Master of Science in Physician Assistant
The South University, Austin Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) program instills fundamental medical concepts, provides students with the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking necessary to achieve clinical competence as medical professionals who will serve as valued members of the healthcare team. Physician assistants perform medical functions that include, but are not limited to, evaluation, monitoring, diagnostics, therapeutics, counseling, and referral. The scope of practice varies according to state laws, the medical setting, and the experience of the physician assistant. The Master of Science in Physician Assistant program at South University’s West Palm Beach campus is designed to provide students with effective learning opportunities that will prepare them to perform their expected competencies in an ethical, legal, safe and effective manner upon graduation.
Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistant
South University Austin has applied for Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). South University Austin anticipates matriculating its first class in January 2023, pending achieving Accreditation-Provisional status at the September 2022 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.
PANCE Certification and Attrition
Graduates of an accredited Physician Assistant program must pass the national Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) in order to acquire state licensure to practice. This exam is developed jointly by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
The report will be available once the first cohort completes the exam.
South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.
To view the South University, West Palm Beach PA program student attrition information, please click HERE.
Admissions Information and Requirements
Procedure for Admission to the Master in Science Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program
Entrance to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) program is gained through a formal application review and an interview. Application to the program is made through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Applicants must specifically designate the South University campus(es) to which their application should be submitted within the CASPA system.
A completed application must be submitted through CASPA in order to be reviewed by any of the South University campuses. The application cycle for the January start will begin in April annually. The deadline for all application materials to be complete* in the CASPA application portal is November 1st annually.
To apply for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree program at South University, West Palm Beach, individuals must:
- Complete CASPA online Applications including submission of all transcripts and GRE scores.
- Official GRE scores for the General Test (verbal, quantitative, and written essay) are required to be electronically submitted to CASPA through ETS (Educational Testing Service) using the West Palm Beach program GRE Code: 7108. Paper copies are not accepted.
*This is the date your application became complete and was placed in the verification queue. Your complete date is the day your final required item - a transcript, reference letter, payment, or e-submitted application - posted to your CASPA account.
**Please do not send transcripts directly to South University. Transcripts should be sent to CASPA.
Individuals whose applications are deemed competitive will be invited for a required interview. Therefore, those who apply early in the admission cycle are more likely to be granted an interview than those who apply later. Each program concludes interviews for the admissions cycle upon filling all available seats. Not all qualified applicants will receive an interview.
Students who are offered a seat into the Physician Assistant program are only permitted to reserve a seat at one campus. Within 30 days of the student signing the acceptance form, it is the responsibility of the student to notify any other South University Physician Assistant program(s) of his/her intent to withdraw. Seat acceptance fees are non-transferable to other South University programs.
Note: Applicants should refer to the Physician Assistant Program policy on Acceptance Fee for more details.
Selection for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant program is highly competitive. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee an interview or admission. Successful applicants will generally exceed the minimum criteria. The following criteria represent the minimum conditions established for students interested in applying to the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree program:
- Applicants must have an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution.
- Applicants must have an overall GPA as calculated by the CASPA service of 3.0 or greater (on a 4.0 scale) (including undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and graduate coursework). Preference will be given to those with an overall GPA at or above 3.3.
- Applicants should have a Biology-Chemistry-Physics (BCP) science GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) as calculated by the CASPA service. Preference will be given to those with a prerequisite (BCP) GPA at or above 3.15.
- Applicants must submit scores from the GRE general exam directly to the CASPA service using the South University PA program code 7108. Preference will be given to those with GRE scores (Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning) at the 50th percentile or above.
- At least three letters of reference on the CASPA application must be submitted
- At least one reference on the CASPA application must be from a physician (MD/DO), Physician Assistant, or Nurse Practitioner with whom the applicant has worked or shadowed and to whom the applicant is not related. Impressive, well- articulated, and unequivocal letters attesting to the applicant’s motivation, communication and interpersonal skills, professionalism, and future contribution towards health care are considered competitive. Preference is granted to applicants with letter(s) from a PA.
Clarification of PA Program Admission Policies Due to COVID-19
The South University Physician Assistant (PA) programs recognize the unique challenges faced by students and academic institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. South University will continue to accept prerequisite courses, including lab work, completed online or on campus from any regionally-accredited U.S. college or university.
Due to the awarding of “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” or “Pass/Fail” grading for courses completed during the COVID-19 pandemic the South University PA program is providing clarification of its admission policies based on these grading scale changes.
- The South University PA programs will accept “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” or “Pass/Fail” grades for courses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as submitted through CASPA.
- Applicants are advised to visit the CASPA Applicant Help Center for more information regarding effects of non-letter grades on CASPA-calculated GPAs.
- When possible, the South University PA Program admissions committee recommends students elect to receive letter grades for these courses if the option is available.
- The South University PA programs will continue to require GRE scores at the time of CASPA application submission.
Students with concerns regarding how “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” or “Pass/Fail” grades in courses taken during the COVID-19 pandemic terms have affected their CASPA-calculated GPA may apply for an additional GPA review through the PA Admissions Committee.
The South University PA programs will revisit this policy and make additional changes if necessary in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students must complete all prerequisite courses listed below with a grade of C or better at a regionally accredited U.S. college or university prior to submission of his/her application.
Anatomy and Physiology
2 courses (sequenced)
No course substitutions are accepted for this requirement.
Alternative Substitution for Biology II ONLY:
General Chemistry and Labs
Microbiology with Lab
No course substitutions are accepted for this requirement.
Organic Chemistry or
Lab recommended, not required.
Prerequisite coursework which is obtained from a four-year college or university and which is designed for science majors is considered more competitive.
In general, prerequisite coursework with titles that include "Essentials of," "Survey of," or "Introductory to," unless specifically designed for science majors, are considered less competitive.
Basic science courses should be those for science majors. The General Biology and Biochemistry courses are recommended to include a lab, but it is not required.
Only courses (excluding General Biology, Biochemistry, and Organic Chemistry) with an associated lab will be given credit for fulfilling prerequisite requirements. In the event that a laboratory is not offered with a prerequisite course, applicants may request the lab requirement for that course be waived by contacting the program. Lab waivers and/or course substitutions are granted at the discretion of the Admissions Committee. Applicants requesting such should be prepared to submit supporting documents, including, but not limited to, course descriptions.
The South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant program accepts credit for Advanced Placement (AP) courses. AP courses taken and successfully completed will be counted as one course credit towards completion of the respective prerequisite subject. Grades earned in AP courses are not used in the calculation of the applicant's overall or prerequisite GPA.
The South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant program does not accept College Level Examination Program (CLEP) credit for any prerequisite requirements.
South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant programs do not accept a transfer of credits from other physician assistant programs or provide enrolled students with a waiver of credit (i.e., advanced placement) for any component of the required curricular coursework. All students must complete each course in the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant curriculum.
Clinical experiences should provide the applicant with a knowledge of and orientation to the presentation, signs, and symptoms of a variety of ill or injured patients. Preference is given to applicants with clinical experience that includes direct patient care. However, there is no requirement for a predetermined number of hours (or months) of health care experience to be earned by an applicant.
Admissions Committee Selection Factors
Applicants for admission are considered and ranked using multiple factors. Applicants are awarded preference points based upon the following selection factors:
Academic achievement (overall GPA, BCP, GRE).
- Preference will be given to those with GRE scores (Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning) at the 50th percentile or above.
- Preference will be given to those with an overall GPA at or above 3.3.
- Preference will be given to those with a prerequisite (BCP) GPA at or above 3.15.
Quality of letters of reference.
- References from Physician Assistants (PAs) are preferred.
- Letters from personal acquaintances are discouraged.
Quality hands-on patient care.
- Preference is given to applicants with clinical experience that requires direct patient care, such as: Physical Therapist, Respiratory Therapist, EMT/Paramedic, Nurse, or Certified Nursing Assistant.
Prerequisite coursework which is obtained from a four-year college or university and which is designed for science majors.
PA mentorship/shadowing experiences.
Community service hours.
The Admissions Committee assesses evidence of an applicant’s interpersonal skills, problem-solving ability, professionalism, motivation, academic potential, communication, knowledge of the PA profession and the health care system with an alignment to the mission and vision of the program. The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program adheres to the South University Non-discrimination policy.
Accepted applicants will be required to complete the following items in order to obtain approval for matriculation in January:
- Satisfactory Criminal Background and Drug Screen Report
- Health/Immunization Requirements
- Health Insurance Documentation
- Baccalaureate Diploma Verification
- American Heart Association (AHA) Approved Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification
- FAFSA application (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) submission for those applying for financial aid
Applicants seeking admissions to the Physician Assistant program must abide by the College of Health Professions Background Check Policy and Substance Abuse and Screening Policy. Acceptance into a South University program or its completion does not guarantee that a student will be able to obtain subsequent licensure or certification.
All Physician Assistant program students are responsible for meeting matriculation deadlines and requirements as published within the campus-specific Enrollment Guide.There is a $1000 acceptance fee, which is non-refundable, for those applicants accepted into the Physician Assistant program at South University, West Palm Beach. Acceptance fees are applied towards tuition.
If you have questions in regards to the Application Process, please contact the West Palm Beach Master of Science in Physician Assistant program office by calling 561-273-6520 or by email at email@example.com.
The following are program goals for the South University, Austin Physician Assistant program :
• The program will recruit a highly qualified, diverse student cohort that will foster success in the program.
• The program will strive to adequately prepare graduating students to achieve a first-time pass rate that exceeds the national average upon completion of the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE).
• The program will provide students service learning opportunities that allow them to use their skills and education to demonstrate compassion and commitment to the community.
Please click HERE for information on our Physician Assistant program and effectiveness in achieving program goals.
(Note: Requirements for NCCPA Certification are determined by the NCCPA and are subject to change without notification to South University. Graduation from the South University, Austin Physician Assistant program does not guarantee certification or employment.)
Tuition and Fees
Tuition for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) Degree
Per quarter: $10,000.00
Total tuition: $90,000.00
Required Fees for the MSPA Degree
Acceptance Fee: $1,000.00 (Non-refundable/Applied to Tuition)
Graduation Fee: $125.00
American Academy of Physician Assistant (AAPA) Student Membership Fee: $75.00
Other Estimated Costs for the MSPA Degree
Professional Instruments: $1,100.00 (Approximate)
Textbooks: $2,610.00 ($15 per credit hour)
Technology Fee: $2,610.00 ($15 per credit hour)
Surgical Scrubs: $55.00 (Approximate)
Laptop Computer and privacy screen: $1,500.00
Background Check: $200.00-400.00 (Additional fees may apply to the base package fee contingent upon credentialing requirements of the hospital.)
State Association Fees: $60.00
Estimated Total for the MSPA Degree
Tuition and Fees: $98,535.00
Tuition and fees are subject to change. The tuition for in-state and out-of-state residents is the same. Acceptance fee is non-refundable and upon acceptance is applied toward the student’s tuition. If a student decides not to attend after accepting, the fee will not be refunded.
All students are required to have a laptop computer with wireless internet access for use in the multimedia classroom. Purchase of these items is not recommended prior to acceptance into the program because of these very specific requirements.
Payment of Tuition and Fees
All charges are due and payable on or before the registration date for each quarter. Circumstances which prevent a student from adhering to these dates should be discussed with the financial aid office. Students attending school under grants and/or loans should confer with the financial aid office concerning payment of fees. Students attending school under the G.I. Bill may discuss payment of school fees with the Director of Financial Aid. Failure to make proper payments, unless otherwise cleared with the financial aid office, will result in dismissal from the university. Grades will not be issued, degrees granted, or academic transcripts furnished until all financial obligations have been satisfied and all university property returned. For refund policies, please see the academic catalog HERE.
Policies and procedures for student withdrawal, refunds of tuition and fees, policies that limit or prevent students from working during the program and policies and procedures for processing student grievances can be found in the South University catalog.
Due to the rigorous nature of the Physician Assistant program, employment during a student's course of training is strongly discouraged.
Employment must never interfere with academic or clinical assignments.
At no time is a South University Physician Assistant student allowed to or required to work for the South University Physician Assistant program or program clinical sites.
South University Student Handbook
For additional and detailed information about being a student at South University, Austin Student Handbook available here.
For the Physician Assistant (MS) Program Student Handbook please click here. All Physician Assistant program policies apply to all students, principal faculty, and the program director regardless of location, i.e., didactic and clinical settings.
Physician Assistant at South University
South University is committed to creating career opportunities for our students, so we provide the relevant coursework for you to meet your career goals in a position as a Physician Assistant as well as the ethical and legal competencies and effective communication skills that are integral for this profession. In addition, we instill the value of continued education in our students so you can continue to create more opportunities for success in your career.
Mission & Vision
Physician Assistant Program
The South University Physician Assistant (MSPA) exists to educate a diverse student population as providers of high-quality, cost-efficient health care who will make a positive impact while practicing the art and science of medicine with physician collaboration.
The South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) degree program strives to provide educational experiences where faculty, staff, clinical instructors, students, and other health care providers work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect, cooperation, and commitment. The program’s primary focus is on the development of physician assistants capable of expanding into clinical leadership roles by demonstrating proficiency in critical thinking and creative problem solving, utilizing evidence-based skills gained through innovative approaches.
In order to ensure that patients receive the best medical care possible, the faculty of the South University Physician Assistant program has identified certain skills and professional behaviors that are essential for successful progression of physician assistant students in the program. A student must possess skills and behaviors at a level of capability to perform a variety of duties required of a physician assistant as a health care professional.
Students with disabilities who can perform these skills and successfully execute professional behavior either unassisted, with dependable use of assistive devices, or by employing other reasonable accommodations are eligible to apply for enrollment in the program. Minimum performance standards include critical thinking, communication skills, observation skills, motor skills, and interpersonal abilities. Interested parties may contact the Physician Assistant program office for additional information about South University performance standards. These skills and behaviors include, but are not limited to;
Critical Thinking: A student must possess the intellectual, ethical, physical and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the faculty. The ability to solve problems, a skill that is critical to the practice of medicine, requires the intellectual abilities of measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Students must be able to perform demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences.
Communication Skills: A student should also be able to speak, to hear, and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and to perceive nonverbal communications. The student must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written forms.
Observation Skills: The student must be able to observe a patient accurately, both at a distance and in close proximity. This ability requires the functional use of vision and somatic sensation.
Motor Skills: A student should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic techniques. A student should be able to execute movements reasonably required to move from area to area, maneuver in small spaces, calibrate and use large and small equipment, position and move patients, and provide patients with general care and emergency treatment.
Interpersonal Abilities: A student for the Physician Assistant program must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his or her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities required for the diagnosis and care of patients and the development of professionalism through mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, families, and colleagues.
The clinical phase is 12 months in length. Eight five-week clinical rotations are conducted at a variety of clinical sites. Students will gain clinical exposure in the following disciplines: Primary Care, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics, Women's Health, Behavioral Medicine, Emergency Medicine and the Clinical Elective.
Clinical sites are recruited by the Program’s Clinical Department and personnel from the Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Sites offer the students the wide variety of clinical experiences for that specific clinical rotation (course) and service delivery system. Students are not required to supply their own clinical sites or preceptors for clinical rotations. Sites for rotations will be determined by the department. Alternate rotation sites may be provided by the student to the Clinical Department personnel. Clinical Department personnel will evaluate sites suggested by students for viability as a clinical rotation site. In order to qualify for rotations outside of South University sites, or in student suggested sites, a student must demonstrate successful academic, clinical, and professional progress in the program.
The South University Physician Assistant program immunization policy is aligned with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthcare Personnel Vaccination Recommendations for health professionals. After acceptance into the program, but before registration can be successfully completed, all students must complete the South University Health Requirements. Be aware that additional immunizations may be required by some clinical training sites and are the students’ responsibility. If students choose not to be vaccinated, they will not be allowed to rotate at clinical sites that require immunizations unless expressly permitted in writing to the program by the appropriate personnel at that site. If any of the core (required) rotations cannot be completed because the student voluntarily chose not to be vaccinated as required by the clinical rotation site, the student will not be eligible for graduation from the Physician Assistant program. In addition, if the number of clinical sites available to students who have not been vaccinated does not meet graduation requirements, those students will not be eligible for graduation from the Physician Assistant program.
Physicians, physician assistants, and other health care providers serve as preceptors for clinical students in direct patient care, providing the opportunity for the student to perfect technical and procedural skills, and to become competent in communication, physical diagnosis, succinct recording and reporting, problem assessment, and development of a logical approach to further studies and therapy.
Our students rotate in busy clinics, private physician offices, teaching hospitals, large institutions, and military hospitals and clinics. Rotations exist both in small towns and metropolitan cities. Our students are offered a wide variety of experiences and locations for their clinical rotations that are designed to round out the application of knowledge and skills to actual patient care.
Physician Assistant Learning Outcomes
The following are the program learning outcomes (Graduate Competencies) for the South University Physician Assistant program.
Prior to graduation from the program, students will:
• PLO-1. Integrate behavioral, social, and medical knowledge established from the evolving biomedical and clinical sciences in recognizing, evaluating, and managing patient disease states across the lifespan during acute, chronic, preventative, and emergent encounters..
• PLO-2. Demonstrate the interpersonal and communication skills required to sustain effective, multi-directional information exchange within a diverse population of patients, their caregivers, and members of the healthcare team.
• PLO-3. Demonstrate the ability to elicit an accurate patient history, perform an appropriate physical examination, and perform appropriate clinical procedures using essential clinical and technical skills to provide quality patient care.
• PLO-4. Collaborate effectively as part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team through clinical reasoning and problem-solving skills to formulate a logical differential diagnosis, select and interpret appropriate diagnostic studies, and synthesize a comprehensive, patient-centered management plan for the promotion of wellness and disease prevention.
• PLO-5. Demonstrate the ability to interpret and integrate an evidence-based approach to clinical and professional practice through clinical reasoning, problem- solving, and decision-making processes to improve patient care practices.
• PLO-6. Demonstrate professionalism through personal behaviors, sensitivity, and accountability essential to patients, society, and the profession.
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