Master of Science in Physician Assistant

Degree Awarded: 
Master's Degree


  • To learn more about the faculty and staff of the Physician Assistant Program, click here.
  • To see Jefferson College of Health Sciences Catalog, with the Physician Assistant section beginning on page 192, click here.

Click here to download the Jefferson College Physician Assistant Program Frequently Asked Questions.

The program prepares graduates in generalist, primary care medicine to provide diagnostic and therapeutic medical services under physician supervision. Physician assistants provide high-quality, cost-effective healthcare while maintaining patient satisfaction at a level comparable to that of physicians. The licensed PA can provide most of the healthcare services performed by medical doctors and is an integral part in healthcare delivery today.

The curriculum, clinical experiences, and rotations emphasize local and regional healthcare through an affiliation with Carilion Medical Center, the largest hospital-clinic network in southwest Virginia.  Coursework integrates medical treatment with community health promotion, behavioral medicine, and disease prevention to meet the needs of patients in a changing healthcare environment.

Because of the close working relationship between PAs and physicians, PAs are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training.  The PA program is a 27-month professional program designed for students with a bachelors degree. Through interprofessional coursework, PA students collaborate with other health professional students to gain skills necessary for future practice.

The curriculum is comprised of 14 months of didactic instruction followed by 13 months of supervised clinical practice in the major medical disciplines. Graduates receive a Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree and are eligible to sit for the PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

Our program is extremely rigorous, requiring a large investment in both time and effort. Didactic students spend many hours in class, and still more time studying and preparing presentations; Clinical phase students often work much more than a 40-hour week.

Characteristics of recent PA classes:

  • Number of students: 42 per class (out of 900-1,000 completed applications)
  • Average age: 26, age range: 21-40+.
  • Previous degrees: all with Bachelor’s degrees; each class has a few Master's degrees, or even doctoral degrees.
  • Home states: about 1/3 to 1/2 are from Virginia; of the remainder, usually 10 or so are from surrounding states like North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and a number of other states including (recently) Alaska, California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
  • Previous occupations: emergency medical technician (EMT), certified nursing assistant (CNA), ED Scribe, medical assistant, physical therapy assistant, military medic, mental health counselor, radiology tech, respiratory therapist and others.
  • Academic qualifications: average GPA of ~3.5 and GRE scores of ~60th percentile for matriculated students.

We have an active PA Student Society:

  • Students participate in numerous service learning activities.
  • Students plan and participate in fundraisers.
  • Students participate in professional advocacy activities.
  • Many students attend the AAPA national conference.
Program Mission: 

The mission of the Jefferson College Physician Assistant Program is to graduate ethical, competent, and compassionate physician assistants who are well versed in the art and science of medicine and are prepared to effectively function as members of the healthcare team.

Program Goals: 
  • To enroll students who demonstrate academic excellence and a commitment to the healthcare profession.
  • To provide a positive learning environment that is conducive to attainment of Student Learning Outcomes.
  • To provide a strong foundation of medical knowledge, clinical skills, and ethical and professional behaviors that will meet the needs of a practicing PA.
  • To instill an appreciation for lifelong learning skills and the need to provide the most current patient-centered care possible.
  • To provide the skills necessary to communicate and collaborate effectively within a team environment.
  • To graduate physician assistants who will serve as leaders in their professional lives and will participate in the education of future medical providers.

The Physician Assistant Program was originally accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), the recognized accrediting agency for physician assistant education, in 1997. The current accreditation status granted by the ARC-PA to Jefferson College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Program is Accreditation-Continued. This status is granted to established programs that are in compliance with accreditation Standards. According to the ARC-PA definition, a status of accreditation-continued will remain in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards, ARC-PA requirements or procedures. The next accreditation review of the Jefferson College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Program is currently planned for March 2023.

Jefferson College of Health Sciences is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate, baccalaureate and masters degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097 or call (404) 679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Jefferson College of Health Sciences.

Admission Requirements: 
  • CASPA. Applicants must apply through CASPA, the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants. Jefferson College does not require a supplemental application. Deadline for submission is Nov. 1. DO NOT send application materials directly to the College or Program.​
  • References. We recommend three references: one each from an academic advisor, a clinical supervisor and an employer. Substitutions may be made if all three are not available, but at least one reference should be from someone familiar with you in a work or professional setting. Submit these directly to CASPA using CASPA's forms.​
  • Essay. The CASPA application includes a written essay, which will be reviewed by our admissions committee. The essay should be of high quality and demonstrate graduate-level writing.
  • Bachelor Degree. A bachelor degree from a regionally accredited institution is required. We accept degrees from all disciplines provided you meet the Program's course prerequisites. ​
  • GPA. The Jefferson College PA program requires a cumulative GPA on undergraduate and post baccalaureate work of at least 3.0. You must have earned a "C" or better on all prerequisite courses. Pass/Fail or placing out of a required prerequisite is not permitted, although AP credit appearing on college transcripts will be counted. Please contact the program if you have concerns about specific prerequisite coursework. We give no advanced standing/advanced placement or prior learning credit for PA program coursework. Each PA student must complete the entire curriculum at Jefferson College. 
  • Transcripts. Send all transcripts to CASPA, not to the College. Students are to send transcripts to the College only after they are accepted and have paid their deposit. ​
  • Healthcare Experience. All successful candidates must have 500 hours of healthcare experience, paid, volunteer, or as a student, prior to enrollment in the PA program. This experience should be in areas with direct patient or client contact, for example, EMT, medical technology, nursing, and phlebotomy. Patient contact in fields such as health education, health promotion, and social work may be considered as long as work was in areas of patient or client services. The 500 hours need not be completed by the time of application. Applicants with formal certifications in a health-related field should provide a copy of license or certification upon request. ​
  • GRE. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required and should have been taken within the last five years. GRE scores are considered along with other applicant factors, and will be required before a candidate is interviewed. If you take the GRE before finishing your CASPA application, GRE scores may submitted directly to CASPA with the Designated Institution (DI) code 0597. However, if you finalize your CASPA application and later take the GRE, scores should be sent directly to Jefferson College using DI Code 5099.
  • International Students. International students must have their transcripts submitted for independent evaluation of equivalency by an acceptable credentialing evaluation agency. The Program suggests World Education Service. Students for whom English is not their primary language are required to submit their TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign language)score. The minimum score accepted for admission is 550 for the paper-based test (equivalent requirements are 80 for internet-based and 215 for computer-based tests). We encourage international applicants to have some coursework at an accredited U.S. or Canadian institution. 
  • Prerequisite Courses. Applicants must have completed the following prerequisite coursework before beginning the program. At least 12 hours of this coursework must have been completed within the past three years.
    • Anatomy and Physiology I & II with lab: 8 hours 
    • General Chemistry I & II with lab: 8 hours
    • Biochemistry or Cell Biology: 3 hours
    • Microbiology with lab: 4 hours
    • Genetics or Immunology: 3 hours
    • Statistics: 3 hours
    • Medical Terminology: 1 hour
    • Psychology: 6 hours; at least one upper-level course is required (Abnormal Psychology or Developmental Psychology are recommended as upper-level courses) 

Requests for waivers of any of these requirements will be considered on an individual basis, must be made in writing to the program, and must be supported with excellent reasons.

Interviews for admission take place on campus. Applicants who are selected to be interviewed will be scheduled for an interview session several weeks ahead of time. Interview sessions begin in November and run through February. Admission decisions are made after each interview session, and outstanding candidates are accepted within 2 weeks after the interview.

The decision to admit a candidate rests with the admissions committee. Decisions are based on applications, overall and prerequisite grades, healthcare experience, essays, GRE scores, references, and interviews.

If you have questions regarding the program, please e-mail

How to Apply: 

Application deadline is Nov. 1. We have a rolling admissions process, i.e., applications are reviewed as they are received, so we highly recommend that you apply early. Selected applicants will be contacted regarding interviews as early as August.

Admission to the PA program is highly competitive. Each year we receive far more applications than seats available. Simply meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee an interview or admission to the program.

College information can change. Please check this website often for updates.

Other Information: 
Requirements for Accepted Students
  • Deposit: An accepted applicant has two weeks after receipt of notification of acceptance to submit a $500 deposit, which is counted toward tuition.
  • Health Requirements: Enrolling students must complete the College health requirements.
  • Criminal background checks are required for all enrolling students. The enrolling student is responsible for the costs.
  • BLS: Certification of Basic Life Support (BLS) is required before entering the program.
  • Technical Standards: Students must be able to comply with all of the PA Program’s required Technical Standards. Click here to download the Technical Standards.
  • Contingencies: Applicants will be required to complete all unfinished prerequisites before matriculation, and may be required to complete those prerequisites with a grade of B or higher.
Variable Costs
  • Living expenses: These vary according to the student's personal needs and tastes.   
  • Health Insurance: All students are required to have health insurance; this cost varies according to the type of plan. 
  • Conference travel: Optional attendance at the National Conference is estimated to cost $1,500 per year. 
  • Other estimated expenses:  

Tuition Formula
Semester 1: $14,310
Semester 2: $15,105
Semester 3: $  9,540
Semester 4: $12,720*
Semester 5: $12,720*
Semester 6: $  7,950*
Semester 7: $  7,950*

* Based on 2017-2018 tuition rates. This amount is subject to change.
** Students are REQUIRED to join AAPA and VAPA as student members.

See the Jefferson College of Health Sciences Financial Aid page and Tuition Schedule for current information.

If you have completed a FAFSA application you may have already received your award letter. If you have not completed this application, you need to notify the Financial Aid office now so they can process your institutional award.

Please Note: The Didactic Phase (Classroom) starts in August and goes into the second Academic Year and ends in October of the following year. The Clinical Phase (Rotations) begins in November of the second Academic Year and ends in December of the third Academic Year

Program Outcomes

Before graduation, all students must pass a summative evaluation that focuses in the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession (medical knowledge, interpersonal and communication skills, patient care, professionalism, practice-based learning and improvement, systems-based practice; full text available here). Our graduates rate the program highly for satisfaction and perception of their clinical competence; employers similarly give our graduates high ratings. Our graduating students have an excellent track record on the national certification Board exam, with a trend toward increasing scores on that exam.

Jefferson College PA Program 5 Year Pass Rate