December 8, 2019
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Top 10 Online Physician Assistant Certification Programs 2019

Healthcare Management Degree Guide - Top Online Degree ProgramsIn 2009 The American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Physician Assistant Educational Association, the National Commission for the Certification of Physician Assistants and the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant issued an official statement endorsing the master’s degree as the entry-level and terminal degree for the Physician Assistant. Physician assistants are some of the most highly paid non-physician healthcare professionals in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the 2018 median pay for these professionals as $108,610/year and a growth rate of 37% through 2026. Physician assistants:

  • take medical histories
  • perform exams
  • diagnose and treat illnesses
  • order lab results and medications
  • set fractures
  • assist in surgery

To become a PA, you must complete an accredited PA program, pass the national certification exam, and obtain a license. Over 90% of physician assistant certificate programs are offered through a master’s degree program, but there are some schools that offer a bachelor’s degree or training program that are accredited. By 2020, all PA programs are required to award a master’s degree to their students who successfully complete their program.

Since a master’s degree is the general standard of education for PAs, we created this list of the top online physician assistant certification programs at the master’s level. The goal of these programs is to complete a master’s level education and advanced training. Some of these programs are available to students with no previous PA experience, while others only accept current PAs who have yet to complete a master’s level education.

To come up with our list of the top 10 online PA master’s level programs, we considered graduate tuition rates and student to faculty ratios published by College Navigator. We also looked at the percentage of students to pass the national certification PA exam, or PANCE. We applied our ranking criteria and listed below are our top 10 programs!

Ranking is as follows:
Student to Faculty Ratio

  • 15:1 or less= 5 Points
  • 16:1 to 20:1= 3 Points
  • Greater than 20:1= 1 Point

Average Graduate Tuition

  • Less than $10,000 per year= 5 Points
  • $10,000 to $15,001 per year= 4 Points
  • $15,000 to $20,001 per year= 3 Points
  • $20,000 to $25,000 per year= 2 Points
  • Greater than $25,000 per year= 1 Point

5-Year PANCE Pass Rate

  • 100%= 5 Point
  • 96% to 99%= 3 Points

#10 – University of North Dakota – Grand Forks, North Dakota

Master of Physician Assistant (MPAS)

School Profile

Average Graduate Tuition: $8,226/yr in-state and $21,964/year out-of-state
Faculty to Student Ratio: 18:1
5-Year PANCE Pass Rate: 89%
Score:8
The University of North Dakota is home to the only PA program in the state. This unique hybrid program combines alternating online classroom and clinical experiences in the student’s own community. This circular design helps students apply their knowledge and solidify their skills. Admission requirements are consistent with the program mission to prepare PAs to serve in rural or medically underserved areas. Courses cover:

  • professional issues and role development
  • clinical medicine
  • pharmacology
  • human physiology and pathophysiology

Most students can complete the program in 24 months.

#9 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Edinburg, Texas

Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

School Profile

Average Graduate Tuition: $5,720/yr in-state and $13,190/year out-of-state
Faculty to Student Ratio: 19:1
5-Year PANCE Pass Rate: 89%
Score:8
The 100% online top master in Physician Assistant Studies Bridge Program (MPAS) at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is for PAs with a bachelor’s degree to earn their master’s. Students complete three clinical tracks and a research course in this 16 credit hour program. Clinicals can be taken in the student’s own community. New students are admitted during the fall, spring and summer 1 semesters. Students who apply early have the best opportunity for scholarships or other funding opportunities.

#8 – Yale University – New Haven, Connecticut

Online Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant

School Profile

Average Graduate Tuition: $42,100/yr
Faculty to Student Ratio: 6:1
5-Year PANCE Pass Rate: 98%
Score: 9
The Yale School of Medicine features a top physician assistant online program to address the shortage of primary care physicians. The program integrates online classes with clinical rotations to prepare patient-focused clinicians without the need to relocate. Students come to campus three times over the course of the program for immersion experiences. During these experiences, students are engaged with faculty and peers in the YSM Simulation Lab, learning and demonstrating through hands-on training.

#7 – A. T. Still University – Kirksville, Missouri

Master of Science in Advanced Physician Assistant Studies

School Profile

Average Graduate Tuition: $28,016/yr
Faculty to Student Ratio: 11:1
5-Year PANCE Pass Rate: 96%
Score: 9
The Advanced Physician Assistant online degree program at A. T. Still University offers a direct path to the APA credential. Concentrations are available in either clinical medicine or education/leadership. The program is open to current PA’s with or without a bachelor’s degree. New students are accepted each quarter. Most students can complete the program in just one to two years. Courses cover areas like:

  • ethics
  • professional practice issues
  • evidence-based medicine and clinical research design
  • medical writing.

#6 – University of Washington – Seattle, Washington

Master of Clinical Health Services-Physician Assistant Certificate of Completion

School Profile

Average Graduate Tuition: $15,510/yr in-state and $27,801/year out-of-state
Faculty to Student Ratio: 19:1
5-Year PANCE Pass Rate: 96%
Score: 9
The Extended Master of Clinical Health Services is a specially designed program for bachelor’s trained PAs who want their master’s. The program begins in June with a two week on-campus intensive. Following the intensive, students complete online coursework and a capstone project. Courses cover areas like:

  • healthcare policy
  • leadership
  • investigative skills.

#5 – University of Wisconsin at Madison – Madison, Wisconsin

Masters of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

School Profile

Average Graduate Tuition: $10,728/yr in-state and $24,054/year out-of-state
Faculty to Student Ratio: 18:1
5-Year PANCE Pass Rate: 97%
Score: 10
The University of Wisconsin at Madison has a top online master’s of physician assistant studies offered in a flexible hybrid format. This three year program is designed for individuals without a PA background and includes both didactic coursework and clinical experiences. Students spend the first summer session on-campus and then begin their online studies. Each semester, students can expect to come to campus for two, three-to-four day short residencies. Coursework takes two years to complete. Students spend the final year in a full-time community-based clinical component.

#4 – Pace University -New York, New York

Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Completion Program Online

School Profile

Average Graduate Tuition: $30,408/yr
Faculty to Student Ratio: 14:1
5-Year PANCE Pass Rate: 100%
Score:11
The College of Health Professions at Pace University offers a PA online master’s degree completion program. It’s for PAs with only a bachelor’s degree to return to school and complete their master’s. All courses are taught online and cover areas like:

  • evidence-based medicine
  • health promotion and disease prevention
  • leadership and theory in healthcare

Part-time students can complete the program in just four-semesters. Courses are asynchronous so students can complete coursework on their own schedule, without the need to take time off work.

#3 – Touro College – New York, New York

Physician Assistant Master’s Completion Program

School Profile

Average Graduate Tuition: $15,572/yr
Faculty to Student Ratio: 11:1
5-Year PANCE Pass Rate: 97%
Score: 11
The Physician Assistant Master’s Completion Program at Touro College is a one year flexible program taught by experienced faculty. Online courses cover areas like:

  • medical ethics and healthcare policy
  • health science epidemiology and biostatistics
  • medical research methods
  • evidence based medicine

Students complete 17 didactic credits and 13 advanced placement credits awarded through completion of 2,600 hours of post baccalaureate clinical experience.

#2 – Augusta University -Augusta, Georgia

Online Master of Physician Assistant (MPA) Bridge Program

School Profile

Average Graduate Tuition: $5,144/yr in-state and $17,544/year out-of-state
Faculty to Student Ratio: 15:1
5-Year PANCE Pass Rate: 96%
Score: 13
Augusta University features a top online PA program for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in physician assistant studies and want to earn a master’s without taking time away from work. This web-based program includes online coursework and clinical requirements that students can complete in their own community. Courses cover areas like:

  • pharmacotherapeutics
  • diagnostic methods and pathology
  • medical communication
  • physical assessment

Students can complete the program in just one year.

#1 – University of Nebraska Medical Center – Omaha, Nebraska

Physician Assistant Degree Advancement Option

School Profile

Average Graduate Tuition: $8,721/yr in-state and $24,975/year out-of-state
Faculty to Student Ratio: 2:1
5-Year PANCE Pass Rate: 100%
Score:15
Our top online master’s physician assistant program is offered by the University of Nebraska Medical Center. This master’s completion program includes 800 hours of advanced supervised clinical practice that can be completed at the student’s workplace. Concentration areas are available in either education or a clinical track. Courses cover areas such as:

  • health care policy
  • clinical inquiry and writing
  • health care ethics management in healthcare

Students can complete the program in just five semesters.

By HMDG Staff
June 2019