Program Requirements

Accredited, community-oriented curriculum

Professional description

Physician assistants are health professionals prepared to practice medicine with physician supervision. Physician assistants are qualified by graduation from an accredited physician assistant educational program and/or by certification by the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants. Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision-making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services.

The clinical role of physician assistants includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practice settings in rural and urban areas. Physician assistant practice is centered on patient care and may include educational, research and administrative roles.

Program description

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies is a graduate, entry-level, professional study designed to prepare highly competent practitioners to practice primary care medicine in the context of team-delivered care in a rapidly evolving health care arena. The program is 24 months (six semesters) duration and is divided into didactic (12 months) and clinical phases (12 months). Enrollment is on a continuous, full-time basis only. The curriculum is based on the Accreditation Standards for Physician Assistant Education and incorporates the principles of scientific inquiry, self-directed study, critical analysis, and problem solving. Due to the rigorous nature of the curriculum, students should not expect to be employed during their enrollment.

Program accreditation

The Missouri State University Physician Assistant Program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Accreditation is a process of external peer review to assure standards of excellence and quality are met and maintained. Graduation from an accredited PA program is a requirement to practice as a PA in the United States and to sit for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) certifying examination.

Degree requirements

All students must complete the required 87 semester hours of the curriculum (42 didactic and 45 clinical) in the prescribed sequence for each admitted class (cohort).  Any exceptions to the cohort progression must stem from unavoidable and extreme personal circumstances, and must be approved by the program director.

  1. Academic Advisor - Upon matriculation, each student will be assigned to a departmental academic advisor, who along with the program’s didactic and clinical coordinators, will supervise a student’s progression through the program.
  2. Didactic year courses:

Spring - 15 credit hours

Course Code Course Title Credit Hours
PAS 717 Medical Human Anatomy and Radiology 6 hrs
BMS 752 Medical Physiology 3 hrs
PAS 753 Molecular Pathophysiology 1 hr
PAS 765 Clinical Assessment I 3 hrs
PAS 769 Behavioral Medicine 1 hr
PAS 775 Principles of Clinical Problem Solving 1 hr

Summer - 10 credit hours

Course Code Course Title Credit Hours
PAS 785 Clinical Medicine I 4 hrs
PAS 780 Pharmacotherapeutics I 1 hr
PAS 766 Clinical Assessment II 3 hrs
PAS 770 Professional Issues Seminar 1 hr
PAS 783 Clinical Practicum I 1 hr

Fall - 17 credit hours

Course Code Course Title Credit Hours
PAS 786 Clinical Medicine II 6 hrs
PAS 781 Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics 3 hrs
PAS 787 Laboratory Medicine and Clinical Procedures 2 hrs
PAS 788 EKG & ACLS 2 hrs
PAS 776 Clinical Problem Solving Seminar  1 hr
PAS 777 Introduction to Research and Clinical Epidemiology 2 hrs
PAS 784 Clinical Practicum II 1 hr

C.  Clinical year courses. The clinical year consists of 8 six-week clinical preceptorship experiences (PAS 790) for 5 credit hours. Students are required to complete the following required clinical preceptorships:

Family practice-primary care* 9 weeks
General surgery 6 weeks
Internal Medicine 6 weeks
Emergency Medicine 6 weeks
Obstetrics and Gynecology/Women’s Health 6 weeks
Pediatrics 6 weeks
Behavioral and Mental Health Care* 3 weeks
Directed 6 weeks

* Note:  one rotation will consist of 3 weeks of clinical experiences in family practice-primary care and 3 weeks in behavioral and mental health care.

In addition, students are required to document patient learning experiences in the field of behavioral and mental health care that occur during other preceptorships.


  1. Students should expect to complete at least one primary care preceptorship (family practice, internal medicine, or pediatrics) in a rural setting.
  2. Students should anticipate that up to three of their assigned clinical rotations will occur outside of the Springfield area adn will require living in "off-campus" housing.  Normally, the travel, housing, and other expenses incurred in relocation are at the student’s expense. However, at some distant-rotation sites, housing will be provided by the program.
  3. Students will register in the clinical year for PAS 797 Clinical Practice Issues Seminar (1 credit hour) each semester for a total of 3 credit hours and for PAS 798 Clinical Research Project (2 hours) during the final semester of their clinical year. This project will consist of an in-depth study of a clinical problem of interest, which culminates in a scholarly paper and formal presentation.