Online physician assistant programs are a great option for aspiring PAs who want the flexibility of a remote learning option. While there aren’t many online PA programs out there, and they come in many different formats, rest assured they are all recognized and accredited programs. While you may have to do some research to find which online PA program is the right one for you, it is possible to earn your PA degree online! In this article, see a list of online physician assistant programs in the US and Canada, plus tips on what to expect from an online PA program and .
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Below is a list of the current online . Be sure to check the PA school’s website for details as program information and admissions criteria can change often. You can also check out if you’re looking for a program near you.
Note: * Indicates a fully online or remote program.
- Pace University*
- University of Wisconsin-Madison*
- Touro College*
- Stony Brook University
- University of North Dakota
- Miami Dade College
- Drexel University
- University of Texas Rio Grande Valley*
- University of Southern California
- Rutgers University
- University of Kentucky
- A.T. Still University
- Keiser University
- University of Detroit Mercy
- Nova Southeastern University
- Barry University
- Arcadia University
- University of Florida
- Butler University
- University of Findlay
- Sacred Heart University
- Samuel Merritt University
- Rush University
- South College
- Yale School of Medicine
- Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University
- Franklin Pierce University – Goodyear, AZ Campus
- Grand Valley State University
- Hardin-Simmons University
- Idaho State University
- Le Moyne College
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS)*
- Saint Francis University
- Southern California University of Health Sciences
- University of Pittsburgh – Hybrid Program
- West Coast University – California
- University of Texas – HS Center at San Antonio
The Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant Program is a distance and distributed learning environment. The majority of coursework is completed online, with clinical experiences offered at all three university campuses in the consortium. Students are also expected to attend some in-person courses at the Toronto campus for simulation learning and hands-on experiences.
As we can see, there are quite a few options for online physician assistant programs in the US. However, it’s important to understand that all of these programs are as unique as their traditional counterparts.
Most of these online PA programs are actually considered hybrid programs, meaning you can complete your coursework year online or remotely, but you will need to attend some in-person instruction for hands-on training or clinical rotations in your second year. There are few online PA programs that are fully online, because of the nature of clinical training required for physician assistants.
Some online programs are accelerated programs, meaning you can complete your PA degree much faster and at your own pace by completing the coursework online. Still others of these online PA programs are what are called bridge programs. Some of these are designed for practicing PAs with a bachelor’s degree to earn their master’s on their own time without sacrificing their work.
There are still Bachelor of Physician Assistant Studies programs, but since all states require you to be licensed, and licensure in some states requires a Master of Physician Assistant Studies, this is a good option for PAs without a graduate degree who want to advance their career or who need to meet additional licensure requirements.
Are online PA schools accredited?
Yes! There are many online physician assistant programs that are fully accredited and housed by top universities and medical schools.
Practically speaking, most employers will prefer a physician assistant who has graduated from an accredited program, online or not. And you’ll need to show you’ve graduated from an accredited program to take the PA licensure exams.
If you’re not sure whether your desired program is accredited or not, check that it’s on the list of programs approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). There are over 300 PA schools on this list, including online and hybrid programs!
How long is an online PA program?
If you’re wondering how long it takes to become a PA, most online or hybrid PA programs are the same length as their traditional counterparts. Meaning, they are usually 2-year master’s programs.
However, some online PA programs may be condensed or “accelerated” programs that you can complete in 12-16 months. These are normally PA bridge programs or accelerated PA programs that offer an online option.
Pros and cons of an online PA program
A big pro of online PA programs is the flexibility of the course schedule and academic timeline. You’re able to complete most, if not all, of your coursework online without having to commute to the classroom. This can be a big appeal to those who prefer an online learning environment or hybrid learning environment.
However, the con of online PA programs is that you will still need to attend labs, clinical rotations and other simulation learning opportunities in person. In this sense, the location of your PA program does still matter. And with the small number of online options for PA schools, this means depending on where you live and work, you might not have an online PA school near you.
To choose the best physician assistant program for you, consider what your program track options are, whether you’re willing or able to relocate for school, and the admission requirements of your target programs.
Get ready to write your PA school personal statement with these examples!
Here’s an overview of the common PA school requirements. Keep in mind that some requirements will vary depending on the program.
- Undergraduate degree
- Course prerequisites
- Minimum GPA
- PA-CAT or standardized test scores
- Recommendation letters
And here are the common prerequisites you’ll need to complete to get into an online PA school:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Biology (General and Microbiology
- Chemistry (General and Organic)
Like traditional PA schools, most online physician assistant programs use the . For schools that don’t participate in CASPA, you’ll submit an online application directly to the program. Some applications will ask you to indicate which program track you’re applying for.
Next, we’ll cover some tips for how to get into online PA programs.
1. Meet all admission requirements
No matter what, you’ll need to meet all the admission requirements for the program you’re applying to, even if it’s online. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that online programs are easier to get into! Check the requirements and recommendations for your online PA school to make sure you’re eligible.
Some online schools may still have a minimum GPA requirement, for example, or have a unique list of prerequisite courses. Online bridge programs may require a specific bachelor’s degree in physician assistant studies or a minimum number of years of experience before you apply.
2. Present a strong academic record
Like traditional PA programs, online PA schools want to see that you have a strong academic record, particularly in your prerequisite courses. Some PA schools may consider your cumulative GPA or just your science GPA, or both. Earning good grades is not a guarantee of acceptance to any PA school, but they can certainly help you pass the first hurdles of admissions to get in.
3. Gain relevant healthcare experience
Certain online PA schools may require a minimum of hours of work as a physician assistant, for example for a bridge program. Most PA programs also require a certain number of shadowing hours and healthcare experience working with patients. You can earn some experience in common that can give you direct clinical experience.
PA schools, like medical schools, also appreciate seeing volunteering, non-healthcare employment, extracurriculars and undergraduate research on your resume. When building your extracurriculars for your PA application, think quality and variety. Highlight the most meaningful experiences and activities you have and think about how they relate to being a successful PA or how they contributed to your desire to apply to PA school.
4. Write a strong application
The qualitative side of your application to PA school is equally as important as a strong academic record. This means your personal statement, , extracurriculars, resume and everything else need to be spot on.
Your personal statement should tell the admissions committee , detailing what personal experiences or professional decisions led you to apply. You can also share and where you see yourself after graduating from the program.
5. Earn good recommendations
Strong recommendation letters are a must for your PA school application. If possible, ask at least one practicing PA you’ve worked for or shadowed to write one for you. You can also ask your professors, employer or supervisors. Your referees should speak to your professional and personal attributes, particularly those that are valued by your chosen PA program. You can find the mission and values of most PA programs listed on their website—it’s a good idea to use these to find out what a program values in its applicants and what traits or skills of yours that your referees can highlight in their letters.
Be sure to ask your referees to write you a recommendation well before the application deadline. They will need time to draft, edit and submit their letters, either through CASPA or directly to the PA program.
6. Ace the interview
The last step to getting into PA school is to ace the . Online PA schools may still ask you to attend an interview, whether in-person or online. Be prepared for common questions like “” but also some tricker ones such as “?”
PA schools will quiz you about your knowledge of the PA profession, why you’re interested in becoming a PA and what you can bring to their program. Another surprise PA schools might spring on you is the unique , an interview-day spontaneous supplemental essay.
1. Are there any online physician assistant programs?
Yes, there are a handful of PA schools that offer online programs. Many of these are fully accredited and recognized physician assistant programs.
2. Are there any online physician assistant programs in Canada?
Right now, there is only one: the PA Consortium program offered through the University of Toronto, Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the Michener Institute at UHN. This program offers a hybrid learning option for students.
3. Are online PA programs accredited?
While there are some that are not accredited, most PA programs attached to recognized universities and medical schools are fully accredited and legit.
4. Are online PA programs fully remote?
While there are a few that are completely online, these are typically bridge programs for PAs who have experience to complete required coursework. Since physician assistant training requires quite a lot of hands-on, practical teaching, most online PA schools do require students to attend in-person instruction for clinical rotations, lab work and simulation-based training.
5. How do I apply to online PA programs?
To apply to online PA programs, the process is the same as applying to traditional programs. Most schools use the CASPA application or ask you to submit an online application directly through their website.
6. What is the shortest physician assistant program?
The shortest physician assistant programs are accelerated PA programs, which are usually 12 months long.
7. Is an online PA school just as good as a traditional one?
Yes, there is not much difference between online PA programs and traditional ones. Most online physician assistant programs are accredited and offered at the same universities and medical schools as in-person programs.
8. What are the requirements for online PA programs?
The requirements for online PA programs are pretty much the same as for in-person programs. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree, completed PA prerequisites, a minimum GPA of 3.0 for most programs, PCAT or GRE scores, and a complete application including a personal statement, resume, extracurriculars and recommendation letters. You may also need to attend a PA school interview, virtually or in-person.