Skip To Content

Physician Assistant

Richmond, VA

Request Information

Degree Overview

Master of Science in Physician Assistant

South University Physician Assistant Program Overview
South University PA Program Overview

South University’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree program prepares students to pursue becoming a physician assistant through coursework that offers fundamental medical concepts and theories, provides students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to function with physician supervision, as medical professionals who will serve as valued members of the health care team. The Physician Assistant program 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.

Physician assistants perform medical functions that include, but are not limited to, evaluation, monitoring, diagnostics, therapeutics, counseling, and referral. The scope of the practice varies according to state laws, the medical setting, and the training of the physician assistant. In many states, physician assistants can prescribe and/or dispense medicine.

South University Physician Assistant Program graduates are eligible to pursue national certification  by sitting for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) developed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Please see the Professional Licensure Disclosure in the South University Academic Catalog for the determinations if our program meets the professional licensure requirements in your state of residence.

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.  Students must pass the certification exam and obtain professional state licensure to work in their respective field.

South University cannot guarantee each graduate will pass the required licensure examinations. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.

*South University does not promise or guarantee employment or salary amounts.

South University, Richmond, and South University, Virginia Beach, are certified to operate in the Commonwealth of Virginia pursuant to Title 23, Chapter 21.1, §23-276.4 of the Code of Virginia by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (James Monroe Building, 101 North 14th St; Richmond, VA 23219; 804-225-2600;

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistant

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the South University Richmond PA Program sponsored by South University Richmond. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be 2031 March. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at richmond/

Admissions 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 August 1st annually.

To apply for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree program at South University, Richmond, 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 Richmond program GRE Code: 7147. 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 in the Physician Assistant program are only permitted to reserve a seat at one campus. Within 14 days of the applicant signing and submitting the acceptance form, it is the responsibility of the applicant 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.

Admission Criteria

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 no later than August 1st of the year they apply.
  • 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).
  • Applicants should have a Biology-Chemistry-Physics (BCP) science GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) as calculated by the CASPA service.
  • Applicants must submit scores from the GRE general exam directly to the CASPA service using the South University PA program code 7147.
  • 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. 

Clinical Experience

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. Although clinical experience is not required, preference is given to applicants who have direct patient care experience (i.e., care that involves personal interaction with patients such as: physical therapist, respiratory therapist, emergency medical technician/paramedic, nurse, medical assistant, certified nursing assistant, or other similar professions). 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 applicants with a Biology-Chemistry-Physics (BCP) science of GPA of 3.0 or greater (on a 4.0 scale) as calculated by the CASPA service. 
  • No preference will be given for specific GRE scores. 

Quality of letters of reference from medical providers (e.g., MD, DO, NP, PA).

  • References from Physician Assistants (PAs) are preferred.

Clinical experience that requires direct patient care.

  • Preference is given to applicants with clinical experience that requires direct patient care, such as: physical therapist, respiratory therapist, emergency medical technician (EMT)/paramedic, nurse, medical assistant (MA) or certified nursing assistant (CNA).

Personal statment/essay. 

Healthcare provider mentorship/shadowing experiences.

Community service.

Interview performance.

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.

Post-Acceptance Requirements

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, $900 of which is refundable, for those applicants accepted into the Physician Assistant program at South University, Richmond.

If you have questions in regard to the Application Process, please contact the Richmond Physician Assistant program office by calling 804-727-6853 or by email at


Prerequisite Courses

Applicants 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. The PA program accepts prerequisite coursework completed in an online, virtual, or on-ground format from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university. 




Anatomy and Physiology

2 courses (sequenced)

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I and II with Lab


  • Human Anatomy with Lab and Human Physiology with Lab

No course substitutions are accepted for this requirement.

General Biology

2 courses


  • General Biology I (Lab recommended)
  • General Biology II (Lab recommended)

Alternative Substitution for Biology II ONLY:

  • Cell Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Immunology

General Chemistry and Labs

2 courses


  • General Chemistry I with lab
  • General Chemistry II with lab

Microbiology with Lab

1 course

No course substitutions are accepted for this requirement.

Organic Chemistry or


1 course

Lab recommended, not required.

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.

Admissions Calendar

End of April Annually
CASPA begins accepting applications for the following year matriculation.

June – November Annually
Admissions Interviews

August 1 Annually
Application Deadline for which application must be in “Complete” status with CASPA for consideration of matriculation the following January.

January Annually
Classes begin.



Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) Degree: 174 Credits
Didactic Phase (Physician Assistant Course Sequence)
Clinical Phase

Clinical Phase Total: 74

The courses below are offered on an as needed basis:

PAS5499 Independent Study I 8.0 Credit Hours
PAS5599 Independent Study II 8.0 Credit Hours

No physician assistant credits from another institution may transfer into the didactic or clinical phase. Master of Science in Physician Assistant students must complete the entire 27-month program (174 credit hours) at South University.

Program Goals

The following are program goals for the South University, Richmond Physician Assistant program:

• The program aims to foster a culture of inclusivity and equity for students, faculty, and staff by means of education and resources .

• 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 opportunities for local community service and outreach that foster a commitment to reducing health disparities.

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, Richmond Physician Assistant program does not guarantee certification or employment.)


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). Below are the percentage pass rates for the first-time test takers of the PANCE for the past five South University Richmond, Physician Assistant Studies graduating classes.

Click the link below to view the pass rates of South University, Richmond students

View PANCE pass rates of South University, Richmond students.


Student Attrition

To view the South University, Richmond PA program student attrition information, please click HERE.

Tuition and Fees

Estimated Tuition for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) Degree

Per quarter: $10,856.00

Total tuition: $97,704.00

Required Fees for the MSPA Degree

Acceptance Fee: $1,000.00 (Non-refundable/Applied to Tuition) There is a $1000 acceptance fee, $900 of which is refundable, for those applicants accepted into the Physician Assistant program at South University, Richmond. Please note that acceptance fees are non-transferrable between South University locations.

Registration Fees: $225.00 ($25.00 per term)

Graduation Fee: $250.00

Textbooks: $2,610.00 ($15 per credit hour)

Technology Fee: $3,480.00 ($20 per credit hour) 

Clinical Experience Fee:  $9,000 ($1,000.00 per quarter)

Other Estimated Costs for the MSPA Degree

(South University will not charge for these costs. They are the student's responsibility.)

American Academy of Physician Assistant (AAPA) Student Membership Fee: $75.00 (One-time Fee)

Professional Instruments: $1,100.00 (Approximate)

Surgical Scrubs: $100.00 (Approximate)

Laptop Computer and privacy screen: $1,500.00 (Approximate)

Background Check: $800.00 (Additional fees may apply to the base package fee contingent upon credentialing requirements of the hospital.) (Approximate)

State Association Fees: $75.00 ($25 per year) (Approximate, can vary by state)

American Heart Association approved BLS: $100.00 (Approximate)

Estimated Total for the MSPA Degree

Tuition and Fees: $117,019.00

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.

Inclusive in Tuition, Technology, and Digital Resources

Students obtain access to the following digital platforms:
  • Lecturio, Rosh Review, Up-To-Date
  • AccessMedicine, AccessPharmacy, AccessAnesthesiology, Case Files Collection
  • Complete Anatomy 3D4, My EKG Lab
  • Butterfly Ultrasound Technology
  • PANCE Board Review in person sessions and digital test bank questions
  • CORE clinical logging and portfolio resources
  • PAEA End of Rotation Exams, End of Curriculum Exams, PACKRAT1 and PACKRAT2
  • PAVMT (PAs in Virtual Medicine and Telemedicine) up-to-date medical technology trends
  • LinkedIn Learning
  • Bright Space Learning Management System
  • ExamSoft Testing platform

Clinical Experiences Fee and Additional Clinical Expenses:

Clinical Experience Fees support the recruitment of clinical sites across the nation, strengthen the quality of the learning experience, and subsidize the increasing costs of clinical sites.

Students may be scheduled for rotations outside the local campus geographical area.  
All students should plan to travel/commute and/or relocate for some clinical rotations. Students are given the opportunity to share their scheduling preferences during their pre-clinical meetings. This will provide the Clinical Education Team with information which may have a bearing on their rotation assignments. Students are responsible for their credentialing, transportation, housing, and living expenses during their clinical year. Expenses will vary depending on the location of each rotation site.

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 by 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.

Student Handbook and Employment

For the South University, Richmond Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) 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.

Student Employment

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.

Learn More

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.

Request Information

Fill out the form and a representative will contact you today to better understand your academic goals plus answer any questions you may have.

Campuses offer flexible learning formats* including: on-campus, virtual instructions, and online courses.

*Clinical, practicum, and externship requirements exist in certain programs and require field experiences. Learning formats may not be flexible.

By clicking the button below as my official signature, I consent to representatives of South University contacting me about EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES via email, text or phone including my mobile phone if provided above, using an automatic dialer. I understand that my consent is not a requirement for purchase. Message and data rates may apply. I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time. I understand that if I am submitting my personal data from outside of the United States, I consent to the transfer of my personal data to, and its storage in, the United States, and I understand that my personal data will be subject to processing in accordance with U.S. laws.

Success! Your request was submitted. We'll be in touch soon!

In the meantime, you can view some of our FAQs 

If you want to talk to an admissions representative ASAP, please contact us at 1-888-444-3404


Success Stories

Outstanding Education for Remarkable Careers

We're committed to helping our graduates make an impact in their professional and personal lives. We applaud our alumni and the difference they make. Check out what some of our healthcare graduates have to say.

Robyn Smith 2007
Robyn Smith Grad Alumni
Class of '07
Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assistant-South University, Montgomery

“I had only heard good things about their PTA program and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I find it very rewarding and emotional when a patient of mine who hasn't walked in a while takes steps again. It makes going to work everyday worth it to know that i can help improve the quality of life for some of these people.”

Allyson Obluck 2017
Allyson Obluck Grad Alumni
Class of '17
Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant-South University, Tampa

“I wanted to make a difference and I knew occupational therapy was a hands-on way to improve quality of life for many people. My professors always made the effort to ensure that I understood the material and were constantly encouraging me to be better and do better. All of my experiences throughout my clinical rotations challenged me to think outside the box and to trust my instincts.”

Laceye A. Parker 2010
Laceye Parker Grad Alumni
Class of '13
Doctor of Pharmacy-South University, Columbia

“I had always been interested in healthcare, and as a child thought about becoming a physician. But when both my grandfathers became seriously ill, I came to a new appreciation of the vital role that pharmacists play in achieving positive outcomes for patients. As soon as I completed my master's degree, I decided to enter South University's Doctor of Pharmacy program. I've learned through my work at SCDHEC, and in my MBA program and Pharmacy School at South University, is laying a firm foundation for my career as a pharmacist.”

Crystal May 2014
Crystal May Grad Alumni
Class of '14
Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management-South University, Richmond

“The staff was the heart of my experience at South. The staff worked together to provide a positive learning environment and truly had passion in educating the students. The staff helped me identify my strength and interest in the financial avenue of healthcare, and helped me see the benefits of pursuing this career. South University gave me the tools I need to be successful and validated my capabilities to be a successful professional.”

Cassandra E Rhodes 2007
Cassandra Rhodes Grad Alumni
Class of '08
Master of Healthcare Administration-South University, Columbia

“By furthering my education, I was given several opportunities for promotion and life-long learning and skill application. South University successfully prepared me for my current career by allowing me to learn more about the healthcare management systems.”