Physician Assistant (BPA)

(Effective Fall 2014)

Physician assistants (PAs) are health professionals authorized by the state to practice medicine with the supervision of a licensed physician. Physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of services. The role demands sound judgment, intellectual honesty, and the capacity to react to emergencies in a calm and reasonable manner.  Courses in the didactic year of the Physician Assistant major build a strong foundation upon which the students develop and strengthen their knowledge base about normal physiologic and disease processes. This is reinforced by hands-on skill training in the laboratory environment. The clinical year solidifies the didactic year preparation by providing the students with a variety of clinical settings ranging from primary care to surgical and medical specialties. The program prepares graduates to become competent and caring practitioners who can perform diagnostic and therapeutic services. In order to practice, physician assistants must graduate from an accredited physician assistant program, pass the National Certifying Examination (PANCE), and obtain state authorization to practice through state licensure, registration, or certification process. Upon successful completion of our ARC-PA accredited PA Program, graduates will be eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE). For further information on the PA certification, explore the resources at the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

An online master's degree option is offered through a cooperative agreement with NOVA Southeastern University.

Career Opportunities

Physician Assistant salaries vary by geographic areas, practice setting, and job responsibilities. Please refer to the American Academy of Physician Assistants State Practice Profiles and to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics for more detailed information.

Recommended High School Subjects

High school students should focus their academic course work on written and oral communication, upper level mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics courses with labs.

Special Admissions Requirements

First-year (freshman Conditional Acceptance Admissions)
First year (freshman) students desiring entrance into the Physician Assistant major must first gain admission to Penn College and complete placement testing. First year (freshman) students at Penn College will be offered conditionally reserved seats in the Physician Assistant major if they have a minimum ACT score at/or above 23 or SAT scores at/or above 570 in math and, 560 in critical reading. Students who receive conditionally reserved seats as first year (freshman) students must maintain both a Penn College graduation GPA and math/science GPA of 3.4 each semester, without any withdraw ("W"), "D," or "F" grades to retain their conditionally reserved seats in the major. Students who fail to meet the GPA conditions will relinquish their seats and be placed into the Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant Admissions Ranking System.

Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant Admissions Ranking System
All students (including transfer students) desiring entrance into the Physician Assistant major must first gain admission to Penn College and complete placement testing. First year (freshman) students who are not offered a conditionally reserved seat and all other students (including transfer students) desiring a seat in the Physician Assistant major will be placed in the pre-PA curriculum. While in the pre-PA curriculum (PAA), all students must complete a minimum of 62 prerequisite credits (or equivalent transfer course work) preparing them for courses specific to the PA major. Applicants must have a combined math and science grade point calculation in pre-requisite courses of at least a 3.0 to qualify for selection consideration into the PA major. Additionally, all grades in the pre-requisite math and science courses as well as grades in ENL 111, ENL 121, (or ENL 201), CSC 124 and PSY 111 must be at or above a grade of "C."

Prior to the start of the PA program's didactic coursework each fall, students in the pre-PA curriculum must compete twice a year (February and June) for a seat based on the Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant Admission Ranking System.

In addition, by January 10 prior to the fall semester in which they seek admissions into the major, all students must document via the electronic logging system, a minimum of 300 hours of health care exposure, including a minimum of 16 hours with a practicing PA-C.

Transfer students who want to be considered for the first selection in February must submit their applications and official transcripts to the Penn College Admissions Office by January 10 prior to the fall semester in which they seek admission into the major. To be considered for the second selection in June, transfer students must submit transcripts by June 10 prior to the fall semester in which they seek admissions into the major.

To view acceptance criteria, testing requirements, performance expectations, and the admissions ranking system, consult the Physician Assistant selective admissions information.

Special Equipment Needs

Students accepted into the Physician Assistant major are required to have a laptop and will incur expenses for medical instruments, uniforms, malpractice insurance, clearances and certifications, etc. See the complete list on the Health Sciences website.

Remediation Strategies

All developmental course remediation must be completed during the pre-PA curriculum.

Transfer Procedures

This major is subject to the transfer standards established by the College. Exceptions must be approved by the school dean. NOTE: Equivalent pre-PA major course work (courses listed in the first through fourth semesters below) from another institution may be transferred to Penn College; however, all courses in the major must be taken at Penn College in the sequence that begins with the fifth semester of the curriculum.

International health credentials/licensure, sciences courses, and most math courses will not be accepted to satisfy requirements of this major. Please see additional information for international students applying to Health Sciences majors.

Program Goals

A graduate of this major should be able to:

  • use the skills necessary to become certified physician assistants;
  • work as compassionate, ethical, and culturally competent health care providers;
  • communicate professionally with patients, families and other members of the health care team;
  • demonstrate the technical skills for patient-centered care, including aspects of evidenced-based medicine, patient education resources, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness; and
  • demonstrate critical thinking, analysis, scientific inquiry and problem-solving abilities.


First SemesterCredits
FYE101First Year Experience 1 
BIO115Human Anatomy and Physiology I 4 
CHM111General Chemistry I 4 
ENL111English Composition I 3 
SPCSpeech Elective 3 
CSC124Information, Technology, and Society 3 
Second SemesterCredits
BIO125Human Anatomy and Physiology II 4 
CHM210Organic Chemistry I 3 
MTSMath Elective (MTH160 or Higher) 3 
ENL121English Composition II 3 
ENL201Technical and Professional Communication 3 
PSY111General Psychology 3 
Third SemesterCredits
BIO220General Biology I 4 
MTSMath Elective (MTH160 or Higher) 3 
HUMHumanities Elective 3 
SSESocial Science Elective 3 
Fourth SemesterCredits
BIO201Microbiology 4 
BPADirected Physician Assistant Elective 3 
ARTArt Elective 3 
HUMHumanities Elective 3 
SSESocial Science Elective 3 
ARTArt Elective 3 
FORForeign Language Elective 3 
AAEApplied Arts Elective 3 
IFEInternational Field Experience Elective 3 
FITFitness and Lifetime Sports Elective 2 
Fifth SemesterCredits
PHA301Professionalism and Ethics in Physician Assistant Practice I 1 
PHA311History Taking/Interviewing Techniques 2 
PHA316Medical Physiology/Pathophysiology 5 
PHA322Pharmacology I 2 
PHA326Clinical Procedures I 1 
PHA347Principles of Clinical Medicine I 5 
PHA375Human Cadaver Anatomy 4 
Sixth SemesterCredits
PHA302Professionalism and Ethics in Physician Assistant Practice II 1 
PHA305Clinical Laboratory Medicine 3 
PHA336Clinical Procedures II 3 
PHA339Physical Assessment I 3 
PHA342Pharmacology II 2 
PHA348Psychopathology 1 
PHA358Pediatrics 1 
PHA369Principles of Clinical Medicine II 6 
Summer SessionCredits
PHA303Professionalism and Ethics in Physician Assistant Practice III 1 
PHA352Community and Public Health 2 Writing Enriched Requirement &
Cultural Diversity Requirement
PHA353Issues in Physician Assistant Practice 1 
PHA359Clinical Procedures III 3 Science, Technology and Society Requirement
PHA362Clinical Pharmacology III 1 
PHA372Principles of Clinical Medicine III 5 
PHA371Physical Assessment II 2 
PHA380Principles of Emergency Medicine and Surgery 1 
Seventh SemesterCredits
PHA411Family Practice Internship 4 
PHA412Internal Medicine Internship 4 
PHA421Pediatrics Internship 3 
PHA409Physician Assistant Internship Seminar I 1 
Eighth SemesterCredits
PHA415Emergency Medicine Internship 4 
PHA416Psychiatry Internship 3 
PHA419Obstetrics and Gynecology Internship 4 
PHA422Physician Assistant Internship Seminar II 1 
Summer SessionCredits
PHA417Surgery Internship 4 
PHA418Elective Internship 3 
PHA490Clinical Preceptorship 4 
PHA496Senior Capstone 1 

See the full listing of Directed Physician Assistant Electives.

Additional Information

Employment While Enrolled in the PA Major
Students will find that maintaining employment while enrolled in the Physician Assistant major is extremely difficult and can have detrimental effects on their academic performance.  Because of the rigorous program of study, students are strongly advised not to maintain outside employment while enrolled in the Physician Assistant major.  Students who choose employment in addition to their academic responsibilities should be aware that work responsibilities are not an acceptable excuse for absenteeism, incomplete or late assignments. 

Additional Information
Rigorous and intense didactic course work will take place on campus during the first 12 months of the Physician Assistant major (shown above as the fifth, sixth, and first summer semesters).  In the second 12 months of the Physician Assistant major, clinical rotations, involving 40-hours per week, are designed to provide a variety of experiences for the Physician Assistant student.  It is highly likely that the student will have to temporarily relocate during some clinical rotations.  It is the responsibility of the student to secure housing. All expenses associated with each clinical rotation are the sole responsibility of the student. 

Notice of Conviction

Child-abuse clearance, criminal background checks, and drug screens are required. Students desiring entrance into the Physician Assistant major should be aware that clinical institutions could bar them from their sites if a criminal record exists or if a positive drug test is noted. (By virtue of contract for Penn College students to be at clinical sites, agencies have the right to ask for drug testing and background checks.)

Inability to gain clinical education experience results in inability to meet program objectives and outcomes. The presence of a criminal record can result in agencies refusing to issue credentials necessary for employment.


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

Continued 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 September 2017.