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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 ARC-PA has granted Accreditation - Provisional status to the South University-Richmond Campus Physician Assistant Program sponsored by South University.

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.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

Admission Requirements

The South University, Richmond Physician Assistant program participates with the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Please refer to the application process tab for instructions. Individuals whose applications are reviewed positively will be invited for a personal on-campus interview.

Applicant 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 programs:

 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)

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 7108.

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.

Preference will be given to those with GRE scores 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


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 a waiver 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.

The South University Physician Assistant program does 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. Such experiences are evaluated on an individual basis with regard to time spent with physician assistants or physicians observing or caring for patients.

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) and entrance examination (GRE) scores.

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.

Personal statement/essay

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.

Application Requirements:

The South University, Richmond Master of Science in Physician Assistant program participates with the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). The CASPA application process requires submission of scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and transcripts.

A completed application must be submitted through the Centralized Applications Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). The application cycle for the January 2021 start will begin in April 2020. The deadline for all application materials to be complete* in the CASPA application portal is November 1, 2020.

To apply for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree program at South University, Richmond, individuals must:

  1. Complete CASPA online Applications including submission of all transcripts and GRE scores.
  2. 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 Glen Allen program GRE Code: 7108. Paper copies are not accepted.

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

Please do not send transcripts directly to South University. Transcripts should be sent to CASPA.

*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.

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 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, which is non-refundable for those applicants accepted into the Physician Assistant program at South University, Richmond. Acceptance fees are applied towards tuition.

PANCE Certification

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 South University, Richmond Physician Assistant Studies program has a 100% aggregate pass rate from the inception of the program. 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.


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)
1st Quarter: 17 Credits
PAS5102 Medical Interviewing and Documentation, 3 Credit Hours
PAS5110 Physical Assessment I, 3 Credit Hours
PAS5125 Medical Anatomy and Physiology I, 4 Credit Hours
PAS5135 Laboratory Diagnostics, 3 Credit Hours
PAS5173 Professional Seminar I, 2 Credit Hours
PAS5210 Physical Assessment Lab I, 1 Credit Hour
PAS5225 Medical Anatomy and Physiology I Lab, 1 Credit Hour
2nd Quarter: 21 Credits
PAS5111 Physical Assessment II, 3 Credit Hours
PAS5126 Medical Anatomy and Physiology II, 4 Credit Hours
PAS5175 Issues in Contemporary Medicine, 2 Credit Hours
PAS5180 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics I, 8 Credit Hours
PAS5211 Physical Assessment Lab II, 1 Credit Hour
PAS5226 Medical Anatomy and Physiology II Lab, 1 Credit Hour
PAS5295 Applied Learning Experience I, 1 Credit Hour
PAS5380 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics I Lab, 1 Credit Hour
3rd Quarter: 19 Credits
PAS5124 Essentials of Behavioral Medicine, 3 Credit Hours
PAS5130 Diagnostic Methods, 4 Credit Hours
PAS5167 Musculoskeletal Care, 3 Credit Hours
PAS5181 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics II, 8 Credit Hours
PAS5296 Applied Learning Experience II, 2 Credit Hours
PAS5381 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics II Lab, 1 Credit Hour
4th Quarter: 21 Credits
PAS5105 Epidemiology and Biostatistics, 3 Credit Hours
PAS5138 Fundamentals of Surgery, 4 Credit Hours
PAS5147 Clinical Procedures, 2 Credit Hours
PAS5182 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics III, 8 Credit Hours
PAS5297 Applied Learning Experience III, 1 Credit Hour
PAS5382 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics III Lab, 1 Credit Hour
5th Quarter: 22 Credits
PAS5132 Essentials of Clinical Geriatrics, 4 Credit Hours
PAS5174 Professional Seminar II, 3 Credit Hours
PAS5183 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics IV, 8 Credit Hours
PAS5190 Essentials of Emergency Medicine, 4 Credit Hours
PAS5298 Applied Learning Experience IV, 1 Credit Hour
PAS5383 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherpeutics IV Lab, 1 Credit Hour
PAS6152 Medical Literature in Clinical Practice, 1 Credit Hour
Didactic Phase Total: 100 Credits
Clinical Phase
PAS6200 Clinical Rotation I, 8 Credit Hours
PAS6205 Clinical Rotation II, 8 Credit Hours
PAS6210 Clinical Rotation III, 8 Credit Hours
PAS6215 Clinical Rotation IV, 8 Credit Hours
PAS6220 Clinical Rotation V, 8 Credit Hours
PAS6225 Clinical Rotation VI, 8 Credit Hours
PAS6230 Clinical Rotation VII, 8 Credit Hours
PAS6235 Clinical Rotation VIII, 8 Credit Hours
PAS6320 Special Topics in Clinical Practice I, 2 Credit Hours
PAS6330 Special Topics in Clinical Practice II, 2 Credit Hours
PAS6340 Special Topics in Clinical Practice III, 2 Credit Hours
PAS6350 Physician Assistant Senior Seminar, 4 Credit Hours
Clinical Phase Total: 74
Required Program Total Credits: 174
The courses below are offered on an as needed basis:
PAS5199 Independent Study I, 8 Credit Hours
PAS5299 Independent Study II, 8 Credit Hours

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 for the MSPA Degree

Per quarter: $9,400.00

Total tuition: $84,600.00

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 
(One-time Fee)

Other Estimated Costs For the MS Degree

Professional Instruments: $1,100.00 

Textbooks: $1,740.00 
(Approximately $10.00 per credit hour enrolled)

Surgical Scrubs: $55.00 

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

Exam Soft (testing software): $135.00

Estimated Total for the MSPA Degree

Tuition and Fees: $89,790.00

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 South University catalog.

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 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.

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.”

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