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University of Pittsburgh    
2021-2022 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Apr 20, 2024
2021-2022 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Doctor of Physician Assistant Studies

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The Doctor of PA Studies Program meets the following requirements for professional doctoral degrees as stipulated in the Regulations Governing Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh through:

  • Matriculation through a coherent program designed to assure the mastery of a substantial and complex body of knowledge that will serve as preparation for leadership and excellence in the practice of the profession
  • A research component to achieve the goal of research competence including a report demonstrating mastery of the subject matter and a high level of communication skills,
  • Minimum admission requirements that will align with all graduate programs at the University of Pittsburgh,
  • Completion of a defined set of prerequisites so that all students will enter with required basic knowledge, and
  • Maintenance of a 3.00 GPA to remain in good standing and be graduated.

Additionally, all potential matriculants would have already completed a clinical component of their education. See Appendix A for the curriculum of our Master of Science in PA Studies curriculum, which also serves as a model for the master’s level training practicing PAs.  This component would have been guided by clear goals and objectives as part of their degree as is required by ARC-PA accreditation standards. These clinical education components would be accepted as transfer credits for matriculants in the DPAS program.

Program Duration

Due to the rigorous and uniform nature of PA studies programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc., all potential matriculants will possess the same level of required knowledge for admission into this doctoral program. Nationally, the mean credits required for completion of the entry-level PA degree is 112.7 (PAEA, 2020b).  For this reason, the DPAS program will accept the application of 30 credits from University of Pittsburgh PA program alumni to the DPAS degree and the transfer of 30 credits from other matriculants who have graduated from an ARC-PA accredited PA program to the DPAS degree.

Program Characteristics, Type of Instruction, & Level of Instruction

The Doctor of PA Studies Program graduate-level coursework will consist of online courses and will culminate in a Scholarly Practice Capstone Project. The core curricular concepts will be presented primarily asynchronously, similar to an in-class lecture, but using interactive online educational activities to promote knowledge acquisition.  This knowledge will be reinforced with synchronous, instructor-led, online activities to facilitate application and synthesis of the knowledge acquired through the asynchronous online activities. Additionally, each matriculant will work closely with an assigned faculty advisor who will help guide their studies and mentor them in their Scholarly Practice Capstone Project. This individualized and learner-centered approach will allow matriculants to engage in scholarly activity that will have a direct and positive impact in their daily work.


Assessments will be competency- based and scaffolded to support completion of the Scholarly Practice Capstone. Such assessments will include:

  • Reflective writing assignments,
  • Scholarly writing assignments,
  • Written evidence of literature review,
  • Stakeholder assessments,
  • Oral presentations, and
  • Written defense of the Scholarly Practice Capstone.

Plan of Studies

Courses will be offered in consecutive semesters in the Spring, Fall, and Summer Terms. It will be recommended that students proceed sequentially, as a cohort, through the program.  This program is intended to be a post-professional degree program for full-time practicing PAs. The advantage of this design is to allow learners to remain in their clinical practice full-time, while earning their degree part-time, so that they can apply their classroom learning to their clinical practice in a meaningful and impactful way. The curriculum is designed to help students be informed by, and to inform, their current practice as they learn. This design allows for a balanced curriculum that helps working professionals stay on track. Individualized plans of study will be considered for students who experience extenuating circumstances that require individualized or personalized plans to meet their academic goals.  Per the Regulations Governing Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh, this professional doctoral degree program, the statute of limitations for students for completion of all DPAS degree requirements will be set at 8 years and will not be extended beyond the expectation for a Doctor of Philosophy student. Courses and their sequencing are presented in Table 1. The Plan of Studies by Pre-Admission Degree Status is presented in Table 2.

Table 1. DPAS Program Plan of Studies




PAS 3001

Core Concepts of Scholarly Practice


PAS 3002

Examining Supporting Evidence


PAS 3003

Internship Experience 1


PAS 3004

Personalized Elective (Academic or Administrative)


PAS 3005

Scholarly Practice Capstone Phase 1


PAS 3006

Internship Experience 2


PAS 3007

Scholarly Practice Capstone Phase 2


PAS 3008

Internship Experience 3



DPAS credits


Graduate transfer credits


Total credits for DPAS degree


Table 2. Plan of Studies by Pre-Admission Degree Status


Degree Status

Graduate Level

Health-Related Credits

DPAS Credits



New Pitt Graduate:

MS PA Studies

Application of up to 30 MS PA Studies credits



Pitt Alumnus:

MS PA Studies

Application of up to 30 MS PA studies credits



Non-Pitt Alumnus:

MS PA Studies

Application of up to 30 MS credits from PA program (example: MS, MPAS, MPA, etc.)



Non-Pitt Alumnus:

  • Graduate of ARC-PA accredited PA program


  • Health-related master’s degree

(ex/ Public Health, Medical Science, etc.)

Application of up to 30 graduate level, health-related credits



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