Physician Assistant Studies, MS


Program Summary

Format: On-site

Locations: Potsdam

Credit Hours:


Cost: per term

Our Program

The mission of the Clarkson University Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to educate Physician Assistants to become highly skilled and compassionate health care providers. The program will encourage an interdisciplinary approach with an emphasis on patient‐centered care. Graduates will become leaders in the health care community, continuously striving for excellence in their professional endeavors while compassionately providing for the health care needs of those they serve.


The PA Program at Clarkson University is a professional degree program intended to prepare students academically and professionally for responsibilities and services as a Physician Assistant. This entry level master’s degree program consists of 82 credit hours divided into three phases that span 28 consecutive months.

The Didactic phase is the preclinical year and spans 13 months.

The Clinical phase consists of 14 months of supervised clinical education and coursework.

The Summative Phase consists of 1 month and consists of evaluation and preparation for the future as a graduate PA.

The curriculum is structured so that courses from Semester Two build on courses in Semester One, etc. Therefore, opportunities for transfer of credit into the PA curriculum or advanced placement are not available.

Supervised Clinical Practice Experiences are distributed among 9 clinical field experiences or “SCPE’s”. These experiences form the basis of the clinical and socialization processes for adaptation to the roles and functions of a Physician Assistant. A separate 5 week elective is designed for student research.

Length of Program

Students must complete the program in 28 months unless granted a leave of absence for health or personal reasons.  Any student that requests and is granted a leave of absence must complete the program in 40 months (28 month program plus 1 year).

Program sequence and Advance Standing

Students are expected to complete the designated professional curriculum in the sequence specified. Each semester’s course work is to be considered pre-requisite to the next semester.

  1. Students may not enter the program with advanced standing.
  2. Students are required to successfully complete, in sequence, all course work as full-time students.
  3. There is no opportunity to progress into an advanced semester.
  4. There is no opportunity to change the order of pre-clinical course work.
  5. Elective courses are limited to the clinical year.

Students are expected to complete each semester on time as a cohort. Student progression will be a function of successfully passing all required courses in a semester and maintaining a 3.0 GPA. In the didactic phase of the program, any course failure after attempts at remediation will result in dismissal from the program. In the clinical phase, one rotation may be failed, but with remediation and a repeat of that rotation once only for the clinical phase. In that instance, the student’s education may continue 5 more weeks. In the summative phase, the student must pass both the physical assessment exam and the comprehensive written final to pass PA 610 and to be recommended for graduation. If after remediation, a student cannot successfully pass either or both exams, they will not be recommended for graduation and will be released from the program.

Degree Requirements

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from the PA Program, and earn the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree (MSPAS) candidates must:

Achieve a grade of C or better for all courses in the program

Achieve a minimum overall GPA of 3.00 or better at program completion

Successful completion of a multi-station OSCE/history and physical skills assessment by score or after remediation

Successful completion of the comprehensive written final exam by score or after remediation

Be recommended for graduation by the Program Chair and Clarkson University Faculty

Student must have paid all debts to the school and be in good standing

Academic Performance Standards

Standards of acceptable performance (cognitive and psychomotor) for courses are communicated to students in writing via the syllabus and orally reviewed at the introduction of the course.

A student must achieve and maintain the required 3.00 semester Grade Point Average (GPA) to remain in good academic standing and graduate from the PA Program.

The policy of 3.00 or better in a graduate professional program has been adopted to better ensure student’s preparation for future sequential course work. Students will be given feedback at the completion of each exam.

Performance in didactic courses is commonly assessed by written exams, oral presentations and/or research papers, as well as final written (cognitive) exams. In designated courses, psychomotor performance may be assessed by target skill competency exams and small group exercises.

During the didactic phase of the program, grades for cognitive performances will be recorded as a raw score and a percentage. At the end of each course the percentage scores will be converted to a grade, A through F for each of the core PA courses. Grades of D are not utilized.

Performance in the clinical phase of the program is assessed using a combination of targeted behavioral, psychomotor and clinical competencies relative to the supervised practice objectives and opportunities and, when indicated, by the syllabus for the SCPE, grand rounds presentations, and written cognitive exams.

To remain in good academic standing, all PA Students must maintain a minimum semester GPA of 3.00 and receive a “C” or better in all courses (A “ F,” grade in any course may result in academic dismissal from the program).

Additionally, a student may not progress to the clinical year of the program with a cumulative GPA of less than 3.00 at the end of the 3rd semester of the program.

Faculty will meet formally at the end of each semester to discuss student’s academic progress; students will be notified in writing the results of their individual student progress. Each bi-weekly faculty meeting will include an agenda item on student progress. Additionally the department will notify Student Administrative Services to comply with the university policy on satisfactory academic progress.

Example Courses & Concentrations

  • Introduction to the Profession
  • Pharmacotherapeutics I, II, & III
  • Clinical Medicine I, II, & III
  • Clinical Procedures
  • Patient Assessment I, II, & III
  • Medical Informatics
  • The Patient and the PA I & II

Admission Requirements

A complete application requires that the application is e-submitted and all transcripts, payments, and at least three letters of reference have been received by CASPA and attached to the application. Documents should be sent to CASPA several weeks prior to the deadline date to ensure all items arrive on time. A rolling acceptance policy is being used, so applicants may hear from the program prior to the March deadline. The class size will be approximately 25 students.

The prerequisites for admission are listed in this section.  Be sure that you meet the Clarkson program prerequisites before submitting your CASPA application.  This includes your score on the GRE. Please review the technical standards for the program.  Those applicants who are invited to submit a supplemental application will sign a statement in that application that these standards can be met.

Here is how the process works:

Submit your application to the Clarkson University program through CASPA, ensuring that all prerequisites are met.  Prerequisite courses must be completed or in progress at the time of application.

You will be notified when the Clarkson PA program receives your CASPA application.

Your application will be reviewed for completeness within 30 days.

If it is not complete, you will be notified and your application process will cease until corrections or additions are made or the application is closed.

Complete CASPA applications will be reviewed by the Admissions Coordinator.

Once reviewed by The Admissions Coordinator, the application will be either closed (and proceed no further) or recommended for the Clarkson PA supplemental application.  Applicants will be informed of the decision in a timely manner once received.

Qualified applicants will receive an e-mail with instructions to complete the supplemental application.

Applicants will then submit their supplemental application (with a $50 fee) within 30 days or notify the program that they no longer wish to be considered. If the supplemental application is not received within 30 days, the application will be closed.

Once received and processed, the supplemental and CASPA applications will be reviewed by the admissions committee.

The admissions committee will then invite qualified applicants for an interview.   Applicants who complete the supplemental application are not guaranteed an interview.

Depending on the timing of the application and the interview schedule, applicants may be invited for interviews between February and June.

Following each interview session, applicants will be: a) accepted, b) placed on an “active” list for future consideration, or c) informed that they have not been selected.  The decision of which applicants are accepted is made by the admissions committee. Those applicants who are accepted will then have 30 days to pay a deposit of $1,000 to hold their seat in the program.  The deposit is credited toward the first semester tuition. Failure to pay the deposit may result in forfeiture of that acceptance.

A 160 point rubric is used to score applicants for acceptance. Five bonus points are granted to Clarkson University students, graduates, and military veterans. The program defines veterans as those who have served in the military under honorable conditions. The rubric score total is then used to guide the admissions decisions of the faculty, but may not determine the outcome. The admissions committee discusses each candidate in detail, including relevant information from each interview session. Following that discussion, the decision is made on whether an applicant is selected, placed on the active list, or not selected.

The Clarkson University PA program has an articulation agreement with St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. Similar to the Clarkson University Pre-PA Plan, this agreement allows St. Lawrence undergraduate students who have met specific criteria to compete for two seats reserved for them in the next cohort following their graduation. Those seats are returned to the open applicant pool if not utilized.

Departmental Links

Physician Assistant Department


Contact Us

If you are interested in learning more, have questions or are ready to apply contact:
Melissa Roberts
Health Professions Graduate Admissions Coordinator

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