Medical Science, Doctor of Medical Science

Department of Physician Assistant Studies

College of Health and Human Services

The Doctor of Medical Science degree (DMSc) for Physician Assistants (PAs) is a 24-credit online post-professional doctorate degree program designed to provide certified PAs with knowledge and competencies to contribute to a patient-centered, safe, and cost-effective healthcare system. The program will focus on the role of the PA as a critical member of the healthcare team through coursework in population health, patient-centered care, health policy, health informatics, and healthcare finance.

  • To receive a Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) at Northern Arizona University, students must fulfill a Master of Physician Assistant Studies at NAU or another university, and then complete a planned group of courses, consisting of 24 units of specified graduate-level courses depending upon the student’s previous experience, training and transcripts.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 24
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Some online/blended coursework Required

Purpose Statement

The purpose of the NAU Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) degree is to provide students with knowledge and competencies to contribute to an equitable, patient-centered, and cost-effective healthcare system. The program focuses on the role of the Physician Assistant (PA) as a critical member of the healthcare team through the study of population health, patient-centered care, health policy, health informatics, and health equity. The program provides students with foundational knowledge in healthcare delivery and payment models and their relationship to healthcare outcomes.

Students will be prepared to systematically address the complex needs of patients, communities, and populations within the healthcare system through the critical analysis of current evidence and case studies, debate and discussion, and practice-based application exercises. Concepts will be supported by online, asynchronous lectures, assigned readings, and discussions with students in the cohort-based model. Students will synthesize program concepts in the culminating project, which requires students to develop or engage in a project specific to health systems science (i.e., informatics, population health, healthcare systems, health equity, etc.).

Graduates will be provided with skills to make them competitive as leaders in healthcare, consulting, and academia. This program will expand the pipeline of highly skilled, doctoral-trained, PAs to serve in diverse settings; improve healthcare systems; and advocate for patients and communities.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Critique the interrelationship between the U.S. healthcare structure, financing and organization, and patient outcomes and apply these findings to new models of healthcare delivery.
  • Apply cultural and historical constructs, outcomes data, and state and national policy changes to a comprehensive understanding of the design and delivery of U.S. healthcare.
  • Explore frameworks for collecting, analyzing, and using data to inform decisions, facilitate care coordination, and improve health outcomes of populations within and outside the health system.
  • Construct evidence-based interventions to address healthcare inequities that apply to all components of the healthcare delivery system.
  • Recommend technology-driven, systems solutions to improve the delivery of safe, patient-centered care.
  • Communication:
    • Communicate effectively with peers (e.g., discussion boards), faculty (e.g., emails, presentations, projects), and health systems stakeholders (e.g., policy memos) on behalf of patients and communities.
    • Effectively communicate specific challenges in the U.S. healthcare system (e.g., system level, patient level, provider level) and provide recommendations for improvement using evidence-based frameworks unique to the discipline.
  • Culminating project:
    • Design a focused and personal plan of independent study for the culminating project.
    • Synthesize concepts in the discipline with the goal to enhance the patient experience, improve the health of the population, reduce costs, and improve the well-being of the healthcare workforce.
    • Analyze and incorporate critical literature as part of the culminating project, applying proper acknowledgments and citations commensurate with a final capstone in the discipline.

Graduate Admission Information
  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

    • Degree from an ARC-PA accredited PA program.
    • Official transcripts from bachelors and masters-level degree-granting institutions (must hold a master’s degree for consideration).
    • Minimum overall graduate cumulative GPA of 3.0.
    • Current resume or curriculum vitae.


Doctoral Requirements
  • Take the following 24 units:

  • Students enrolled in this plan may not enroll in or pursue the following due to the number of overlapping units:

  • If you have completed either of the above certificates prior to enrolling in the Doctor of Medical Science, DMSc, you may apply the coursework to Doctor of Medical Science, DMSc.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.