Anchored in Christian understanding, the mission of Samford University's Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to nurture and develop students both spiritually and academically to provide empathetic, compassionate patient care and service to the community.
Our fully integrated curriculum provides comprehensive medical knowledge and skills that will prepare you to be practice-ready for a variety of clinical settings, and with small class sizes, our faculty will know you by name.
A career as a physician assistant is inherently collaborative, working alongside physicians and other health care professionals to provide exemplary care through optimal team practice. As a part of Samford’s College of Health Sciences, you will learn in an interprofessional setting, studying alongside students in other health care disciplines, like nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, social work, nutrition and more.
For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD. - Jeremiah 30:17
Like many careers within the health professions, physician assistant is a career in great demand. U.S.. News & World Report ranked the profession number one on its list of The 100 Best Jobs in 2021, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistic reports physician assistant should see a 30 percent expected job growth before 2024. (The average for all occupations is only seven percent.)
Application Opens: April 27, 2023
Application Deadline: August 1, 2023
Entry Month: August 2024 [see Accreditation]
Minimum requirements for admission include:
- Baccalaureate degree from a college or university that holds institutional accreditation (degree in any field) or be in the senior year of undergraduate study.
- Cumulative GPA minimum of 3.0 (4-point scale) on all undergraduate and graduate work completed at an institutionally accredited university or college.
- A science GPA of 3.0 (4-point scale) on all undergraduate and graduate work completed at an accredited university or college within the United States.
- A non-science cumulative GPA of 3.0 (4-point scale) on all undergraduate and graduate work completed at an accredited university or college within the United States.
- Minimum of C letter grade in all prerequisite courses from an institutionally accredited college or university within the United States. For prerequisite courses taken during the spring 2020 semester, pass/fail grading will be accepted. Prerequisite courses include:
- General Psychology or Abnormal Psychology or Developmental Psychology—two of the three required (6 semester hours)
- Human Anatomy & Human Physiology with labs, or Anatomy & Physiology I and II with labs or Comparative Anatomy and Mammalian physiology with labs. (Must complete a full sequence. Substitutions for separate course sequence will not be accepted.) (6-8 semester hours)
- General biology I and II with labs (6-8 semester hours) *Survey and intro courses not acceptable
- Microbiology with lab (3-4 semester hours) *Survey and intro courses not acceptable
- General Chemistry I and II with labs or higher Chemistry (Organic I or Organic II with labs) (8-9 semester hours) *Survey and intro courses not acceptable
- Statistics, including statistical tests and analysis (3 semester hours)
- Medical Terminology (1 semester hour)
*AP, IB, or CLEP credit will be accepted as pre-requisite courses if the courses are documented on your transcripts and have been accepted by your undergraduate College or University.
- If coursework is completed in an institution outside of the United States, an international credential evaluation is required reporting prior university. Samford accepts evaluations from World Education Services (WES), found at wes.org or AACRAO International Education Services (IES), found at ies.aacrao.org.
- International applicants or American citizens who learned English as a second language must score at least 550 (paper), 213 (computer) or 80 (Internet) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Must complete 24 credit hours as a full-time student in a U.S. regionally accredited institution. We are able to issue I-20s to international students if they meet admission requirements.
Applicants must choose from the following two tests: GRE and/or MCAT. No minimum score. Students will be evaluated on a competitive basis. Submission of a PA-CAT score is optional. Applicants must submit a GRE and/or MCAT score to be considered.
GRE: Submit scores to CASPA using code 2733
MCAT: Contact the Association of American Medical Colleges for submission of MCAT scores to CASPA
- The program is a lock-step program, we do not grant or award advanced placement.
- Samford's School of Health Professions does not uphold any admission or enrollment practices that favor specific individuals or groups.
- Applicants may 2 have courses in progress or scheduled for future completion at the time the application is submitted: Example: Biology 1 plus lab = 1 course. If medical terminology is missing, this does not count toward the courses in progress.
- Upon acceptance, a non-refundable fee of $1,000 is required to secure admission into the program. The fee is applied to the first semester's tuition.
The steps below outline the application process for Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program. To apply, you are required to submit both an application through CASPA as well as a physician assistant supplemental form. The link to the supplemental form will be e-mailed when your application is submitted. The supplemental form costs $75 and will be due upon completion. Before starting these applications, we recommend that you complete the following steps:
- Obtain student copies of your college transcripts to assist you in completing the coursework section for the application.
- Please review the application instructions.
- The CASPA application must be submitted and completed by August 1. Please allow up to four weeks for verification, contact CASPA for more information.
- Official transcripts from every college or university attended are considered part of the CASPA application. Applications will not be verified until all official transcripts have been received by CASPA. Please do not send transcripts to Samford University. Transcripts must be sent directly to:
CASPA Transcript Processing Center
P.O. Box 9108
Watertown, MA 02471
- CASPA only accepts electronic transcripts from Credentials Solutions and Parchment or the National Student Clearinghouse". If your school does not offer either of these services, your transcript must be sent by mail. CASPA cannot accept transcripts sent via email.
- Pay the initial service fee of $179 when submitting the CASPA application.
- Three letters of recommendation are required. No more than three letters of recommendation should be submitted. The recommendations should attest to the applicants academic ability and/or clinical experience. Letters must be submitted through CASPA and only come from the following list:
- Current or previous professor
- PA, MD, DO or CRNP
- Personal statement
- Each applicant will need to provide a document answering the following items:
- What motivated you to apply to Samford University's Master in Physician Assistant Studies Program?
- Tell us about your personal and clinical experience and how that makes you a good candidate for Samford University's Master in Physician Assistant Studies program?
- Please describe how you fit into the Samford University's Master in Physician Assistant Studies mission statement.
- Please describe how your academic preparation will make you successful in our Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program.
- Please fill out all sections of the application.
- Submit Graduate Record Examination Score electronically to CASPA, Institution Code 2733 no later than the August 1 deadline. For details, visit ETS. Applicants can self-report unofficial scores on their CASPA application, but this does not replace official score reports. Contact the Association of American Medical Colleges for submission of MCAT scores to CASPA.
The Samford University Physician Assistant program uses a comprehensive review of submitted materials through CASPA to select applicants for interviews. Selection of candidates to be interviewed are based on the following criteria:
Last 60 hours GPA
or MCAT score
Extra consideration is applied to candidates that excel in their academic coursework and GRE/MCAT scores, and if the student is enrolled in or a graduate of Samford University.
Once the candidate is identified for an interview, the faculty will review the candidates CASPA application items:
Three letters of recommendation
Samford University PA program specific questions
During the interview process, each candidate will undergo two interviews with a faculty member.
Areas that will be assessed are:
Knowledge of the PA profession
The interviewer’s overall impression of the candidate.
Each of the components are scored using a standardize grading rubric and is applied to all candidates.
Clinical and Simulation
Our program offers diverse clinical experiences that are overseen by quality preceptors who are invested in your education. Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Samford University is surrounded by some of the finest health care facilities in the world, from acute care to specialty clinics.
All students will be required to complete 48 weeks of clinical rotations over their final three semesters of the program. Through these four-week rotations, you will gain experience in areas like family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics and physiology, along with your choice of elective rotations in areas like trauma, neurology, cardiovascular surgery and more.
All students are not required to provide of solicit clinical sites or preceptors. Clinical sites and preceptors are provided by the program. Students are not required to work for the program in any capacity. This would any clerical and administrative duties.
Health care simulation is an innovative and exciting way to learn and practice caring for patients. Through the use of simulation, physician assistant studies students will experience caring for a patient in a safe environment with no risk of harm to the patient.
Our Experiential Learning and Simulation Center offers discipline specific and interdisciplinary learning opportunities across the simulation continuum. High fidelity simulators respond realistically to care and allow students to practice skills until they are comfortable with assessment and procedures. The center also features adult, pediatric and neonatal simulators and a variety of patient care settings including inpatient hospital rooms, and operating room and even a simulated home unit.
Student Demographic Data
|Average Cumulative GPA||3.83|
|Average Cumulative Science GPA||3.80|
|Average GPA over the last 60 hours||3.87|
|Average Health Care Experience||889 hours|
|Average Cumulative GPA||3.73|
|Average Cumulative Science GPA||3.67|
|Average GPA over the last 60 hours||3.79|
|Average Health Care Experience||2,226 hours|
Student Outcome Data
One of the School of Health Professions' newest programs, the program offers students a personalized education experience with a low student-to-faculty ratio in both classroom and clinical settings. Students complete the program within 27 months of enrollment and sit for national certification and state licensure exams upon graduation.
As students graduate from our programs, outcome data will be published regarding:
- Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Exam Performance Summary Report
- Graduation/Completion Rate
- Employment Rate: Class of 2021 - 94.4%
Plan of Study
The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, is an intense and rigorous program that requires knowledge in all fields of medicine and the basic skills needed within these fields to practice effectively. The objective of this program is to prepare graduates to enter a variety of employment settings and to render care to a diverse patient population. Students must exhibit both the mental and cognitive capabilities to complete the program including all of its didactic and clinical components. Students are expected to graduate in good standing and successfully complete the board examination obtaining licensure. Samford University will provide the necessary accommodations to prepare our students from both the didactic and technical aspects preparing them for their future careers as physician assistants.
Candidates must meet certain physical requirements for acceptance and completion of the program. The program has the ethical responsibility to assure that patients will be provided with safe and appropriate medical care. With this in mind, patient safety is a major consideration in determining the physical, cognitive and emotional capabilities of students both through admission and matriculation through the program. All students must possess those intellectual, ethical, physical and emotional capabilities necessary to achieve levels of competence in the full curriculum required by the faculty. A student’s intention to practice in a narrow area of clinical medicine will not alter the technical and didactic requirements needed to successfully graduate. All students will be required to demonstrate competency in both the didactic and technical curriculum in order to complete the program.
The skills needed to practice as a physician assistant are numerous. Graduates will have training in many of these skills to prepare them for the clinical year and future careers. Once properly oriented, students must be able to observe and participate in demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. The students should have sufficient postural and neuromuscular control, sensory function, and coordination to perform appropriate physical examinations using accepted techniques. Students will be able to accurately, safely and efficiently use equipment and materials during the assessment and treatment of patients. The motor skills required from students include but are not limited to dissection of cadavers, examination of gross specimens in gross anatomy and pathology laboratories, preparation of microbiologic cultures, and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues. Observation of gross and microscopic structures necessitates the functional use of the senses of vision and touch and is enhanced by the functional sense of smell. After reasonable training and experience, the candidate must be capable of performing a complete physical examination, including observation, palpation, percussion, and auscultation. The candidate must be capable of using instruments such as, but not limited to: a stethoscope, an ophthalmoscope, an otoscope and a sphygmomanometer. Again, students will need to demonstrate motor skills needed to perform each of these tasks. The candidate must also possess the motor skills needed to perform numerous clinical procedures such as, but not limited to, the following: pelvic examination, digital rectal examination, lumbar punctures, central venous lines, suturing, drawing blood from veins and arteries and giving intravenous injections, basic cardiopulmonary life support, and simple obstetrical procedures. The student must be capable of performing basic laboratory tests, using a calculator and a computer, reading an EKG, and interpreting common imaging tests. The student must be able to move in the clinical setting so as to act quickly in emergencies. At the conclusion of the didactic phase, the student should demonstrate proficiency in the skills described above. By the conclusion of the clinical clerkships, the student should achieve full competence in the skills described above including the ability to synthesize and organize these skills.
A student must be able to communicate with patients, families and the health care team. From eliciting patient histories to preventative care, clear and concise communication is essential in patient care. Students must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and colleagues, including individuals from different cultural and social backgrounds; this includes, but is not limited to, the ability to establish rapport with patients and communicate judgments and treatment at a level consistent with competent professional practice.
Sensory and Observational Skills
Students must be able to observe classroom demonstrations and participate in technical procedures as required by the curriculum. They must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance, as well as, close at hand and be able to obtain a medical history directly from the patient, while observing the patient's medical condition. This observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision, hearing and other sensory modalities in order to elicit accurate patient information, make diagnoses, and perceive both verbal and non-verbal communication.
Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Skills
Students will demonstrate the skills and ability to critically think. These skills include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Both problem solving and critical thinking require such skills, and essential to clinical practice. Students must exhibit the mental capacity to assimilate, analyze, synthesize, integrate concepts and problem solve to formulate assessment and therapeutic judgments and to be able to distinguish deviations from the norm.
Behavior and Professionalism
Candidates must possess key components needed to be a physician assistant. Empathy, integrity, work ethic, motivation, and interpersonal skills, will be assessed during the admission process and throughout the program. Candidates must possess the emotional well-being required for the full use of their intellectual abilities; the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients; and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively when stressed. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainty inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.
Program Goals and Competencies
The vision of our physician assistant studies program is to prepare graduates to provide compassionate and competent medical care. Students will be prepared both academically and professionally to enter the workforce and provide medical care. We seek to fulfill this vision through the following program goals:
- Matriculate highly qualified applicants who will successfully complete the demanding Master of Science Degree in Physician Assistant Studies Program.
- Prepare physician assistant students with depth of knowledge, clinical reasoning/critical thinking skills, documentation skills, and appropriate professional behavior for the clinical practice of medicine.
- Prepare graduates to deliver culturally-sensitive, socially equitable, patient-centered, evidence-based care as members of the interprofessional team.
- Prepare graduates with communication skills necessary to work successfully in team-based health care environment.
- Encourage professional involvement in leadership and service.
- Medical knowledge
- Interpersonal, clinical and technical skills
- Professional behaviors
- Clinical reasoning
- Problem-solving abilities
The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Samford University Physician Assistant Studies Program sponsored by Samford University.
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.