PA Program Landing Hero with Page Title

Members of the Physician Assistant Class of 2024 recite the student oath during a ceremony on April 7, 2023, in Hershey.

Physician Assistant Program

Navigation Menu

PA Program Details Header H2 Code

Physician Assistant (PA) Program Details

PA Program Details Intro Row Copy with CTA

The Penn State Physician Assistant (PA) Program, located at the Penn State College of Medicine campus in Hershey, PA, is a 24-month, full-time graduate program enrolling 30 students each May.

Our first class graduated in May 2016.

Consistent with the goals of the entire College of Medicine, the PA Program emphasizes humanism in medicine, which takes into account the dedication required for individualized and personalized medicine.

PA Program Details Basic Content


The Penn State College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program’s mission is to prepare graduates to be academically, clinically, professionally and culturally competent physician assistants who are devoted to serving patients in their communities through the application of clinical reasoning, critical thinking, and evidence-based practice to deliver compassionate and comprehensive care.


The goals of the program include:

  • To enroll an academically qualified, diverse student body with special consideration for those underrepresented in medicine, first generation in college, veteran/active duty military personnel, educationally disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged (see progress toward this goal)
  • To promote the development of critical thinking skills (see progress toward this goal)
  • To enable graduates to practice competent health care with an emphasis in primary care and/or work in federally designated underserved communities (see progress toward this goal)
  • To prepare students for their role as professional clinicians working as part of an interprofessional team (see progress toward this goal)

Graduation Requirements

The Physician Assistant Program at Penn State College of Medicine graduated its eighth class in May 2023.

Graduation requirements for PA students include:

  • Enrollment in the program for the time period specified by the program and approved by accrediting body for completion
  • Satisfactory completion of all curricular requirements in good academic standing
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher
    • No course or rotation grades below a “C” or “Low Pass”
    • Repeat and receive a “C” or higher in any course or rotation in the program for which a grade of “F” was earned.
  • Attainment of good professional standing
  • Successful completion of all components in the summative experience
  • Meet or exceed the minimum requirements for clinical experiences and competencies.
  • Recommendation for graduation by program faculty
  • Satisfactory fulfillment of all financial obligations to the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State University

The PA Program requires 101 credits for successful program completion. The program curriculum contains a senior summative, one-credit course that also must be successfully completed in order to meet the program requirements for graduation eligibility.

All courses offered in the curriculum are required, and all of these courses must be successfully completed (as detailed above) to meet this eligibility for graduation.

Advanced Placement Policy

The Penn State College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program is a full-time academic program. The program’s curriculum is administered in a sequential fashion that builds on courses completed in the prior term. Consequently, the program does not award credit for experiential learning or accept advanced placement into the professional phase of the program.

Policy on Student Roles and Employment

The Penn State College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program faculty do not encourage students to work while enrolled in the program. However, we realize that students have different financial obligations and may need to work while enrolled in the program. The program is confident that we are educating adults who are capable of making a personal decision about the necessity of working and therefore we do not require students to disclose to the program whether work is taking place. However, it is the expectation that the PA Program is the student’s primary responsibility. Furthermore, concessions for missed classes, late assignments, scheduled assessments, and clinical rotation obligations due to work outside of the program will not be made.

Students are not permitted to work for the PA Program in any capacity while enrolled as a student at the Penn State College of Medicine.

Additionally, students may not substitute for or function as instructional faculty, clinical staff, or administrative staff while enrolled as a student at Penn State College of Medicine.

Clinical Year Placement

Students may not solicit their own clinical sites or preceptors, or trade preceptorships with other students. Students may, however, assist in communication with potential clinical preceptors to facilitate the program establishing affiliation agreements or clinical rotation site opportunities. View the full Clinical Site Assignment Policy in the student handbook.