Frequently Asked Questions
Physician Assistant Studies
Thank you for you interest in PCOM's Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant Studies program. Click the links below to view answers to frequently asked questions regarding
the program, academic standards and the admissions process.
What is a physician assistant?
Physician assistants (PAs) are health professionals who practice medicine with supervision
by licensed physicians.
- PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations
in both rural and urban settings throughout the world.
- PAs work in a variety of settings, including private practice, hospitals, nursing
homes, student health services, and rural and urban clinics. Although their main focus
is patient care, PAs may also perform educational, research and administrative activities.
- PAs are qualified by graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and
by certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.
- PAs can treat patients and write prescriptions when the physician is away from the
- PAs are trained to recognize when patients need the attention of a supervising physician,
and they refer as needed.
- PAs have demonstrated a commitment to their patients and a continued competence in
delivering quality, humanistic health care.
For more information on the physician assistant profession, visit American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).
What can I expect from PCOM's physician assistant program?
- During the 26-month physician assistant program, students are prepared for their careers
in clinical practice using a variety of learning strategies. During the 14-month didactic
(classroom) phase, formal lectures, practical laboratory classes and information literacy
are employed. In the 12-month clinical phase, students will rotate through a variety
of clinical settings. Students will develop patient communication skills and advanced
clinical problem-solving skills, in addition to acquiring technical proficiency in
areas related to professional practice.
- Graduates of our program will develop and implement clinical treatment plans in collaboration
with their supervising physician. This program is highly intensive, most of it is
provided by physicians and physician assistants in order to assure that patient care
functions provided by our physician assistant graduates are of the highest quality.
Can you tell me about the clinical rotations at PCOM?
PCOM offers six-week rotations in the following disciplines: emergency medicine, family
medicine, internal medicine, prenatal/gynecology, general surgery, pediatrics and
behavioral medicine. In addition to those seven core rotations, we offer the opportunity
to students to select their own four-week elective rotation. PCOM has established
affiliations across the country with hospitals, clinics and private practices.
What are the demographics of an average PA class at PCOM?
PCOM encourages and is proud of its diverse physician assistant class. The students vary in age, from students who are coming into the program directly
from undergraduate studies to students that are pursuing second careers. Our students
come prepared with a solid foundation in the biological, chemical and social sciences
but have degrees ranging from bachelor's degrees in biology to master's degrees in
public health. Our students and alumni represent many different states around the
Will I be able to work full time while I am going to physician assistant school?
Our program involves an intensive course of didactic and clinical medical education.
It is extremely difficult to work during the didactic and/or the clinical phase of
the program due to the intensity of the coursework. During the clinical preceptorship
year, most of our students will average 50 or more hours per week in clinical learning
Is housing available for PA Studies students?
For students at our Philadelphia campus, the Meta Christy House provides convenient
access to campus facilities. There are also a variety of housing options near campus.
There is no on-campus housing at PCOM Georgia.
If I am chosen, is there an orientation program for new students?
There is a mandatory orientation that occurs a few days prior to the start of the
academic year. Typically orientation is held in early June.
What are the estimated costs for the PCOM PA program?
Cost of attendance figures are estimated and subject to change at any time without
Information on tuition refund policies at PCOM can be found through the Bursar's Office Refund Policy page.
Is there a chance to visit PCOM and see the program?
Where is the PA program offered?
The physician assistant program's rigorous curriculum contributes to our graduates'
success. For additional details, view answers to frequently asked questions about
our academic requirements.
What GPA is required to start rotations?
A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for progression from the didactic phase
to the clinical preceptorship phase.
What if my GPA is below a 3.0?
Failure to achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 during the didactic or clinical phase could
result in academic probation and the potential for dismissal from the program.
What GPA is required to graduate?
Students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better to graduate.
How long can I take to complete the physician assistant program?
All requirements for graduation must be completed within 4.5 calendar years from the
first date of matriculation, regardless of whether any leave of absence was taken.
What if I fail a course?
Any course failure makes the student liable for dismissal. In select situations, the
student may be granted approval to remain enrolled in the program by completing a
specially designed remediation program.
Are all failed courses able to be remediated?
No, any course that is six (6) credit hours or more does not qualify for remediation
and must be repeated at its next offering. This does not apply if the student has
a previous course failure.
How long do I have to complete remediation of a failed course?
Students will have six (6) weeks from the first day of the next term to successfully
complete remediation of the failed course.
Our admissions process is highly competitive. We seek to identify the most qualified
applicants with the prerequisite academic background, a strong interest in the physician
assistant profession, excellent interpersonal skills, and the maturity necessary for
physician assistant education. View the answers to frequently asked admissions questions
below for additional information.
How do I apply and what are the application requirements for the program?
Visit our admissions section for details regarding the application requirements for the physician assistant studies
program. PCOM participates in the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants
(CASPA). Visit the CASPA site to submit your application:
START YOUR APPLICATION
Can I update my application during the admissions cycle?
The Office of Admissions will only accept an updated official transcript(s) during
the admissions cycle. Candidates selected to interview may bring any update(s) they
view would be beneficial to their application.
When do you interview selected applicants and does everyone get interviewed?
Only selected applicants are interviewed. Admission to the PCOM PA studies program
is very competitive. Interviews are scheduled from September through February each
Due to COVID-19, we will conduct online interviews with applicants.
If I don't have a baccalaureate degree, can I still apply for admission to the program?
Yes, but in order for a candidate to be admissible to PCOM's PA studies program, one
must have a bachelor's degree completed prior to enrollment in the summer term (early
What kind of health care experience or volunteer work do I need to fulfill the 200
documented hours of required health care experience?
Candidates complete the requirement in a variety of ways, some of which include: working
as a certified nursing assistant, phlebotomist, LPN, EMT paramedic, etc. Many have
experienced medicine overseas as volunteers in clinics. Any volunteer work or paid
work in a clinical setting wherein candidates are either providing hands on care or
witnessing care first hand can be acceptable, depending on the nature of the role.
Shadowing experiences are counted and recommended.
Would it be useful for me to shadow a PA within a clinical setting prior to applying?
Shadowing includes observing a PA in their daily clinical practice and offers the
student the opportunity to understand the role and responsibility of a PA. The experience
is extremely useful and should be obtained if possible. The experience should be documented
and included in your application.
What is the prerequisite coursework?
What should I expect if I get placed on the wait list?
The wait list is utilized to fill seats that open after interviews have concluded
in February. The wait list is not ranked or ordered. Typically, candidates are selected
as seats become available from February until classes begin in June. After all expected
candidates arrive for orientation in June, those not selected will be sent a final
What is the deadline to apply for admission? What term can I apply for?
View the physician assistant studies application requirements page for deadlines and full details on applying to the physician assistant studies program
at PCOM and PCOM Georgia.
CASPA allows candidates to apply beginning in mid-April for admission the following
summer. There is no supplemental application. However, when applying to PCOM through
CASPA, you will be required to complete PCOM-specific questions before submitting
All required application materials, including the application fee (one fee per location),
must be received by the Office of Admissions by the deadline in order to be considered
for admission. Please review the application process section on the physician assistant studies application requirements page for additional details.
Is there a minimum GPA requirement?
Yes. Applicants must obtain an undergraduate science and cumulative grade point average
of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale (as calculated by CASPA). Every candidate for admission
is reviewed on an individual basis and GPAs of admitted candidates vary. To view recent
class statistics, visit the physician assistant studies application requirements page. Applicants with graduate degrees and/or more than five years of health care experience
may be considered on an individual basis.
Is the CASPA application the only application?
Yes. Candidates may not apply for admission in any other manner. If a candidate is
reapplying for admission, he/she must apply through CASPA again and the old file will
be married with the new one, once received in the Office of Admissions.