Pathway to Physician Assistant

What is a Physician Assistant

“Physician Assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs employed by the federal government are credentialed to practice. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and in virtually all states, can write prescriptions. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA’s practice may also include education, research, and administrative services.”

American Academy of Physician Assistants, PA Definition


Pre-Physician Assistant Program

Students interested in pursuing a career as a Physician Assistant begin their studies at UMBC by following our Pre-Physician Assistant curriculum, in addition to following an academic major at UMBC. All students interested in becoming a Physician Assistant should plan to graduate first from UMBC. Upon successful completion of a degree, in addition to the pre-requisites for professional school, students will complete two years in a Physician Assistant school at another institution.

Master’s in Physician Assistant Pathway

  • Complete BS/BA degree at UMBC in addition to completing necessary pre-requisites (˜4 years)
  • Apply to accredited PA programs
  • Complete PA degree (˜2 years)
  • Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
  • Begin practicing as a licensed Physician Assistant

Where Our Students Apply: Sample Physician Assistant Programs

  1. University of Maryland, Baltimore
  2. Towson University

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Physician Assistant is expected to grow by 31 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wages of Medical Technologists were $108,610 in May 2018.  (Reference: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physician Assistants, on the Internet here (visited Feb 20, 2020).