Jul 13, 2024  
2020-2021 ATSU University Catalog 
2020-2021 ATSU University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physician Assistant Studies (Residential), MS

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program - Residential

Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Common services provided by physician assistants include taking medical histories and performing physical examinations, ordering and interpreting lab tests, prescribing medications, assisting in surgery and counseling patients. Physician assistants are trained through an intense education program.

Because of their close working relationship with physicians, physician assistants are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. Upon graduation, physician assistants take a national certification examination developed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Length of Program

The residential Physician Assistant Program is an entry-level, 26 month course of study that leads to a Master of Science degree upon successful completion. The curriculum includes 127 credit hours.

Tuition and Fees


Class/Year Tuition Educational Supply Fee Medical Equipment Fee
Class of 2022, year 1 $46,862.00 $1,150.00 $1,888
Class of 2021, year 2 $43,076.00 $1,150.00  


Application Process

The ATSU-ASHS PA program participates in a centralized application processing service called the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Applications may be obtained through CASPA at www.caspaonline.org.

Please refer to the CASPA application instructions for specific details about completing the application, required documents, and processing time. Questions regarding the CASPA account may be directed to CASPA at 617.612.2080 or by email at caspainfo@caspaonline.org. All other questions may be sent to Admissions at admissions@atsu.edu or 866.626.2878 ext. 2237.

Application Deadline

The CASPA application cycle begins in mid-April of the academic year preceding the year in which the applicant plans to matriculate. A completed application must be submitted to CASPA by September 1. All secondary applications must be verified by November 1 to be considered.

Program enrollment is based on a rolling admissions policy. Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received, thus applicants are encouraged to apply early.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for admission to the residential Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program must meet the following requirements prior to matriculation.

  1. Applicants are required to meet all ATSU and ATSU-ASHS general admission requirements.
  2. The applicant must have achieved a minimum 3.00 cumulative grade point average overall and a minimum 3.00 cumulative science grade point average on a 4.00 scale.
  3. Candidates accepted for admission to the ATSU-ASHS PA Program must have earned a baccalaureate degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university (no equivalency will be accepted).
  4. Applicants must successfully complete all prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or higher prior to the program start date. All prerequisite coursework must be completed from a regionally accredited institution (no equivalency will be accepted.) Due to COVID-19, Pass/Fail pre-requisite courses will be temporarily permitted.
    1. Human Anatomy with lab (recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date) minimum 4 semester credits/6 quarter credits.
    2. Human Physiology with lab (recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date) minimum 4 semester credits/6 quarter credits.
    3. If you have taken a combined Anatomy & Physiology course, you must have two or more semesters (each with lab) totaling 8 semester credits/12 quarter credits.
    4. Microbiology (with or without lab; recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date) minimum 3 credits/4 quarter credits.
    5. General chemistry (with or without lab; recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date), minimum 4 semester credits/6 quarter credits.
    6. Biochemistry (with or without lab; recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date), minimum 3 semester credits/4 quarter credits.
    7. Psychology, minimum 6 semester credits/9 quarter credits.
    8. College Statistics, minimum 3 semester/4 quarter credits.
    9. English Composition, minimum 3 semester credits/4 quarter credits.
    10. English elective, minimum 3 semester credits/4 quarter credits.
    11. Medical Terminology, minimum 1 semester credit/1 quarter credit.
  5. Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation from professionals to CASPA. Please refer to the CASPA application instructions for specific guidelines and requirements for submitting letters of recommendation.
    1. The first letter should be from an employer or supervisor.
    2. The second letter should be from a healthcare practitioner (physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner).
    3. The third letter should come from a science faculty member.
  6. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE General Test) must be taken within 5 years of application date. ATSU-ASHS CASPA GRE Designated Institution (DI) Code is 4443.
    1. The GRE scores are strongly recommended to  meet a minimum  of 25th percentile for Verbal, Quantitative and Analytical. If multiple GRE tests are taken, the program will Superscore the GRE scores such that the highest percentile score will be used.
  7. Applicant must obtain a minimum of 1000 hours of patient care experience, sufficient to recognize the physical and psychological demands of dealing with patients and to appreciate the challenges and rewards of being a healthcare professional.
  8. All applicants are required to demonstrate proficiency in English when applying to the Arizona School of Health Sciences, A.T Still University. See the ASHS English Proficiency  section for more details.
  9. Applicants are expected to be computer literate and experienced in word processing. All curricula require extensive computer usage. Accepted applicants are required to have a laptop computer prior to the first day of class. See the Minimum Technology Specifications  under the General Admission Requirements section.

Applicants are responsible for notifying the Office of Admissions of any changes in their mailing address or email address. All requests for withdrawing an application must be done in writing via email, fax, or letter. Applicants are encouraged to check all email folders in the rare event our email is filtered into a spam or junk mail folder.

Applicants who are considered potential candidates will be required to visit ASHS to participate in an applicant interview process.

Minimal Technical Standards for PA

In addition to the technical standards established by the University that applies to all students, the program has established the following technical standards:

  1. Students must be able to observe and participate in all demonstrations, visual presentations in lectures and laboratories, and computer assisted instruction. In addition, students must be able to observe laboratory evidence and microbiologic cultures, microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states.
  2. Students must be able to observe patients accurately and completely, both at a distance and closely. This ability requires functional vision, hearing and somatic sensation.
  3. Students must be able to problem solve, collect, organize, prioritize, analyze and assimilate large amounts of technically detailed and complex information within a limited time frame. This information will be presented in a variety of educational settings, including lectures, small group discussions, and individual clinical settings. Students must be able to analyze, integrate, and apply this information appropriately for problem solving and decision-making.
  4. Students must be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships and the spatial relationships of structures.
  5. Students must have sufficient use of the senses of vision, hearing and smell necessary in order to elicit information, perceive nonverbal communications, and describe changes in mood, activity and posture in addition to the psychomotor abilities to allow the performance of all skills/tests in the physical exam. Students must be able to perform inspection, palpation, auscultation and percussion.
  6. Students must be able to relate to patients and family members and establish an empathetic, professional and effective relationship with patients and families including not only speech but reading and writing.
  7. Students are expected to be able to communicate the results of the examination to the patient and to their colleagues with accuracy, clarity, and efficiency in oral, written and electronic formats.
  8. Students are expected to possess the ability to work collaboratively with all members of the healthcare team.
  9. Students must have motor function sufficient to execute movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Such skills require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and sensation.
  10. Students should be able to manipulate equipment and instruments to perform basic laboratory tests and procedures required to attain curricular goals (e.g. needles, stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, tongue blades, intravenous equipment, gynecologic speculum, and scalpel).
  11. Students must be able to transport themselves from one location to another in a timely fashion in order to facilitate patient care responsibilities and to receive educational training.
  12. Students must have the emotional health to fully use their intellectual ability, exercise good judgment, and complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients.
  13. Students must be able to tolerate physical, mental, and emotional stress in training and continue to function effectively.
  14. Students must possess qualities of adaptability, flexibility and be able to function in the face of uncertainty. A student must have a high level of compassion for others, motivation to serve, integrity, and a consciousness of social values.
  15. Students must possess sufficient interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, all ethnic backgrounds, and all belief systems.
  16. Students must be able to accept criticism and respond by appropriate modification of behavior.
  17. Students are expected to be able to display appropriate judgment in the assessment and treatment of patients. In addition, students must be able to learn and demonstrate the ability to recognize limitations in their knowledge, skills and abilities and to seek appropriate assistance with their identified limitations.
  18. Students are expected to possess perseverance, diligence, and consistency to complete the physician assistant curriculum and enter into the practice of medicine as a certified and licensed physician assistant.

Graduation Requirements

To earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree, all residential students must:

  1. Complete all prescribed didactic and clinical courses and all requirements as listed in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies Residential Student Program Guide.
  2. Pass all courses and all comprehensive exams.
  3. Discharge all financial obligations to ATSU.


The didactic curriculum in the PA program includes lecture, small-group study, hands-on skills, and didactic clinical experiences. The didactic year clinical experience program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to experience the real life application of the information they are being exposed to in the didactic curriculum. The program is also a chance for students to emulate experienced providers as role models in the application of effective interpersonal skills and patient education techniques to patient care in preparation for transition to the supervised clinical experiences in the second year.


Descriptions and Credit Values

A typical course schedule consists of the following. Additional course options may be available and listed below under Other Courses.

Second year

Clinical experiences will average approximately 40 hours per week on site, in patient-related care. Some clinical experiences may involve slightly shorter (no less than 36 hours per week) or longer hours (no more than 80 hours per week), evening, weekend or on-call responsibilities. The preceptor will determine the student’s onsite schedule and clinical responsibilities. Students must adhere to each clinical experience schedule and to all assignments developed by the preceptor. If this is not possible in any given week at a specific clinical site, the student is to notify the clinical team in advance. Patient-related care includes evaluating and treating patients, charting and appropriate paperwork (written or electronic), case presentations, discussions with the preceptor, and other duties as applicable.