Physician Assistant Masters Degree Programs

Read about master's degree programs for aspiring physician assistants. Learn about common educational prerequisites and courses in these programs, and discover the employment outlook and salary potential for the profession.

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Essential Information

Physician assistant master's degree programs prepare students for a wide range of employment options in medicine, including positions in hospitals, doctor's offices and community health clinics. These advanced degree programs provide working professionals or bachelor's degree holders access to a graduate course of study in the field of medicine. Most programs lead to the Master of Science (M.S.) in Physician Assistant Studies, but some may lead to the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree. Graduates of these physician assistant programs are trained to provide direct clinical assistance to patients in doctor's offices, clinics and hospitals. Graduates must attain certification as PAs before finding employment.

Educational Prerequisites

Nearly all master's degree programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution before applying. Regardless of the field in which a student earned their degree, most institutions require certain prerequisite courses to enter the program, such as several hours of chemistry, biology and medical terminology.

Program Coursework

The curriculum of most physician assistant master's degrees involves a combination of medical coursework and hands-on, clinical experience. Below are some of the topics that may be included in the curriculum of such a degree program.

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physical diagnosis
  • Genetics
  • Ethical concerns in medicine
  • Patient assessment

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (www.bls.gov), the employment of physician assistants is expected to grow by 30% between 2010 and 2020. The BLS also states that, as of May 2012, the median annual wage for physician assistants was $90,930.

Continuing Education Info

All 50 states require physician assistants to be certified before practicing. Certification involves passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, which is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Students must have graduated from an accredited physician assistant program before being eligible to take the certifying exam. Physician assistants may choose to further specialize in fields like pediatrics or occupational medicine.

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