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MSPA Program Overview

The Application Cycle for the SIUSOM Physician Assistant Program is April 26, 2018 thru November 1, 2018.

Welcome to the SIU PA Program Website!  We are glad you are here!

The Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (SOM) Physician Assistant (PA) Program began in 1997 and utilizes a problem-based learning (PBL) format for delivery of its medical curriculum. The program is part of the SIU School of Medicine. The PA Program has been a pioneer in using PBL, simulated patients, innovative evaluation techniques, and clinical mentoring programs. 

Because SIU is a major research institution and the national trend in PA education has moved toward the master’s degree, the PA Program transitioned to a master’s level degree program beginning with the class entering summer of 2007. A Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) can be acquired in 26 months.

Because of our transition to a Master’s level program, requirements for admission have also changed. Additionally, applicants are required to complete a bachelor’s degree before being considered for admission to the PA Program.  Any degree in the sciences or medical field will suffice; other degrees are also accepted.

Note for Potential Students

SIU no longer offers a bachelor’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies.  The university does not offer degrees in pre-health professions.  However, a student can enroll in a pre-health profession track through the Science Department, choose a baccalaureate oriented major and fulfill requirements simultaneously.  Therefore, a student planning a professional career in Physician Assistant Studies could register in the College of Science.  Students may want to consider the disciplines of Physiology, Anatomy, Biological Science, Chemistry, Radiological Sciences, Health Care Management, Psychology, Nursing, or other health related undergraduate majors.  Remember that in addition to a Bachelor’s Degree, you must achieve high grades in several prerequisite courses, complete the GRE, and have strong references to be considered for admission to the SIU SOM PA Program.  Additionally,  health care experience is recommended.  


The Physician Assistant Program curriculum includes intense PBL modules combined with clinical experiences. These units of study are based on the most common disease states and preventive medicine guidelines utilized in medical practice.  The curriculum is designed to prepare primary care providers for medical practice. All physician assistant courses are sequenced and are required of all students.  The first year of study (Phase I: Didactic) is on campus in Carbondale. The second year (Phase II: Clinical Rotations) is completed at hubsites at several Illinois locations.  Second year students may be required to relocate to one of these. Phase III is the eight-week Preceptorship and students may complete this at a site of their choice, with faculty approval.  More complete curriculum information is available elsewhere on this website.


Applications for the full 26 month (7 semesters) PA Program are accepted the year prior to matriculation, between April 26th and the published deadline. These dates may change for each application cycle.  Contact the program advisor for updated information. There is a nonrefundable application fee paid in connection with the SIU graduate school application process.  After applications are completed, those who are accepted into the program start classes in June. Accepted applicants will be required to submit a non-refundable enrollment deposit to reserve a position in the class.  The deposit is due within 10 days of the program’s invitation to the applicant and will be applied to tuition two weeks after matriculation.

Before students are accepted into the program they must complete a bachelor’s degree, take the GRE, and complete all Physician Assistant Program prerequisites.  Transfer credits may be accepted (contact Program Advisor).  Academic credit is not awarded for prior work experience.  Consideration for admission to the Physician Assistant Program is given to candidates with high Overall, Prerequisite, and Science grade point averages (GPAs), significant GRE scores, appropriate healthcare experience, and strong letters of recommendation - preferably one letter from a PA-C.  The most qualified candidates are invited to campus for interviews.  Forty students are offered a position in the class each year.

Please be advised that border state students will not receive a tuition decrease. Therefore they will pay a higher tuition rate. Establishing residency to receive the in-state tuition rate can be applied for after six (6) months with a form and certain requirements. Applicants may contact the Graduate School Registration Office at (618) 453-2969 or the Program Advisor.

Degree Awarded

Upon successful completion of both programs, a Master of Science Degree in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) is awarded. A Certificate of Completion in Physician Assistant Training and Program pin is also awarded to students who complete the full 26 month Program. These graduates are then candidates for national certification through the National Commission of the Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).  (

Program Advisement

To speak with the Program Advisor about recommended majors, the current PA program requirements, or if you need other assistance, call (618) 453-5527 or send an email message to A complete transcript must be sent before advisement.   

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and provides equal employment and educational opportunities for all qualified persons without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, protected veteran status or marital status in accordance with local, state and federal law.