Physician Assistant Program

College of Health Sciences-Illinois

Master of Medical Science (M.M.S.) in Physician Assistant Program

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Develop the skills you need to be a vital member of the healthcare team as a student in the Physician Assistant Program. You'll learn from caring faculty experts who will prepare you to apply evidence-based medicine and compassionate decision making to benefit a diverse community of patients. Our student-centered curriculum and expansive clinical experiences will prepare you to build your future as a competent, caring physician assistant dedicated to making meaningful contributions to your patients, the community, and the profession.


Downers Grove, IL

27 months, full-time

Class Size

Graduation Rate
96% (3-year average)

Midwestern University's Master of Medical Science (M.M.S.) in Physician Assistant Studies is a continuous, full-time program extending 27 months from matriculation to graduation. The Physician Assistant (PA) professional curriculum offers students the opportunity to earn a graduate degree and satisfy the eligibility requirements for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). The maximum allotted time for completion of this program is 40.5 months.

The roles and specific clinical duties and responsibilities that graduates can expect to experience will likely vary depending on their chosen career path. PA Program graduates are expected to have the ability to competently perform patient histories and physicals, gather pertinent patient data, order and interpret diagnostic studies, recognize common diseases and disorders, choose appropriate therapeutic modalities, perform surgical procedures, manage emergency life-threatening conditions, promote health through counseling, education, and disease prevention, and demonstrate interpersonal skills consistent with the physician assistant role.

The didactic coursework includes 12 months of basic science coursework in anatomy, biochemistry, neuroscience, physiology, pharmacology, immunology, genetics, and microbiology. It also includes clinical coursework in clinical medicine, behavioral medicine, professional issues, and interpretation of the medical literature. During the remaining 15 months, students are required to rotate through eight core clinical rotations and two elective clinical rotations, in addition to completing advanced clinical medicine courses and a capstone project.

The second-year clinical program is primarily delivered at affiliated clinical sites and facilities within the Chicago metropolitan area. These sites are geographically and demographically diverse, reflecting the broad scope of practice opportunities that exist for PAs in the healthcare delivery system of this country. Sites include ambulatory practice settings, small and large office-based group practices, community health centers, in-patient settings involving large and small hospitals as well as federal and state facilities. These sites are in urban, suburban, and rural communities. In addition, the Program has established formal affiliations with clinical facilities and practitioners in a number of other states. As part of the clinical education phase of the program, students enrolled in the PA Program will likely be assigned to clinical rotations that reflect the geographic and demographic diversity described above, including distant in-state and out-of state rotations. Subsidized housing is provided for distant in-state and out-of-state core clinical rotations only. Students are expected to secure their own housing for local and elective rotations, and must provide their own transportation to all core and elective clinical rotations regardless of location. Midwestern University PA students are never required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors.

No advanced placement within the PA Program is allowed for prior academic, clinical, or life experience. Midwestern University has an articulation agreement that exists between programs. Please view additional information related to the PA Program's interview and selection processes for student admission. The Program also strongly discourages students from seeking outside employment while attending Midwestern University and will not make any exceptions in didactic or clinical workload for any student who chooses to engage in outside employment.

The PA Program does not offer an extended course of study beyond the usual length of the program. Please view more information on the curriculum. Please also see the Midwestern University Catalog for more detailed course descriptions and additional University, College, and Program policies which pertain to Physician Assistant students.


The mission of the Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program is to develop competent and compassionate physician assistants who will make meaningful contributions to their patients, community and profession.

Midwestern University is committed to establishing a culture of inclusivity that celebrates diversity.  As part of its vision, Midwestern University embraces cultural and social diversity in the academic community and the community-at-large.

The Midwestern University-Downers Grove Physician Assistant Program also celebrates diversity, inclusion, and many perspectives in medical education. We value diversity among students, faculty, and staff throughout the educational experience. We seek to prepare future clinicians to serve diverse populations and address the healthcare needs of all patients. 

These values and aims align with Midwestern University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and express commitment to meeting the diversity and inclusion standards set forth by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.

The goals of the Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program are to: 1) provide a rigorous academic and clinical curriculum and achieve first-time PANCE percentage pass rates above the national average, 2) cultivate an environment of professionalism to encourage the development of competent and compassionate providers, 3) prepare students to serve diverse populations in both primary care and specialty settings, 4) demonstrate the application of evidence-based medicine and foster a continuous commitment to life-long learning and community involvement as a health care provider, and 5) develop and implement student recruitment and holistic admissions processes to enhance the number of our matriculants from groups who are underrepresented in medicine and/or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Midwestern University PA Program demonstrates achievement of these goals by analyzing the results of student performance in the didactic and clinical year, PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE) pass rates, and regular surveys of graduates and preceptors.

The following document demonstrates how the Program achieves each of its goals - IL Physician Assisant Program Goals 

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued to the Midwestern University-Downers Grove Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Midwestern University. 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 March 2023. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website.

Students seeking admission to the PA Program must submit the following documented evidence:

  1. Minimum cumulative science and overall GPAs of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale. Competitive applicants typically have science and overalls GPAs of 3.3 or higher.
  2. Completion of prerequisite courses as listed below from regionally accredited colleges or universities.
    • All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of a C or better.
    • Grades of C- are NOT acceptable for any prerequisite courses.
    • If advanced placement (AP) credit has been granted by an outside institution, this credit will automatically be considered for the following prerequisite courses: Math, Statistics, English Composition, and Social and Behavioral Science courses.
    • For AP credit earned in Biology and Chemistry, MWU may request the submission of appropriate documentation (as determined by MWU) to verify the AP credit earned meets the program's admission standards.
    • Life experience credits do not count toward fulfillment of any prerequisite courses.
    • Courses in which grades of "pass" are earned will be counted only when applicants can provide verification that the earned grades are equivalent to grades of C or better (grades of C- are not acceptable).
  3. Completion of prerequisite courses by December 31st of the year which precedes the year of anticipated matriculation.
    • No exceptions will be made.
    • Applicants must determine which prerequisites are missing and which courses must be taken to fulfill any outstanding prerequisites.
    • Students invited to interview must show documentation on the day of their visit that they are enrolled in or registered for any outstanding prerequisites.
  4. Completion of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university before matriculation.
  5. If applicable, completion of required non-cognitive assessments (e.g., situational judgment testing).
  6. Motivation for and commitment to healthcare as demonstrated by previous work, volunteer work, or other life experiences.
  7. Demonstration of service and leadership through community service or extracurricular activities.
  8. Oral and written communication skills necessary to interact with patients and colleagues.
  9. Passage of Midwestern University criminal background check.
  10. Commitment to abide by the Midwestern University Drug-Free Workplace and Substance Abuse Policy.
  11. Submission of documentation that demonstrates completion of or progress towards completing tuberculosis screening and all required immunizations.  Students are required to complete tuberculosis screening and all required immunizations prior to beginning their clinical phase of training.



Sem Hrs

Qtr Hrs

Biology with lab*






General Chemistry with lab*



Organic Chemistry with lab*



Math (college algebra or above)






English Composition**



Social and Behavioral Sciences (Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology)



*All science prerequisites must be courses designed for science majors. No survey courses will fulfill science prerequisites. Courses with an online laboratory component will not meet any biology or chemistry prerequisite. The Midwestern University-Downers Grove Physician Assistant Program is aware that many universities and colleges across the country had to modify their curriculum in reaction to the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. One modification was offering coursework, including laboratory components, online. Currently, the PA Program policy is that courses with an online laboratory component will not meet any biology or chemistry prerequisite. This policy will be amended to accept prerequisite coursework with a laboratory component completed during Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Summer 2021, or Fall 2021 which was only offered online. In these circumstances, MWU may request appropriate documentation to verify that the institution was not offering in-person laboratory components for prerequisite courses the applicant completed during the above time period(s). In addition, advanced placement credit received at the undergraduate level may not satisfy biology or chemistry prerequisites. For advanced placement (AP) credit earned in biology and chemistry, MWU may request the submission of appropriate documentation (as determined by MWU) to verify the AP credit earned meets the program's admission standards.

**Courses accepted for the English Composition prerequisite include rhetoric, composition, technical writing, and courses designated as writing intensive by the institution.

Pass/Fail coursework during COVID-19:
The Midwestern University-Downers Grove Physician Assistant Program is aware that many universities and colleges across the country had to modify their curriculum in reaction to the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. One modification included awarding Pass/Fail final grades instead of traditional letter grades for completed coursework. According to the admissions requirement of the Midwestern University-Downers Grove PA Program, prerequisite courses in which grades of "pass" are earned are counted only when applicants can provide verification that the earned grades are equivalent to grades of C or better (grades of C- are not acceptable). This requirement will be waived for all prerequisite coursework completed during Spring, Summer, or Fall 2020 in which only pass/fail grades were awarded. In these circumstances, MWU may request appropriate documentation to verify that the institution was not awarding letter grades for prerequisite courses the applicant completed during the above time period(s).

Core Competencies for the Midwestern University – Downers Grove Physician Assistant Program

To ensure students who graduate from the Midwestern University-Downers Grove Physician Assistant (PA) Program are prepared for entry-level PA practice, they receive a didactic and clinical training curriculum that facilitates their achievement of specific core competencies. The Midwestern University-Downers Grove PA Program competencies were developed using existing competency frameworks, such as the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession (revised 2020) and the Physician Assistant Education Association’s Core Competencies for New Physician Assistant Graduates. The core competencies adopted by the Midwestern University-Downers Grove PA Program are listed below.

1. Knowledge for Practice
Graduates should be able to recognize normal health states and emerging, acute, and chronic abnormal health states, utilizing current scientific evidence to inform clinical reasoning and medical decision-making, and apply this knowledge to patient care.

1.1   Demonstrate critical thinking in clinical situations
1.2   Access and interpret current and credible sources of medical information
1.3   Discern between acute, chronic, and emergent disease states
1.4   Incorporate principles of basic and clinical sciences to develop a differential diagnosis

1.5   Apply principles of basic and clinical sciences to accurately diagnose disease and formulate an appropriate treatment plan

2. Patient Centered-Practice
Graduates should provide patient-centered care that is evidence-based and focused on safety and health equity.

2.1   Gather accurate and essential information about patients through history-taking, physical examination, and diagnostic testing
2.2   Develop individualized patient management plans
2.3   Demonstrate proficiency in the performance of program-defined core clinical skills needed for entry-level practice
2.4   Refer patients appropriately
2.5   Provide care and education to patients to maintain and/or improve health

3. Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Graduates should demonstrate the ability to engage with patients and a variety of health care professionals in a manner that optimizes safe and effective patient-centered care.

3.1   Communicate effectively with patients
3.2   Demonstrate active listening and appropriate nonverbal communication with patients
3.3   Accurately document medical information in patient records

4. Professionalism
Graduates should demonstrate a commitment to practicing medicine in ethically and legally appropriate ways, emphasizing professional maturity by prioritizing the interest of those being served above one’s own interests, and recognizing personal limitations to ensure the delivery of safe and quality care.

4.1   Demonstrate compassion and respect for others
4.2   Demonstrate responsiveness to patient needs
4.3   Demonstrate provision of ethical care: Informed Consent

5. Practice-based Learning and Improvement/Personal Wellness:
Graduates should be able to demonstrate a commitment to continuous self-improvement and patient care by critically assessing new medical information and addressing opportunities for growth in their medical abilities. They should also look for ways to maintain or improve on their overall health.

5.1  Exhibit self-awareness to identify strengths, address deficiencies, and recognize limits in knowledge
5.2  Create improvement goals that address gaps in knowledge, skills, and attitudes
5.3  Identify self-care and personal issues that affect one’s ability to fulfill professional responsibilities

Graduation Rate (3-year average)

Certifying Exam Pass Rate

Median Salary

Estimated Cost of Attendance


Physician Assistant Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Tuition $55,449 $55,449 $13,863
Student Services Fee $724 $724 $181
Health Ins $3,736 $3,736 $934
Disability Ins. Fee $63 $63 $16
Books & Supplies $3088 $826 $0
AAPA Membership $75 $0 $0

See the Midwestern University Catalog for policies and procedures related to refund of tuition and fees.

Class of 2023 Profile (Matriculated June 2021)

  • Female: 92%
  • Male: 8%
  • Mean Age: 23 years (Range 21-34)
  • Mean Overall GPA: 3.76
  • Mean Science GPA: 3.72
  • Mean GRE Percentiles: Verbal 66, Quantitative 57, Analytical 77
  • Class Size: 86
  • Top Home States: Illinois (52%), Indiana, Colorado, Minnesota, California, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas

Attrition and Graduation Rates

Please click the following link for information pertaining to the Program's attrition and graduation rates: ARC-PA Student Attrition Template

The average graduation rate for the program is 96%, which was calculated using the graduation rates for the PA Classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Career Opportunities

Primary care, surgery, medical and surgical specialties, emergency medicine, behavioral medicine

Employment Projections and Salary

Number of PA jobs projected to increase by 37% by the year 20261


Median annual salary is $105,000 (varies by hours worked, specialty, practice setting, location, experience)2

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S., Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physician Assistants, on the internet at (visited 04/27/2018)

2. American Academy of PAs. (2018). 2018 AAPA Salary Report. Alexandria, VA.


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