Physician Assistant Studies

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The Physician Assistant (PA) Program is offered by the School of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine. The Program utilizes a problem-based learning curriculum and clinical rotations to prepare primary care physician assistants to practice medicine with physician supervision.

The physician assistant is often the first health care provider to see a patient and perform a variety of tasks including collecting historical and physical examination data from the patient and ordering appropriate laboratory and diagnostic tests. The physician assistant synthesizes patient information and participates in formulating and executing a treatment plan to meet the patient’s needs. A physician assistant can evaluate psychological aspects of a patient’s health, counsel when appropriate, and teach patients about primary health problems. The physician assistant makes referrals when indicated and can perform procedures, such as EKGs, venipuncture, casting, suturing, and injections. The physician assistant prescribes medications. Graduates of the PA Program are trained as primary care providers and awarded the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) degree.


To be considered for enrollment in the Physician Assistant Program, prospective students must have at least overall, prerequisite, and science GPAs of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, be admitted to the Graduate School, complete the program prerequisites and other requirements. This program requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee (subject to change without notice by the SIU Board of Trustees) that must be submitted with the application for admissions to graduate study in the Physician Assistant Program. Accepted applicants will be required to submit a nonrefundable enrollment deposit to reserve a position in the class. The deposit is due within 10 days of the program’s invitation to the applicant. The deposit will be applied to the student’s Bursar account two weeks after matriculation. If an applicant, who has accepted an offer for admission, decides to drop, the enrollment deposit will not be refunded. MSPA students will not receive the border state decrease adjustment to their tuition and fees. Therefore, all out-of-state students will pay a higher tuition rate. No advanced placement is awarded towards completion of PA Program courses, even if the applicant is licensed as a medical doctor.

Degree Requirements

Prospective students must have completed all of the following prerequisite courses before matriculation: Medical Terminology - one semester or proficiency, Chemistry with labs - two semesters (select from General, Inorganic, Organic, or Biochemistry); Psychology - one semester; Human Physiology - one semester (higher level preferred); Human Anatomy – one semester (higher level with cadaver lab preferred); Microbiology with lab-one semester; General Biology for science majors, - one semester (may also select from Genetics or Cell and Molecular Biology); Statistics-one semester; English Composition - one semester; and CPR for Healthcare Providers. Graduate Record Examination (GRE), or MCAT scores must be submitted with application materials. Applicants must have successfully completed all the required prerequisites by the fall term prior to matriculation, with the exception of medical terminology and CPR for Healthcare Providers. Those must be completed by the end of the Spring term prior to matriculation.

Students who have completed or will soon complete a Bachelor’s degree and prerequisite course requirements should contact the program advisor or consult the program website for the most current application information.

Enrollment in the Physician Assistant Program is limited and based on a competitive process. Applicants will be evaluated on the overall submitted application package, including overall, science, and prerequisite GPAs that must each be a 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, academic potential, motivation, familiarity with the PA role, oral and written communication skills, interpersonal skills, and potential for success in the SIU Carbondale PA Program and the PA profession. Students will be selected by the Admissions Committee for an interview with a maximum of 40 being admitted to the professional sequence. The MSPA Program is extremely rigorous and outside employment while in the Program is discouraged.

Students selected for the professional sequence will begin study in the summer session. Those accepted into the Program will be notified of acceptance by the spring semester prior to the summer of entry. The curriculum is a 26-month sequence with the first 12 months (Phase I) consisting of problem-based learning activities, basic science and clinical medicine courses, and clinical experiences. The next 14 months consist of clinical rotations with seminars (Phase II) and a summer preceptorship (Phase III). All students complete a Master’s Project before graduation. During the clinical rotation phase, students may be required to relocate to other locations, called Hubsites, throughout Illinois. More information on deadlines or other requirements can be obtained from the PA Program Advisor at: All courses are restricted to Physician Assistant Majors.

Requirements for Major in Physician Assistant Studies Program

First Year Sequence (Phase I) - 54 hours
PA 500, PA 501, PA 502, PA 503, PA 504, PA 505, PA 506, PA 507, PA 511, PA 512, PA 513, PA 514, PA 515, PA 521, PA 522, PA 523, PA 524, PA 525, PA 531, PA 532, PA 533, PA 534, PA 535, PA 536, PA 547, PA 550, PA 599

Second Year (Phase II & Phase II) - 36 hours
PA 545, PA 551, PA 580, PA 581, PA 582, PA 583, PA 596, PA 599

Total - 90 hours

Curricular Guide

Phase I

  • Semester 1 – Summer (Unit 1) – 10 Credit Hours
    • PA 500-1  Introduction to the Profession
    • PA 501-3  PBL, Unit 1
    • PA 511-1  Pharmacology I
    • PA 521-2  Clinical Anatomy and Integrated Sciences I
    • PA 531-2  Patient Evaluation I
    • PA 547-1  Research Methods
  • Semester 2 – Fall (Units 2 & 3) – 22 Credit Hours
    • PA 502-3; PA 503-3   PBL, Units 2 and 3
    • PA 506-1 Patient Education/Behavioral Science
    • PA 507-1 Diversity in Medical Practice
    • PA 512-1; PA 513-1   Pharmacology II, III
    • PA 522-2; PA 523-2   Clinical Anatomy and Integrated Sciences II, III
    • PA 532-2; PA 533-2   Patient Evaluation II, III
    • PA 550-2 Clinical Mentoring - Phase I
    • PA 599-2 Master’s Seminar
  • Semester 3 – Spring (Units 4 & 5) – 22 Credit Hours
    • PA 504-3; PA 505-3   PBL, Units 4 and 5
    • PA 506-1 Patient Education/Behavioral Science
    • PA 514-1; PA 515-1   Pharmacology IV, V
    • PA 524-2; PA 525-2   Clinical Anatomy and Integrated Sciences IV, V
    • PA 534-2  Clinical/Procedural Skills
    • PA 535-2 ACLS/EKG
    • PA 536-1 Introduction to the Surgical Setting
    • PA 550-2 Clinical Mentoring – Phase I
    • PA 599-2 Master’s Seminar

Phase II 

  • Semester 4 – Summer – 6 Credit Hours
    • PA 551-1  Clinical Mentoring – Phase II
    • PA 580-1  PBL Tutor Group – Phase II
    • PA 581-3  Clinical Rotations I
    • PA 599-1  Master’s Seminar
  • Semester 5 – Fall – 12 Credit Hours
    • PA 551-2  Clinical Mentoring – Phase II
    • PA 580-2  PBL Tutor Group – Phase II
    • PA 582-6  Clinical Rotations II
    • PA 599-2  Master’s Seminar
  • Semester 6 – Spring – 12 Credit Hours
    • PA 551-2  Clinical Mentoring – Phase II
    • PA 580-2  PBL Tutor Group – Phase II
    • PA 583-6  Clinical Rotations III
    • PA 599-2  Master’s Seminar

Phase III

  • Semester 7 – Summer – 6 Credit Hours
    • PA 545-3  Health Care Systems
    • PA 596-3  Preceptorship

A limited number of electives are also available to MSPA students:

PA Elective Courses:

  •     PA 508 1-3 Holistic Medicine
  •     PA 585 1-6 Independent Study   

PA Continuing Enrollment:

  • PA 601-1

Used to complete the Master’s Project if all other Program requirements are met.

For more information on the MSPA degree offered by the Physician Assistant Program, visit our web site at: or email the Program Advisor.