The Physician Assistant program, leading to a Master of Science degree, prepares graduates to provide diagnostic and therapeutic medical services under physician supervision. Physician assistants provide high-quality, cost-effective healthcare while maintaining patient satisfaction.

The PA program is a 27-month professional program designed for students with a bachelor’s degree. Students collaborate with other master’s and doctoral students to gain skills necessary for future practice. The curriculum is comprised of 15 months of didactic instruction followed by 12 months of supervised clinical practice. Graduates are eligible to sit for the PA National Certifying Exam, and our students routinely perform above the national average.

For more information, including curriculum outline, graduate program policies, visit our Academic Catalog.

Jefferson College of Health Sciences intends to merge with Radford University with a planned merger date of Fall, 2019. All students enrolled at the time of a merger would graduate from Radford University. The Physician Assistant curriculum, faculty, and program location should remain unchanged at the time of a merger. The Jefferson College website will be updated with merger information as it becomes available.

Physician Assistant
Program Overview
Career Path
Admission Requirements

The PA program prepares students to be exceptional PAs and provide high-quality patient care at a level comparable to that of physicians. A licensed PA works closely with physicians and handles duties ranging from taking medical histories to setting simple fractures. In many cases, patients seeking medical attention are treated solely by physician assistants. To reflect that close working relationship, PAs are educated in the medical model to complement physician training.

While enrolled as a PA student, outside employment is discouraged, but not prohibited, due to the heavy academic load required in the PA curriculum.

Program Mission: 

The mission of the Jefferson College Physician Assistant Program is to graduate ethical, competent, and compassionate PAs who are well versed in the art and science of medicine and are prepared to effectively function as members and leaders of the interprofessional 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 Jefferson College program includes:

  • A well-prepared class of 42 students typically selected from nearly 1,000 applicants
  • A nationally diverse class with students enrolling from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Alaska, California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
  • An average age of 26 with a range of 21 to over 40 years of age.
  • An enrolling class with a broad range of professional experiences, including, emergency medical technician (EMT), certified nursing assistant (CNA), ED Scribe, medical assistant, physical therapy assistant, military medic, mental health counselor, radiology technician, respiratory therapist and others.
  • An active PA Student Society

What makes this program different?

  • Carilion Clinic. As a student at Jefferson College you will be part of a healthcare clinic that employs nearly 14,000 healthcare professionals and has facilities that span over 200 miles. You will have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, national leaders in all areas of healthcare practice and administration. Most, if not all, of your 1,500 hours of clinical rotations will be at Carilion Clinic where you will work alongside Carilion staff and faculty.
  • Personal Attention and Networking. Immediate access to highly engaged, hands-on faculty. Our students regularly attend regional and national and international conferences and develop strong professional networks while they are still students.
  • Interprofessionalism. We provide our students with opportunities to interact and learn beside a broad range of healthcare providers, so they’re prepared to collaborate across specialties from the start of their careers.
  • Research and Thought Leadership. Healthcare professionals and PAs specifically are lifelong learners who must be able to evolve with advances in technology, medicine and science. As a student at Jefferson College, you will learn about medical and scientific research in coursework that will teach the habits of mind to allow growth throughout your entire healthcare career.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • For complete information on admission to the Jefferson College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Program, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.

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*

Estimated total: $80,295

* 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 and Fees 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

Most of the graduates of our program work in family practice, internal medicine, urgent care, and other medical areas. Others go on to do residencies or further graduate studies.

The job outlook and starting salaries for PAs is excellent. In 2016, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 10-year projected growth rate of over 37% in the profession with a national median salary of over $100,000. Jefferson College Graduates have a 100% Job Placement Rate.

Our graduates have careers across all fields of medicine and in many different types of settings.  Many graduates have attained positions prior to graduation. Some graduates have also chosen to complete fellowships in specialty areas.

Admission to the PA program is very competitive, but students are evaluated thoroughly and given every opportunity to demonstrate their skills, passions and preparation for the program. Through written statements, in-person interview and a careful review of each application by a panel of faculty and staff, students are treated as individuals in the application process and those deemed most prepared to handle all aspects of the program from the academically rigorous classwork to the level of teamwork required to deliver quality healthcare will find success.

We offer a rolling admissions process (applications are reviewed as they are received), so we encourage you to apply early. 


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. 1DO NOT send application materials directly to the College or Program.


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.


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. 


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. 


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. 


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.

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.

Non-Discrimination Policy

Jefferson College of Health Sciences does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, age, veteran status, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity (including transgender status) in its programs and activities. See Rights and Policies for more information.

For specific admission information, contact the Admissions Office directly or email the PA Program Director at paadmissions@jchs.edu 

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Physician Assistant program sponsored by Jefferson College of Health Sciences. Accreditation –Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.
Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be March 2023. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

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.

Click here to download a Word document with more information.

Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Five Year First Time Taker Summary Report

You may also download a .pdf copy of the report below by clicking here.

PA Stats 2019

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