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Degree Overview

Master of Science in Physician Assistant

The South University Richmond Master of Science in Physician Assistant program 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. 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. The MS in Physician Assistant program at South University’s Richmond 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

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remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards.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/

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.

Admissions Information and Requirements

Procedure for Admission to the Master in Science Physician Assistant (PA) Program

Entrance to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) program is gained through a formal application review and on campus 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. The application cycle for a January start will begin annually in April. The deadline for all application materials to be complete* in the CASPA application portal is August 1st, annually for consideration of matriculation the following January.

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. All programs utilize a rolling admissions process in which applicants are notified of their admission decision within 2 weeks after interviewing. 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.

Admission Criteria

Selection for the 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 Physician Assistant Master of Science 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 7147. 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 must be submitted on the CASPA application.
  • 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.

Prerequisite Courses 

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.

  • Human Anatomy (1 course) and lab
  • Human Physiology (1 course) and lab
  • General Biology (2 courses)
  • General Chemistry (2 courses) and labs
  • Microbiology (1 course) and lab
  • Biochemistry (1 course)-or-Organic Chemistry (1 course) and lab

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.

Human Anatomy and Physiology may be taken as standalone courses or as part of a sequence. In the event that the courses are taken as part of a sequence, only a completed sequence of Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II will be accepted.

Basic science courses should be those for science majors. Microbiology courses must be 200/2000-level courses or higher. The General Biology and Biochemistry courses are recommended to include a lab, but it is not required.

Only courses (excluding General Biology and Biochemistry) 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 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 Physician Assistant program does not accept College Level Examination Program (CLEP) credit for any prerequisite requirements.

South University 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 Physician Assistant curriculum.

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. 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 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.

Interview performance.

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 are assessed by the Admissions Committee. The 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

Students seeking admissions to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant program in the College of Health Professions should be aware that applicants with a prior felony conviction and/or a serious misdemeanor conviction will not be considered. Acceptance into a South University program or its completion does not guarantee that a student will be able to obtain subsequent licensure or certification. 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 804-727-6894 or by email at


Master of Science in Physician Assistant Degree: 174 Credits

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Degree: 174 Credits

South University, Richmond; South University, Savannah; and South University, West Palm Beach.

Didactic Phase (Physician Assistant Course Sequence)

Didactic Phase Total: 100 Credits

Clinical Phase Total: 74

Required Program Total Credits: 174

The courses below are offered on an as needed basis:


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

Please click here for information on our Physician Assistant program and effectiveness in achieving program goals.

The following are program goals for the South University, Richmond 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.




(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.)


Tuition and Fees

Tuition and Fees

Tuition for the MSPA Degree
Per quarter: $10,000.00* (*Effective January 2021)
Total tuition: $90,000.00

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.
Graduation Fee: $125.00
American Academy of Physician Assistant (AAPA) Student Membership Fee: $75.00 
(One-time Fee)
Other Estimated Costs for the MSPA Degree
Professional Instruments: $1,100.00 (Approximate)
Digital Textbooks:  $2,610.00 ($15 per credit)

Technology Fee: $2,040.00 (Effective Summer 2021, a technology fee of $15 per credit will be applied

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 clinical site.)
State Association Fees: $60.00

Estimated Total for the MSPA Degree

Tuition and Fees: $97,965.00*

*includes technology fee effective Summer 2021

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. There is a $1000 acceptance fee, $900 of which is refundable, for those applicants accepted into the Physician Assistant program at South University, Richmond. 
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. South University will not impose any penalty or late fees, deny access to classes, libraries, or other campus facilities, or require a covered individual to borrow additional funds due to delayed payments from the VA under Chapter 31 or 33. 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


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.

Student Handbook

South University Student Handbook

For additional and detailed information about being a student at South University, Richmond please refer to the 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.

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.

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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.

Laceye A. Parker 2010
Laceye Parker Grad Alumni
Class of '13
Doctor of Pharmacy

“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 Sceince in Healthcare Management

“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.”

Robyn Smith 2007
Robyn Smith Grad Alumni
Class of '07
Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assistant

“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.”

Anna Langley 2014
Anna Langley Grad Alumni
Class of '14
Master of Science in Physician Assistant

“During my [admissions] interview, I really felt like South was a place that professors were encouraging, welcoming, and helpful. I also was drawn to the small groups that they present. I liked the idea of having a faculty member mentor to guide a smaller group of students throughout the entire program. The rigorous nature of the coursework prepared me well for the boards and the ability to be successful in my career. During clinical rotations, I was able to apply what I had learned and gain valuable patient experience that has helped me today”

Allyson Obluck 2017
Allyson Obluck Grad Alumni
Class of '17
Associate of Science in Occupational Therapist Assistant

“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.”