Physician Assistant Studies (MS) – Philadelphia Campus

PCOM offers a full-time 26-month graduate-level program in physician assistant studies.

The program provides a comprehensive didactic and laboratory year followed by a year of clinical preceptorships in a variety of clinical disciplines. All students complete a research practicum as part of the program.

The PCOM Physician Assistant Program is committed to excellence in education. As in any learning process, the content and methodology in our program reflect a mixture of objectivity, intuition and good faith. Our faculty and staff want to provide a creative environment for individual learning and growth, within a curriculum which, by necessity, is highly structured and intense. Viewing learning as a reciprocal, collaborative interaction between faculty and students, we endeavor to be responsive to perceived needs for change and welcome comments and suggestions from all who participate in the program for its ongoing evaluation and continued growth.

Graduation Requirements

Each candidate for the degree of Master of Science must achieve a GPA of 3.0 to graduate from the program and satisfactorily complete all degree requirements.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Term 1Hours
PHYA 502 Human Gross Anatomy 6
PHYA 519 Human Physiology 4
Term 2
INDP 100 Inter Professional Appreciation and Caring Communities 0
PHYA 501 Pharmacy Survey: Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamics and Pharmacotherapeutics 2
PHYA 503 History Taking & Physical Exam 10
PHYA 514 Professional Practice Issues and Health Policy 2
PHYA 531 Community Health Service 2
PHYA 534 Introduction to Pathogenesis and Clinical Practice 1
PHYA 542 Research Methods 1
Term 3
INDP 100 Inter Professional Appreciation and Caring Communities 0
PHYA 510 Clinical Medicine I 10
PHYA 515 Medicine, Law, and Health Care Ethics 1
PHYA 520 Pharmacology I 2
PHYA 535 Pathology I 2
PHYA 543 Evidence-Based Medicine 2
Term 4
INDP 100 Inter Professional Appreciation and Caring Communities 0
PHYA 511 Clinical Medicine II 10
PHYA 521 Pharmacology II 2
PHYA 536 Pathology II 2
PHYA 549 Radiology for the PA 2
Second Year
Term 1
PHYA 512 Clinical Medicine III 10
PHYA 522 Pharmacology III 1
PHYA 530 Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry 1
Term 2
Term 2 through Term 4 (Fall, Winter, and Spring) Preceptorships  
PHYA 550 Family Medicine Preceptorship 10
PHYA 551 Internal Medical Preceptorship 10
PHYA 553 Emergency Medicine Preceptorship 10
PHYA 554 Gynecology/Prenatal Preceptorship 10
PHYA 555 General Surgery Preceptorship 10
PHYA 556 Behavioral Medicine Preceptorship 10
PHYA 557 Pediatrics Preceptorship 10
Third Year
Term 1
PHYA 558 Elective Preceptorship 6
PHYA 560 Research Practicum 2
PHYA 562 Comprehensive Review 3
 Total Hours154

Master of Science in Health Science, Physician Assistant Studies - Philadelphia and Georgia Campuses

PCOM’s Physician Assistant Studies (PA) program is designed to prepare the student for comprehensive practice in a variety of clinical settings following completion of the second year of the program. The goals and objectives of the program are guided by the criteria set forth by the Standards and Guidelines for an Accredited Education Program for the Physician Assistant. The program has received full accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), and graduates are eligible to sit for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) examination for national certification and regional, local and national licensure.


Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) participates in the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). You may obtain additional information about CASPA and apply online at CASPA applications become available for 2021-2022 enrollments in April 2021. All applications must be e-submitted, completed, and verified by CASPA no later than December 1, 2021, for both Philadelphia and PCOM Georgia (separate application per campus). When applying to PCOM through CASPA, you will be required to complete PCOM specific questions before submitting.

All required application materials, including the $75 PCOM institutional application fee (one fee per campus) must be received the Office of Admissions no later than December 15, 2021, for Philadelphia and PCOM Georgia in order to be considered for admission for the Summer 2022 term. Note that the fee can only be paid online through the link sent via email at receipt of a verified and completed CASPA application.

The Faculty Committee on Admissions recommends you submit a completed and verified CASPA application, which includes a PCOM specific question series, as soon as possible as we operate using a rolling admissions process.

Assessing Applicants for Interview Consideration

Completed and verified CASPA applications and supporting documents will be reviewed and individuals will be selected for an on-campus interview by the Faculty Committee on Admissions. Interviews will be offered to those who qualify compared against the applicant pool and successful completion of the following factors:

  • Baccalaureate degree
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Standardized test score (TOEFL)
  • Prerequisite coursework
  • Grade point averages (GPAs)
  • Healthcare experience
  • Other considerations

An interview is required for admissions to the program and is typically conducted from September through February although interviews may be conducted before or after this timeframe. A candidate can be selected for an interview at any time throughout the review process as deemed competitive by the Faculty Committee on Admissions.

Selection for the PA program at PCOM is very competitive. The following requirements represent the minimum criteria for consideration for admission. Successful applicants will generally exceed the minimum criteria.

Baccalaureate Degree

All applicants must complete a baccalaureate degree, preferably in science or a health-related field, from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom prior to matriculation. Applicants must send official transcripts from all colleges and/or universities attended directly to CASPA. Once enrolled at PCOM, candidates must submit official copies of all college transcripts directly to the PCOM Office of Admissions.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation directly to CASPA. Others may be sent as a PDF document to PCOM’s Office of Admissions at One recommendation must be from a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner in order to be considered for admission.

Prerequisite Coursework

It is the responsibility of each applicant to meet the following minimum requirements:

General Biology I 14
General Biology II 14
Other Biology Coursework3
(Examples: Microbiology, Genetics, Cell Biology, etc.)
Anatomy and Physiology8
(Can be taken as separate courses or combined as Anatomy and Physiology I & II.)
General Chemistry I 14
General Chemistry II 14
Other Chemistry Coursework3
(Examples: Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, etc.)
Health-related Science Course or Physics3
(Examples: Physics, Nutrition, Immunology, Virology, Microbiology, Genetics, Cell Biology, etc.)
Social Sciences9
(Examples: Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, History, etc.)
(Statistics is considered an acceptable Math course)
  • All prerequisite coursework listed above must be completed prior to enrollment with a grade of at least a “C” or 2.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • All science and math prerequisites must be completed within 10 years prior to June enrollment. (e.g., June 2012 or later)
  • Applicants must obtain an undergraduate science and cumulative grade point average of 3.00 or higher on a 4.0 scale (as calculated by CASPA).
  • One course cannot be used to satisfy multiple prerequisite courses.
  • AP coursework will be accepted provided the course and credits appear on your college transcript.
  • All courses must be completed at a regionally accredited institution. The Program will accept credits completed at a community college. The Program will accept courses completed online or on campus.
  • The Program will not accept prerequisite coursework completed as an audit or graded pass/fail with the exception of coursework completed during the spring and summer 2020 terms which may be listed as Pass in a pass/fail grading scale.
  • The Program will not accept credits completed as CLEP courses.
  • At the time of application, candidates must have the prerequisite coursework completed or be able to provide a plan in writing that demonstrates the completion of the prerequisites prior to enrollment in the program (this can be achieved by completing the “Planned or In Progress Coursework” section of CASPA). Two science/math prerequisite courses may be “Planned or In Progress”  at the time of application.

Healthcare Experience

To be considered for an interview for the Physician Assistant Studies program, applicants must have a minimum of 200 hours of direct patient contact experience in volunteerism or employment in the healthcare industry, as documented through CASPA at the time of application. Candidates complete the requirement in a variety of ways, some of which include: working as a certified nursing assistant, pharmacy technician, phlebotomist, LPN, EMT, paramedic, scribe, medical translator, physical therapy aide, patient navigator, mental health aide, etc. Veterinary medicine hours will not be accepted towards the requirement.

Many Physician Assistant Studies program candidates 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. In-person health care shadowing experiences are counted and highly recommended.

Other Considerations

Applicants with graduate degrees and/or five years of healthcare experience and/or other unique circumstances or qualifications may be considered, on an individual basis, for waiver of selected published prerequisite coursework. However, all candidates must have earned a baccalaureate degree prior to enrollment, excluding dual-degree candidates. Waiving of any criteria can only be assessed during the formal application review by the Faculty Committee on Admissions. Staff members of the Office of Admissions may not waive application requirements.

Applications are not accepted from individuals ineligible to be licensed as a physician assistant under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Georgia.

To ensure that students accepted to PCOM will be permitted to perform clerkships during their second year of study, and thus ensure them the opportunity to successfully complete their MS degree requirements, PCOM requires all first year PA students to complete a criminal background check prior to matriculation. All students must have their criminal background checks processed through a PCOM chosen vendor. The Admissions Office will send notification of the process after confirmation of enrollment and must have this information on file prior to orientation. Students will not be permitted to start classes without a criminal background check received and approved by the Office of Admissions.

Application Decisions

Candidates interviewed are evaluated based on multiple factors including:

  • Academic ability
  • Scholarly accomplishments
  • Problem solving ability
  • Decision making skills
  • Maturity
  • Potential for professional  comportment
  • Level of commitment to profession
  • Personal preparedness
  • Congruence with program philosophy and mission

The Admissions Committee reserves the right to accept or reject applications to the chosen program based on merit.

Notification of Acceptance or Alternate Status

Following completion of the admissions process, applicants will be notified of the Admissions Committee’s decision in writing, including any conditions that must be satisfied prior to or following enrollment. Once admitted, candidates who wish to enroll are asked to review and acknowledge PCOM’s Technical Standards for Admission and Matriculation and submit a $500 non-refundable tuition prepayment online. The acceptance packet will contain all materials required for enrollment.

Applicants may be placed on the wait list after completion of the interview process. 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 decision letter by mail.

Policy on Advanced Standing, Transfer of Credits and Experiential Learning and Graduates of Medical Schools

The Physician Assistant Studies program does not offer advanced placement based upon transfer of credits for academic work completed at other institutions of higher learning or upon credit from experiential learning. Applications are not accepted from graduates of medical schools.