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Physician Assistant Studies (MS)

PA student looking at a patient's eye

In slightly more than 2 years, you can launch your career as a Physician Assistant (PA) — one of the nation’s most in-demand professions. Our 27-month, full-time PA Studies program will give you the in-depth knowledge and clinical experience needed to become a competent and compassionate practitioner.

Upon completion of the program, you will be prepared to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

Successful by Design

This two-part program is designed to maximize student learning. Here’s how:

Part 1: You’ll spend the first 15 months building your knowledge of biomedical science and developing clinical skills in USF’s on-campus facilities. Students cite the problem-based curriculum as being key to their success: they learn to diagnose and treat by tackling true-to-life medical scenarios.

Part 2: The final year is spent in clinical rotations where you will be scheduled with a preceptor, full-time, for 11 different rotations. You should expect to complete rotations in the Fort Wayne area as well as at regional sites where housing is typically provided. You may also request some rotations at new or established distant sites where you provide your own housing.

Academic Plan

An academic plan is a general blueprint showing how one might complete the degree, semester by semester.

Career Outlook & Success


Certification exam first attempt pass rate since 2004


Median pay: per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Expected job growth by 2026, much faster than average

On-Campus Labs

PA students develop skills and confidence in our state-of-the-art facilities, including:

  • Simulation Lab with high-fidelity patient simulators (infant, child, and adult patients)
  • Cadaver Lab for human anatomy
  • Resource Lab with patient units, exam rooms, and mid-fidelity patient simulators
PA students working with a simulator

Extensive Clinical Rotations

USF has more than 1,000 physician affiliates! Core rotations include:

  • Family Medicine (5 weeks)
  • Internal Medicine (5 weeks)
  • General Surgery (5 weeks)
  • Emergency Medicine (5 weeks)
  • Elective (5 weeks)
  • Pediatrics (2.5 weeks)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology (2.5 weeks)
  • Psychiatry (2.5 weeks)

PLUS, 2 additional rotations in one of the following tracks:

Trauma/Surgery Subspecialty

  • Outpatient Clinic/Occupational Medicine
  • Surgery Subspecialties
  • Trauma Emergency Medicine
  • Medical Office Orthopedics
  • Radiology

Hospital-based Care

  • Cardiology
  • Pulmonology
  • Oncology
  • Intensive Critical Care Unit
  • Neurology
  • Gastroenterology

Family Practice

  • Pediatrics (additional 2.5 weeks)
  • Geriatrics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology (additional 2.5 weeks)
  • Psychiatry (additional 2.5 weeks)
  • Urgent Care

Internal Medicine

  • Cardiology
  • Pulmonology
  • Neurology
  • Nephrology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Endocrinology
  • Rheumatology


At its September 2019 meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) placed the University of Saint Francis Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of Saint Francis on Accreditation-Probation status until its next review in September 2021.

Probation is a temporary status of accreditation conferred when a program does not meet the Standards or when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened.

Once placed on probation, programs that still fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and/or risk having their accreditation withdrawn.

Specific questions regarding the Program and its plans should be directed to the Program Director and/or the appropriate institutional official(s).

Admission Requirements

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States of America or submit equivalency verification for foreign credentials.
  • Satisfactorily complete and submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) with at minimum 4.0 on the Analytical Writing.
  • Satisfactorily complete 12 semester credit hours in chemistry with a grade of “C” or better including courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry and biochemistry.
  • Satisfactorily complete 15 semester credit hours in biology courses with a grade of “C” or better including human anatomy/physiology and microbiology.
  • Satisfactorily complete 6 semester credit hours with a grade of “C” or better in the area of psychology.
  • Possess direct patient care experience.
    • The most direct and responsible forms of patient care experience in a compensated position are preferred.
    • Clinical components of the educational experience required for other healthcare professions are considered, but will not totally fulfill this requirement.
    • Volunteer activity and/or appropriate life experience will be considered, but will not totally fulfill this requirement.
  • In order to participate in clinical experiences, clinical requirements as set by the Physician Assistant Studies Program and clinical agencies must be met including, but not limited to, criminal background checks, drug testing, immunizations and health screening.

Program Goals and Outcomes

The program is committed to preparing physician assistants who can:

  • Successfully pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).
  • Provide primary healthcare services with an emphasis on human caring and the underserved.
  • Perform diagnostic and therapeutic health services appropriate for a wide range of pathophysiologic processes.
  • Develop and implement effective treatment plans for care of common conditions.
  • Perform technical and surgical procedures within the scope of practice.
  • Monitor and manage patients in acute, long-term and ambulatory settings.
  • Facilitate patient referral to appropriate specialty practices and community agencies.
  • Use clinical problem solving to integrate knowledge from the biological and behavioral sciences with medical knowledge and current standards of clinical practice.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to professional growth and lifelong learning.
  • Enlarge the knowledge of the discipline by participating in research projects and publishing findings.
  • Demonstrate professional behavior.
  • View the results of the most recent Student Learning Outcomes Assessment, which reflects the success of the program in achieving its goals. Outcomes are calculated each spring, following August graduation.

Board Exam Pass Rate

Since the M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies curriculum was implemented with the class of 2004, 386 USF graduates have taken the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). Of those 386 students, 378 passed on the first attempt (98%). The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) provides a NCCPA PANCE Pass Rate Summary Report that displays first-time Graduate Performance on Certification Exam results by exam administration year. The program report demonstrates USF first time pass rate by graduation cohort since 2008.

Graduation Year USF First-Time Pass Rate USF Aggregate Pass Rate National First-Time Pass Rate
2019 95% 100% 93%
2018 96% 100% 98%
2017 100% 100% 97%
2016 100% 100% 96%
2015 100% 100% 96%
2014 100% 100% 95%
2013 100% 100% 94%
2012 100% 100% 93%
2011 100% 100% 91%
2010 100% 100% 94%
2009 95% 100% 92%
2008 100% 100% 94%

Mission and Vision Statement

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies provides education in medical knowledge and competencies needed by individuals to serve effectively as physician assistants who are mindful of the needs of underserved populations. The Department prepares students to be clinicians who achieve professional standards and have enhanced critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and competency in evidence-based medicine. We foster an educational environment of mutual respect, personal growth, and professional advancement.

Vision Statement

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies will prepare students to become compassionate and accomplished practitioners who are engaged in life-long learning and dedicated to service, education, and leadership.

Ready to start?

I want to learn more

Program Director

Joshua Fairbanks, DMSc., PA-C
260-399-7700 ext. 8560

Admissions Contact

Kyle Richardson
260-399-7700 ext. 6310