Online Physician Assistant Programs with Course Overviews

Students interested in enrolling in online physician assistant programs may choose one program from the many available. Each is a master's degree program designed for individuals who are already certified physician assistants.

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Physician Assistant Online Programs


Online physician assistant (PA) master's degree programs have one thing in common - they require students to have bachelor's degrees. Most have a minimum GPA requirement for the degree or subsequent coursework, typically ranging from 2.7 to 3.0. Some programs require the student to already be a certified PA, to have two years of clinical experience or to be currently employed in a clinical position.

Program Requirements

Although similarities exist between the various online programs, there is also a variety of differences. A program may follow or run concurrently with the second year of a physician assistant certificate program. Although the programs are said to be online programs, all require students to work in clinical rotations or residencies during all or part of the program. Some programs require 1-2 weeks of attendance on campus at the beginning and end of the program. Programs generally last three semesters or five quarters. Several require a research or capstone project. Some programs allow the student to choose a specialty focus, such as medically underserved areas and groups, public health, academics or world health.

Online Master's Degree Program Titles

As one investigates the variety of degrees offered by universities, he or she will probably come across varying degree titles. This is also true of the master's degrees for physician assistants. Degrees offered online include:

  • Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA)
  • Master of Medical Science (MMS) - Physician Assistant
  • Master of Health Science (MHS) - Physician Assistant
  • Extended Master of Clinical Health Services - Physician Assistant

Course Overviews

Required courses also vary from degree to degree, although several are required by more than one program. The following paragraphs explain some of the topics that online physician assistant courses cover.

Research Designs and Methodology

In addition to looking at research concepts, methods and designs, this type of course covers ethics in research and methods for developing evidence-based medicine skills. Students are also taught how to review medical literature and interpret it critically. The course also covers technical writing and reporting research results; this usually includes learning to use the APA (American Psychological Association) format.

Healthcare Issues, Policies and Systems

These courses present how U.S. health policies are developed, along with the decision-making politics that are involved. The course looks at major healthcare concerns, such as costs, quality of care, differences in access and electronic medical records.


Courses in leadership for aspiring physician assistants explore topics related to the administration of health services settings. Principles of organizational structure and methods for making changes are explored. The course heavily uses case studies and video presentations.

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