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Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (24 Month Program), Master's

Overview

The PA profession is one of the fastest growing healthcare careers nationwide and was recently ranked as a top five healthcare job by U.S. News & World Report.

With career growth and longevity projected, where you study and earn your master's degree matters.

Located on our serene campus in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, we are just 60 minutes north of Philadelphia and 90 minutes from New York City. This is a full-time, 24-month program, with a cohort starting every August. We offer several key benefits to our program, including:

  • "Friday Morning Rotations" starting early in the first (didactic) year, broadening your clinical experiences and preparing you for your role as a practicing PA
  • World class facilities with cutting edge technology in our 20,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Advanced Simulation Labs, Standardized Patient Lab, and Human Gross Anatomy Lab, with first access to dissections
  • A student-to faculty ratio of 11 to 1, allowing you to build strong relationships with experienced clinicians 
  • The DeSales Free Clinic, a student-run clinic located in the Allentown Rescue Mission where you will provide culturally competent, cost-effective care
  • A fully integrated curriculum of clinical medicine, pathophysiology, and pharmacology, enabling you to learn the entire spectrum of disease processes
  • With over 900 clinical preceptors, you can complete your nine, five-week rotations in your clinical year, all within commuting distance to the University. 
  • A team of dedicated faculty allows for clinical rotations to be arranged for students. Consistent with ARC-PA accreditation standard A3.03, students “must not be required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors.
  • A community that embraces the University's core values of gentleness, wisdom, humility, hospitality, and gratitude

We are proud of our graduates who achieved impressive results:

  • A near perfect first-time PANCE rate since the program inception in 1997
  • Winners of six National Medical Challenge Bowls
  • Winners of 12 Pennsylvania Medical Challenge Bowls
  • Winners of three Regional Challenge Bowls 

Average data for the last five incoming cycles:

  • Over 2,000 applicants express interest every cycle
  • Approximate number of applicants selected to interview:  125
  • Overall GPA:  3.77 (range = 3.27 - 4.0)
  • Overall Sciences GPA:  3.73 (range = 3.04 - 4.0)
  • GRE (Quantitative + Verbal combined):  309
  • GRE Analytical:  4.33
  • Direct patient care hours at application submission:  2,304
  • Service hours at application submission:  926

Our MSPAS will not only prepare you for the PANCE (national certifying exam) but also to assume your role as a practicing, caring physician assistant.

Learn more about the program including Accreditation, Program Goals, PANCE pass rates, Program Required Competencies, Student Attrition, and Technical Standards.

standardized patient lab

In your first year, you'll have the ability to broaden your clinical experiences by interacting with patients immediately upon matriculation through our "Friday morning rotations." Each week you'll attend a rotation site for four hours to enhance your classroom instruction.

The MSPAS consists of 99 credits:

  • Year One (Didactic) - 54 credits
  • Year Two - Clinical Rotations - 45 credits

Video: Learn More

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Admissions Requirements

Admission into our MSPAS program is highly competitive.

We conduct a completely holistic review of all applications on a rolling admissions basis. We strive to select a diverse student body who demonstrates maturity, professionalism, academic potential, knowledge of the healthcare industry and the PA profession, and service, particularly with vulnerable or traditionally underserved populations.

We encourage applicants from all socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and religious backgrounds to apply. DeSales is proud to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program and gives special consideration to applicants who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military.  

Admission Requirements:

  • Submission of a verified application in CASPA no later than December 1.  We do not require a supplemental application.  
  • A minimum of a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, with a minimum overall cumulative GPA of 3.0 and a minimum science cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on 4.0 scale), to be completed prior to matriculation if accepted into the program.  Applicants with a degree or coursework outside of the U.S. should review the CASPA requirements for evaluated transcripts.  
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation, maximum of five. Some examples of appropriate references include instructors/professors; academic advisors; and supervisors, especially those supervising you during your direct patient care experiences. We highly recommend you do not submit a reference from someone you have shadowed for only a brief time, or a family member or friend.
  • All prerequisite coursework must be completed prior to matriculation into the program. You may submit your application while completing prerequisite courses, however only two outstanding courses can be completed after the deadline. There are three courses that must have been taken within five years of applying:  Microbiology and Human Anatomy & Physiology I and II. Exceptions may be made if you have been active in the medical field since taking the courses or graduating.
  • Complete the Physician Assistant College Admissions Test (PA-CAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Scores should be reported using the DeSales University Program Code: 0540. We do not require a minimum score, however competitive PA-CAT and GRE scores are generally considered to be in the top 50th percentile. The MCAT exam will be accepted with an overall score of 500 or higher. Please note that scores must be received by the December 1 deadline.
  • A minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care experience (paid, volunteer, or shadowing). The experience must be completed within the United States due to the wide variety of global health care delivery systems. The most useful health care hours relate to direct patient contact, including but not limited to EMT, CNA, MA, surgical technician, patient care technician/associate, dietician, medical scribe, pharmacy technician, campus health center volunteer. We will also accept up to 50 hours of virtual shadowing, provided there is contact information in CASPA.  
  • Applicants from a country where English is not the primary language must submit TOEFL scores with a minimum overall score of 90.

Additional information

  • Potentially qualified applicants will be granted a personal interview by invitation only, attempting to ascertain your awareness of the physician assistant role, willingness to work under the supervision of a physician, motivation for pursuing a physician assistant career, interpersonal and oral communication skills, compassion, problem-solving abilities, and dedication to serving individuals in vulnerable populations.
  • The Physician Assistant Program at DeSales University is a full-time academic program. Advanced placement is not possible. There is no credit awarded for experiential learning. The didactic courses are completed in sequence as listed in the curriculum.
  • Applicants who are alumni of DeSales University will be granted interviews for admission if they meet the minimum requirements for admission, as outlined above.
  • The Admissions Committee takes into consideration an individual's experience working with and/or serving vulnerable or traditionally under-served populations when evaluating his or her application for admission. This is in keeping with DeSales University's mission of Christian Humanism and service to diverse populations.
  • Because DeSales University participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, the Admissions Committee gives special consideration to applicants who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military.
  • The Program also reserves two seats for graduates of DeSales University science programs. 
Important Deadlines
  • DECEMBER 1 - CASPA VERIFICATION
    To receive full consideration into the MSPAS for the next academic year, your CASPA application must be verified by CASPA no later than December 1.

APPLY NOW THROUGH CASPA

CASPA
The DeSales MSPAS is a recognized participating program through CASPA, a service of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). CASPA is the only organization representing PA educational programs nationwide, and has been offered to applicants since 2001. The online application is designed to simplify the PA school application process by allowing students to apply to several programs with only one application.

Curriculum

The MSPAS is a 24-month, 99-credit program, with a cohort beginning every August.

Year One:  Didactic (54 credits)

Students are in class full-time for 12 months and begin participating in early clinical experiences shortly after the start of the program:

Fall

  • PA501 – Clinical Anatomy and Physiology (2 credits)
  • PA501L – Clinical Anatomy and Physiology Lab (1 credit)
  • PA502 – History and Physical Examination (3 credits)
  • PA504 – Clinical Medicine I (4 credits)
  • PA506 – Clinical Reasoning I (2 credits)
  • PA510 – Pharmacology I (2 credits)
  • PA 515 – Pathophysiology I (2 credits)
  • PA 517 – Research Seminar (1 credit)
  • PA 619 – Preventive Medicine and Health Promotion (1 credit)

Spring

  • PA501L – Clinical Anatomy and Physiology Lab (1 credit)
  • PA503 – History and Physical Examination II (3 credits)
  • PA505 – Clinical Medicine II (4 credits)
  • PA507 – Clinical Reasoning II (2 credits)
  • PA511 – Pharmacology II (2 credits)
  • PA 513 – Diagnostic Methods I (1 credit)
  • PA516 – Pathophysiology II (2 credits)
  • PA575 – Ethics of Healthcare (Values Seminar) (3 credits)

Summer

  • PA 508 - Physician Assistant History and Role (1 credit)
  • PA 606 - Clinical Medicine III (4 credits)
  • PA 607 - Behavioral Aspects of Medicine (3 credits)
  • PA 608 - Clinical Reasoning III (2 credits)
  • PA 612 - Pharmacology III (2 credits)
  • PA 614 - Diagnostic Methods II (1 credit)
  • PA 617 - Pathophysiology III (2 credits)
  • PA 618 - Clinical Skills Development (2 credits)
  • PA 620 - Advanced Cardiac Life Support (1 credit)

Year Two - Clinical Rotations (45 credits)

In the second year, students complete nine 5-week clinical rotations:

  • PA 630 - Emergency Medicine (5 credits)
  • PA 631 - Family Medicine I (5 credits)
  • PA 632 - Family Medicine II (5 credits)
  • PA 633 - Internal Medicine (5 credits)
  • PA 634 - Women's Health (5 credits)
  • PA 635 - Pediatrics (5 credits)
  • PA 636 - Psychiatry (5 credits)
  • PA 637 - General Surgery (5 credits)
  • PA 799 - Elective Rotation (5 credits)

Faculty

Director's Message

Welcome to the DeSales University Physician Assistant Program.  We take great pride in the success of our students, graduates, and in the great outcomes of the program.

I am honored to serve as the Program Director of the DeSales Physician Assistant Program. I have had the pleasure of being part of the PA program faculty since 1997. The PA program has grown and evolved since then, and what has continued is the stellar education our PA students receive. Our passionate and highly knowledgeable faculty are dedicated to providing the finest didactic education in the classroom as well as exceptional clinical experiences during the nine 5-week rotations that comprise the clinical year. Our program outcomes include stellar first-time PANCE pass rates since the inception of the program. 

I invite you to explore our program and learn more about the many unique benefits and advantages we offer our students. 

Kathleen Ehrhardt, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA
Program Director

Facilities

At DeSales, replicating authentic healthcare delivery environments is critical to successful learning and skills application.

To further this approach, most of our clinic-like facilities and labs are shared with our acclaimed nursing program students. You study and practice in state-of-the-art healthcare settings that emulate actual clinical facilities with your peers—other student healthcare colleagues.

The Area's Only Gross Anatomy Lab

Gross Anatomy Lab
Complete with cadavers, our Gross Anatomy Laboratory enhances the training of physician assistant students, giving them a real understanding of the human body. Most physician assistant programs only have cadaver labs if they are associated with medical schools. However, because DeSales has the only cadaver lab in the region, we offer opportunities for shared use in partnership with area hospitals. New donors are provided so that our PA students have first dissections.

Healthcare Simulation Lab

Simulation Lab
Patient simulation technology has come a long way in recent years, and DeSales University has invested in advanced technological simulators that allow students to perform various medical procedures while receiving real-time feedback in much the same way they would from a human patient. The simulators breathe, have a pulse, have eyes that dilate, and can react to various drugs. Our "sim lab" features four adult simulators, including one that gives birth to an infant simulator, and three pediatric simulators, including two babies and one 6-year-old.

Standardized Patient Area

standardized patient lab
The Gambet Center also features a Standardized Patient Area—a clinic-style suite that mimics a functioning healthcare office, complete with a waiting room and fully equipped examination rooms. Standardized patients are people who are specially trained to act as patients for the instruction, practice, and assessment of the medical examination skills of healthcare students. They will be evaluated by DeSales physician assistant and nursing students and provide feedback.

The Gambet Center

The facility features simulation laboratories to mirror clinical scenarios specific to adult, pediatric, and birthing care for undergraduate and graduate healthcare degree programs.  

Tour the Gambet Center

Tuition & Fees

Program Costs 2023-2024

  • Tuition per semester: $15,150* for a total of six semesters = $90,900
  • Professional fee each semester: $750 for a total of six semesters = $4,500
  • Applications only accepted through CASPA: $0 for DeSales, CASPA fees as required
  • Approximate additional fees for background checks: $500
  • Graduation fee: $120
  • Total cost of MSPAS program: $96,020

Returned check service: $30

*Tuition rates are subject to change with notice. Final rates for these terms will be approved by Board of Trustees.

View a comprehensive list of important MSPAS Financial Aid/Cost Documents by Class Start

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) Refund Amount

  • Withdrawal after 1st class: 80% of tuition refunded
  • Withdrawal after 2nd class: 65% of tuition refunded
  • Withdrawal after 3rd class: 50% of tuition refunded
  • Withdrawal after 4th class: 25% of tuition refunded
  • Withdrawal after 5th class: No refund
student looking at a dna model

Health Humanities Scholars (HHS) Association

HHS is a student-led, faculty mentored program for students in our graduate healthcare curricula (PA, DPT, NP, DNP, Healthcare MBA). Students will facilitate humanities content and develop reflective practice through narrative medicine concepts in order to foster resiliency, empathy, and avoidance of burn-out.

Learn more about HHS
ARC-PA-Logo

ARC-PA Accreditation

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the DeSales University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by  DeSales  University. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be June 2027. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

The program's accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-desales-university/.

Visit ARC-PA

PANCE Rates

The DeSales PA program excels at PANCE preparation, with a near-perfect first-time pass rate since the program began

PANCE is the only exam given to graduating physician assistants and it must be passed in order to be eligible for licensure in all 50 states.

The DeSales MSPAS program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Therefore, when you graduate you are eligible to sit for the PANCE (Physician Assistant National Certification Examination).

See DeSales' PANCE rates
PANCE -SCORES

The DeSales Free Clinic

Located inside the Allentown Rescue Mission in the heart of center city Allentown, Pennsylvania, the DeSales Free Clinic allows our PA students to deliver competent and compassionate medical care to one of the area's most vulnerable populations.

Learn More 
DeSales Free Clinic