10 Most Affordable Accelerated PA Programs

Most Affordable

The best accelerated PA programs train individuals to work in the field of health sciences as a physician assistant. The rise in the accelerated online Master’s in Health Sciences Physician Assistant programs point to the industry’s understanding that working professionals need access to graduate education in a way that makes sense for their schedules. Because more and more physician assistant positions require a graduate degree, some professionals are finding themselves locked out of promotions because they only hold an undergraduate degree. Now that schools are creating online programs, more students are taking the next step and applying for graduate programs.

Physician assistants work long hours; this is for good reason as their expertise is required in healthcare settings at all hours of the day. Having access to an online science degree that can be pursued when a student has time makes it easier for them to commit to their graduate education. Along with many programs offering an accelerated program formats for professionals with a substantial amount of work experience, it is possible for online students to complete the science degree in three years or less. With more programs becoming available, it was necessary to create an updated ranking for interested students to browse; this is the ranking that can be found below.


Featured Schools:

Methodology for Ranking Low-Cost Accelerated PA Programs

We based the initial pool for this ranking of accelerated online master’s degree programs in PA studies on a simple web search. After identifying the specific colleges and universities nationwide that offer such a program, our editors applied the methodology using information from College Navigator as well as each program’s website. Factors we evaluated include Time to Completion, Graduate Tuition, Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific), Presence of an Online Student Support Network. In the case of a tie, the more affordable medical science degree program received a higher ranking.

10. Yale University

  • Degree: Master of Medical Science (MMSc) degree
  • Graduate Tuition: $16,517 per semester
  • More: Website

The online accelerated master’s physician assistant program from Yale School of Medicine is a comprehensive full-time option. Following the program’s carefully prescribed curriculum, students will fulfill the required 118 credit hours of coursework and clinical experiences within just 28 months. Sample course titles include Patient Assessment, Diagnostic Studies, Pharmacology, and also Behavioral and Preventative Medicine. Yale University holds its institutional accreditation from the New England Commission on Higher Education.

9. University of Detroit-Mercy

  • Degree: Physician Assistant Master of Science
  • Graduate Tuition: $16,150 per semester
  • More: Website

The University of Detroit-Mercy offers an accelerated online physician assistant master’s completion program from its College of Health Professions and the McAuley School of Nursing. This physician assistant program is versatile in terms of both scheduling and content. Three different course scheduling options are available, and students can elect an Administrative Leadership track. The 30-credit hour curriculum for the program includes core courses such as Health Care Delivery and Policy Issues, Research Methods, and also Health Promotion and Risk Reduction. Students graduate with both a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Science in PA studies.

Students enrolled in the Administrative Leadership track will take additional classes like Health Economic, Information Systems for Health Services Administrators, and also Theory and Practice of Management. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited the University of Detroit-Mercy to confer this master’s degree in PA studies online.

8. Pace University

  • Graduate Tuition: $900 per credit
  • Degree: Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
  • More: Website

The accelerated online physician’s assistant program from Pace University is a one-year degree completion program designed for graduates of bachelor’s degree programs. Courses required for the degree include Leadership and Theory in Healthcare, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and also Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Practice. The 30 credit College of Health Professions Physician Assistant Online Completion Program is $900.00 per credit.

A scholarly research paper is also required prior to graduation. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has accredited Pace University to award this physician assistant master’s online program.

7. University of Maryland Baltimore

University of Maryland Baltimore - Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master of Health Sciences - Physician Assistant Online
  • Graduate Tuition: $764 per credit resident, $996 non-resident
  • Degree: Master of Science in PA Studies
  • More: Website

The University of Maryland Baltimore’s accelerated physicians assistant online program is offered through a partnership with Anne Arundel Community College (AACC). Students can complete the 116-credit hour program in just 25 months. This physician assistant program includes course titles such as:

  • Applied Medical Sciences
  • Foundations of PA Practice
  • Clinical Medicine
  • Legal/Ethical Issues for Health, Human Services, and Clinical Professionals

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has accredited UMDB to confer this online graduate degree in PA studies.

6. Saint Francis University

Saint Francis University - Top 10 Most Affordable Accelerated Master of Health Sciences - Physician Assistant Online
  • Graduate Tuition: $1,142 per credit
  • Degree: Master of Science in PA Studies
  • More: Website

The accelerated online physician assistant program from Saint Francis University is a 33-credit hour Master of Medical Science (MMS) offering. Designed to complete during the clinical year of a student’s undergraduate PA program or shortly thereafter, the program features courses such as Clinical Applications in Primary Care, Advanced Pharmacology, and also Research Methodology.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has accredited Saint Francis University to offer the online MMS degree. The program ranks among the top graduate PA programs in the nation.

5. University of North Dakota

Accelerated PA Programs
  • Graduate Tuition: $22,951.94 per semester
  • Degree: Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
  • More: Website

The accelerated physician assistant master’s online program from the University of North Dakota is offered through UND’s School of Medicine. Technically a hybrid option, the program does require some visits to campus but allows distance education students to complete their clinical experiences in their local area. Sample course titles in the program’s curriculum include Human Physiology and Pathophysiology, Diagnostic Studies, and also Medical Human Anatomy and Radiology. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited UND to confer the online graduate PA degree.

4. University of Nebraska Medical Center

Accelerated PA Programs University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Graduate Tuition: $531.00 per credit
  • Degree: Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)
  • More: Website

The online accelerated master of physician assistant program from the University of Nebraska Medical Center is through the school’s College of Allied Health Professions. Designed for working physician assistants who desire a graduate degree in the field, this degree advancement option allows students to earn this credential within five semesters of study. The program’s curriculum features didactic courses such as:

  • Management in Health Care
  • Health Care Ethics and Critical Thinking
  • Health Care Policy

An optional Education track is also available, which requires classes like:

  • Instructional Design in Higher Learning
  • Education Theory in Medicine
  • Leadership in Clinical Education

The University of Nebraska Medical Center has accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission to offer the accelerated physician assistant master’s online.

3. Touro College

Accelerated PA Programs
  • Graduate Tuition: tuition for the entire 37-credit program is $8,670 total.
  • Degree: Master of Science in PA Studies
  • More: Website

Touro College offers a self-paced accelerated online master’s in PA studies program. Students who choose a full-time track can earn their degree in just one year. The curriculum for this 30-credit hour master’s completion program include Medical Ethics and Healthcare Policy, Healthcare Delivery Systems, Health Science Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and also Medical Research Methods and Literature Review.

Students must also complete a culminating master’s project prior to program completion. Touro College has accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to award this master’s in physician assistant studies online.

2. University of South Florida

Accelerated PA Programs
  • Graduate Tuition: $11,316 per semester resident
  • Degree: Online MS in Medical Sciences, Health Sciences Concentration
  • More: Website

The accelerated master of physician assistant studies online program from the University of South Florida is through USF Health’s Division of Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs. The program is available fully online and is interdisciplinary in nature. Courses required for this physician assistant program include:

  • Basic Medical Microbiology & Immunology
  • Health Ethics
  • Human Structure and Function
  • Basic Medical Pathology

USF has accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the graduate degree online. Additionally, US News & World Report named it one of the best medical schools in the country for both research and clinical practice.

1. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Accelerated PA Programs
  • Graduate Tuition: $5,959
  • Degree: Master in Physician Assistant Studies Bridge Program (MPAS)
  • More: Website

The highly accelerated online master of physician assistant studies offering from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley is a bridge program that can be completed in just three months. Offered through the university’s College of Health Professions and the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, the program is designed for working healthcare professionals who already hold a bachelor’s degree in the field.

The curriculum for the program consists of three-month-long clinical tracks and a culminating research experience course. UTRGV is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the master of physician assistant studies online program. US News & World Report rank it among the best such programs nationwide.

What are Physician Assistant Studies?

Physician Assistants (PAs) are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Physician assistant studies is a popular and growing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for these advanced healthcare professionals is currently rising exponentially; job opportunities are projected to increase by over 30% between 2018 and 2028. This is a much steeper growth trajectory compared to the average occupation.

The burgeoning demand for physician assistants can be attributed in large part to the aging baby boomer population who will need more healthcare services as they grow older. There’s more to the growth of the physician assistant sector, though. Because these healthcare professionals perform many of the same functions as doctors and require less training, many hospitals, doctor’s offices, and outpatient care centers are relying on physician assistants to fill the gap as demand for healthcare services grows.

Other Colleges and Universities with PA Programs

SchoolPhysician Assistant Program
College of Saint Marywebsite
Drexel Universitywebsite
Desales Universitywebsite
Wagner Collegewebsite
New York Institute of Technologywebsite
Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Universitywebsite
Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Scienceswebsite
Rochester Institute of Technologywebsite

About Master of Physician Assistant Programs

In order to become a physician assistant, you’ll need a master’s degree. Many of these programs offer concentrations or areas of emphasis directly related to a career path in physician assistant studies. The most credible master’s degree programs for physician assistants have accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Traditional physician assistant master’s degree programs usually require two to three years to complete.

What are Online Accelerated PA Programs?

Accelerated online master’s programs for physician assistants have made it easier and more convenient for healthcare professionals to earn their PA credentials. These programs enable students to complete their coursework from home and eliminate the time spent driving to campus.

In some cases, enrolled students can continue working in the healthcare field while pursuing their physician assistant master’s degree online. These accelerated online offerings also reduce the time commitment necessary for a master’s in PA studies significantly, making it possible to earn the graduate credential in as few as 12 months.

Traditional PA Path

  • 4 years to earn a BS
  • 2 years to earn a MS in PA Studies

Accelerated PA Path

  • 3+2 accelerated track students earn a BS and a MS in 5 years. Typically, students must know freshman year that they want to take this path.
  • 1 year master’s option is available from some schools for students with an undergraduate degree in Science or Biology

What are the Types of Online Accelerated PA Programs?

Accelerated online master’s in physician assistant studies programs share some things in common. They both have a shortened degree plan and distance education options. However, they are not all identical. In fact, they can vary significantly from one school to the next. Some of the major distinctions that characterize these graduate offerings include course delivery and format.

100% Online Versus Hybrid

The majority of accelerated online physician assistant master’s programs in our ranking are fully online options. That means that all coursework required for these programs is entirely online. For these programs, there are no mandatory visits to campus. Some accelerated master of physician assistant studies do require on-campus meetings, though. These options may be classified as online programs, but they are technically hybrid offerings, meaning they blend online and on-campus classes. Some hybrid programs are more flexible than others, but they all require some visits to campus.

While hybrid PA master’s programs may be less convenient than 100% online programs, some students prefer them because they offer more structure and engagement. If you learn best in a traditional classroom setting, a hybrid program may be a good fit for you.

Asynchronous Versus Synchronous

Another element of an accelerated online master of physician assistant studies degree option that may vary from program to program is course delivery. Generally speaking, there are two types of course delivery methods: asynchronous and synchronous delivery. In an asynchronous program students have the most flexibility for their coursework. These are self-paced programs. So, students can access their virtual classrooms at their convenience, even in the middle of the night. Once logged in, students can view prerecorded lectures and post to discussion forums.

Synchronous online physician assistant master’s programs are more structured in terms of scheduling. These options require students to log in to classes at specified times of the day and week. Common coursework includes live lectures and class discussions. While less flexible, synchronous programs provide more interaction and structure than their asynchronous counterparts.

What are the Admissions Criteria for Accelerated PA Programs?

The admissions requirements for an accelerated online master of health sciences physician assistant studies program may vary somewhat depending on which school and program you are applying to. Still, the criteria will be similar. Typically, these graduate programs require successful completion of a bachelor’s degree program and direct experience in a patient care setting. Students can fulfill this latter requirement through professional employment in the healthcare field. For example, students can work as a nurse, paramedic, physician assistant profession, medical assistant, or complete an internship or student researcher role.

  • Completed application with application fee
  • High School transcripts for five year programs, or official transcripts from undergraduate coursework with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • GRE test scores. Some programs require a graduate entrance examination such as the GRE or MCAT.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Essay or personal statement
  • Criminal Background Check
  • interview required for some applicants and some programs

As you’re considering which colleges and universities you should apply to, keep in mind that some programs are more competitive than others. Detailed admissions requirements may include specific GPA criteria or test scores as well as certain prerequisite course titles. The college or university you’re applying to might make additional requests as well, including letters of reference, community service, or interviews.

What is the Curriculum for Physician Assistant Programs?

Just as admissions requirements for online accelerated master’s in physician assistant studies may vary from school to school, so too will the curricula for these programs. Generally speaking, though, the degree plans for these academic offerings will be comprised of two main components: didactic coursework and clinical experiences.

Didactic Element

Didactic coursework represents the traditional teaching phase of the program. During this phase, students study advanced topics in the health sciences such as pathology, disease, pharmacology, and prevention, for example.

Sample Didactic Course Titles

  • Introduction to Pathology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Evidence Based Medicine
  • Foundations of Clinical Medicine
  • Clinical Anatomy
  • Physical Diagnosis
  • Patient Interviewing
  • Clinical Laboratory Medicine
  • Surgical Techniques

Clinical Element

The clinical component of an accelerated online master’s in health sciences physical assistant degree plan is the experiential component of an accelerated PA program. This component serves two purposes. Clinical rotations enable students to demonstrate what they’ve learned during the didactic phase of their master’s degree program. Secondly, the experience gives students the opportunity to get their feet wet in the field and learn precisely what it’s like to work as a real physician assistant. For example, they may learn to perform various medical procedures.

Students usually must complete a certain number of clinical hours in a healthcare setting prior to graduation from the master’s program. And this number can vary by school. For online master’s in physician assistant studies, students typically complete their clinical hours close to home, sometimes at their current place of employment. During clinical internship rotations, students work with practicing PAs and physicians in areas like family practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and also surgery.

Are Online Accelerated PA Programs Worth It?

Even accelerated online master’s in physician assistant studies programs require a significant time investment, and then there is the financial investment to consider as well. Thus, it’s natural for a prospective student to have numerous questions prior to embarking on this type of academic pursuit in the field of healthcare.

How Long Does it take to Earn a PA Health Sciences Degree?

Completion times for accelerated health science master’s online programs for physician assistants will vary. In this very ranking, for example, times to completion range from three to thirty months.

How Much Do Online Accelerated PA Programs Cost?

Your tuition will depend on the program and school you select. In our ranking, for example, costs vary from just over $5,000 a year to over $40,000 a year. When considering these educational expenses, though, keep in mind that financial aid is often available.

Are Online Physician Assistant Master’s Degrees Credible?

The majority of them are, yes. If you have questions about a specific program’s legitimacy, it’s best to check into the school’s institutional accreditation as well as programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistance (ARC-PA).

How Much Do PAs Make?

Your exact salary will vary depending on your specific employment terms. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual wage for physician assistants is $126,010. And salaries in the PA profession ranges from $83,820 to more than $168,120.

Top Industries for PAsSalary
Outpatient Care Centers$134,180
Offices of Physicians$123,430
Educational Services$107,410
BLS wages for PAs in the top-paying industries.

What is the Job Outlook for PAs?

Is there a demand for trained physician assistants? Yes! The PA profession is one of the fastest growing careers in the country. Employment opportunities for these healthcare professionals are growing much faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, the BLS predicts the employment of physician assistants to grow twenty-seven percent (27%) over the next decade. During this time, the BLS expects around 12,200 openings for physician assistants each year, on average.

Do You Need a Professional License to Work as a Physician Assistant?

Yes. In addition to a master’s degree in health sciences, you will also need to become licensed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). All states and the District of Columbia require physician assistants to have a license. This process requires that you take and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).

Physician Assistant Professional Organizations

There are several professional organizations and associations affiliated with the field of physician assistant studies. Some of these include:

  • American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
  • Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA)
  • National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)
  • Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant Inc (ARC-PA)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)

Your PA Career

Are you interested in a medical studies program with a broad range of practice? In a PA program students actively work expanding access to medical care and transforming health through patient centered care. These rigorously educated individuals in a medical studies program learn team based medical practice and work in a variety of clinical settings. So if you are interested in this field, find a program that works for you!