Master of Science PA Medicine
As healthcare costs rise and the number of physicians continues to decline, the demand for non-physician healthcare providers has boomed — especially in rural and underserved areas, where resources and providers are scarce. St. Scholastica’s PA Medicine program will prepare you to be practice-ready
Prepare for Your Clinical Practice
For more than 100 years, St. Scholastica has 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 development of our PA program.
Through a values-based curriculum, our primary care-focused PA program teaches students to provide exceptional primary healthcare in any setting. As a student, you’ll learn in the classroom, through hands-on labs and clinical placements throughout the Midwest. You’ll collaborate with graduate students in several health professions to prepare for clinical practice through interprofessional teamwork. Upon graduation, you’ll be eligible to sit for the National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and be practice-ready.
- The only PA Master’s program north of the Twin Cities
- Innovative rural healthcare-focused curriculum and high-tech classrooms
- Procedure and skills-based training
- Focus on experiencing continuity of care with 12 weeks of primary care rotations
- Opportunities for longitudinal pathway with multiple rotations in a rural community
- 28-month program, including summers
The St. Scholastica Advantage
In this program, you will receive individualized attention from career-focused faculty at the region’s leader in health science education. Learn in a state-of-the-art setting featuring the latest simulation, telehealth and technology-supported patient care equipment. Through the program, you’ll also gain knowledge and skills through:
- Grant-supported program to enhance and expand rural primary care curriculum using medical simulation software, anatomy body painting and online textbooks software, anatomy body painting and online textbooks
- Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS), laparoscopic simulation, MAT training and telehealth certification
- 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
Faculty interactions have been excellent. We work with very lifelike mannequins and we have also had simulated patient encounters.
- Total tuition cost: $101,565 for the 111-credit degree (2023-24 rate)
- Total program cost (tuition and fees): $109,219
- For a full description of all program-related costs, view the Estimated Costs.
- For a full description of the policies and procedures for refunds of tuition and fees, view the St. Scholastica 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 2023-24 academic year and are subject to change. Additional information about current tuition rates and fees is available on our financial aid pages and the 2023-24 PA Student Handbook.
* Tuition rates are for the 2023-24 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 2022-23 rates.
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.
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
|Maximum entering class
size (as approved by ARC-PA)
|Entering class size||31||30||30|
*Attrition rate calculation: Number of students who attritted from cohort divided by the entering class size.
**Graduation rate: Number of cohort graduates divided by the entering class size.
- Class of 2020: 2 students decelerated and graduated with the Class of 2021; 1 student withdrew
- Class of 2022: 1 student decelerated and is anticipated to graduate with the Class of 2023; 1 student withdrew
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:
- Graduate PA students who are committed to providing primary care to rural/underserved Populations:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- Graduate PA students who will practice in the upper midwest, primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin:
- Benchmark: The majority of CSS PA graduates (>50%) will practice in the seven-state region, primarily in Minnesota/Wisconsin.
- Outcome for Class of 2019: Goal was met with 77% of CSS PA graduates practicing in Minnesota or Wisconsin4.
- Outcome for Class of 2020: Goal was met with 84% of CSS PA graduates practicing in Minnesota or Wisconsin4.
- Graduate PA students will be employed within three months of passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE):
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- Educate PA students to achieve the foundational knowledge required to enter into PA professional practice:
- Benchmark: First-time PANCE pass rates will meet the national average (NCCPA).
- 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.
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.
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.
The PA Medicine program is extremely intense and rigorous. The program expects the student’s position in the program to be their primary responsibility and that any outside activity, including student employment, must not interfere with their abilities to accomplish the program expectations. Employment is strongly discouraged during the program. The College will not alter or adjust the program expectations, assignments, deadlines and responsibilities to accommodate working students.
- 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 2023-24 PA Student Handbook, page 32.
The clinical training for PA students is similar to that of a medical student. Your first year is almost entirely classroom instruction with some clinical experiences. During the second half of PA training, you will be immersed in the clinical environment with a clinical preceptor as your 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. You will also be involved in an elective rotation in a medical specialty area.
The program maintains over 300 clinical sites with clinicians who work with the program to provide clinical experience and training. The Director of Clinical Education and the program arrange all of your clinical rotation experiences for you.
Although you may not develop or arrange your clinical site/schedule, you may identify potential new sites and/or preceptors. For more information regarding this process, view the Preceptor/Site Contact Information on page 54 of the 2023-24 PA Student Handbook.
Interested in becoming a preceptor?
Clinical preceptors are a fundamental and valued ingredient in the education of the next generation of PAs. 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!
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 28% percent between 2021 and 2031. As demand for healthcare services grows, PAs will be needed to provide care to patients.
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.
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, 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 Convenience of BlueStone Living
Connect with a BlueStone housing representative about on-site housing options.
Applications open on April 27 in CASPA for the following fall enrollment period. Deadline: Aug. 1.
- 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 with analytical writing within five years of application. Request official scores to be sent to CASPA code 0552. MCAT scores are not accepted. GRE writing score above national average preferred.
Prerequisite course grades must be C or better; prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or above.
- Organic Chemistry
- Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II
- Lifespan Developmental Psychology
- Medical Terminology
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.
- Minnesota Community and Technical Colleges Approved Courses
- Minnesota State Universities Approved Courses
- University of Minnesota Approved Courses
- Minnesota Private Colleges Approved Courses
- University of Wisconsin Approved Courses
*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.
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.
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 St. Scholastica 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- After the application deadline, completed and verified applications from CASPA will be reviewed by the admissions committee.
*Interviews may contribute to bias in the candidate selection process. To minimize this effect, the St. Scholastica PA Medicine program uses a holistic admissions approach and does not interview applicants. We have found this supports a more diverse and inclusive student body.
- 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:
- Immunization Requirements as described in the Immunizations Policy
- 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.