May 26, 2020  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
2018-2019 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physician Assistant Studies (MS)

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Physician Assistant Studies (MS): Program Overview

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, or PA, program is designed to provide students with an outstanding education in preparation for careers as physician assistants or PAs, in general and specialty practice settings.

The innovative 30-month curriculum uses the extensive resources available at Rush University to provide its students with an excellent training experience.

  • The 12-month didactic phase includes lecture, small group discussion and case-based training to prepare students for clinical rotations.
  • The unique 18-month clinical training prepares students to practice as primary care providers, while providing a one-of-a-kind immersion experience in an advanced clinical practice. Current areas for advanced clinical training include orthopedics, cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery, emergency medicine, internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine, interventional radiology, urology, neurosurgery, geriatrics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, primary care and pediatrics.


The mission of the Rush University PA Program is to educate advanced-practice PAs to practice medicine with competence, professionalism and compassion driven by academic excellence and a spirit of service to the community.


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 highly qualified PAs to take leadership roles in clinical practice, collaborative patient-centered care, and service to the community and to the profession
  • Provide enhanced training opportunities to students in various areas of clinical practice
  • Prepare PAs who use best practice methods to plan, develop and deliver high quality, cost-effective health care services
  • Promote evidence-based practice as an integral part of effective medical practice
  • Provide a learning environment that is committed to promoting diversity and cultural humility

Physician Assistant Studies (MS): Admission Requirements

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

The program is rigorous and academic preparedness will be assessed based on general and science course grade-point average, prerequisite course work grade-point average, coursework completed prior to application, and performance on the GRE graduate school entry exam.

Requirements for admission into the PA program include the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university prior to matriculation into the program
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required for both the total GPA and science GPA. GPAs greater than 3.3 each for total and science are considered competitive; GPAs greater than 3.5 each for total and science is considered highly competitive.
  • GRE graduate school entry exam scores taken within five years prior to application submission. A minimal combined verbal and quantitative score of 1,000, or 302 in the new scoring system, is required for interview and admission consideration.
    • A combined score of 1,200 and above, or 309 in the new scoring system, is considered competitive; a combined score of more than 1,290, or 314 in the new scoring system, is highly competitive.
    • The score must be attained at a single seating of the exam. If you take the GRE more than once, batched and partial scores are not accepted.
    • Original copies of your GRE scores must be sent directly to Rush University. The PA Program

GRE code is: 0962.

  • Documented hands-on, direct patient contact experience in a health care setting, accrued within seven years of application submission. Experience working with or shadowing PAs is required. A minimum of 1,000 hours direct patient contact experience is required at the time of application submission. Having above 1,500 hours is competitive and having 2,500 hours and above is considered highly competitive.
  • A completed application submitted to the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants, or CASPA.
    • A supplemental application and $40 fee is required only if you are invited to interview at the program. Information regarding this will be provided with an interview invitation.
  • An on-campus interview with members of the PA program faculty and admissions committee.
  • All applicants must meet the minimum requirements to perform the essential functions of a PA. See the Technical Standards section 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 Education Credentials Evaluators or World Education Services  
  • Scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, if English is not your native language.
  • Attendance in the program is on a full-time basis only. Students entering the PA program must complete the cur­riculum in its entirety. No advanced-standing or transfer credits will be awarded, regardless of previous professional or academic experience.
  • The PA program admits students into the class on a rolling admission basis. This means that at each interview session, offers are made to fill seats in the class. Under a rolling admissions process, it is possible to fill all the seats in the class before interviews are done. It is to the applicant’s advantage 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 creating a class environment that mirrors our diverse community and 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 toward 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

Program Application

The application cycle is open from April 27 to Oct. 1 of each year. 

Applications must be submitted online via CASPA at CASPA application requires the following:

  • Submission of official transcripts for all college coursework completed.
  • Three letters of recommendation. It is preferred that at least one of the letters be from a PA, physician or other health care provider who is familiar with the PA profession.
  • 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 Physician Assistant 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. 

The following technical functions are required of all students enrolled in the Physician Assistant Studies program.

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 physician assistant care and perform or assist with procedures and treatments
  • Practice in a safe manner and appropriately provide physician assistant 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 physician assistant 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


  • Demonstrate 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 Disability Services at ( 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: 130 Credit Hours

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