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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 22, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Physician Assistant Studies Residential Program, 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 designed for science majors, two semesters*
  • Chemistry with lab designed for science majors, two semesters*
  • English Composition/Writing, two semesters
  • Microbiology with lab, one semester*
  • Chemistry, Upper Level with lab, one semester*
  • Psychology, one semester
  • Statistics, one semester
  • Medical Terminology, one semester,  for 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

  • 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 (*). Exceptions may be made for candidates who present compelling evidence of success in graduate coursework, including successful completion of a graduate-level program.
  • Three letters of recommendation, one from a former college/university instructor and one from a supervisor of the required clinical experience. 
  • Completion of an additional personal statement in CASPA focusing on the mission of the PA Studies Program.
  • 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 CNA, Patient Care Technician, 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.

Interview Process

  •  Interviews for seats in our program are performed and scored by the program director, faculty, current students, and practicing PAs. They include the following parts and scoring: 
    • Essay - Higher scores are awarded based on apparent appreciation for the state of the PA profession, passion for pursuing PA school to positively impact the profession, language and writing skills, and editorial care 
    • Individual interview - Higher scores are awarded based on the strength of demonstration of the following qualities: adaptability/stress management, conflict resolution, and technical and professional knowledge/ability to learn 
    • Group interview - Higher scores are awarded based on the strength of demonstration of the following qualities: active listening, conflict management, probing the group to maximize performance, leadership skills, clarification of group responses, encouraging and harmonizing with fellow group members, articulation, drawing others into the conversation, offering ideas, and summarizing 
  • Total Scoring and Final Review by Admissions Committee: After completion of the above, the committee reviews candidate scores, reviewer comments, and application information to decide who is accepted, waitlisted, and denied admission. 

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.

Didactic Year 1:

Clinical Year 2:

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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