The DeSales University Physician Assistant program has a graduation rate exceeding both the regional and national averages.

Medical Studies is an intensive, “honors” type program that completes the undergraduate requirements in three years and leads directly without further application to the two year Physician Assistant Program.  This is designed for high-achieving students who are confident of their career choice and enjoy the challenge of rigorous scientific studies.  The curriculum has at least 18 credit hours per semester and is closely monitored by their advisor, a PA Program faculty member, so that the student receives all the required courses.

The deadline to complete your application file for the Medical Studies major is December 15.
All interviews must be completed by January 15.



Students are encouraged to apply early in their senior year.  The student must first be accepted by the University and identify themselves as interested in the Medical Studies major.  If minimum GPA and SAT/ACT requirements are met, an interview is then scheduled with the PA Program.  The deadline for application to the Medical Studies major is December 15 and all interviews must be completed by January 15.  The PA Program faculty individually select all candidates for this major and, once in the program, a seat in the graduate PA Program is reserved for the student.  Candidates are selected based on their academic record, their motivation for health care, and their potential for future growth.  DeSales University welcomes applications from all qualified students regardless of race, religion, sex, national or ethnic origin. 

There is no single, preferred high school course of study or specific classes required, but a college preparatory curriculum is highly recommended. 

To continue in the Medical Studies major, the student must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in the required sciences and overall each semester.  To matriculate in their senior year to the PA Program, the student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 overall and in the required sciences and have completed at least 250 healthcare hours.  If the GPA requirement is not met in any semester, the student is placed on probation.  The second time this is not met the student loses his/her guaranteed seat in the PA Program and must change into another major.  If the student still wishes to pursue the PA degree at DeSales University, transition into the BA in Biology major is recommended and application to the Master’s PA Program in their senior year through CASPA is necessary. 

Learn more about the Graduate Program

DeSales Physician Assistant Program News

For Fourth Consecutive Year, DeSales PAs Win State Challenge Bowl

by Tom McNamara | Oct 23, 2013
PSPA Challenge Bowl Winners from DeSalesThe DeSales team and supporters in Erie: (from left) Brienne Marks, Bernie Childs, clinical assistant, Jane Arenas, clinical coordinator, Brianna Reilly, John Zerfass, Chloe Palma, and Beverley Zuccarello, a DeSales PA major serving as student director at large for the PSPA Board of Directors.

On Friday, October 18, students from the DeSales University Physician Assistant (PA) program won the State Challenge Bowl, held by the Pennsylvania Society Physician Assistants (PSPA) in Erie, Pennsylvania. 

Teams from colleges and universities with PA programs compete against one another in a medical question and answer format.

This is the fourth consecutive year DeSales student won the state Challenge Bowl and previously DeSales won the title consecutively from 2000 to 2006. Members of this year’s team were graduate students Chloe Palma of Burlington, Conn., John Zerfass of Nazareth, Pa., Brianna Reilly of Centerreach, N.Y., and Brienne Marks of Breinigsville, Pa.

Kathleen L. Ehrhardt, MMS, PA-C, assistant director of the DeSales PA program, is the faculty advisor to DeSales Challenge Bowl team. Jane Arenas, clinical coordinator in the PA program, and Bernie Childs, clinical assistant, accompanied the team to Erie.

In May, the team will go to the National Medical Challenge Bowl in Boston. DeSales has previously won 5 national titles, three of which were consecutive. No other PA program has ever won more than two national titles.

Physician Assistants are licensed medical professionals who work under the supervision of licensed physicians. They practice in both general and specialty medicine and surgery, and perform routine duties normally reserved for physicians. According to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, there are 86,500 certified PAs as of 2012.

The highly regarded PA Program at DeSales first admitted students in 1997. Since its inception, a total of 15 classes have graduated from the program. Graduates of the program have consistently ranked first in the nation in the national standardized in-training examination known as the PACKRAT (Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating Assessment Test).

For the past 12 years, 100% of DeSales PA graduates have passed the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination, which must be passed to be eligible for licensure in all 50 states.

For more information regarding the Challenge Bowl, contact Kathleen Ehrhardt, assistant director of the physician assistant program, at 610.282.1100, ext. 1483.

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The DeSales Free Clinic at the Allentown Rescue Mission

The DeSales Free Clinic at the Allentown Rescue Mission opened in January 2007 in an effort to bring healthcare to the homeless. The clinic is staffed by DeSales students and faculty and has treated more than 900 patients since it opened. No patient is ever turned away or charged for services, and the operation is run entirely on donations. 

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