Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies – Hybrid Program (PAS-Hybrid)
Leverage the latest technologies and clinical methods to transform patient care and improve health care outcomes.
8 Clinical Rotations
850 Clinical Placement Slots
24 Months to Complete*
*The estimated time to complete your degree if required credit hours are completed each semester.
Explore the University of Pittsburgh PA Programs Online & In-Person (PAS-Hybrid) Degree
The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies – Hybrid Program (PAS-Hybrid), delivered through the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, equips aspiring physician assistants with the clinical experience and confidence to lead health care forward.
Pitt’s hybrid PA program pairs interactive virtual lectures with on-campus immersions and in-person clinical rotations at over 850 health care placement sites across the country. Our two-year physician assistant program prepares you to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).
For more insight into the PA Programs Online & In-Person (PAS-Hybrid) experience, explore the mission and goals that help us guide the next generation of patient care leaders.
Individuals from areas experiencing shortages of health professionals, underrepresented groups in medicine, and other minority populations are encouraged to apply. Read about our Inclusion Initiative to learn about our commitment to fostering an atmosphere that champions people from all backgrounds and communities.
The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the University of Pittsburgh Physician Assistant Studies Hybrid Program sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh. 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 http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-university-of-pittsburgh-hybrid/.
Policies and Procedures
See the Policies and Procedures Manual for the defined, published, readily available, and consistently applied policies of the PA Studies Hybrid Program.
All Didactic Component courses are sequential and must be completed before moving to the next term of the curriculum. Each course in the physician assistant program is offered only once during the academic year, and any departure from completing a course in its planned sequence (e.g., failure to receive a passing grade of ‘C’ or better, leave of absence from the program, etc.) may require a student to retake it the following year. This may delay their completion of the program. Each student must complete the program within five calendar years of their first day of class in their first term. See the PA Studies Hybrid Program Policy and Procedure Manual for additional details.
Physician Assistant Program Curriculum
Our PA Programs Online & In-Person (PAS-Hybrid) Degree emphasizes both didactic and clinical components. In an average of two years, you’ll complete 82 credit hours and eight clinical rotations that will help you develop the medical expertise needed to provide patient-centered care. The physician assistant program curriculum is consistent with the Core Competencies for New Physician Assistant Graduates established by the Physician Assistant Education Association.
Didactic Component (Year One)
Year One Total Credits: 45
This course traces the history, development and current status of the physician assistant profession. Students will explore the role of the physician assistant as part of the health care team. The student will research and investigate the state and national legislation that governs the profession. Topics will include a historical perspective of the profession, current trends and issues of the profession; the PA role in health care delivery, competencies integral to the PA profession; political and legal factors that affect PA practice; importance of biomedical ethics, patient confidentiality and professionalism, in relation to their role as health care providers; content reviewing the professional organizations, program accreditation, graduate certification, certification maintenance, license application, employment issues and professional liability will be discussed.
This course with a lab studies the organization of the human body and the way in which anatomical relationships serve as a basis for function. The medical aspects of the structural and functional organization of the human body are also a focus of attention. The lectures are designed to provide guidance or explain difficult or conceptual material. The major learning experience occurs in the laboratory with cadaveric dissection.
This course introduces the student to how the health care system works. The focus is on basic principles of health policy and system failures. Topics include reimbursement, access to health care, workforce, quality assurance and long-term health care. Other areas of focus include public policy, funding issues, health care disparities, managed care and the medically underserved. The course will conclude with an opportunity to review and discuss moral and ethical issues in health care from the perspective of a physician assistant.
This course introduces the basic concepts, terminology and methodology of quantitative and qualitative research as it applies to medical practice. This course will stress the knowledge and skills necessary for locating, interpreting, evaluating and applying quality medical research to clinical practice and professional development; the ability to appropriately critique medical literature; and the basic comprehension needed for participation in research and the development of research and grant proposals. Assessment of understanding and skills will be conducted during the course as well as throughout the didactic program and clinical rotations.
This course is the first part of an intensive study of human disease processes and disorders in the broad scope of clinical medicine. Students will explore the epidemiology, etiology, pathophysiology, assessment, management and follow up of disease processes and disorders. The course will approach the condition from the perspective of history and physical examination, ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies, generation of a differential diagnoses and the development and implementation of treatment plans and prognosis. Preventative measures to assist in disease prevention will also be discussed. Presented by clinicians from various specialties, these lectures provide comprehensive instruction that enables the student to understand the nature and problems experienced by both ambulatory and hospitalized patients. Students will also learn the head-to-toe physical examination. The laboratory component of this course will focus on patient interviewing, patient communication and case-based learning.
This course integrates the specific characteristics and mechanisms of normal and abnormal functioning of tissues and organs of the human body organized in a systems-based approach. This includes principles of cell and organ physiology, and the disruption of normal homeostatic mechanisms that progresses beyond the compensatory capabilities of the human body.
This course introduces the student to the understanding of genetic and molecular medicine as it applies to clinical practice. A strong knowledge base of cell structure, genetic variation, inheritance patterns and specific genetic disorders is required. In addition to knowledge, the application of genetic knowledge and molecular medicine involves the development and integration of skills including but not limited to: accurate history taking; creation of precise documentation of and interpretation of the pedigree; integration of genetic understanding into patient assessment; comprehension of the role of genetic testing and counseling; and management and referral of patients with genetic issues. Physician assistant students must be familiar with the most common clinical genetic diseases, as well as the ethical, legal and social issues of genetics. Due to the constantly changing knowledge in this field, PA students must demonstrate the ability to utilize information literacy skills to ensure that as clinicians they are self-directed lifelong learners.
This course is a practical approach to understanding how patients present, learn and change based on the research on theories, models and techniques of: personality and learning styles; how to assess patient knowledge, attitude and readiness to change; and the effects of literacy, health literacy, individual coping mechanisms, ecological barriers and culture on patient comprehension and adherence. The use of validated interpersonal skills improves the clinician/patient relationship, demonstrates respect for the patient’s well-being and individuality, thereby reducing medical errors and lawsuits, and increasing patient adherence. Self-reflection on the student’s own barriers, biases, stereotypes, culture and assumptions is required. Assessment of understanding and skills will be conducted during the course as well as throughout the didactic program and clinical rotations.
This course introduces the student to the basic interviewing, history taking and documentation skills which will include the chief complaint, history of present illness, past medical, surgical, social, allergy and family history, review of systems and medications. Students will learn the clinical significance of the physical examination, the components of the complete physical exam and will be able to perform these examination techniques. Topics in this course will include: a general overview of history taking and physical examination; clinical reasoning; documentation; interviewing skills; the general survey; skin; the head and neck; the lungs; and the abdomen.
This course is the first part of an intensive study of human disease processes and disorders in the broad scope of clinical medicine. As the course progresses students will explore the epidemiology, etiology, pathophysiology, assessment, management and follow up of disease processes and disorders. The course will approach the condition from the perspective of history and physical examination, ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies, generation of a differential diagnoses and the development and implementation of treatment plans and prognosis. Preventative measures to assist in disease prevention will also be discussed. Content includes infectious diseases, dermatology, disorders of the head, eyes, ears, nose and throat, cardiopulmonary disorders and endocrinopathies. Presented by physicians from various practice specialties, these lectures provide comprehensive instruction that enables the student to understand the nature and problems experienced by both ambulatory and hospitalized patients. The laboratory component of this course focuses on case-based learning.
This course provides a foundation of clinical skills and diagnostic procedures that are commonly performed in patient care. Instruction for selected procedures and diagnostic tools will be presented to the student by various methods including theory discussion, rationale for procedure, identification of necessary equipment, principles of appropriate skill technique, demonstration of skill when applicable, skill practice time, identification of special clinical considerations and precautions, documentation aspects and recommended elements of patient education. Opportunities to observe certain procedures and diagnostic tools will be correlated when possible. Topics include methods of wound care and closure, burns, hyper/hypothermia, assessment of pulmonary function, arterial blood gases, ENT procedures, bioterrorism, and radiology. The laboratory component of this course will allow the student to practice the skills and procedures common to PA practice.
This course presents a study of drugs and their interactions with and within living tissue. This course introduces the student to general drug classifications and medicinal agents most likely encountered in primary care settings and the pharmacological principles, dosing, patient education, pharmacodynamics, and therapeutic parameters and indications about commonly prescribed drugs. Areas covered include drug receptor theory, mechanisms of action, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, antimicrobial therapy, cardiovascular medications, drugs affecting the autonomic nervous system, and complementary medicines. Each of these topics will be explored through lecture, class discussions and case presentations.
This course introduces the student to the interviewing, history taking and documentation skills which will include the chief complaint, history of present illness, past medical, surgical, social, allergy and family history, review of systems and medications as they pertain to the specific organ systems presented. The students will learn the clinical significance of the physical examination, the components of the physical exam and will be able to perform these examination techniques for the material introduced in this course. Topics in this course will include: a general overview of history taking and physical examination as it pertains to course content; clinical reasoning; documentation; interviewing skills; and the cardiovascular, female/male genitalia, musculoskeletal, neurological, and psychiatric systems; and assessment of the pregnant patient.
This course is a continuation of Clinical Medicine I and is an intensive study of human disease processes and disorders in the broad scope of clinical medicine. As the course progresses students will explore the epidemiology, etiology, pathophysiology, assessment, management and follow up of disease processes and disorders. The course will approach the condition from the perspective of history and physical examination, ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies, generation of a differential diagnoses and the development and implementation of treatment plans and prognosis. Preventative measures to assist in disease prevention will also be discussed. Content includes disorders of the GI system, obstetrics and gynecology, nephrology, disorders of the urinary tract, musculoskeletal diseases, neurology, behavioral medicine, and hematology/oncology. Presented by physicians from various practice specialties, these lectures provide comprehensive instruction that enables the student to understand the nature and problems experienced by both ambulatory and hospitalized patients. The laboratory component of this course focuses on case-based learning.
This course provides a foundation of clinical skills and diagnostic procedures that are commonly performed in patient care. Instruction for selected procedures and diagnostic tools will be presented to the student by various methods including theory discussion, rationale for procedure, identification of necessary equipment, principles of appropriate skill technique, demonstration of skill when applicable, skill practice time, identification of special clinical considerations and precautions, documentation aspects and recommended elements of patient education. Opportunities to observe certain procedures and diagnostic tools will be correlated when possible. Topics include GI procedures, NG tube placement, intravenous placement, central line monitoring, bladder catheterization, musculoskeletal procedures, immobilization, joint injection, lumbar puncture, electrocardiography and transfusion medicine. The laboratory component of this course will allow the student to practice the skills and procedures common to PA practice.
This course introduces the student to general drug classifications and medicinal agents most likely encountered in primary care settings and the pharmacological principles, dosing, patient education, pharmacodynamics, and therapeutic parameters and indications about commonly prescribed drugs. Topics include drugs used in gastroenterology, obstetrics and gynecology, immunology, complementary medicine, psychotropic medications, opioid and non-opioid analgesia, and chemotherapeutic agents. Each of these topics will be explored through lecture, class discussions and case presentations.
This course introduces the physician assistant student to diseases, exam findings and diagnostic evaluations, and treatments common to the pediatric and geriatric populations. Course content will be introduced using a variety of teaching techniques including both traditional lectures as well as cooperative and collaborative group work. Case studies will be presented to reinforce course content and form the discussion in class.
A series of lectures introduces fundamental principles of perioperative medicine, procedure-oriented patient evaluations, preoperative assessment, prevention of post-operative complications, surgical instrumentation, operative techniques, anesthesia, pre- and post-operative management of patients, post-operative complications, comorbid states, and documentation. The history of the physician assistant in surgery, including surgical reimbursement issues will be discussed. Selected topics will include the most commonly performed surgical procedures as well as issues relevant to various surgical subspecialties.
Clinical Component (Year Two)
The order in which a student completes all of the below clinical courses may vary, so course numbers are not listed. Each student must complete the PAS 2429 Transition to PA Certification and Practice (5 credits) course within the final four months of the physician assistant program.
Year Two Total Credits: 37
Supervised Clinical Practice Experiences are required to be in the following disciplines:
A five-week clinical rotation focuses on the evaluation and management of the ambulatory and hospitalized patient on an inpatient medicine service. Students learn how to take an accurate and pertinent history, conduct a physical examination, recognize patterns of illness, and acquire approaches to disease management. The student participates in the full range of inpatient care, formulating a problem list, taking part in daily rounds, performing technical skills, participating in the management of patient problems, and planning for discharge and follow-up care.
A five-week clinical rotation focuses on the evaluation and management of the ambulatory patient in an outpatient care setting. The student participates in the full range of outpatient care through the life span, including collecting pertinent patient data and the information from diagnostic studies, developing a differential diagnosis, oral and written case presentations, and formulating management plans including patient education, appropriate referral and follow-up care. This clinical rotation encompasses the comprehensive and longitudinal care of patients with a special emphasis on care of individuals in the context of families and communities.
A five-week clinical rotation focuses on the evaluation and management of patients in the emergency department setting. The student participates in the appropriate triage, stabilization, diagnosis and management of patients with urgent and emergent problems and develops skills in working with the pre-hospital emergency medical team and secondary referral systems.
A five-week rotation focuses on the evaluation and care of infants and children in an ambulatory setting. The student participates in well-child preventative care, the evaluation and management of common pediatric problems, and the patient education of children and their caregivers.
The purpose of the surgery clerkship is to provide the student a wide breadth of practical clinical experience in the evaluation and management of the surgical patient. This experience is designed to augment, strengthen and refine the student’s surgical skills, as well as their ability to perform pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative care. The student is expected to gain awareness of the contributions of other health professions in the overall delivery of surgical care as well as for the role a PA may play in its delivery.
A five-week rotation focuses on the evaluation and management of patients with psychiatric and behavioral health problems in ambulatory and/or inpatient settings. The student participates in psychiatric evaluations, monitoring of therapy, and appropriate referral to other health care professionals and facilities.
This 5-week rotation provides the PA student with practical clinical experience in evaluation and management of normal and abnormal conditions in OB/GYN. In addition, students will learn to provide prenatal and postpartum care, gynecologic care, family planning, health education, and counseling.
A five-week clinical rotation that is designed to provide the physician assistant student with an elective opportunity in any of the previous rotation specialties or a rotation designed by the student, in conjunction with a faculty member, to enhance the student’s knowledge or skill in a specific area.
- Supervised Clinical Practice Experience 1
- Supervised Clinical Practice Experience 2
- Supervised Clinical Practice Experience 3
- Supervised Clinical Practice Experience 4
- Supervised Clinical Practice Experience 5
- Supervised Clinical Practice Experience 6
- Supervised Clinical Practice Experience 7
- Supervised Clinical Practice Experience 8
- PAS 2429 – Transition to Professional Practice
- A five-week course that combines instruction on practical issues as they relate to the practicing physician assistant, especially the new graduates, with evaluation instruments that measure if and verify that the learner has met the learning outcomes of the program and has the knowledge, interpersonal skills, clinical and technical skills, professional behaviors, clinical reasoning and problem-solving abilities required for physician assistant practice.
Important Physician Assistant Program Notes
Please note the following:
Students who are not located in an area near available clinical sites may need to relocate in order to complete the program. The clinical education team will work with you to avoid or minimize this to the best of our ability.
Per program policy, you are never required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors.
All clinical rotations require screening measures. Take time to review background checks and other screening requirements.
PA Programs Online & In-Person (PAS-Hybrid) Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the PA Programs Online & In-Person (PAS-Hybrid) program, you will be able to demonstrate competencies in the following areas:
Patient-Centered Practice Knowledge
Gather clinical information, formulate differential diagnoses, order and interpret laboratory and imaging, perform necessary core duty procedures, and diagnose, prevent, treat and manage illness among acute, chronic, and emerging disease states.
Integrate into practice appropriate literature to make evidence-based decisions on patient care.
Society and Population Health
Integrate into practice the cultural norms, needs, influences, and socioeconomic, environmental, physiological and other population-level determinants affecting the health of the individual and community being served.
Integrate into practice the interventions that diminish health disparities involving race or ethnicity, sex, sexual identity, age, disability, socioeconomic status, and geographic location involving the individual patient and the community being served.
Integrate into practice basic principles of public health including epidemiology, disease prevention, surveillance, reporting and intervention. Provide appropriate referrals involving the public health system to ensure patient advocacy and in the maintenance of population health.
Health Literacy and Communication
Communicate effectively and respectfully with patients, families, and other health care professionals.
Interprofessional Collaborative Practice and Leadership
Coordinate care to optimize the health of patients and populations.
Professional and Legal Aspects of Health Care
Provide standard-of-care practice while demonstrating respect for the dignity and privacy of patients.
Incorporate a personal wellness plan to prevent impairment and burnout.
Demonstrate professional accountability.
Health Care Finance and Systems
Differentiate the types of health care systems and health insurance coverage, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Practice health care informed by an understanding of the financial implications to patients, organizations and society.
Recognize personal limitations and incorporate a quality improvement process designed to maximize patient safety, prevention of medical errors and incorporation of risk management.
Meet the PA Programs Online & In-Person (PAS-Hybrid) Faculty
At the University of Pittsburgh, our top-tier faculty set our programs apart. As a PA Programs Online & In-Person (PAS-Hybrid) student, you will learn from award-winning instructors with decades of experience as certified physician assistants. Outside of the classroom, Department of Physician Assistant Studies faculty are innovators committed to moving health care forward and passionate providers with a focus on excellence in patient care.
Why Pitt for Your Hybrid PA Program?
At the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, we prepare the next generation of health care professionals to serve their communities. Our program meshes traditional didactic lectures offered online with out-of-the-classroom learning opportunities, case-based individual and group activities, and hands-on skills labs. It provides access to over 2000 exceptional clinical placements, with two elective rotations during your clinical year.
As a PAS-Hybrid student, you will complete online courses to develop competencies in areas such as pharmacology, patient care, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, health policy, and surgery. Our program will empower you to lead patient care forward by embracing new technology, such as point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) and telemedicine, that sets our curriculum apart from others PA programs. Beyond learning from actively practicing faculty clinicians, you will benefit from Pitt’s connection to the world-class network of providers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Through clinical rotations at UPMC or other leading health care institutions, you will build the confidence and competence to successfully treat patients and improve health care outcomes.
Graduate Performance on the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam® (PANCE)
Once available, we will publish the most current annual NCCPA PANCE Exam Performance Summary Report (Last 5 Years) for all takers and first-time takers provided by the NCCPA through its program portal, no later than April 1 of each year (the link to this information will be found here).
Student Attrition and Graduation Rates
Once available, we will publish the most current annual student attrition information, on the table provided by the ARC-PA, no later than April 1 of each year (the link to this information will be found here).
Advance Your Career With the Pitt PA Programs Online & In-Person (PAS-Hybrid)
Certified physician assistants are in demand, and the need for qualified care team members is expected to grow. Employment in this field is projected to grow by 28% by 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). Physician assistant program graduates who become certified physician assistants can work in any of the following settings and have the flexibility to move between careers:
General Internal Medicine
Internal Medicine Specialties and Subspecialties
Hematology and Oncology
Surgical Specialties and Subspecialties
Colon and Rectal Surgery
Other Surgical Subspecialties
Yes. Some PA programs have online components, including the University of Pittsburgh’s PA Programs Online & In-Person (PAS-Hybrid) Program. You can take online classes to earn your MS in Physician Assistant Studies from Pitt, however, some in-person participation is required to graduate. These experiences include three on-campus immersions and eight clinical rotations at partner health care institutions.
You can complete Pitt’s hybrid PA program in an average of two years.
Upon completion of the program, you will take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) to assess your grasp of general medical and surgical knowledge and skills. The PANCE is administered year-round, and you may apply to take the test as early as 90 days before completion of the PAS-Hybrid program.
Once you pass the PANCE and achieve your certification, you may pursue full licensure. Licensure requirements vary by state, and you can speak with your advisor for further guidance.
A full list of prerequisite courses and GPA minimums for prerequisite coursework can be found on the admissions page.
For a comprehensive overview of the PAS-Hybrid program admission requirements, including prerequisites and eligibility criteria, please refer to our admissions page. We also encourage all prospective students to schedule a one-on-one application walkthrough with a member of our enrollment team.
University of Pittsburgh Accreditation
The University of Pittsburgh is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Accreditation was reaffirmed in June 2022, demonstrating how Pitt meets accreditation standards, requirements of affiliation, and verification of compliance with accreditation-relevant federal regulations.