Anatomy with lab and Physiology, two semesters*
    • This requirement may be met by taking either one semester of Anatomy with lab and one semester of Physiology or two semesters of Anatomy & Physiology combined, each with a lab.
  • Biology with lab, two semesters*
  • Chemistry with lab, two semesters*
  • English Composition/Writing, two semesters
  • Microbiology with lab, one semester*
  • Organic Chemistry with lab, one semester*
  • Psychology, Introduction, one semester
  • Psychology, Upper Level, one semester
  • Statistics, one semester
  • Medical Terminology, one semester, at least one college credit (certification courses not accepted)

*Prerequisite Science Courses cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher is required

Other admission criteria

Successful completion of an undergraduate degree at an accredited institution

  • A valid Healthcare Provider BLS course certification from the American Heart Association (AHA). BLS certification must be maintained throughout the two year program. BLS certifications from organizations other than the AHA will not be accepted. 
  • Overall grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (based on a 4.0 scale) in all college-level course work and a minimum (GPA) of 3.0 (based on a 4.0 scale) in the prerequisite science courses marked above with an asterisk (*).
  • Three letters of recommendation, one from a former college/university instructor and one from a supervisor of the required clinical experience.
  • A minimum of 500 hours of hands-on patient care experience.

The patient care experience must be direct, “hands-on” patient contact e.g., RN, EMT or paramedic, patient care attendant or nurse’s aide, clinic assistant, Peace Corps volunteer or other cross-cultural health care experience, therapist, clinical research assistant, respiratory therapist/aide, medical assistant, PT/OT assistant.

All coursework, requirements, and degree must be completed by August 31st of the application year in order to be considered for a seat in the class that will begin the following January.

Although not required, the following will be considered when determining the applicant’s candidacy score:

  • Biochemistry with lab, one semester
  • Advanced Biology Courses
  • Calculus, one semester
  • Nutrition, one semester
  • Shadowing a PA

Interview Process

Applications for admission will be reviewed by the PA Program Admissions Committee. Candidates selected will be required to meet with the Admissions Committee. The University of Pittsburgh’s PA program finds the personal interview to be a necessary and important component to the admission process. The faculty looks for such personal attributes as maturity, empathy, compassion, motivation, ability to communicate, cultural sensitivity, critical thinking skills and the potential to achieve career fulfillment within the PA role. Interviews will be conducted on campus in a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format to provide the candidate and faculty an opportunity to meet and discuss the program objectives, student’s goals, rationale for choosing the PA profession and more specifically the program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Program and Admission Notes 

  • The program is two full years (six consecutive semesters) and classes start each January (spring semester)
  • Applications will be considered only until the class is filled 
  • Students are highly encouraged to apply early
  • The program does not offer advanced standing 
  • All courses within the curriculum are required
  • No credit is granted for pre-admission experiential learning
  • Only full-time students are admitted

Plan of Study

The Physician Assistant curriculum is comprised of a rigorous 24 month Master of Science Program. The goals and objectives of our program are guided by the criteria set forth in the Standards and Guidelines for an Accredited Educational Program for the Physician Assistant as established by ARC-PA. The first three semesters (12 months) are made up of primarily classroom instruction. Course content is presented through traditional lecture, integrated instruction, case based and hands on skills labs. The clinical year is comprised of rotations in inpatient medicine, primary care, emergency medicine, general surgery, OB/GYN, pediatrics, and behavioral health. The curriculum is presented by practicing physician assistants, medical and surgical physicians, and other health care providers who have expertise in their respective specialties.

Each course in the program is offered only once during the academic year, therefore, any departure from completing a course in its planned sequence (e.g. failure to receive a passing grade of ‘C’ or better; leave of absence from program) will result in the delay of completion of program requirements and graduation from the program.

Program Credits Total: 82


Graduates of the professional program are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of the Physician Assistant (NCCPA). All States and the District of Columbia have legislation governing the qualifications or practice of physician assistants. All jurisdictions require physician assistants to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. Only those successfully completing the examination may use the credential “Physician Assistant-Certified.” To remain certified, PAs must complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every 2 years. Every 10 years, they must pass a recertification examination.

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