First Five-Year, Entry Level Master's Degree for PAs 

Emma Brinton recently graduated with a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree. As a Duquesne University swimmer who competed in the U.S. Olympic trials, she credits her coaches and professors for the support needed to reach her bigger goals.

The Physician Assistant Studies program at Duquesne is the first-ever five-year, entry-level master's degree program in the nation. Because they are both teachers and active professionals, our faculty know this unique program can help you realize your goals. 

Students like Emma become skilled health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Graduates are prepared to provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services in primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practice settings.


Hear from Emma Brinton

Emma Brinton swimming in a pool.

It's a tough balance to manage both athletics and academics successfully, but I received a ton of support from everyone at Duquesne

Emma Brinton MPAS '22
Read More About Emma's Story

Why Choose Duquesne's Physician Assistant Program?

Kristin D'Acunto demonstrates how to draw Artial Blood Gases

Preparing You For Anything

Students who complete the five-year curriculum earn both a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree and a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree. The program is completed in two phases. Pre-requisite courses throughout the three-year pre-professional phase provide the strong science background necessary for academic success in the accredited student phase. Pre-professional phase students meet with PA program faculty on a regular basis and have numerous opportunities to learn more about the program and the PA profession. Once the pre-professional phase is completed, students advance into the accredited phase of the program.

Kristyn Lowery observes a 4th year PA student during a sterile field competency

Our PA Program Stands Out

With over 800 successful graduates of the program, Duquesne University is recognized for educating highly qualified clinical practitioners. Our graduates perform exceptionally on the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination, and their clinical practice spans a variety of medical and surgical specialties. Guided by highly qualified and experienced faculty, students receive top-notch instruction in a state-of-the-art facility.

Dr. Zino supervises a Nasal Gastric placement

A Leading Model in PA Education

Duquesne's first-of-its-kind five-year program prepares students with the skills, experience and confidence to provide exceptional patient care—and we'll get you there in just five years. Though many PA programs across the country offer a master's degree, the few that offer an entry-level master's program require six or more years of education. Our five-year program gives you the education and experience you need to share your gifts with the world sooner than later.

Physician Assistant Program Curriculum

The pre-professional component consists of 91 credits of humanities, basic sciences and medical sciences. This educational component is completed in three academic calendar years.

The accredited component is completed over 27 months, consisting of 89 credits, and is divided into two phases.

Phase 1 is composed of 14 months of didactic and case-based courses in clinical and behavioral sciences, clinical laboratory science, and applied clinical skills.

Phase 2 consists of 12 months of Supervised Clinical Practice, in which students participate in the evaluation and management of patients in a wide variety of clinical areas. Students also participate in case-based coursework, as well as complete an evidence-based medicine Master's project, suitable for publishing.

Below you will find detailed information about our curriculum semester-by-semester. Course descriptions for all courses may be found in the University Catalogs.

Curriculum by Academic Year

Fall Semester - 16 credits

  • IPE Health Research Skills - 1 cr.
  • Writing & Analysis - 3 cr.
  • Biology I: Cells, Genetics, Development/Lab - 4 cr.
  • Fundamentals of Chemistry I/Lab - 5 cr.
  • Intro to Ethical Reasoning - 3 cr.

Spring Semester - 15 credits

  • Elements of Computer Science - 2 cr.
  • Preparing for Clinical Practice - 1 cr.
  • Writing & Literature - 3 cr.
  • Biology II: Diversity, Ecology, Evolution/Lab - 4 cr.
  • Fundamentals of Chemistry II/Lab - 5 cr.

Fall Semester - 17 credits

  • Clinical Microbiology/Lab - 3/1 cr.
  • Introduction to Psychology - 3 cr.
  • Disparities in Health Care - 3 cr.
  • Physics for Life Sciences I /Lab/Rec - 3/1 cr.
  • Health Care Ethics - 3 cr.

Spring Semester - 15 credits

  • Introduction to Biostatistics - 3 cr.
  • Essential Questions Seminar - 3 cr.
  • Cultural Fluency & Responsivity competency - 3 cr.
  • PHIL or THEO elective - 3cr.
  • Health Science elective - 3 cr.

Fall Semester - 14 credits

  • Communication and Professional Civility - 3 cr.
  • Anatomy I/Lab - 4 cr.
  • Physiology I- 3 cr.
  • Histology - 1 cr.
  • Medical Sciences I - 3 cr.

Spring Semester - 14 credits

  • Anatomy II/Lab - 4 cr.
  • Physiology II - 4 cr.
  • Medical Sciences II - 3 cr.
  • Psychological Disorders Applied - 3 cr.

Summer Semester - 13 credits

  • Introduction to PA Profession - 3 cr.
  • History & Physical Examination I / Lab - 3 cr.
  • Clinical Lab Methods - 3 cr.
  • Pathophysiology - 3 cr.
  • Introduction to Patient Counseling and Education - 1 cr.

Fall Semester - 17 credits

  • Clinical Medicine I / Lab - 3 cr.
  • Clinical Pharmacology - 4 cr.
  • Applied Clinical Methods I / Lab - 3 cr.
  • History & Physical Examination II / Lab - 3 cr. Pathophysiology II - 3 cr.
  • Seminar in Diagnostic Test Interpretation - 1 cr.

Spring Semester - 18 credits

  • Clinical Medicine II / Lab - 3 cr.
  • Clinical Encounters - 0 cr.
  • Clinical Seminar I - 3 cr
  • Applied Clinical Methods II / Lab - 3 cr.
  • Fundamentals of Pediatrics / Lab - 2 cr.
  • History & Physical Examination III / Lab - 3 cr.
  • Health Policy - 2 cr
  • Principles of Research - 2 cr.

Summer Semester - 11 credits

  • Clinical Seminar II - 3 cr.
  • Fundamentals of Surgery / Lab - 3 cr.
  • Clinical Medicine III / Lab - 3 cr.
  • Applied Pharmacology - 2 cr.

Fall Semester - 12 credits

  • PHYA 506 Clinical Seminar III - 3 cr.
  • PHYA 529 Clinical Externship I (Emergency Medicine) - 3 cr.
  • PHYA 530 Clinical Externship II (Behavioral Health) - 3 cr.
  • PHYA 531 Clinical Externship III (General Surgery) - 3 cr.

Spring Semester - 9 credits

  • PHYA 513 Essentials in Clinical Practice - 0 cr
  • PHYA 532 Clinical Externship IV (Pediatric) - 3 cr.
  • PHYA 533 Clinical Externship V (Primary Care - Family Medicine) - 3 cr.
  • PHYA 534 Clinical Externship VI (Primary Care - Internal Medicine I) - 3 cr.

Summer Semester - 9 credits

  • PHYA 535 Clinical Externship VII (Primary Care - Internal Medicine II Specialty/Women's Health) - 3 cr.
  • PHYA 536 Clinical Externship VIII (Elective) - 3 cr.
  • PHYA 540W Master's Independent Research / Study - 3 cr.

All students are assigned the above eight clinical rotations. The order in which the student completes each rotation may vary.

For those students who do not choose to complete a full women's health rotation as their elective or internal medicine specialty, each student must complete a 1 to 2-week women's health experience to satisfy the clinical requirements.

Students are not required to provide their clinical sites or preceptors. The Duquesne University Physician Assistant Program takes full responsibility for site development and maintenance. Students can recommend new sites for elective rotations and may provide additional leads to the Clinical Coordinator. The Program takes full responsibility for coordinating clinical sites and preceptors for all rotations.


Physician Assistant Informational Websites

You can learn more about what physician assistants do by visiting this website.

AAPAThe American Academy of Physician Assistants

The AAPA represents all physician assistants and offers various services to its members. Their mission is to promote quality, cost-effective, accessible health care and physician assistants' professional and personal development. The annual conference is attended by many PAs and is an excellent source of Continuing Medical Education opportunities. The American Academy of Physician Assistants 2318 Mill Road, Suite 1300 Alexandria, Virginia, 22314 (703) 836-2272 Fax: (703) 684-1924

NCCPAThe National Commission on Certification of the Physician Assistant, Inc.

NCCPA assures that certified physician assistants meet professional standards of knowledge and skills. The NCCPA is the only credentialing organization for PAs in the United States. National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants 12000 Findlay Road, Suite 100 | Johns Creek, GA 30097-1409 (678) 417-8100 FAX: (678) 417-8135

PSPAPennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants,

PSPA enhances quality medical care to the people of Pennsylvania through a process of continuing medical education, both to its membership and the public; providing loyal and honest service to the public and medical profession; promoting professionalism among its membership; and promoting an understanding of the PA profession. Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants PO Box 128 Greensburg, PA 15601 (724) 836-6411 Fax: (724) 836-4449

ARC-PAThe Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant

ARC-PA is the recognized accrediting agency that protects the interests of the public and PA profession and the welfare of students by defining the standards for PA education and evaluating PA educational programs within the territorial United States to ensure their compliance with those standards. Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant John McCarty, Executive Director 12000 Findley Road, Suite 240 Johns Creek, GA 30097-1409 (770) 476-1224 Fax: (770) 476-1738

PAEAPhysician Assistant Education Association

PAEA pursues excellence, fosters faculty development, advances the knowledge that defines quality education and patient-centered care, and promotes diversity in all aspects of physician assistant education. Physician Assistant Education Association 300 North Washington Street, Suite 710 Alexandria, Virginia 22314-2544 (703) 548-5538 Fax: (703) 548-5539

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about the Physician Assistant Studies Program

Due to capacity constraints, we are not accepting transfer or second-degree applications to the PA program. Any student with more than 12 post-secondary credits is considered a transfer student.
In the accredited phase, there are no provisions for advanced placement credit. The accredited phase must be completed in its entirety.
The PA program is completed only as a full-time cohort program. Regularly scheduled classes occur only during daytime hours  The Accredited Phase begins in the summer, and students graduate 2 years later in August after successfully completing all academic requirements.
The rigorous, intense nature of the accelerated curriculum requires students to remain extremely focused and dedicated to their studies. In addition, the time demands of the class schedule may require occasional attendance on evenings or weekends. Most classes during the accredited phase are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday through Friday). During rotations, hours are variable depending upon the clinical rotation assignment.  As such, it is highly recommended that students limit outside distractions.
Students in the PA program at Duquesne University complete their clinical rotations in various settings, including in-patient facilities, outpatient facilities, long-term care, and office settings. Rotations may occur at large teaching institutions or small, rural facilities under the supervision of experienced clinicians. Many clinical sites are located in the Pittsburgh area, while others may be located across the country. Students complete a total of eight rotations (each of which is approximately six weeks in duration). Required specialties include emergency medicine, family practice, internal medicine, internal medicine specialty, surgery, pediatrics, and psychiatry/behavioral medicine. All students will complete a 2-week women's health clinical experience. Students select one additional elective rotation to gain additional experience in a specialty of interest. Some examples of elective rotations include overseas opportunities, cardiovascular surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, dermatology, research, and burn unit.
The tuition at Duquesne is in addition to fees and expenditures that students should expect at the time they enter the accredited phase.

These expenses, such as medical equipment and white lab coats, are integral to the student's professional development.

  • Typical costs for all the equipment range from $300-$900, depending on the quality of the equipment.
  • Hospitals and other facilities require students to undergo criminal record history checks and child abuse clearances, approximately $20 each.
  • Students are also required to take an Advanced Cardiac Life Support training course, which costs approximately $135.
  • Students are also required to take the Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge and Rating Assessment Tool exam (PACKRAT) each year of the accredited phase. This exam currently costs $45.
  • Travel, parking, and living expenses throughout the clinical year may approximate up to $2,000 depending upon site placements.
  • The current cost of the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE), which is completed after graduation, is $550.

Students may also voluntarily choose to join PA professional organizations, including the PSPA and AAPA. Student membership in these professional organizations provides many advantages, including educational conferences, networking, and scholarship opportunities. Professional liability insurance for students during the accredited phase of their education is provided by Duquesne University at no additional cost.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of PAs is expected to grow through 2022 and beyond. The job market is the best that it has ever been and is expected to continue due to a variety of factors affecting the healthcare industry. Because of the flexibility of the role of Physician Assistants, PAs can fulfill vital roles in a variety of settings. Graduates of the Duquesne University PA program are employed in satisfying, rewarding positions throughout the country and as a rule, have had no difficulty in obtaining employment. For more information about the national employment trends, check out

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Terri Critchfield

Administrative Assistant II

Donna Gobble

Administrative Assistant I