Best Online Physician Assistant Programs – 2023

Written By: Editorial Staff @

A physician assistant is a healthcare practitioner who works with or without a physician’s supervision. Entering an online master’s physician assistant program is the next logical step for those with a bachelor’s degree in this field. During their education, a physician assistant gains advanced knowledge and skills and learns how to perform many of the same duties as doctors such as diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medication to their patients. They typically work on teams with other medical professionals where they assist doctors and surgeons with making decisions regarding patient care in their practice.

Physician assistants work in a variety of different parts of the healthcare system. Many physician assistants choose to work in family medicine, but that is not their only option. They can be found providing their services in emergency medical clinics, surgical centers, and urgent care facilities. The level of flexibility that physician assistants have in finding a position is one of the deciding factors for people who choose to pursue this career.

Are you interested in finding out about physician assistant online programs? Keep reading, below we provide all the required information about the Best Online Physician Assistant Programs for 2023.


What Factors Were Considered for Ranking the Best Physician Assistant Online Programs?

Academic Quality30%
Editorial Team Rating25%
Online Education Presence20%
Click Here to View the Detailed Ranking Methodology

Following are the 6 Best Online Physician Assistant Programs in the Nation for 2023

1) University of Texas Rio Grande Valley - Edinburg, TX

Programs Offered:

Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies Bridge Program (MPAS)

If you have completed your bachelor’s degree from an accredited college and are currently working as a physician assistant (PA), then adding a master’s to your credentials can greatly enhance your career. Moreover, with a master’s increasingly becoming a norm in this field, completing it helps secure your career for the future. What more, with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s online physician assistant program, you can continue with your current job while pursuing your education.

The MPAS bridge program starts three times each year in fall, spring, and summer. To gain eligibility, you must be holding a bachelor’s degree in physician studies from an accredited college, an active physician assistant license, and NCCPA certification. The 16-credit coursework comprises three clinical courses of four weeks each and one research experience course. The clinical courses will focus on enhancing and updating your existing clinical skills; on the other hand, the sole research experience course will train you to apply evidence-based and clinical decision-making principles to improve patient examination and evaluation.

Key Highlights

• The faculty is well accomplished and works individually with students to ensure the best outcome.
• Although the college accepts applications throughout the year, it is advised that you apply at least two months before the start date to increase your chances of earning a scholarship or any other financial aid opportunity.

2) University of Wisconsin - Madison, WI

Programs Offered:

Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Are you exploring online physician assistant programs? University of Wisconsin’s online Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies is particularly aimed towards students with a keen desire to serve the underserved and rural population. In fact, if you come from these communities, you stand an enhanced chance of admission as you will be having a better understanding of the needs of the rural and underserved populations. This program is mainly offered via the distance format; however, there are few campus visits required. Precisely, you will spend the first summer and around eight to ten days each semester, on-campus.

The college being selective in its admission process, you are more likely to get admitted if you demonstrate strong interpersonal skills and a commitment towards clinical practice. Additionally, you must have 1000 hours of direct patient care experience in order to be eligible for this program.

The 93 credits of the curriculum usually take three years to complete, with the first two years being dedicated to didactic online classes and last year spent in preceptorships and clinical training. The coursework covers a wide array of topics preparing you to serve the community. You will learn about clinical medicine, patient examination, clinical pharmacology, infectious diseases, women’s health, pediatrics, and emergency medicine.

Key Highlights

• Selected applicants must gear up for the rigorous nature of this program as the academic schedule can be as demanding as attending a medical school.
• To better prepare you to address the needs of your local community, the college allows you to complete the clinical experience within your area of residence.

3) University of Nebraska Medical Center - Omaha, NE

Programs Offered:

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (Advancement Option)

The online Physician Assistant master’s program offered by the University of Nebraska Medical Center can be a great option if you are already licensed and are currently working as a physician assistant. The program is designed to let you work while you enhance professional skills that can be immediately applied to your workplace. The highlight of this program is that after completing 16 credits of didactic courses, based on your area of interest, you can choose to complete the remaining credits in either clinical or educational courses. While the clinical track can be completed in a concentration of your choice and is mainly aimed towards improving community health, the education track prepares you for a career in academics.

To earn the masters, you will complete a total of 36 credits in five semesters. The didactic coursework mainly comprises courses in healthcare ethics, management in healthcare, and a capstone. The clinical track requires you complete 800 supervised hours of clinical experience in your chosen concentration. Whereas if you opt to complete the educational track, you must go through 320 hours of supervised teaching practice either at a higher education institution or in a local community college.

Key Highlights

• The core concentrations for the clinical track include family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery. Furthermore, these core concentrations have various sub-concentrations, thus helping students to complete the clinical track in their specific field of interest.
• If you are from the military or a federal employee, you are exempted from holding a physician assistant license, which otherwise is a requirement for admission.

4) Yale University - New Haven, CT

Programs Offered:

Master of Medical Science (MMSc)

As physician assistants are increasingly filling the gap created by a shortage of primary care physicians in the nation, there is a rising demand for physician assistants with an advanced degree. One of the sought-after online physician assistant programs in CT, Yale University’s Master of Medical Science addresses this need by preparing you for this career as an advanced patient-focused clinician. You can pursue this physician assistant online program even while working, as the coursework is offered online; in fact, you can even take classes on the go through a mobile app. Furthermore, even clinical experiences can be completed within your community. However, students must be ready to travel to Yale for three on-campus immersion sessions.

To start with, you must be holding a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 2.80 and have a requisite GRE score to be eligible for this program. The 118-credit hour program is centered on teaching the theoretical and practical knowledge to diagnose and treat diseases, communicate effectively with patients, and adopt the latest procedures to achieve a positive health outcome.

The curriculum is divided into four components and takes a total of 28 months to complete. The first twelve months entail taking didactic classes and completing 120 clock hours of clinical experience in a clinical setting. This combined learning experience helps you better understand the theoretical concepts. The last 16 months are spent in practical learning by completing clinical rotations at a clinical site. On-campus immersions, the fourth component of the program, are spread throughout the coursework. These immersions expose you to hands-on practice experiences in a simulated environment and hone surgical skills in the cadaver lab.

Key Highlights

• Yale’s online classes are small and close-knit. This way, you stand to gain the most out of the interaction with faculty and peers.
• This program is available only to permanent residents or citizens of the U.S.

5) Drexel University - Philadelphia, PA

Programs Offered:

Physician Assistant Post-Professional Master's Program (MHS)

Drexel University is one of the most reputed physician assistant schools that offers an online master’s degree as a career advancement option for currently working physician assistants. The training builds up on your past professional experience and knowledge by focusing on strengthening health policymaking, evidence-based patient care, critical thinking, and leadership skills. On a full-time basis, this program can be completed in 27 months, which is divided into 12 months of theory and 15 months of clinical practice.

To enter this program, you must have completed your bachelor’s degree in physician assistant studies with a minimum GPA of 3.0. The key areas that are part of this 117-credit coursework include epidemiologic terminology required for clinical practice and research, evaluation of the health care system taking-into-account health disparities, and professional leadership. The program ends with a capstone project where you apply the knowledge towards a thesis project aimed at the improvement of patient care.

Key Highlights

• You can also pursue this program partly on a part-time basis and complete it in 39 months. The didactic portion that takes two years is offered on a part-time basis; however, the clinical portion of 15 months has to be completed only on a full-time basis.
• As a part-timer, you have the option of taking off for the first summer quarter of the didactic portion, as long as you complete the Health Policy course in the first winter quarter. Full-timers, on the other hand, are not allowed this break.

6) A.T. Still University of Health Sciences - Kirksville, MO

Programs Offered:

Advanced Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

A career as a physician assistant is quite promising, and adding a master’s to your existing credentials can offer great professional enhancement. This physician assistant program at A.T. Still University of Health Sciences is an online degree that comes with two concentration options; Clinical Medicine and Education/Leadership, out of which you must choose one. The clinical medicine concentration centers on broadening your clinical skills and knowledge, whereas the education/leadership track is aimed towards those interested in teaching.

Regardless of the concentration you choose, like most other online physician assistant programs, all the courses are offered through the web, except for the clinical experience that requires direct patient care. The first-year entails completing courses in the concentration of your choice. In the second year, you will go through clinical training. Earning your master’s requires completing 32 credits of didactic courses and eight credits in clinical courses.

Key Highlights

• Classes begin every quarter, and you are required to spend 10-15 hours each week to ensure smooth completion of the coursework.
• Students from the clinical medicine concentration are required to complete 400 hours of clinical training in direct patient care settings, and this can be done at their current place of employment.