Physician Assistant Studies, Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Department of Physician Assistant Studies

College of Health and Human Services

The NAU Physician Assistant (PA) program is the only PA program offered at a public university in Arizona. Parts of the 24-month curriculum are delivered in collaboration with the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix. Successful graduates will receive a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) from NAU and will be qualified to take the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE) that is required for licensure as a PA.

The NAU PA program offers high-quality clinical experiences, interdisciplinary medical education, value and affordability. The program will equip students with clinical and professional knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide high-quality, compassionate medical care for the people of Arizona. The mission of the program addresses the need to reduce Arizona’s health care workforce shortages.

This program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master's degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Didactic courses (56 units)
  • Supervised clinical experience (44 units)
  • Capstone: summative exam and independent project (2 units)
  • Seminar (1 unit)

Minimum Units for Completion 103
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Fieldwork Experience/Internship Required
Additional Fees/Program Fees Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

This program may lead to licensure.

Purpose Statement

Physician Assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine in a healthcare team. PAs are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training, and are trained in intensive education programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Upon graduation, physician assistants take a national certification examination developed by the National Commission on Certification of PAs (NCCPA).
As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and in virtually all states can write prescriptions.  Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services.  A PA’s practice may also include education, research, and administrative services.
NAU has a long history of quality Health Science education with up-to-date technology, simulation center and inter-professional learning environment, and in supervised clinical experiences throughout Arizona
Our program is based on the philosophy that PAs can make a difference providing healthcare in underserved and rural areas of Arizona. During the clinical year, students will be educated in community health clinics, Indian health service facilities, and other community-based institutions. Students are encouraged to apply to become National Health Service Corps scholars. The program will work with the state’s 5 Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) and the Arizona Alliance of Community Health Centers (AACHC) to identify rural healthcare sites for additional learning experiences.

Student Learning Outcomes 

  • Obtain and record a complete and accurate medical history from any patient in any setting.
  • Perform a complete or problem-focused physical examination on any patient in any setting.
  • Interpret and synthesize the information derived from the history, physical examination and other patient related data to guide the formulation of a thorough differential diagnosis
  • Order, perform and interpret appropriate diagnostic procedures and laboratory tests based upon the findings from the medical history and physical examination.
  • Identify, discuss, perform, and order appropriate therapy and treatment modalities for the management of commonly occurring primary care entities.
  • Recognize life threatening conditions.
  • Clearly and effectively communicate with patients, their families, and other medical personnel in a professional manner
  • Demonstrate the impact that health problems have on the individual and family members and will develop an attitude of professional concern for each patient.
  • Utilize critical thinking skills through the use of evidence-based medicine.
  • Articulate the unique role of the physician assistant in the medical team.
  • Possess a working knowledge of the American health care delivery system.
  • Exhibit ethical behavior and professional conduct.

See the full list of Student Learning Outcomes


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

    • NAU Graduate Online application required (www.nau.edu/graduateapply) for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit http://nau.edu/GradCol/Admissions/Graduate-Admissions-Policy/ .

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • A minimum of an earned bachelor’s or higher degree from a U.S. regionally accredited institution OR equivalent.*  Bachelor’s degree does not need to be complete upon application to the program, but pre-requisite courses (see below) must be completed upon application to the program.
    •  *If undergraduate degree was earned outside the U.S.:
      • Submit official transcripts in the language of instruction and an official English translation evaluated by either WES or ECE to the NAU Graduate College and to CASPA no later than September 1.  WES or ECE evaluation fees are the responsibility of the applicant. 
      • Complete pre-requisite courses from a U.S. regionally accredited institution.
      • Minimum TOEFL scores of 100 on the IBT and 26 on the speaking component.
    • U.S. Citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.
    • Completed CASPA application
    • 3 letters of recommendation (CASPA submission only)
    • Personal statement or essay
    • 500 hours of health care experience, paid or volunteer
    • In-person Interview
    • Overall and Science Course Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or equivalent (CASPA calculation)
    • Nine units of science coursework (any discipline) must be completed in the last 5 years.  These courses may be the same as the prerequisite courses noted below.
    • Prerequisite courses from a U.S. regionally accredited institution (completed at the time of application)
      • Required coursework:
        • anatomy and physiology I with lab or anatomy with lab (3 semester credit hours)
        • anatomy and physiology II with lab or physiology with lab (3 semester credit hours)
        • general biology I (3 semester credit hours) 
        • general biology II (3 semester credit hours) 
        • general chemistry I with lab (3 semester credit hours) 
        • general chemistry II with lab (3 semester credit hours)
        • microbiology with lab (3 semester credit hours) 
        • organic or biochemistry (3 semester credit hours) 
        • statistics (3 semester credit hours, any discipline) 
        • additional science coursework (13 semester credit hours)
Master's Requirements
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.

  • Program fees are established by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). A program fee of $20,000 per year divided across three semesters has been approved for this program.