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The College of St. Scholastica

We need PAs. We need you.

For more than 100 years, we’ve been committed to meeting the healthcare needs of rural areas in Minnesota and neighboring states. Those needs led to the creation of our nursing program in the 1930s and the initial development of our PA program today.

Fast Facts

  • The only PA Master’s program north of the Twin Cities
  • Innovative curriculum, high-tech classrooms
  • Interprofessional education with Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Social Work, Health Information Management, Athletic Training, Exercise Physiology and Nursing programs
  • A PA school with a rural healthcare focus
  • 28-month program, including summers

Mission Statement

In accordance with our Benedictine values, the College of St. Scholastica’s PA Medicine program’s mission is to educate PA students within a comprehensive, interprofessional and innovative curriculum to provide high-quality care across the lifespan and meet the healthcare needs of our region.

The St. Scholastica Advantage

  • Small class sizes — meaning that every student receives abundant individual attention
  • Practice interprofessional teamwork that’s required in the workplace by collaborating with graduate students in a variety of health professions, including Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Athletic Training, Health Informatics, Exercise Physiology, Nursing and Social Work
  • Clinical placements throughout the Midwest and with populations where jobs are abundant — primary care and rural settings
  • Collaboration with regional health systems known for excellent clinical education — including two local Level I and II trauma designated, award-winning healthcare systems that offer over 75 specialties
  • Innovative curriculum using medical simulation software and online textbooks
  • Classes held in a state-of-the-art building featuring the latest in simulation, telehealth and technology-supported patient care equipment
  • All from an institution that is the region’s leader in health science education

The curriculum is well-rounded and includes education on disease management, interviewing and examination techniques, and clinical skills.

Marissa Engelson

Degree Details

Tuition and Fees

Tuition: $876/credit*

  • Total tuition cost: ​$96,237 for the 111-credit degree (2021-22 rate)
  • Total program cost (tuition and fees): $100,421
  • For a full description of all program-related costs, please see our Estimated Costs.
  • For a full description of the policies and procedures for refunds of tuition and fees, please see the CSS website for details.
  • These figures are for estimation purposes only. Because tuition and fee rates change each year, your costs for the 28-month degree will likely be higher than the total figures quoted here.
  • Additional fees apply for labs, equipment, certification, and supplies. These fees are in effect for the 2021-22 academic year and are subject to change. Additional information about current tuition rates and fees is available on our financial aid pages and the PA Student Handbook.

* Tuition rates are for the 2022-23 academic year. Additional fees and costs for course materials may apply. Total program cost and completion time varies depending on transfer credits and individual program plans. Tuition rates are subject to change. View the 2021-2022 tuition rates.

Program Overview

What does a PA do?

PAs are nationally certified health care professionals who are state-licensed to practice medicine and prescribe medication in every medical and surgical specialty and setting. PAs practice and prescribe in 50 states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories and are licensed to practice in Puerto Rico. PAs are educated at the graduate level, receiving a Master’s degree or higher. In order to maintain national certification, PAs are required to recertify as medical generalists every 10 years and complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years.

PA education and the PA Medicine Program is modeled on physician education and PA students are taught to perform a comprehensive range of medical duties, from basic primary care to specialty procedures. PA students are also taught how to act as first or second assistants in major surgery and provide pre- and postoperative care.

PA Medicine students are taught to be generalists so that in locations where physicians are in short supply, they may serve as the primary providers of health care, collaborating with physicians and other medical professionals as needed and as required by law.

Program Aims

  • Teach across the lifespan to prepare graduates for practice in every setting
  • Emphasize curriculum and clinical education around rural and underserved populations to prepare graduates to practice in these areas
  • Provide interprofessional experiences to create “team-care-ready” PAs
  • Provide outstanding PAs for our regional healthcare systems
  • Practice inclusive excellence in every experience and encounter
  • Develop leadership skills to prepare PAs to be a valued member of the medical team
  • Encourage dedication to our communities and the people we serve
  • Incorporate our Benedictine values into our professional work
  • Demonstrate the value of lifelong learning
  • Add value to and enrich the PA profession
  • Achieve Program Goals

PANCE Results

All graduates of an accredited PA program must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) prior to obtaining a license to practice. This exam is developed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). View the College of St. Scholastica’s PA Program’s NCCPA PANCE Report.

Graduation and Attrition Rates

View the PA Medicine program’s Graduation and Attrition Rate Summary Report.

Program Goals and Outcomes

The program has defined measurable goals for its graduates. The following data has been collected after the graduation of its first two classes in 2019 and 2020, and is published here:

  1. Graduate PA students who are committed to providing primary care to rural/underserved Populations:
    1. Benchmark: Graduate CSS PA students will exceed the average percentage of recently graduated PAs working in primary care and underserved urban/rural settings, as defined and reported by the NCCPA1-3.
    2. Outcome for Class of 2019: Goal was met with 32% of CSS PA Graduates in primary care and 40% of CSS PA Graduates in rural/underserved settings4 (Per the 2018 NCCPA reports1,2, 20% of graduate PAs were working in primary care1 and 14% in underserved urban/rural settings2).
    3. Outcome for Class of 2020: Goal was met with 24% of CSS PA Graduates in primary care and 28% of CSS PA Graduates in rural/underserved settings4 (Per the 2020 NCCPA report3, 23% of recently certified PAs were working in primary care and 20% in underserved urban/rural settings).
  2. Graduate PA students who will practice in the upper midwest, primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin:
    1. Benchmark: The majority of CSS PA graduates (>50%) will practice in the seven-state region, primarily in Minnesota/Wisconsin.
    2. Outcome for Class of 2019: Goal was met with 77% of CSS PA graduates practicing in Minnesota or Wisconsin4.
    3. Outcome for Class of 2020: Goal was met with 84% of CSS PA graduates practicing in Minnesota or Wisconsin4.
  3. Graduate PA students will be employed within three months of passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE):
    1. Benchmark: The number of CSS PA graduates choosing to seek employment and employed within three months of passing the PANCE will meet the national average as reported by the NCCPA2,3.
    2. Outcome for Class of 2019: 71% of respondents surveyed by the program indicated they were employed within three months of passing the PANCE (Per the 2018 NCCPA report2, 67% of PA graduates who chose to seek employment were employed within three months of passing the PANCE).
    3. Outcome for Class of 2020: 90% of respondents surveyed by the program indicated they were employed within three months of passing the PANCE (Per the 2020 NCCPA report3, 84% of PA graduates who chose to seek employment were employed within three months of passing the PANCE).
  4. Educate PA students to achieve the foundational knowledge required to enter into PA professional practice:
    1. Benchmark: First-time PANCE pass rates will meet the national average (NCCPA).
    2. Outcomes: First-time PANCE pass rate was 86% (NCCPA National First-time PANCE pass rate was 93%) for the Class of 2019 and 93% (NCCPA National First-time PANCE pass rate was 95%) for the Class of 2020; overall PANCE pass rate for CSS PA graduates was 100%5.

1 National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Inc. (2018). 2017 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants.

2 National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Inc. (2018). 2017 Statistical Profile of Recently Certified Physician Assistants.

3 National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Inc. (2020). 2019 Statistical Profile of Recently Certified Physician Assistants Annual Report.

4 Data obtained from The College of St. Scholastica PA alumni surveys from the 2019 and 2020 cohorts, last updated December 2021.

5 The College of St. Scholastica PA Program data from the NCCPA Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Five Year First Time Taker Summary Report, last updated April 2021.

Curriculum

Visit our Catalog to view the program, course and degree requirements, and learning outcomes. Be sure to create your course plan in consultation with your advisor.

The PA Studies program is a post-baccalaureate, master’s degree leading to a Master of Science in PA Medicine degree. Entry into this program requires completion of a bachelor’s degree and program-specific prerequisites.

Program Length

The PA program is a 28-month, full-time program. For courses, credit hours and course sequence see our curriculum schemas (2020-2021) and (2021-2022).

Policy on Advanced Placement: Advanced Placement is not accepted or available.

Policy on Experiential Learning: No credit will be granted to students for experiential learning performed prior to the start of the program.

Both policies are outlined in the PA Student Handbook, page 33-34.

Student Employment

The PA Studies program is an extremely intense and rigorous program. The program expects that the student’s position in the program is their primary responsibility and that any outside activity must not interfere with abilities to accomplish the program expectations. Employment is strongly discouraged during the program. Program expectations, assignments, deadlines and responsibilities will not be altered or adjusted to accommodate working students and it is expected that student employment will not interfere with the student learning experience.

Licensure

To become a certified PA following completion of a Master’s program, you must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), a computer-based, multiple-choice test comprising questions that assess basic medical and surgical knowledge.

Program Student Learning Outcomes (Program Competencies)

The CSS PA program’s student learning outcomes are designed to prepare graduates for entry into practice with the competencies expected of a “practice-ready” PA. The student learning outcomes are derived from the following professional competencies described by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). These competencies are:

  • Medical Knowledge
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Patient Care
  • Professionalism
  • Practice-based Learning and Improvement
  • Systems -based Practice

Upon completion of the CSS PA Program, graduates will be expected to demonstrate competency in the following student learning outcomes:

Medical Knowledge

Upon completion of the program, and acting in the capacity as an entry level PA, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the ability to integrate and apply this knowledge to patient care
  • Demonstrate the medical, surgical, behavioral and social science knowledge necessary to effectively evaluate, diagnose, and manage patients across the lifespan
  • Demonstrate the ability to effectively evaluate, diagnose and manage patients with a range of problems seen in a variety of practice settings with emergent, acute and chronic presentations
  • Identify the appropriate interventions for prevention of disease conditions and promotion of healthy living behaviors

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Upon completion of the program, and acting in the capacity as an entry level PA, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate oral and written communication skills to effectively exchange information with patients, families and other members of the healthcare team
  • Communicate in a respectful, patient-centered and culturally responsive manner to accurately obtain, interpret and utilize information and implement a patient-centered management plan
  • Demonstrate accurate and adequate documentation of care for medical, legal, quality and financial purposes

Patient Care

Upon completion of the program, and acting in the capacity as an entry-level PA, students will be able to:

  • Make informed, evidence-based and culturally sensitive decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, current scientific evidence and clinical judgment
  • Demonstrate the ability to counsel and educate patients and their families
  • Demonstrate the ability to effectively work within an interdisciplinary and patient-centered healthcare team to develop and implement patient management plans

Professionalism

Upon completion of the program, and acting in the capacity as an entry-level PA, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate professionalism in interactions with others including patients, families and other members of the healthcare team
  • Demonstrate knowledge of legal and regulatory requirements specific to the PA profession
  • Demonstrate the ability to recognize their own professional and personal limitations in providing care and make appropriate patient referrals when necessary

Practice-Based Learning and Improvement

Upon completion of the program, and acting in the capacity as an entry-level PA, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate research literature and apply that knowledge to educational and/or practice-based improvement projects promoting improved patient experiences and outcomes

Systems-Based Practice

Upon completion of the program, and acting in the capacity as an entry-level PA, students will be able to:

  • Apply the concepts of population health to patient care

 

Clinicals

Supervised Clinical Practice Experiences (SCPEs) Scheduling Policy

SCPE placement for students is the responsibility of the Director of Clinical Education and the program. All decisions regarding student placement will be made by the program.

The program maintains many clinical sites with clinicians who work with the program to provide clinical experience and training. Students may not develop or arrange their own clinical sites or clinical schedule, however, students will have the opportunity to identify potential new sites and/or preceptors through the Preceptor/Site Contact Information Form found in Appendix XIII of the PA Student Handbook. The program is happy to look into the potential site/preceptor and determine if it meets program standards.  Please note that this process can take at least 90 days and does not guarantee placement.

Interested in becoming a preceptor?

Clinical preceptors are a fundamental and valued ingredient in the education of the next generation of PAs.The clinical training of PA students is similar to the training of a medical student. The PA student’s first year is almost entirely didactic with some clinical shadowing experiences. During the second half of PA training, students are immersed in the clinical environment with a clinical preceptor as their guide and teacher. The clinical preceptor can be a board-certified PA, NP, MD, or DO. The clinical phase of PA education includes core rotations in primary care, inpatient medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, women’s health, and general surgery. Students also have an elective rotation in a medical specialty area.

If you are interested in participating in the education of future PAs, please complete the form. Thank you for your interest! We will be in touch!

Career Outlook

As healthcare providers try to combat the rising costs, the demand for PAs is increasing dramatically. In fact, The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for PAs will grow by 31 percent between 2019 and 2029. As demand for healthcare services grows, PAs will be needed to provide care to patients.

Accreditation

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to The College of St. Scholastica PA Medicine Program sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica. 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 September 2031. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website.

The Health Science Center at BlueStone: A Beautiful Place to Learn

This program is located in the Health Science Center (HSC) at BlueStone, approximately one mile from the main St Scholastica campus in Duluth. The BlueStone development includes retail, restaurants, and housing in addition to the HSC. BlueStone Lofts, The Vue at BlueStone and BlueStone Flats offer convenient high-end housing options for students. The HSC includes state-of-the-art classroom space, a research laboratory, meeting rooms, faculty offices, and student lounge areas overlooking Lake Superior. The maurices Community Clinic is also located in the HSC, providing students with mentored hands-on learning opportunities and interdisciplinary training. The maurices Community Clinic serves uninsured and underinsured individuals from the Duluth community.

The Convenience of BlueStone Living
Connect with a BlueStone housing representative about on-site housing options.

Admission Information

Visit our admissions page for information about transcripts, online application, international admissions and financing.

Application Deadlines

Applications are accepted through CASPA from April 28 to Aug. 1, for the following fall enrollment period.

Eligibility

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree at a regionally accredited college or university
  • Minimum cumulative and prerequisite GPAs of 3.0
  • All prerequisites must have a minimum grade of “C”
  • 750 hours of paid direct patient/client work experience (HCE) is strongly encouraged. A successful applicant will typically have greater than 750 HCE hours. An applicant may still apply while actively completing HCE hours and will have the opportunity to describe plans for completion on the CASPA application. Typical experiences may include CNA, personal care attendant through an agency, EMT, paramedic, scribe, or other healthcare professional. The key part of this requirement is that the experience must involve direct, face-to-face service with the patient/client.
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the role and responsibilities of a PA
  • All students must also review the technical standards (pdf) required for program entry
  • Applicants are required to complete the GRE within five years of application. Request official scores to be sent to CASPA code 0552. MCAT scores are not accepted. Due to COVID-19, GRE offers an at-home testing option. GRE writing score above national average preferred.
Note: Meeting minimum entrance requirements does not guarantee admission.

Prerequisites

All prerequisite coursework must be completed with GPA of 3.0 or above; individual course grades must be a C or better:

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II
  • Microbiology
  • Lifespan Developmental Psychology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Statistics
Policy regarding Pass/No Pass (P/F, C/NC, S/U) and online coursework due to COVID-19 impact

Any prerequisite course taken for credit (pass/fail, credit/no credit, satisfactory/unsatisfactory, etc.) between spring 2020 — spring 2021 will be accepted; however, it will not count toward the prerequisite GPA. We strongly encourage grades if there is an option between grades and pass/fail. We have always accepted grades from regionally accredited online courses and will continue to do so.

Note: Labs are recommended in science-related courses, when applicable. All prerequisites must have been completed within 10 years* from the year of application. All prerequisites must be completed, via official transcript, by Aug. 1 of the program start year. Preference is given to those applicants with the majority of the science prerequisites complete (with a letter grade) at the time of application. Because prerequisite courses establish the framework for the PA program, all prerequisite courses must be completed at an institution of higher learning.

Applicants must report every college course attempted in the Coursework section of the CASPA application, including those courses later repeated for a higher grade. CASPA GPAs include ALL courses completed with grades/credits, even if they were later repeated for a higher grade.

Due to the high volume of interest in the PA Medicine program at The College of St. Scholastica, the Office of Graduate Admissions does not review unofficial transcripts to determine the completion of prerequisite coursework. If you have specific questions about a particular course, please reference the prerequisite equivalency tables to determine if the course meets the stated requirement.

*Any student may request a waiver of admission requirements through a written request to the Graduate Admissions Office. These requests must be received by the Graduate Admissions Office by July 1 to allow ample time for review prior to the Aug. 1 application deadline. The Department Chair may determine prerequisite course equivalencies and grant waivers for time limitations without full PA Admission Committee involvement.  Other waiver requests may require a committee vote. Waiver of GPA and course grade minimum requirements will not be considered. The Department Chair notifies the applicant and the Graduate Admissions Counselor of waiver decisions in writing.

Selection Process

The admissions committee will consider:

  • Cognitive factors which include cumulative and prerequisite GPA, and GRE with writing score. Additional consideration is given to applicants who exceed the minimum GPA requirements, show upward GPA trends (undergraduate/post-bacc/graduate) and have GRE scores above the national average.
  • Admissions preference will be given to applicants with a CSS undergraduate degree, and/or demographic factors which include those from rural/urban communities, those from underrepresented and underserved populations, and those from the upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota and South Dakota, with an emphasis on students from Minnesota and Wisconsin)
  • Interest in underrepresented populations and primary care as demonstrated by healthcare and volunteer experiences that indicate a commitment to service
  • Desired qualities include student career goals that fit the program’s mission, professionalism, interpersonal skills and dedication to lifelong learning

The College of St. Scholastica has a long-standing history of supporting veterans in reaching their career goals. The PA Medicine program at St. Scholastica is committed to our nation’s veterans. We offer admissions preference to all veteran applicants. While this does not guarantee admission, it is an acknowledgment of the College’s dedication to veterans and their needs.

Veteran Admission Information

Transcripts

Official transcripts from every post-secondary institution attended or where credit was earned must be sent to CASPA. Instructions are indicated on the CASPA application.

Online Application

  1. Submit a CASPA application. The program does not interview applicants for admission. We may contact you by email or phone to clarify the information in your CASPA application.
  2. In the CASPA application, enter contact information for three people to submit recommendation information/letters on your behalf. Applicants will be asked to provide a personal statement and a response to three program-specific essay questions.
  3. After the application deadline, completed and verified applications from CASPA will be reviewed by the admissions committee.

Accepted Students

  • Submit $500 non-refundable deposit and Decision Response Form. Upon matriculation, this deposit is applied to the student’s tuition.
  • Submit Student Health Services forms, including the immunization form, through the my.CSS student portal/My Health/Forms.
  • Meet specific health requirements of the PA Medicine program prior to Matriculation:
  • Pass mandated criminal background checks prior to the first day of classes. Background checks will be completed during orientation.
  • Submit a copy of current BLS certification (certification needs to be current through August of the didactic year)

Meet Our Faculty

Experienced, Dedicated and Distinguished Educators

Expect to be heard, to be challenged and to be involved. St. Scholastica faculty are world-class scholars and experts in their field who invest in your success. Our values of community, respect, stewardship, hospitality and love of learning reflect our faculty’s commitment to lifting up others and celebrating our common humanity.