Jun 25, 2022  
2021-2022 University Catalog 
2021-2022 University Catalog

Physician Assistant Studies (MS)

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Physician Assistant Studies (MS): Program Overview

The Physician Assistant program is designed to provide students with an outstanding education in preparation for a career as a PA with a foundation for leadership, service, and top-notch clinical practice. Graduates are granted a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.

Our 30-month curriculum is innovative and unique, with enhanced rotations that maximize clinical training and patient care experiences. Rush University Medical Center offers extensive resources and settings to provide students with an excellent training experience.

  • The 12-month didactic phase uses lecture, case-based discussions, and skills labs training to prepare students for clinical rotations
  • Our unique, 18-months clinical phase prepares students to practice as generalist, while providing a one-of-a-kind immersion in a specific area of clinical practice. Students complete 12 months of core rotations, and then advance to 6 months of advanced rotations
    • Current areas of advanced clinical training include cardiothoracic surgery, orthopedics, vascular surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, internal medicine, primary care, pulmonary and critical care medicine, interventional radiology, urology, neurosurgery, geriatrics, and physical medicine and rehabilitation


The Rush University PA program mission is to educate advanced health care providers to practice evidence-based medicine with competence, professionalism and compassion driven by academic excellence and service to diverse communities.


The Rush University PA program strives to be a nationally recognized leader in educating advanced practice PAs to assume leadership roles in clinical and professional practice.


The following are the goals of the Rush University PA Studies program:

  • Prepare PAs to practice interprofessional, patient-centered care in diverse communities
  • Promote leadership, service, and advocacy to the profession
  • Provide enhanced training opportunities to students in various areas of clinical practice
  • Prepare PAs who use evidence-based methods to plan, develop and deliver high quality, cost-effective health care services
  • Promote an environment of inclusion and cultural humility

Physician Assistant Studies (MS): Admission Requirements

Admission to the PA program is highly competitive.  Student selection is based on various factors, such as overall strength of academic performance, type and quality of prior health care experience, including experiences working with or shadowing PAs, leadership and community service engagement, and demonstration of interpersonal communication skills. 

The program is rigorous and candidate preparedness for admission will be assessed through general and science course grade point average, prior health care experience, letters of reference, and personal statement quality. 

Requirements for Admissions to the PA Program

  • A bachelor’s degree from a U.S. regionally accredited college or university completed prior to matriculation into the program.
  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required each, for both the Total GPA and Science GPA is required. GPAs greater than 3.3 each for total and science is considered competitive; GPAs greater than 3.5 each for total and science is considered highly competitive.  

Completion of the following prerequisite courses at a U.S. regionally accredited college or university prior to matriculation into the program. Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Microbiology and Biochemistry must be completed within the seven years prior to application to the program. You may have up to two outstanding courses at the time of application submission. Advanced placement or CLEP courses are not accepted toward meeting prerequisite course requirements.

  • Human Anatomy
  • Microbiology
  • Human Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Psychology/Behavioral Science
  • Statistics
  • Documented hands-on, direct patient contact experience in a health care setting, accrued with seven years of application submission. Experience working with Advanced Practice Providers or physicians is preferred. A minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient contact experience (via paid employment) is required at the time of application submission. Having above 1,500 hours health care experience hours is competitive; having 2,500 hours and above is considered highly competitive.
    • Hours accrued during the completion of previous academic degrees, certifications or training do not count towards health care experience hours
    • Preference is given to applicants having experience that requires training, certification, or licensure and involves direct (hands-on) patient care (examples: EMT, paramedic, registered nurse, registered dietitian, respiratory therapist)
  • Applicants are encouraged to shadow a PA to become knowledgeable of the role of the physician assistant; this experience does not count as patient care experience.
  • Three professional letters of reference. It is preferred that at least one of the references be a PA, physician, or other health care provider who is familiar with the PA profession. CASPA will contact each reference with instructions on how to complete an online evaluation. We suggest that references be provided by professionals you have worked with who can speak to your medical and academic performance potential, your commitment to service, and your leadership skills. At least one reference should be from a physician, PA, or other health professional, and one should be from a college or university instructor. Personal references from family and friends are not competitive for admission to the program.
  • A completed application submitted to the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Access CASPA at caspa.liaisoncas.com/
  • Candidates will be required to complete a supplemental application and submit a $40 supplemental application fee only if you are invited to an interview. More information will be provided upon interview invitation.
  • An interview with members of the PA program faculty and other university faculty and leaders.
  • All applicants must meet the minimum requirements to perform the essential functions of a PA. See the Technical Standards sheet for more information.  
  • Admission is contingent upon successful completion of a health assessment, criminal background check and drug screening processes prior to matriculation. Information regarding this requirement is discussed during interviews.
  • Applicants with coursework or a bachelor’s degree conferred outside of the United States must submit a course equivalence evaluation by either World Education Services (WES) or Education Credentials Evaluators (ECE).
  • TOEFL scores if English is not your native language.  Information regarding this College of Health Sciences standard is available at www.rushu.rush.edu/college-health-sciences/about-college/informa…

Updates and Temporary Changes to the Program’s Admissions Standards for the 2021-2022 Cycle:

  • We will accept passing grades taken in a Pass/Fail system for any course taken from May to December 2020.  This may impact your GPA calculations.
  • We will accept passing grades taken in a Pass/Fail system for up to two required, prerequisite courses taken from May to December 2020.  You must have letter grades for four of the six required courses.
    • Completion of the CASPer assessment is not a requirement for admission for the 2021-2022 cycle. If a candidate does complete the CASPer assessment or SnapShot, results can be sent to the program from CASPer. Information is available at takecasper.com/
  • Leadership and/or community service involvement is a strongly encouraged for admissions consideration. The more hours accrued demonstrating leadership or service to the community, the more competitive your application profile
  • Effective April 2020, GRE scores are no longer a requirement for admissions consideration

Attendance in the program is on a full-time basis only. No advanced-standing or transfer credits are awarded, regardless of a candidate’s previous professional or academic experience. 

The PA program admits students into the class on a rolling basis, which means at each interview session, offers are made to fill seats in the class.  Under a rolling admissions process, it is possible to fill all interview spots before the close of the admission cycle. Applicants are encouraged to submit all application materials as early as possible.  

Due to the competitive nature of the application process, meeting posted admission criteria to the program does not guarantee an interview offer for the program.

Additional Factors for Admissions Consideration

Rush University and the PA program are committed to creating a class environment that mirrors our diverse community and that supports access and inclusion among our students. While all candidates must meet posted minimum admissions criteria, candidates with any of the following factors indicated on their CASPA application are given additional consideration towards interview and admission to the program, to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis:

  • Military veterans
  • Persons from an underrepresented minority group in the health care sciences
  • Persons from economically disadvantaged backgrounds
  • First person to attend a higher education training program
  • Recommended graduates from the Rush Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program

Program Application

Completing My Application to the Rush University PA Program:

The application cycle is open from April 29 to October 1 of each year. 

Applications must be submitted online via CASPA at caspa.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login 

CASPA application requires:

  • Submission of official transcripts for all college coursework completed
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement
  • Payment of an application fee as outlined by CASPA

Required Prerequisites

The following courses must be completed prior to matriculation into the program:

  • Human anatomy and human physiology or a two-course sequence combined human anatomy and physiology course
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (with lab preferred but not required)
  • Psychology or equivalent course work in the behavioral sciences
  • Statistics

It is strongly recommended that all courses be taken within seven years prior to application to the program. Advanced placement or CLEP courses are not accepted toward meeting prerequisite course requirements. Candidates must have at least four of the required courses completed at the time of application submission. Course grades of C or better are mandatory for all prerequisite courses. Courses with grades of B or better are considered competitive for admission consideration.

The following prerequisite courses must be taken within the past seven years prior to application to the program:

•  Human anatomy

•  Human physiology

•  Biochemistry

•  Microbiology

Physician Assistant Studies (MS): Technical Standards

The following are the universal technical standards that apply to all clinical training students in the Rush University College of Health Sciences at Rush University. These standards apply to all students enrolled in the PA Program.

Rush University is committed to diversity and to attracting and educating students who will make the population of health care professionals representative of the national population.

Our core values - I CARE (innovation, collaboration, accountability, respect and excellence) - translate into our work with all students, including those with disabilities. Rush actively collaborates with students to develop innovative ways to ensure accessibility and creates a respectful, accountable culture through our confidential and specialized disability support. Rush is committed to excellence in accessibility; we encourage students with disabilities to disclose and seek accommodations. 

Acquire Information

  • Acquire information from demonstrations and experiences in courses, such as lecture, group and physical demonstrations
  • Acquire information from written documents and computer systems (e.g., literature searches and data retrieval)
  • Identify information presented in accessible images from paper, slides, videos with audio description and transparencies
  • Recognize and assess patient changes in mood, activity, cognition, verbal and non-verbal communication

Use and Interpret

  • Use and interpret information from assessment techniques/maneuvers 
  • Use and interpret information related to physiologic phenomena generated from diagnostic tools


  • Possess psychomotor skills necessary to provide or assist in holistic PA care and perform or assist with procedures and treatments
  • Practice in a safe manner and appropriately provide PA care and assessment in emergencies and life support procedures and perform universal precautions against contamination


  • Communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and families
  • Communicate effectively with faculty, preceptors and all members of the health care team during practicum and other learning experiences
  • Accurately elicit information, including a medical history and other information to adequately and effectively evaluate a population’s, client’s or patient’s condition

Intellectual Ability

  • Measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize data related to diagnosis and treatment of patients and populations
  • Exercise proper judgment and complete responsibilities in a timely and accurate manner according to the PA role
  • Synthesize information, problem-solve and think critically to judge the most appropriate theory, assessment or treatment strategy


  • Maintain mature, sensitive, effective relationships with clients/patients, families, students, faculty, staff, preceptors and other professionals under all circumstances
  • Exercise skills of diplomacy to advocate for patients in need
  • Possess emotional stability to function under stress and adapt to rapidly changing environments inherent to the classroom and practice settings


  • Demonstration of concern for others, integrity, accountability, interest and motivation are necessary personal qualities
  • Demonstrate intent and desire to follow the Rush University and Physician Assistant code of ethics

The technical standards delineated above must be met with or without accommodation. Students who, after review of the technical standards, determine they require accommodation to fully engage in the program, should contact the Office of Student Accessibility Services at (www.rushu.rush.edu/office-student-accessibility -services) to confidentially discuss their accommodations needs. Given the clinical nature of our programs, time may be needed to implement accommodations. Accommodations are never retroactive; therefore, timely requests are essential and encouraged.

Physician Assistant Studies (MS): Curriculum

Phase I: Coursework

Phase III: Advanced Clinical Rotation Courses

Program Total: 132 Credit Hours

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