School of Health and Medical Sciences
Program Overview

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Mission Statement: The mission of the Physician Assistant (PA) program at Seton Hall University is to prepare primary care PAs who practice in diverse settings. The program provides the foundation for graduates to become critical thinkers who practice evidence-based, patient-centered medicine.

Physician Assistants (PAs) are healthcare professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Since New Jersey began licensing physician assistants (PAs) in 1992, the demand for PAs has outpaced the number of graduates. To alleviate the PA shortage, the School of Health and Medical Sciences (SHMS) launched the M.S. in Physician Assistant program in March 2001. Accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc., the program prepares practitioners with a depth of knowledge and judgment to perform as knowledgeable and highly skilled clinicians.

FAQs about the M.S. in Physician Assistant Program

As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, order and interpret tests, diagnose illnesses, counsel patients on preventive healthcare issues, assist in surgery, and prescribe treatments. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A physician assistant’s practice may also include education, research and administrative services. Physician assistants are found in all areas of medicine They practice in the areas of primary care medicine family medicine, internal medicine, medical sub-specialties pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology) as well as in surgery and the surgical subspecialties.

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant (M.S.P.A.) program is designed to develop healthcare practitioners who:

  • practice with physicians across all medical disciplines;
  • possess a broad base of knowledge with which to serve patients of all ages;
  • critically appraise health science literature and apply the appropriate principles and procedures to the recognition, evaluation, interpretation and understanding of current trends; and
  • demonstrate knowledge of and sensitivity to culturally diverse populations.

This 96-credit, three-year professional program includes courses specific to physician assistant practice that are intended not only to provide students with the technical skills necessary to perform as certified practitioners, but also provides the foundation for graduates to become critical thinkers, life-long learners, and empathetic clinicians.

Clinical rotations are a distinguishing feature of the SHU PA program. While most PA programs offer 38-50 weeks of clinical exposure, the SHMS program provides 60 weeks of varied clinical experiences. Students receive hands-on experiences with patients in their first semester of study. In the first year, students obtain patient histories, perform physical exams and partake in patient observation. Intensive core clinical experiences begin in the first semester of the second year of study and continue into the third and final year of the program. These rotations, in addition to a 4-week elective rotation, are:

  • Surgery (8 weeks)
  • Internal Medicine (8 weeks)
  • Pediatrics (8 weeks)
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology (4 weeks)
  • Emergency Medicine (4 weeks)
  • Psychiatry (4 weeks)
  • Long-term Care/Geriatrics (4 weeks)
  • Critical Care (4 weeks)
  • Outpatient Medicine (12 weeks, total)

PA students are challenged to apply theory and research to clinical practice.
They engage in a group research capstone project under the direction of a faculty research adviser. The American Academy of Physician Assistants has selected several of these research projects each year for presentation at its national conference. Compelling research has included:

  • Factors Affecting a Physician Assistant’s Decision to Screen for, Diagnose, and Treat Victims of Domestic Violence
  • The Use of Peak Flow Monitoring in the Asthmatic Child
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine Education in U.S. Physician Assistant Programs: A Survey of Course Directors

Lab experiences enhance classroom learning for all PA students. Physical exam and clinical diagnostic labs enable students to learn a variety of diagnostic procedures and techniques such as examining patients, venipuncture, and injections. A cadaver lab, facilitated at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, provides students with hands-on opportunities to learn and identify anatomical structures.


The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Seton Hall University. 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 March 2017. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

Students who graduate from an accredited program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants (PANCE).


Our graduates are fully functioning members of the medical community, capable of working in solo and group practices, hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, student health services and urban and rural clinics. Graduates are highly successful in finding employment, with many students securing employment prior to commencement.

View program goals >>

View the program's five-year PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE) pass rate >>

View estimated costs associated with the program >>

For more information on the M.S. in Physician Assistant degree, review the admissions and curriculum sections and apply today.

Director of Graduate Admissions
Patrick McDermott

(973) 275-2062

Department Secretary:
Joann Codella

(973) 275-2596

Outcomes Link

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