Physician assistants/physician associates are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Trusted, rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals, PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice.

Alvernia will offer two pathways to obtain a Master of Medical Science in Physician Associate Studies: a Bio-PA (3+2) accelerated track and a traditional post-baccalaureate track. Alvernia's traditional post-baccalaureate program is designed for students who have obtained a baccalaureate degree. The anticipated start of this program is the fall of 2024 and contingent upon obtaining provisional accreditation status from the ARC-PA.

Professional Title Change

On May 24, 2021, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) House of Delegates passed a resolution affirming “physician associate” as the official title of the PA profession.1 This title change will take time to fully implement as it involves other national PA organizations: Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), and Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA); PA programs, AAPA Constituent Organizations, as well as state and federal governments, regulators, and employers.

The purpose of the title change is to allow PAs to hold a professional title that ensures clarity about the work that they provide within the healthcare system. It does not impact a PA’s scope of practice. PAs will continue to use physician assistant as their official legal title in the professional capacity until jurisdiction governing licensure and practice has formally adopted the new title. This process may take several years but is underway. Therefore, Alvernia University has adopted the title “Physician Associate Program” as a reflection of the status of the profession. For more information about the Physician Assistant title change investigation and final report to the AAPA House of Delegates, please refer to the AAPA website.

Estimated Program Length2 years
Credit Hours100
Course Length13 weeks
Transfer Credits AcceptedNone
Cost$45,000 per year (Fall, Spring, Summer)
Graduate Programs

Getting Started

Where You Can Get A Degree

The post-baccalaureate Master of Medical Science in Physician Associate Studies program will be available at the following Alvernia University campus:

Admission Requirements


  • All students must apply to the Physician Associate Program via CASPA.

Bachelor’s Degree

  • Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree awarded from an accredited institution at the time of matriculation.

Grade point Average (GPAs)

  • Minimum overall cumulative GPA of 2.8 and minimum Science and Prerequisite GPA of 3.0.

Prerequisite Courses

  • No less than “C” in any prerequisite course. Pass/Fail grades for prerequisite courses will not be accepted.
  • AP credits will not be accepted for prerequisite courses.
  • Applicants may have two outstanding prerequisites at the time of CASPA application submission, but these must be completed and verified prior to matriculation.
  • All prerequisite courses must be completed within 10 years of CASPA application submission.


Anatomy or A&P IOne course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours. Lab is required.
Physiology or A&P IIOne course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours. Lab is required.
General ChemistryTwo courses, or a minimum of 6 semester hours. Lab is required.
General BiologyTwo courses, or a minimum of 6 semester hours. Lab is required.
StatisticsOne course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours.
MicrobiologyOne course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours. Lab is required
PsychologyOne course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours.
Organic Chemistry or BiochemistryOne course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours. Lab is required.

Academic Rigor

  • The program will review all transcripts submitted by each applicant for evidence of academic rigor in each semester of study. Completing more than one STEM class per semester in one or more semesters will strengthen the application.


  • All students must take the GRE examination.

Direct Patient Care Hours

  • The Program defines direct patient care hours as any experience where the applicant provides hands-on patient care and is exposed to patient care delivery and/or the provider-patient relationship. We require a minimum of 200 direct patient care hours with at least 8 hours direct interaction with a PA. Additional hours will strengthen the application. Any hours credited as part of education or training will not count. Direct patient care hours may be paid or volunteer. Please refer to our list of acceptable direct patient care hours for guidance.

Community Service

  • Evidence of community service and a commitment to service is not required but recommended. Evidence of community service will strengthen the application based on the number of community service hours.


  • Evidence of leadership is not required but recommended. Evidence of leadership roles will strengthen the application based on the number of leadership roles.


  • No interview is required but there will be an optional accepted students’ day on campus.


  • All applicants will be required to complete the CASPer assessment, which is an online, open-response situational competency test. Individual results will be reviewed and considered in the admission decision.

Custom Essay

  • All applicants will be required to answer three short-answer essay questions within the CASPA portal that are specific to the Alvernia University PA program.

Letters of Recommendation

  • Three letters of recommendation are required, including at least one from a healthcare professional and one from a professor/instructor.

Criminal Background Check

  • All applicants must pass a criminal background check prior to matriculation.

Technical Standards

International Students

  • We will not enroll applicants who have graduated from foreign or domestic medical institutions alone. International applicants must have completed at least one year of study in a US or English-Speaking Institution and fulfill our minimum requirements for the English proficiency examination.
  • Applicants who have completed course work outside of the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, or any other English-Speaking country must take the TOEFL English proficiency examination and achieve a minimum score of 100.

Special Considerations

  • Alvernia University Alumni.
  • Local applicants from the Pennsylvania counties of Berks, Chester, Montgomery, Lebanon, Schuylkill, and Lehigh.
  • All past and current military experience, including veteran, active duty, and reserve status.
  • Applicants who speak Spanish, or any other language in addition to English, including sign language.
Advanced Placement Policy (A3.16 a, b, c) 

Advanced placement is not granted for any student entering the Alvernia University Physician Associate Program. 

  • All students must complete the full Physician Associate Program. 
  • No external course work will satisfy Physician Associate Program requirements 
  • Applicants who have graduated from, or attended, foreign or U.S. medical schools, or who have advanced degrees in biological sciences or similar programs, will not be granted automatic acceptance into the Physician Associate Program. Nor will transfer credits from graduate or postgraduate programs be accepted. 
  • No transfer credit is accepted. No courses will be waived. 
  • No credit is granted for pre-admission experiential learning. 
Technical Standards for Admission

The technical standards for the Alvernia University Physician Associate Program have been established to ensure that candidates have the ability to demonstrate academic mastery, competence when performing clinical skills, and the ability to communicate clinical information. Those standards can be read here.

Application Instructions
Financing Your Education

There are options to assist in financing your education and making the tuition affordable. Visit our financial aid page for a detailed overview of the process, including a link to complete the FAFSA application, as well as more information about the tuition payment plan and the tuition deferment program we offer. Alvernia’s Title IV code for the FAFSA is 003233. The Office of Student Financial Services is available to help with any questions you may have. Call 610-796-8201 or email

Request More Information
Physician Associate
Contact Us
For more information about Alvernia’s Master of Medical Science in Physician Associate Studies Program contact Kelly Burr, M.Ed Director of Graduate Enrollment at 610-796-8296 or, or reach out directly to the program at 610-685-3253 or

Program Overview

Mission Statement

Guided by our Franciscan foundation, the Alvernia University Physician Associate Program is committed to working collaboratively with the community and students to foster and support their development as Physician Associates who practice with moral courage and will provide sensitive, compassionate, ethical, professional, proficient, and person-centered care. 


The post-baccalaureate physician associate program is 24 months in length and spans 6 semesters, including two summer semesters. The first 3 semesters will consist of didactic phase instruction, and the last 3 semesters will consist of clinical phase instruction. The curriculum is based on the most recent ARC-PA standards and NCCPA PANCE blueprint and aligns with the University and Program’s mission and goals.

The curriculum will include basic and clinical sciences, including an intensive anatomy course utilizing Anatomage tables. The second 12 months will consist of the clinical phase, during which students will participate in supervised clinical practice experiences which will allow them to meet program defined learning outcomes for the following:

  • Family Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Reproductive Health
  • Behavioral and Mental Health
  • Elective

Supervised clinical practice experiences will occur in both the inpatient and outpatient settings as well as the emergency department and operating room.

Didactic Phase: Fall Semester (19 credits)

  • PA 505: Fundamentals of Disease States: 5 credits
  • PA 510: Professional Practice I: 2 credits
  • PA 515: Professional Practice II: 1 credit
  • PA 520: Fundamentals of Dermatology: 4 credits
  • PA 525: Fundamentals of Hematology: 3 credits
  • PA 530: Fundamentals of Neurology: 4 credits

Didactic Phase: Spring Semester (23 credits)

  • PA 535: Fundamentals of Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, Neck and Throat: 4 credits
  • PA 540: Fundamentals of Pulmonology: 5 credits
  • PA 545: Fundamentals of the Cardiovascular System: 5 credits
  • PA 550: Fundamentals of Gastroenterology and Nutrition: 4 credits
  • PA 555: Fundamentals of Endocrinology: 3 credits
  • PA 560: Professional Practice III: 2 credits

Didactic Phase: Summer Semester (19 credits)

  • PA 565: Fundamentals of Nephrology: 3 credits
  • PA 570: Fundamentals of the Genitourinary System: 3 credits
  • PA 575: Fundamentals of Reproductive Health: 4 credits
  • PA 580: Fundamentals of Behavioral & Mental Health: 4 credits
  • PA 585: Fundamentals of the Musculoskeletal System: 3 credits
  • PA 595: Professional Practice IV: 2 credits

Clinical Phase: Fall Semester (14 credits)

  • PA 605: Behavioral & Mental Health Rotation: 4 credits
  • PA 610: Emergency Medicine Rotation: 4 credits
  • PA 615: Family Medicine Rotation: 4 credits
  • PA 620: Professional Practice V: 1 credit
  • PA 625: Ethics and Moral Leadership I: 1 credit

Clinical Phase: Spring Semester (14 credits)

  • PA 630: Pediatric Rotation: 4 credits
  • PA 635: Reproductive Health Rotation: 4 credits
  • PA 640: Surgery Rotation: 4 credits
  • PA 645: Professional Practice VI: 1 credit
  • PA 650: Ethics and Moral Leadership II: 1 credit

Clinical Phase: Summer Semester (11 credits)

  • PA 655: Internal Medicine Rotation: 4 credits
  • PA 660: Elective Rotation: 4 credits
  • PA 665: Professional Practice VII: 2 credits
  • PA 670: Ethics and Moral Leadership III: 1 credit



Solicitation of Clinical Sites & Preceptor Policy (A3.03) 

A3.03 The program must define, publish, and make readily available and consistently apply a policy for prospective and enrolled students that they must not be required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors.

Clinical rotation placement for each student is the responsibility of the PA program, and the program makes all decisions regarding student clinical placement. The Alvernia University PA program recruits, develops, maintains, and determines student placements for all supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs/rotations). Coordinating SCPEs/rotations by the program’s faculty involves identifying, contacting, and evaluating clinical sites and preceptors for suitability and student safety as a required (core) or elective rotation experience. Additionally, the program orients clinical preceptors to the goals, expectations, and outcomes of the specific rotation.

Students may suggest or provide information regarding potential clinical sites or preceptors to the program’s faculty, but no student will be required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors. Any clinical site or preceptor recommended to the program by a student must be reviewed, evaluated, and approved for educational suitability and student safety by the program.

Students that want to submit a suggestion for a potential clinical site or preceptor must complete a "Student SCPE Request Consideration” form. Completion of the form does not guarantee placement.

Experiential Learning Opportunities
  • Utilization of the university’s state-of-the-art facilities, including Anatomage virtual dissection tables
  • Standardized patients for assessment
  • Participation in community service
  • Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS)
Career Outlook

The PA profession is one of the fastest growing in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth rate for 2021-2031 is 28%, which is much higher than the average growth rate of 5% for all professions. The median annual wage for physician associates was $121,530 in 2021. Obtaining a Master of Medical Science in Physician Associate Studies will allow graduates to:

  • Take medical histories
  • Conduct physical exams
  • Diagnose and treat illness
  • Order and interpret tests
  • Develop treatment plans
  • Prescribe medication
  • Counsel on preventive care
  • Perform procedures
  • Assist in surgery
  • Make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes
  • Do clinical research
Learn More About the Program
Program Director Renee Langstaff and Medical Director Ankit Shah discuss Alvernia's Physician Associate Program in this video.



Accreditation Statements
  • The Alvernia University Physician Associate Program has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The Alvernia University Physician Associate Program anticipates matriculating its first class in August 2024, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status at the March 2024 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. The Alvernia University Physician Associate Program will not commence if provisional accreditation status is not formally achieved. In addition, any student enrolled in the 3+2 program will be offered the opportunity to complete their bachelor's degree including the option of earning a biology degree in year four via a modified curriculum. Any deposits collected from admitted students will be refunded by the University should provisional accreditation status not be obtained from the ARC-PA.
  • Alvernia is an accredited institution and a member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). MSCHE is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Program Goals and Outcomes

The Alvernia University Physician Associate Program Goals* are as follows:

Goal: First time PANCE pass rate at or above the national average.
Outcome Measure: PANCE first-time pass rate.
Benchmark: At or above the national average.

Goal: 100% student participation in community service.
Outcome Measure: Number (percentage) of students participating in community service.
Benchmark: 100% of the cohort.

Goal: Build a community with alumni engagement at or above the University average.
Outcome Measure: Percentage of alumni engagement.
Benchmark: At or above the University average (10.5%).

Goal: 100% of PA students will provide medical care in an underserved clinical setting. 
Outcome Measure: Number (percentage) of students participating in an underserved clinical setting.
Benchmark: 100% of the cohort

Goal: 100% of our students will acknowledge a better understanding and appreciation of how moral courage, sensitivity, compassion, ethics, professionalism, and proficiency is woven into the art of patient care. 
Outcome Measure: Number (percentage) of students that indicate an understanding and appreciation of the Program mission.
Benchmark: 100% of the cohort

*Outcome data will be updated as the program’s development progresses and the first cohort of students matriculate and graduate.

Program Competencies
DomainProgram Learning Outcomes (Program Competencies)
Medical Knowledge1. Apply fundamental medical, social, and behavioral science knowledge in the evaluation, diagnosis, and management of patients.
Communication & Interpersonal Skills

2. Obtain a focused and/or comprehensive patient history.

3. Demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate clinical findings.

4. Apply interpersonal and communication skills to collaborate and educate patients and/or caretakers.

Clinical & Technical Skills

5. Demonstrate general clinical procedures safely and effectively.

6. Perform a focused and/or comprehensive physical examination.

7. Interpret diagnostic and screening studies.

Clinical reasoning & Problem-solving

8. Generate a working differential diagnosis.

9. Formulate appropriate therapeutic management plans.

Professional Behaviors10. In alignment with Alvernia's expectations, students will demonstrate professionalism in all interactions.

PANCE Report

The most current annual NCCPA PANCE Exam Performance Summary Report Last 5 Years will be posted annually no later than April 1 beginning the year after the first cohort graduates (August 2026).

Program Attrition

The Alvernia University Physician Associate Program has set a benchmark to have an attrition rate that is less than or equal to the national average each year. Attrition is defined as the permanent loss of a matriculated student from the course of study in the PA program.

Upon matriculation of the first class, the Alvernia PA Program will provide the most current annual student attrition information. The data will be presented with a standard table, which will include attrition information for the Alvernia PA Program’s graduated cohorts and the most recent entering class size data for the cohorts currently enrolled.


Graduated Classes

 Class of
Class of
Class of
Maximum entering class size (as approved by ARC-PA)###
Entering class size###
*Attrition Rate###
**Graduation Rate###

* Attrition Rate: Number of students who attritted from cohort divided by the entering class size.

**Graduation Rate: Number of cohort graduates divided by the entering class size

Tuition and Fees

Alvernia University Physician Associate Program Class of 2026 Tuition and Fees

Tuition and Fees*

Item                                                                                                                                           Amount
Total Program Tuition
($15,000 per semester x 6 semesters total)
University Fee
($1,350 per year)
Experiential Learning Fee
($4,000 per year)
Graduation Fee$135

*Tuition and fees are subject to an annual increase pending approval by the Alvernia University Board of Trustees.

Additional Estimated Costs Associated with the Program

Item                                                                                                                                                                                                  Amount
Medical Clearances
($225 each occurrence, additional may
be required by the program or clinical sites)
Urine Drug Screenings
($35 each occurrence, additional may
be required by the program or clinical sites)
Diagnostic Medical Equipment and Supplies
(May vary based on features selected)
(Most required textbooks are offered electronically through the PA program; this cost reflects those textbooks that are not offered in tuition)
Short White Coat$80
Black Scrubs$80
AAPA Membership$75
PSPA Membership$50
Laptop Computer
(May vary based on features selected)
Student Health Insurance
(Provided by the student. Plan rates will vary based on the carrier.)
Needlestick Insurance$95
Board Review$300


Total Estimated Living and Transportation Expenses

Item                                                                                                                                                                                       Amount
Miscellaneous Living Expenses: Rent/Mortgage/Food*
(*Based on graduate housing rates for CollegeTowne. Board rates vary and are subject to an annual increase pending approval by the Alvernia University Board to Trustees. Cost may vary for those living off-campus.)
Per Year: $23,352

Total: $46,704
Personal Expenses
(Cell phone, internet, etc.)
Per Year: $2,400

Total: $4,800
(In-state only)
Per Year: $6,500

Total: $13,000
Housing and Transportation for Distant Clinical Rotations
(Clinical year expenses may vary based on the number of distance clinical rotations assigned.)


Overall Cost of Attendance for the Physician Associate Program = $188,074

Get To Know Your Faculty/Staff

For more information about Alvernia’s Master of Medical Science in Physician Associate Studies traditional post-baccalaureate track contact Kelly Burr, M.Ed Director of Graduate Enrollment, at 610-796-8296 or, or reach out directly to the program at 610-685-3253 or

Joy Henderson 2023

Joy Henderson, MMS, PA-C

Director of Curriculum Innovation and Program Assessment

  • Faculty
Stephanie Pillai 2023

Stephanie Pillai, MPAS, PA-C

Director of Outreach and Experiential Learning

  • Faculty
Alvernia grey logo

Sarah Saget

Administrative Assistant

  • Staff