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Medical Science, M.M.S. (Physician Assistant)

Saint Louis University’s ARC-PA-accredited physician assistant program, the master of medical science degree, is offered by Doisy College of Health Sciences and prepares you for a career as a physician assistant.


About the Program

SLU’s full-time physician assistant program lasts approximately 27 months, and begins each year in mid-to-late August.

Since graduating its first class in 1973, SLU’s PA program has maintained excellent pass rates on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). The average first-time PANCE pass rate for the last five years is 99 percent.

Program Highlights

SLU’s physician assistant curriculum offers you a broad foundation in the medical and surgical disciplines. In addition to our principal faculty members, the program draws from a vast network of experts in their respective fields. Our classroom and clinical experiences will foster your intellectual curiosity and develop your personal and professional responsibility.

Curriculum and Program Details

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Clinical experience is an essential component of SLU’s physician assistant program and begins after you complete four semesters of classroom education. Through clinical rotations in the major disciplines of medicine and surgery, you will learn to integrate your knowledge and what you have learned about clinical medicine with actual patient care. SLU is clinically affiliated with numerous hospitals, clinics and private practices.

Most students are required to do a minimum of one or two assigned out-of-town rotations each year. These are at least 60 miles outside of St. Louis but are regional in nature — typically within a five-hour drive of campus. SLU’s PA student society may be able to assist you in finding housing.

Clinical Clerkships

SLU is a member of NC-SARA, the National Council for State Authorization and Reciprocity Act, which allows students to complete a portion of their education in a different state.

After four semesters of classroom instruction, you will undertake six six-week and three four-week supervised clinical clerkships in the following disciplines: ​

Clinical Elective

Many specialty options are available for this elective experience. Specific clinical disciplines may be chosen based on your interests or what you believe would best augment your existing clinical knowledge and skills.

Emergency Medicine

This clinical experience includes the management of acute medical and surgical problems, with an emphasis on the importance of precise diagnosis as well as the principles of emergency therapy.

Evidence-Based Medicine Clerkship

You will choose a clinical specialty and critically review one area of the medical literature based on a clinical question of interest. You will then develop a project that includes concepts of evidence-based medicine in relation to the clinical question and your clinical experience.

Family Medicine

This clinical practicum provides you an opportunity to gain experience in a primary care setting with patients experiencing a wide range of common ambulatory care problems.

General Surgery

This clinical experience exposes you to concepts and principles that characterize the practice of general surgery. You will participate in the pre-operative, operative and post-operative care of patients admitted to a variety of surgical services in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Internal Medicine

Participate in all aspects of direct patient care in inpatient or outpatient adult medicine. This fundamental clinical experience places emphasis on patient evaluation and assessment and oral and written case presentations. You will also focus on understanding the complexities and interrelationships of disease processes and diagnostic and therapeutic collaboration.


This four-week clinical rotation provides practical clinical experience in the recognition and management of common pediatric problems, including assessment of the newborn, well baby care, preventive pediatrics and parent counseling.

Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine

This four-week clinical rotation provides experience working with patients in a psychiatric or behavioral medicine setting. Emphasis is placed on the clinical presentation, diagnostic work-up, treatment and management of these patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Women's Health

This four-week clinical experience encompasses the fundamentals of women's health. Emphasis is on the medical history, physical examination, diagnosis and treatment involved with pre-natal, post-natal and general gynecologic care.

In some cases, you may be allowed to develop up to three of your own clerkships, following a careful screening process and programmatic approval.


SLU’s Master of Medical Science graduates are trained to be physician assistants, health professionals who practice medicine as members of a team with their supervising physician.

PAs are employed in essentially every medical and surgical specialty and subspecialty in which physicians are employed. About 36 percent of physician assistants work in primary care, such as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and women's health. SLU M.M.S. graduates can also be found in hospitals, clinics, offices and other settings.

Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2018-2019 Tuition and Fees
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PA Program Costs

Accreditation and Program Outcomes

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant has granted Accreditation-Continued to the Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Saint Louis 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 2023. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

Find out more about the PA program mission, program competencies, performance standards, withdrawal and leave of absence policies, technical standards, certification and licensure, selection factors, achievement of program goals, and additional program requirements.

PA Scholars and Pre-PA Scholars

The PA Scholars Program is designed for a select number of high school seniors who are interested in a guaranteed seat in SLU’s graduate level PA program. PA Scholars earn a SLU baccalaureate degree in one of the specific pre-PA degree programs offered by the Doisy College of Health Sciences and they meet required overall GPA minimums and health care experience hours during their undergraduate years at SLU.

The Pre-PA Scholars Program can accept applications from current SLU undergrads by August 1 after their sophomore year in 2018 and 2019 only (the Pre-PA Scholars program will no longer accept applications after August 2019). The Pre-PA Scholars Program is designed for SLU undergraduates who have completed two years of college course work. It presents an opportunity for a select number of highly qualified applicants who successfully complete this track and earn their baccalaureate degree from SLU, to be guaranteed a position in the Physician Assistant Program after graduation.

Applicant Criteria

Baccalaureate Degree

Applicants should possess or be on track to a baccalaureate degree earned by the May prior to matriculation. An exception may be considered if you will earn an August degree, have completed all prerequisites and have three credit hours or fewer to complete during the summer.

Sufficient GPA

Applicants must have a science GPA of least 3.0 and an overall GPA of at least 3.0. These are considered minimum GPAs, not competitive GPAs. Average competitive GPAs are typically greater than 3.5.

GRE (Not required)

SLU’s code is 6629.


Prerequisite coursework includes:

  • Medical terminology (1-3 credit hours)
  • Statistics (3 credit hours)
  • College chemistry I and II (8 credit hours)
  • Organic chemistry I and II (6-8 credit hours)
  • Microbiology (3-4 credit hours)
  • Vertebrate or human anatomy (3-4 credit hours)
  • Vertebrate or human physiology (3-4 credit hours)
    • A combined Anatomy and Physiology I and II (6-8 hours) will be accepted in place of separate anatomy and physiology courses.
  • Genetics (3-4 credit hours)

Students cannot transfer into the PA program. No advanced placement is allowed for any coursework, degree or experience.

All prerequisite coursework must be completed by the May prior to matriculation. All science prerequisite courses must be those for science majors; if offered, accompanying laboratories are highly recommended. Only grades of C or better are acceptable for science and math prerequisite courses; grades of C- or below are not acceptable. Prerequisite course work should be completed within seven years of application. Community college or online courses (except medical terminology) are not considered competitive substitutes.

Patient Care Experience

Applicants to SLU’s PA program must have acquired a minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care experience by the time the CASPA application is submitted. Hours earned after this, regardless of when the file is reviewed by SLU PA admissions committee, are not considered. This experience varies and can be acquired on a full-or part-time basis. Direct patient care experience requiring certification and providing monetary compensation is most competitive. This could include work as a CNA, EMT or patient care technician. The average applicant has at least 2,000 hours.

Unless you are already closely working with a PA, shadowing a PA is important and can enhance your application but is not considered health care experience. Only 100 student clinical hours (obtained while fulfilling the required components of an educational program or course) can count toward the 500 hours of health care experience needed. Volunteer hours are not considered competitive health care experience and often cannot be counted towards the 500 hour minimum. If volunteer hours are accepted, only a maximum of 250 hours may count.

Background Check

Students in this program are required to obtain a criminal background check and undergo drug testing. A positive background check or drug screen could have serious consequences for the student, including forfeiture of any or all clinical rotations and/or inability to complete the program. The potential to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) may also be impacted. Additionally, many state regulatory and governing organizations will not grant a license, registration or other similar professional practice document if there is a positive criminal background check or drug screen.

Application Process

Apply through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) between mid-April and mid-October. The SLU supplemental application, found in the CASPA Program Materials section, must also be completed during the same time frame. CASPA will not send your application materials to SLU without completion of this section. Payment for the supplemental application processing is made by going to SLU Marketplace.

CASPA applications and SLU supplemental applications are reviewed beginning June 1. We recommend early submission of all application materials by Aug. 1.

Letters of reference submitted to CASPA should be from people who know you well, either professionally or academically, such as a job supervisor, professor or academic adviser. Please note: SLU’s PA program requires three letters of reference, even though CASPA completes an application with only two.

Applications completed and verified by CASPA will not be reviewed without the supplemental fee or appropriate fee waiver.

A limited number of processing fee waivers will be available for applicants experiencing severe financial hardship. To be considered for a fee waiver, applicants must email a request to The request should outline the reasons for the request and the nature of the financial hardship. Requests must be emailed by July 31 to be considered.

Requirements for International Students

Graduates of an international college or university are required to successfully complete at least nine semester hours of social-behavioral science courses, such as psychology, sociology, and 12 semester hours of upper division science courses at an accredited, four-year U.S. college or university. Online coursework is not acceptable. International medical graduates with 500 hours of health care experience outside of the United States must also acquire at least 250 hours of patient care experience in the United States by the time of application.

Applicants whose native language is other than English are required to take the TOEFL® Internet-based Test by November 1. A combined minimum score of 100 is required, along with minimum component scores of 22-Reading, 22-Listening, 26-Speaking and 24-Writing. Scores should be submitted to CASPA and to the SLU PA Program. The SLU school code is R6629. The department code for health science is 0601.

Application Deadline

Applications must be marked "verified" in CASPA by Nov. 1. Applications are verified in CASPA after they are received and reviewed for necessary CASPA components. The verification process may take several weeks. Due to the CASPA verification process, we strongly recommend that applications are submitted to CASPA by Oct. 15 to meet the Nov. 1 deadline. Applicants who have met all requirements are encouraged to apply early between June and August. Completed applications are reviewed in the order they are received.

Interview Process

Personal interviews occur between October and March. Five interview dates are scheduled with 20 applicants each date. Highly qualified applicants may be invited to an interview three to four weeks prior to the scheduled interview dates.