May 25, 2024  
Academic Catalog 2023-2024 
Academic Catalog 2023-2024

Physician Assistant Studies, MS

Program Length and Degree Requirements

The program is 27 months, divided into two phases over seven consecutive, full-time semesters.
Phase I: Didactic (14 months) on campus
Phase II: Clinical (13months) at sites throughout Oregon and surrounding states (may include international sites) and graduate project

Phase I – Didactic: 66 Credits

Phase I - Clinical: 64 Credits

Summer Semester - 11 Weeks: 12 Credits

Fall Semester - 19 Weeks: 19 Credits

Spring Semester - 19 Weeks: 20 Credits

Final Summer Semester - 14 Weeks: 13 Credits

Each student must complete the following rotations in order to graduate:

Total: 130 Credits

The Clinical Medicine (CM) module series is a comprehensive and integrated approach to learning medicine by organ systems. There is a strong emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, case-based learning and evidence-based clinical practice. Clinical medicine modules will include the:

  • Advanced study of human anatomy with laboratory sessions on cadaver pro-sections and selected dissection opportunities.
  • Advanced study of human physiology with clinical applications.
  • Study of the etiology and pathophysiology of disease states.
  • Performance of history and physical examinations with attention to charting and developing a differential diagnosis. Practice on other students and participation at local clinics.
  • Overview of the selection, use, and interpretation of results of laboratory and diagnostic studies.
  • Study of disease states including the epidemiology, history, physical examination, diagnostic evaluation, differential diagnosis, management, and prognosis.
  • Recognition of behavioral medicine issues on disease states commonly seen in the medical setting.
  • Pharmacological principles of routes of administration, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and toxicology, drug classes, disease management, use in patient types.
  • Identification and initiation of treatment for emergencies.
  • Comparison of the clinical presentation and management of disease states in the geriatric population vs. the general population.
  • Preventive health care, patient education, and health maintenance recommendations.
  • Application of the principles of evidence based clinical practice.
  • Objective evaluation of interviewing and history taking skills utilizing the Leicester Assessment Package (LAP).

To graduate, students must pass all required course work during both phases of the program (didactic and clinical).

Students are strongly encouraged to not work while enrolled. Students are required to attend all program-related activities and will not be granted an excused absence for work obligations.

Requirements for Clinical Rotations

  • Students are required to participate in off-campus activities throughout the program and are expected to arrange for their own transportation to classes and clinical sites.
  • Students should expect to spend several of the clinical rotations outside the Portland area and are expected to make and fund their own travel and housing arrangements.
  • Students should anticipate additional travel and housing costs during the clinical phase based on their individual rotation schedules (estimated $5,000-$9,000 per semester).
  • The faculty of the School of Physician Assistant Studies reserves the right to make final decisions regarding clinical rotation assignments
  • Electronic study is incorporated and students are expected to communicate electronically with faculty and classmates during clinical rotations.
  • Students are expected to develop a clinical project with assistance of their PA faculty advisor and the Clinical Project Coordinator.
  • The faculty of the School of Physician Assistant Studies reserves the right to make final decisions regarding approval of the clinical project.

Rural Health Care Track (current students only)

Pacific University graduates are more than twice as likely to work in rural areas or medically underserved communities than their counterparts nationally. In support of its students and in the spirit of its mission to provide primary health care to the underserved, the School of Physician Assistant Studies has developed the Rural Health Care Track (RHCT).

During their first year, physician assistant students will be invited to apply to be a member of the RHCT. The RHCT is designed to better prepare students who plan to work in rural locations, particularly in Oregon and Hawai’i. The RHCT students will be selected through a separate admission process which will include an application and an in-person interview to evaluate the applicant’s commitment to practicing in an underserved community.

RHCT students’ interest in rural medicine will be nurtured through several structured opportunities during their physician assistant education. During the didactic phase of the curriculum, the RHCT cohort will participate in additional small group sessions to better prepare them to work in a rural setting. In the clinical phase, the RHCT students will complete their 12-week family medicine rotation and up to 2 additional 6-week rotations in a rural community. The students will live in the rural community and will be encouraged to be actively involved in the community during their stay. RHCT students will also complete a graduate project which focuses on a rural health or rural community topic.

Two elective courses are required in this track.

Global Health Care Track (current students only)

In the spirit of our mission, values and vision to mentor students to provide high-quality health care to a globally diverse community, the School of Physician Assistant Studies has developed the Global Health Care Track (GHCT). 

During their first year, physician assistant students will be invited to apply for membership in the GHCT. The GHCT is designed to better prepare students who plan to work with globally diverse patients, both locally and abroad. The GHCT students will be selected through a process which includes an application and an in-person interview to evaluate the applicant’s commitment to advocating for patient-centered, culturally appropriate, and accessible care.

GHCT students’ interest in global health will be nurtured through several structured opportunities during their physician assistant education. During the didactic phase of the curriculum, the GHCT cohort will participate in additional interprofessional global health courses and small group sessions, to better prepare them to work in global/local settings. During the clinical phase, the GHCT students will complete one of their 6-week primary care rotations in an international or global/local community. GHCT students will also complete a graduate project which focuses on a global health topic.


Admission is highly selective and enrollment is limited. Admission is offered only into the first year. Transfer students are not accepted. Applicants must apply online through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA), at All application materials, including official transcripts of all college work, must be verified by CASPA by September 1.

Pacific University’s Supplemental Application also is required. The deadline for submission of the Supplemental Application is September 8. Pacific accepts no responsibility for delays in receiving application materials from CASPA and the application materials received are considered the complete and final application.

The Physician Assistant Program Admissions Committee considers the following factors in the selection process:

  • Strength and breadth of academic record
    • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution must be completed before matriculation. Admitted students must be able to provide proof of completed prerequisites by December 31st of the year prior to entry.
    • The CASPA Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) GPA and last 45 credits GPA must be a 3.0 or higher to apply.
    • If you will not obtain a bachelor’s degree prior to enrollment at Pacific University, please review our Bachelor’s Degree Completion Option.
  • Type and depth of prior health care experience
    • Applicants must demonstrate a minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience. The method to document this experience is through the CASPA online application. Please note: The Admissions Committee will consider the total number of hours accumulated, “at the time” of CASPA submission. No consideration will be given to hours projected for the future.
  • Strength of professional evaluations
    • We require two professional evaluations. It is recommended that at least one evaluation be obtained from a (non-relative/personal) Physician (MD or DO), a Physician Assistant (PA-C), or a Nurse Practitioner (NP) with whom the applicant has worked with or shadowed. The method to obtain professional evaluations is through the CASPA online application.
  • Strength of on-campus personal interview
  • Understanding of the physician assistant profession
  • Program compatibility
  • Type of community activities
  • Content of application forms and care with which they have been completed
  • Quality of writing ability as demonstrated by personal narrative and impromptu writing sample
  • Ability to perform the essential functions

English Language Proficiency

For applicants whose first language is other than English and who did not earn a bachelor’s degree from a US institution, official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are required to be submitted to CASPA by the deadline. The School of Physician Assistant Studies requires a minimum TOEFL score of: 600 paper-based, 250 computer-based or 100 internet-based. A minimum score of 7 on the IELTS test also is accepted.

Hawai’i Outreach Initiative (available to applicants from Hawai’i only)

Pacific University has a long-standing history with students from Hawai’i which extends to our School of Physician Assistant Studies. We are committed to addressing the physician assistant workforce issues in Hawai’i.

The Hawai’i Outreach Initiative is an admissions opportunity as well as a clinical rotation priority in the state of Hawai’i. In order to show our commitment to Hawai’i, we extend invitations to interview to the top five scoring Hawai’i Outreach applicants each year. While this does not guarantee admission, it is an acknowledgment of our dedication to Hawai’i and the changing needs of the Islands.

In order to qualify for the Hawai’i Outreach Initiative, a prospective student must have a strong connection to Hawai’i and have active plans to return to the islands to practice as a PA. The strong connection may be shown by one or more of the following: current address, permanent address, high school diploma, college diploma, driver’s license, or Native Hawai’ian ancestry.

If students from Hawai’i are admitted to the program, they will complete their didactic phase in Hillsboro, Oregon, with the rest of the incoming class. Students in the Hawai’i Outreach Initiative will have preference for the available clinical rotations in Hawai’i.  Rotations are subject to availability. Pacific University continually seeks out rotation sites in Hawai’i that provide students with quality experiences and networking opportunities.

There is no separate application for the Hawai’i Outreach Initiative. Students initially are identified through their application materials and their commitment, as stated on the Supplemental Application, to return to Hawai’i following graduation to work as a PA. Please contact Graduate Admissions with questions.

Veterans Outreach Initiative (Veteran applicants only)

The School of Physician Assistant Studies has a longstanding history of supporting veterans to become physician assistants. The School has two programs to assist veterans to become PAs at Pacific: The Veterans Outreach Initiative and the Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program.

The Veterans Outreach Initiative is an admissions advantage. The top seven veteran applicants who meet all minimum criteria required by the School will be granted an on-campus interview. While this does not guarantee admission, it is an acknowledgment of our dedication to veterans and their needs.

We provide a master’s level curriculum; however, it is possible to gain admission without a prior bachelor’s degree. The Bachelor’s Degree Completion Option initially was designed for veterans and now is an option for all students. The School acknowledges veterans’ non-traditional route to the PA profession and is excited to offer the option for those who will benefit from this additional opportunity.

There is no separate application for the Veterans Outreach Initiative or Bachelor’s Degree Completion Option. Students initially are identified through their CASPA and Supplemental Application. Please contact Graduate Admissions if you have any questions.


A bachelor’s degree typically is required by the start of the program. If a bachelor’s degree will not be obtained prior to matriculation, please see the Bachelor’s Degree Completion Option. Applicants must complete all prerequisite courses by December 31st of the year prior to entry. Prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or higher and must be taken on a graded basis. Courses taken pass/fail will not be accepted (except “pass/fail curriculum” universities) for the sciences. On a case by case basis, pass/fail courses may be accepted due to extreme circumstances such as COVID-19. The CASPA calculated Biology, Chemistry and Physics GPA and the last 45 semester credits GPA both must be above a 3.0.

Science prerequisite courses must be for science majors and include laboratory as indicated below. Lower division non-science major courses will be reviewed on a case by case basis. The cost associated with the evaluation of the adequacy of the prerequisite courses taken in other countries is the responsibility of the student. The School of Physician Assistant Studies does not grant advanced standing.

Biological Sciences – 10 semester credits

  • Year-long series of Human Anatomy and Human Physiology with labs. This may be satisfied with either a combined series of A&P with labs or separate terms of Anatomy (lab required) and Physiology (lab recommended). The last term of A&P must be done within seven years from matriculation.
  • 1 Microbiology or Bacteriology course (lab not required)
  • Year-long series of General Chemistry with labs (may not be introductory courses; upper level may be substituted)
  • 1 Organic or Biochemistry course (lab not required, may not be a combined course)

Statistics – 3 semester or 4 quarter credits

  • One course; cannot substitute Calculus or Algebra; AP credit is acceptable

Psychology or Sociology – 3 semester or 4 quarter credits (one course)

  • Any Psychology or Sociology course; AP credit is acceptable


Program Learning Outcomes

Program Details


The School of Physician Assistant Studies is located within the Tuality Health and Education District in downtown Hillsboro, Oregon. Classrooms are located in Creighton Hall, Pacific University College of Health Professions. The School has affiliations with hospitals, managed care organizations, medical groups, community clinics, nursing homes, and private practice physicians. Clinical rotation placements are driven by the School’s focus on underserved communities and are located locally, throughout the Pacific Northwest, nationally, and internationally.


Add/Drop/Withdrawal Schedule

Due to the structure of the curriculum, there is no add/drop period. If a student must leave during a semester, courses that have been completed will receive a grade, and the transcript will show no record of courses that have not started. Once a course has started, withdrawing before 60% of the course has been completed will result in a W grade; withdrawing after the 60% point will result in a grade based upon instructor evaluation of completed work.

Enrolling Without Seeking a Degree

Students may not enroll in courses for credit or audit unless they are seeking a degree.


All courses are graded Pass/No Pass based on the achievement of at least 80% of the total possible score for all assessments, skills and rotations.


The School of Physician Assistant Studies does not award honors at graduation.

Time Limits to Completion

All degree requirements must be completed within 40 months.  Students with extenuating circumstances may petition the School Director for consideration of longer timeframes.

Grade Changes

Once a course grade has been submitted, it is considered final and may be changed only in the case of recording, posting, or computation errors. Faculty members submit Grade Change Request forms to the School Director for approval

Incomplete Grades

An instructor may issue a grade of Incomplete (I) only when the major portion of a course has been completed satisfactorily but health or other emergency reasons prevent the student from finishing all requirements of the course. Prior to submitting an Incomplete grade, the instructor and the student complete an Incomplete Grade Contract detailing the completion and submission of all remaining work, as well as a timeline. After submission of the work, the instructor completes a Grade Change form and submits it to the School Director for approval; the form then is processed by the Registrar.

If agreed-upon work is not completed and no grade change submitted by the deadline (and an extension has not been granted), when the Incomplete expires the grade becomes a N (No Pass). Faculty may request an extension of an Incomplete (before the expiration date of the Incomplete) by notifying the Registrar’s office.

Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Registrar or the School Director.

Transfer Credit

The School of Physician Assistant Studies does not accept transfer credit.

Normal Load

9 credits or more is considered a full-time course load; 5 credits is considered half-time.


To apply for readmission after an absence of one semester or more, a student must complete an Action Plan as determined by the School, and submit official transcripts from all colleges attended during a student’s absence from Pacific University to the School Director.