Physician Assistant Program

College of Health Sciences-Illinois

Master of Medical Science (M.M.S.) in Physician Assistant Program

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Develop the skills you need to be a vital member of the healthcare team as a student in the Physician Assistant Program. You'll learn from caring faculty experts who will prepare you to apply evidence-based medicine and compassionate decision making to benefit a diverse community of patients. Our student-centered curriculum and expansive clinical experiences will prepare you to build your future as a competent, caring physician assistant dedicated to making meaningful contributions to your patients, the community, and the profession.


Downers Grove, IL

27 months, full-time

Class Size

Graduation Rate

Midwestern University's Master of Medical Science (M.M.S.) in Physician Assistant Studies is a continuous, full-time program extending 27 months from matriculation to graduation. The Physician Assistant (PA) professional curriculum offers students the opportunity to earn a graduate degree and satisfy the eligibility requirements for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). The maximum allotted time for completion of this program is 40.5 months.

The roles and specific clinical duties and responsibilities that graduates can expect to experience will likely vary depending on their chosen career path. PA Program graduates are expected to have the ability to competently perform patient histories and physicals, gather pertinent patient data, order and interpret diagnostic studies, recognize common diseases and disorders, choose appropriate therapeutic modalities, perform surgical procedures, manage emergency life-threatening conditions, promote health through counseling, education, and disease prevention, and demonstrate interpersonal skills consistent with the physician assistant role.

The didactic coursework includes 12 months of basic science coursework in anatomy, biochemistry, neuroscience, physiology, pharmacology, immunology, genetics, and microbiology. It also includes clinical coursework in clinical medicine, behavioral medicine, professional issues, and interpretation of the medical literature. During the remaining 15 months, students are required to rotate through eight core clinical rotations and two elective clinical rotations, in addition to completing advanced clinical medicine courses and a capstone project.

The second-year clinical program is primarily delivered at affiliated clinical sites and facilities within the Chicago metropolitan area. These sites are geographically and demographically diverse, reflecting the broad scope of practice opportunities that exist for PAs in the healthcare delivery system of this country. Sites include ambulatory practice settings, small and large office-based group practices, community health centers, in-patient settings involving large and small hospitals as well as federal and state facilities. These sites are in urban, suburban, and rural communities. In addition, the Program has established formal affiliations with clinical facilities and practitioners in a number of other states. As part of the clinical education phase of the program, students enrolled in the PA Program will likely be assigned to clinical rotations that reflect the geographic and demographic diversity described above, including distant in-state and out-of state rotations. Subsidized housing is provided for distant in-state and out-of-state core clinical rotations only. Students are expected to secure their own housing for local and elective rotations, and must provide their own transportation to all core and elective clinical rotations regardless of location.

No advanced placement within the PA Program is allowed for prior academic, clinical, or life experience. Midwestern University has an articulation agreement that exists between programs. The Program strongly discourages students from seeking outside employment while attending Midwestern University and will not make any exceptions in didactic or clinical workload for any student who chooses to engage in outside employment.

The PA Program does not offer an extended course of study beyond the usual length of the program. For more information on the specific curriculum, download our quick overview and see the Midwestern University Catalog for more detailed course descriptions and additional University, College, and Program policies which pertain to Physician Assistant students.


The mission of the Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program is to develop competent and compassionate physician assistants who will make meaningful contributions to their patients, community and profession. 

The goals of the Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program are to: 1) provide a rigorous academic and clinical curriculum and achieve first-time PANCE percentage pass rates above the national average, 2) cultivate an environment of professionalism to encourage the development of competent and compassionate providers, 3) prepare students to serve diverse populations in both primary care and specialty settings, and 4) demonstrate the application of evidence-based medicine and foster a continuous commitment to life-long learning and community involvement as a health care provider.

The Midwestern University PA Program demonstrates achievement of these goals by analyzing the results of student performance in the didactic and clinical year, PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE) pass rates, and regular surveys of graduates, preceptors and employers:*

  1. The rigorous didactic and clinical curriculum has prepared the students for success in the PANCE as evidenced by 100% of the 2018 PA Program graduates passing the PANCE as first time test takers (national average 98%). The 5 year average pass rate for first time test takers from Midwestern University, Downers Grove, is 99%.
  2. 100% of the 2018 PA Program graduates successfully passed the professionalism component of the didactic and clinical year courses, and preceptors continually rank the professionalism of second year PA students as one of their greatest strengths.
  3. PA Program graduates report working in diverse practice settings including private offices, institutions, and community clinics. In addition, Midwestern University PA Program graduates are employed in both primary and specialty care, and work with patients of all ages and backgrounds. 22% of graduates responding to the survey of the graduating class of 2017 specifically designated their primary work settings as underserved.
  4. Graduates felt strongly that they were prepared for the practice of evidence-based medicine through the Research Seminar and Capstone Project components of the curriculum, and demonstrated a commitment to life-long learning via local and national conference attendance, regular journal reading, and teaching other healthcare providers. Graduates from the Midwestern University PA Program are involved in promoting health and wellness in their communities.

*May 2018 survey of the graduating class of 2017 (67% of graduates responding)

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued to the Midwestern University-Downers Grove Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Midwestern 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 Standards and ARC-PA policy.

Students seeking admission to the PA Program must submit the following documented evidence:

  1. Minimum cumulative science and overall GPAs of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
  2. GRE scores from the general test using the Midwestern University institution code 1769.
    • The test must have been taken no earlier than January 1, 2015.
    • Test scores must be received by the Office of Admissions no later than December 1, 2019. Scores must be sent directly from ETS to the MWU Office of Admissions.
    • Applicants are expected to achieve a score at or above the 50th percentile in each section. If an applicant has attempted the GRE examination on more than one occasion, the most recent GRE scores will be utilized in the review of the applicant's file.
    • For additional information about the GRE, contact ETS at 866/473-4373 or visit
  3. Completion of prerequisite courses as listed below from regionally accredited colleges or universities.
      • All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of a C or better.
      • Grades of C- are NOT acceptable for any prerequisite courses.
      • If advanced placement (AP) credit has been granted by an outside institution, this credit will automatically be considered for the following prerequisite courses: Math, Statistics, English Composition, and Social and Behavioral Science courses.
      • For AP credit earned in Biology and Chemistry, MWU may request the submission of appropriate documentation (as determined by MWU) to verify the AP credit earned meets the program's admission standards.
      • Life experience credits do not count toward fulfillment of any prerequisite courses.
      • Courses in which grades of "pass" are earned will be counted only when applicants can provide verification that the earned grades are equivalent to grades of C or better (grades of C- are not acceptable).
  4. Completion of prerequisite courses by December 31st of the year which precedes the year of anticipated matriculation.
      • No exceptions will be made.
      • Applicants must determine which prerequisites are missing and which courses must be taken to fulfill any outstanding prerequisites.
      • Students invited to interview must show documentation on the day of their visit that they are enrolled in or registered for any outstanding prerequisites.
  5. Completion of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university before matriculation.
  6. Motivation for and commitment to healthcare as demonstrated by previous work, volunteer work, or other life experiences.
  7. Demonstration of service and leadership through community service or extracurricular activities.
  8. Oral and written communication skills necessary to interact with patients and colleagues.
  9. Passage of Midwestern University criminal background check.
  10. Commitment to abide by the Midwestern University Drug-Free Workplace and Substance Abuse Policy.
  11. Successful completion of tuberculosis screening and all required immunizations prior to matriculation.



Sem Hrs

Qtr Hrs

Biology with lab*






General Chemistry with lab*



Organic Chemistry with lab*



Math (college algebra or above)






English Composition**



Social and Behavioral Sciences (Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, etc.)



*All science prerequisites must be courses designed for science majors. No survey courses will fulfill science prerequisites. Courses with an online laboratory component will not meet any biology or chemistry prerequisite. In addition, advanced placement credit received at the undergraduate level may not satisfy biology or chemistry prerequisites. For Advanced Placement (AP) credit earned in biology or chemistry, MWU may request the submission of appropriate documentation (as determined by MWU) to verify the AP credit earned meets the program's admission standards.

**Courses accepted for the English Composition prerequisite include rhetoric, composition, technical writing, and courses designated as writing intensive by the institution.

Graduation Rate

Certifying Exam Pass Rate

Median Salary

Planned Program Improvements

During the upcoming 2019-2020 academic year, the PA Program will be replacing its Geriatric Medicine Rotation with a General Clinical Medicine Rotation. This General Clinical Medicine Rotation will be 6-weeks in duration and will provide students the opportunity to enhance their clinical skills in acute and/or chronic care setting in one or more of the following medical specialties: Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Urgent Care, or Emergency Medicine.

Estimated Cost of Attendance


Physician Assistant Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Tuition $51,638 $51,638 $12,910
Student Services Fee $687 $687 $172
Health Ins $3,736 $3,736 $934
Disability Ins. Fee $63 $63 $16
Books & Supplies $3088 $826 $0
AAPA Membership $75 $0 $0

See the Midwestern University Catalog for policies and procedures related to refund of tuition and fees.

Class of 2021 Profile (Matriculated June 2019)

  • Female: 88%
  • Male: 12%
  • Mean Age: 24 years (Range 21-41)
  • Mean Overall GPA: 3.79
  • Mean Science GPA: 3.76
  • Mean GRE Percentiles: Verbal 56, Quantitative 55, Analytical 69
  • Class Size: 86
  • Top Home States: Illinois (55%), Indiana, Michigan, Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio

Graduation Rate

95% (82 of 86 students admitted to original cohort of Class of 2018) have currently completed the Program.

Career Opportunities

Primary care, surgery, medical and surgical specialties, emergency medicine, behavioral medicine

Employment Projections and Salary

Number of PA jobs projected to increase by 37% by the year 20261


Median annual salary is $105,000 (varies by hours worked, specialty, practice setting, location, experience)2

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S., Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physician Assistants, on the internet at (visited 04/27/2018)

2. American Academy of PAs. (2018). 2018 AAPA Salary Report. Alexandria, VA.

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