Physician Assistant M.S.

Cohorts begin each June | Credits 116 | Program length 27 months | Format In-person, full time

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.

Prepare for a career providing exceptional, compassionate medical care. Learn evidence-based medicine and develop the skills needed to work on healthcare teams in diverse settings, including primary care and family medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, psychiatry and sub-specialty areas. Northwestern College is Iowa's faith-based Physician Assistant program, accredited by the ARC-PA. 

Program description

Northwestern College’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) is a faith-based 27-month graduate program that provides training for students seeking certification and licensure as a physician assistant (PA). Students will complete 116 graduate credits over 7 consecutive academic terms, including 4 terms of face-to-face training followed by 3 terms of clinical rotations with concurrent online courses designed to facilitate the integration of classroom material with clinical experiences.

Northwestern's graduate school plans to accept 32 students per year, allowing for meaningful collaboration among your peers and faculty. The PA program builds on the reputation of Northwestern College’s nationally recognized pre-health, nursing and other health science programs. Through hands-on experiential learning, faith integration, and supportive faculty teaching, you'll be equipped to serve all patients with exceptional, individualized medical care. 

Start CASPA online application.

Applications are closed for 2022 cohort. See more on  how to apply and  prerequisites.

PA program goals

  1. Exceptional training. To prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary for entry into practice as a physician assistant
  2. Faith integration. To integrate biblical teaching into the medical curriculum so graduates are prepared to serve faithfully, with integrity and compassion
  3. Leadership preparation. To train physician assistants who are collaborative leaders in their field, working with others to provide optimal medical care to patients
  4. Diverse learning. To provide an inclusive learning environment that enhances cultural competence and understanding

The program’s success in achieving these goals in alignment with our  benchmarks and assessment tools will be published following graduation of the first cohort of students. 

PA program mission
The mission of the Northwestern College Physician Assistant Program is to equip students with an exceptional education grounded in a biblical theology of human dignity and flourishing. 

PA program vision
The NWC PA program will be the nation’s leading provider of Christ-centered physician assistants who will serve their communities with excellence, integrity and compassion.

Tuition & financial aid

View  tuition & fees for all cost information. 
Total required credits: 116

Financial aid
Northwestern's  Financial Aid Office can provide more information about loans for the PA program.
Policies and Procedures for refunding tuition and fees can also be found in the Northwestern College Graduate Catalog.

Career potential

PAs are in high demand— U.S. News and World Report ranks physician assistant #1  among best healthcare jobs. As the population increases and ages, the demand for healthcare services also grows. Physician assistants play a vital role in independently attending to patients and providing many of the same services as doctors.

  • Employment outlook: 37% increase from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations
  • Median salary (2019): $112,260

Sources:  Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration

NCCPA Certification

Following successful completion of all curricular requirements, graduates will be eligible to take the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Information regarding the PANCE and eligibility can be found at The program’s first-time pass rate will be published following the graduation of the first cohort of students.

ARC-PA Student Attrition Data


Graduated Classes

Class of 2024

Class of 2023

Class of 2022

Maximum entering class size
(as approved by ARC-PA)




Entering class size








* Attrition rate




**Graduation rate




This table represents data from our first class of students, who began in June 2020. Spaces with a # will be updated regularly as classes progress through the program.  

*Attrition rate calculation: Number of students who attritted from cohort divided by the entering class size. 

 **Graduation rate:  Number of cohort graduates divided by the entering class size.

NCCPA PANCE first-time pass rate  

The NCCPA PANCE first-time pass rate summary report will be available when the first cohort of students graduates in 2022.

Program effectiveness data
The program effectiveness data will be available when the first cohort of students graduates in 2022.


The ARC-PA has granted  Accreditation-Provisional status to the  Northwestern College Physician Assistant Program sponsored by  Northwestern College

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 at

Patient-centered Care

Interested in medicine, Sonia felt called to the PA field for the flexibility in career options, specialty opportunities, and the ability to work collaboratively on a team of healthcare providers. At Northwestern, she’s gaining the medical knowledge and deepening her passion to provide patient-centered care.

Sonia's story