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Physician assistant and nurse

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

Have you been thinking about pursuing a graduate-level physician assistant degree? Are you ready to advance your career with an accredited physician assistant program? Have you been looking for a high-quality physician assistant school where you could pursue your master’s degree, advance your medical knowledge and give your career a boost? University of the Cumberlands is proud to offer the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program through both our Williamsburg and Northern Kentucky Campuses, for your convenience.

 

What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?

A physician assistant (PA) is a highly qualified medical professional, one with the knowledge, skills, expertise and credentials necessary to provide primary care to patients. Working under the supervision of a licensed physician, PAs can perform many of the same functions as a doctor with a few key differences. Physician assistants often work with doctors, providing assistance and support during surgical procedures. They, however, do not perform surgeries. Other than that, as long as they can consult with a physician on call, PAs have the qualifications to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries.

The physician assistant profession can be a fulfilling career path in a number of ways, from higher salary expectations to job satisfaction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2019, these medical professionals earned an average salary of more than $112,000. And, with a 31 percent projected increase in physician assistant positions by 2029, these medical professionals are in high demand. 

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What Does a Physician Assistant Do?

From a patient’s perspective, there are a number of similarities and overlapping duties among medical professions, especially when comparing physician assistants with doctors and nurse practitioners. Traditionally, doctors are the primary healthcare provider. They have the medical knowledge and 10+ years of advanced education and training needed to diagnose and treat patients. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have progressed in their nursing educations, typically through a master’s in nursing program, to advance their careers into primary care. 

But becoming a doctor takes years to accomplish, and that’s after four years of undergraduate work. Nurses often start their careers sooner, but they could be working in the trenches of healthcare for years before attaining the education needed to become primary caregivers. Physician assistants, on the other hand, learn what it takes to pursue a medical career with less debt and in less time—sometimes just a few years in length. The master’s degree programs provided at University of the Cumberlands, for example, are designed to be completed in as little as 27 months. 

In primary care roles, physician assistants can:

  • Perform patient exams
  • Take patient histories
  • Diagnose illnesses and injuries
  • Suture wounds
  • Order tests
  • Interpret lab results and imaging studies
  • Administer treatments
  • Prescribe medications
  • Monitor progress
  • And more

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How to Become a Physician Assistant

Physician assistants are highly trained medical professionals. After earning a bachelor's degree (typically in a science-related field—biology, chemistry, etc.), students need to earn a master’s degree from an accredited physician assistant school. Next, they need to complete a year-long clinical rotation and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

At University of the Cumberlands, we developed our Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies to help your get your medical career going. Curricula is comprised of basic, behavioral and pre-clinical sciences of medicine. As a student in this master’s degree program, you’ll gain the skills you need to be successful in your career with coursework that covers everything from human anatomy, medical physiology and patient assessments to medical procedures, clinical medicine and pharmacology. You will also learn the foundational clinical and critical thinking skills required for the clinical phase of our graduate-level physician assistant studies program.

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Curriculum and Degree Requirements

Click here to find the necessary prerequisites for the accredited physician assistant program from University of the Cumberlands.

Our accredited Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies is designed to teach you the skills you need to provide medical care to patients and can be completed in as little as 27 months. Requirements include 113 credit hours, 68 of which are earned through didactic coursework in traditional classroom and laboratory settings. All didactic coursework takes place on-campus. The remaining 45 hours of the Physician Assistant Studies program are earned during the second year in the program through 10 supervised clinical rotations in the field, which are designed to provide students with real-world experiences in family, internal and emergency medicine; surgery; psychiatry; pediatrics; and women’s health.

Program Metrics

Click here for Course Details | Click here for Program Goal Outcomes | Click here for On-Campus Resources

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Tuition

Costs for programs of study at University of the Cumberlands are competitive and affordable. Click here to view tuition rates and fees.

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Admission Requirements

Click here to view the admission requirements for the University of the Cumberlands' PA program.  

Official Transcript Information: In accordance with University of the Cumberlands admissions policies and procedures, those students selected for admission to the MSPAS program at either the Williamsburg campus or Northern Kentucky campus are required to submit official transcripts from all colleges/universities previously attended. These transcripts must be received directly from the college/university. Student-submitted copies are not acceptable. Transcripts should be mailed directly to:

Graduate Admissions Office
649 S. 10th Street Suite C
Williamsburg, KY 40769
Phone: 606.539.4390
Toll-free: 800.343.1609 ext. 4390
Email: gradadm@ucumberlands.edu

Transcripts must be received prior to the scheduled class matriculation date or class standing will be revoked. Failure to submit the mandatory transcripts or fulfill any other requirements specified in a conditional offer of admission to the program, prior to the scheduled class matriculation will result in withdrawal of the conditional offer.

Transfer and Course Credit Policy: No transfer credit will normally be accepted for courses in the MSPAS program at either the Williamsburg campus or the Northern Kentucky campus.

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Application and Interview Process

Click here to view the application process for the Williamsburg and Northern Kentucky PA programs. International students seeking to study in the physician assistant program under an F1 student visa can only apply to study at our Williamsburg, KY campus.

After application review, candidates will be selected for an interview by the admissions committee at the appropriate campus. Interviews are conducted by Physician Assistant Program faculty and instructors, along with relevant UC administrators. Both individual and group interviews are utilized. Notification of interview is sent to the email submitted on the CASPA WebADMIT system by the applicant. The Physician Assistant Program will send an interview notification at least one week prior to the dates set.

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Technical Standards

Individuals applying to the University of the Cumberlands Physician Assistant Program at the Williamsburg campus or Northern Kentucky campus must meet certain basic/essential requirements (referred to as the Technical Standards) that are necessary for obtaining employment and performing as a Physician Assistant. The Technical Standards each student must master include cognitive, physical and behavioral characteristics. Reasonable accommodation for persons with documented disabilities will be considered on an individual basis; but, a candidate must be able to perform in an independent manner. All students must possess the intellectual, ethical, physical, and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the program's core faculty. The following skills are required of each Physician Assistant student, with or without accommodation:

  • Sufficient capacity for observation in academic, clinical, and other medical settings; functional vision, hearing, and tactile sensation sufficient to observe a patient’s condition and perform procedures regularly required during a physical examination
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills sufficient to both academic and healthcare settings
  • Sufficient motor function to carry out movements necessary for patient diagnosis and care; for free movement inpatient care and between facilities and buildings in academic and healthcare environments; physical stamina to complete didactic and clinical coursework
  • Sufficient intellectual ability to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize, in the context of medical problem-solving and patient care
  • Sufficient emotional health and stability required for exercising good judgment and promptly completing all academic and patient care responsibilities

Please see full technical standards in the MSPAS Catalog & Policy Handbook.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What degree and major is required for admission?
MSPAS Applicants must have completed a baccalaureate degree prior to matriculation or meet the requirements for the Pre-Physician Assistant Program track. There is not a required major. Applicants may have majored in any subject as long as they meet the course prerequisites with a satisfactory GPA of 3.0 or higher.

What are the specific entrance exam requirements?
There is not a minimum score for admissions, but GRE scores (NKY Campus) or PA-CAT scores (Williamsburg Campus) at or above the 50th percentile are considered competitive. All applicants are required to submit entrance exam scores with their application materials.

How do I know if my completed courses meet the prerequisite requirements?
Click here to find the prerequisites for the accredited physician assistant program from University of the Cumberlands.

When are applications due?

  • Williamsburg: The 2021-2022 application cycle opened April 29, 2021, and will close August 1, 2021.
  • Northern Kentucky: The 2021-2022 cycle opened October 1, 2021, and will close March 1, 2022. 

Can I apply before all of my prerequisites are complete?
Candidates may have their bachelor’s degree and/or prerequisites in progress, as long as both are complete prior to matriculation. The only exception is if students are admitted through the early admissions process at University of the Cumberlands (Pre-PA track).

How do I apply?
All applicants must apply and follow the CASPA application guidelines. A University of the Cumberlands Supplemental application and $30 application fee are also required.
CASPA Website | UC Supplemental Application

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Accreditation

Click here to view University of the Cumberlands' accreditation information. 

In addition to the overall institutional accreditation statement above, the specialized accrediting bodies related to this degree are listed below. 

Williamsburg

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the University of the Cumberlands Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of the Cumberlands. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards. 

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be 2029 March. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website

Northern Kentucky

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the University of the Cumberlands Northern Kentucky Campus Physician Assistant Program sponsored by University of the Cumberlands.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website

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Faculty

Click here to view a list of the PA faculty. 

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Admissions Office

Contact Us

Phone: 606.539.4390
Tollfree: 800.343.1609 ext. 4390
Email: gradadm@ucumberlands.edu

Visit Us In Person

649 S. 10th Street Suite C
Williamsburg, KY 40769