Physician Assistant (PA) 5-Year Program

Become a Physician Assistant in five years

Female PA students practicing suturing.

Physician assistants (PAs) obtain a master's degree and are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice.

At Detroit Mercy, you'll be rigorously educated and trained as a caring health professional.

With Detroit Mercy's 5-year program, your journey begins your freshman year.

The Physician Assistant program at Detroit Mercy is the first five-year entry level master's degree program in Michigan. "Entry level" means that you enter Detroit Mercy as a freshman and five years later you graduate with both a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Science in Physician Assistant studies.

(Already in college? There's a path to a PA degree for you too. Find out about our Pre-PA Program for current UDM students in any major.)

Several female PA students practice loading injections

To obtain a license, PAs must:

icon of graduate capGraduate from an accredited PA Program. Detroit Mercy's PA program has been continuously accredited since 1972 by Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

icon of online testPass a certification exam. Detroit Mercy PA graduates have excellent national certification rates. In 2021, 95% of candidates passed the PANCE exam.

We are a smaller university, so the professors will really get to know you by name throughout the semester. The connections truly make scheduling meetings and asking for help much easier.

— Karly Kizi '26
5-Year Physician Assistant
West Bloomfield, MI

Networking and support throughout your academic career

PAEA logoDetroit Mercy holds membership in the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). PAEA offers a variety of information, resources, and tools to support future PAs, including study tools for certification, fellowships, and the Pi Alpha National Honor Society for Physician Assistants.

AAPA logoDetroit Mercy PA hosts a student chapter of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), called William Beaumont Society. The society's goal is to foster academic and clinical excellence in the physician assistant student, while AAPA’s constituent chapters provide their members locally-based CME, networking opportunities, social gatherings, timely information, advocacy and job resources.

Pre-PA Club logoAs an undergraduate student, consider joining the Pre-PA Club. Among other things, you'll meet with current PA students to discuss their experiences, have the opportunity to be patient models for the PA school examinations, be invited to hear health professional speakers and participate in service learning activities.

PA students in simlab

Job Outlook

icon of an award ribbon

#2 and #3

#2 for Best Healthcare Jobs
#3 on the overall Best Jobs list. It's also #3 on the Best STEM Jobs List.

—U.S. News & World Report 2022

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There are approximately 159,000 PAs in the U.S. and that will be growing by 28% in the next ten years.

—NCCPA and Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

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500 Million

PAs have over 500 million patient interactions a year at

  • Outpatient clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Urgent care facilities

Picture of Stephanie ConantIf we think about the world today and the world that all of our students are going into, it is increasingly diverse. On a daily basis at Detroit Mercy, you get exposure to different life experiences and stories of challenges from your peers of diverse backgrounds. And when you then take that with you into your professional life, the better health provider you'll be. You'll be a person who is able to meet individuals where they are, and provide the kind of care that they need.

—Stephanie Conant
Professor and Chair, Biology
On Detroit Mercy's diverse student population

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    Admission Requirements

    The accelerated 5-Year Physician Assistant program accepts a select number of highly-qualified entering freshmen each fall. To be considered for admission, students must meet the following criteria:

    • Current senior in high school
    • ACT of 26+ or SAT R 1240+
    • Cumulative high school GPA of 3.5+
    • Math and science GPA of 3.5+
    • Participate in an on-campus essay writing exercise and interview (by invitation only)
    • The application deadline is November 1

    If accepted, students must maintain an overall college GPA of at least a 3.5 and a science GPA of at least a 3.3 to remain in the program. Students must also demonstrate maturity, leadership, academic integrity and complete 1,000 patient contact hours before beginning the graduate studies phase of the program.

    The accelerated 5-Year Physician Assistant program may not be the best program option for all students. Applicants not selected for admission into the accelerated program will be considered for admission into the traditional, four-year Pre-Physician Assistant program. Students who enroll in the traditional program apply to Physician Assistant school after earning a Bachelor degree.


    Program Course Schedule Example

    Find Degree Requirements in the Undergraduate Catalog

    Year 1—Undergraduate

    Year 1 - Undergraduate - Fall - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    BIO 1200 Gen Bio I(C1) 3
    BIO 1210 Gen Bio Lab I(C1) 2
    CHM 1070 Gen Chem I 3
    CHM 1100 Gen Chem Lab I 1
    MTH 1400 Elementary Funcs (B1) 3
    ENL 1310 Academic Writing (A2) 3
    Total 15


    Year 1 - Undergraduate - Winter - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    BIO 1220 Gen Bio II 3
    BIO 1230 Gen Bio Lab II 2
    CHM 1080 Gen Chem II 3
    CHM 1120 Gen Chem Lab II 1
    CST 1010 Speech (A1) 3
    PHL 1000 Intro Philosophy (D1) 3
    PAS 1010 Intro to PA Profession 2
    Total 17

    SUMMER - Clinical Training Certification

    Year 2—Undergraduate

    Year 2 - Undergraduate - Fall - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    BIO 2700, Genetics 3
    CHM 2270 Organic Chem I 3
    CHM 2250 Organic Chem Lab I 1
    BIO 2040 Applied Nutrition 3
    HUS 4410 Multicultural Understanding (IT3/IT4) 3
    Literature (E2) 3
    Total 16


    Year 2 - Undergraduate - Winter - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    BIO 4801 Adv Human Anatomy 3
    PYC 2500 Dev Psych (IT1/C2) 3
    CHM 2290 Organic Chem II 3
    CHM 2260 Organic Chem Lab II 1
    BIO 2900 Biostatistics 3
    RELS (D2)* 3
    *CAS 2000 (D2/IT5/IT6)
    Total 16


    SUMMER - Work on gaining 1000 Clinical hours, complete GRE exam


    Year 3 - Undergraduate - Fall - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    BIO 4740 Cell and Molec 3

    Upper-Level Biology Laboratory (choose one):
    BIO 3660 Human Anatomy Laboratory (1 credit)
    BIO 4640 Physiology Laboratory (2 credits)
    BIO 4750 Cellular & Molecular Biology Lab (2 credits)
    BIO 4802 Advanced Human Anatomy Lab for Pre-Professionals (2 credits)

    HSA 4610 Health Care Econ 3
    PHY 1300 Physics I 3
    PHY 1310 Physics Lab I 1
    History (E1) 3
    Total 14 or 15


    Year 3 - Undergraduate - Winter - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    BIO 4630 Physiology (IT2) 3
    BIO 4210 Microbiology 3
    BIO 4220 Microbiology Lab 2
    PHY 1320 Physics II 3
    PHY 1330 Physics II Lab 1
    ETH 3580 Medical Ethics (F1) 3
    (ITF/IT6) course counts for both* 3
    *not required if CAS 2000 was completed 18

    SUMMER - Complete clinical training hours by July 15th, graduate orientation

    —PA Graduate

    Year 4 - Graduate - Fall- Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    BIO 5430 Adv Human Anat 2
    BIO 5450 Human Anat Lab 2
    HLH 5900 Adv Pathphys 3
    HLH 5100 Pt. Eval. Pract I 3
    PAS 5240 Clin. Med. I 3
    PAS 5360 Diag.& Therap. 1
    Total 14


    Year 4 - Graduate - Winter - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    HLH 5300 Pharmacology I 2
    HLH 5500 Rsrch. Meth. in HC 3
    HLH 5700 Hlth.Care Issues 3
    PAS 5200 Pt. Eval. Pract II 3
    PAS 5250 Clin. Med. II 3
    PAS 5370 Diag. & Therap. II 1
    Total 15
    Year 4 - Graduate - Summer 4 - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    HLH 5310 Pharmacology II 2
    HLH 5320 Hlth. Promo. 3
    PAS 5260 Clin. Med II 3
    PAS 5300 Pt Eval & Pract. 3
    PAS 5380 Diag and Therap. III 1
    Total 12

    Year 5—PA Graduate

    Year 5 — PA Graduate - Fall - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    PAS 5800 Clin. Rotation I 8
    AS 5870 PA Seminar I 1
    Total 9


    Year 5 — PA Graduate - Winter - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    PAS 5810 Clin. Rotation II 8
    PAS 5880 PA Seminar II 1
    Total 9


    Year 5 - Graduate - Summer - Sample Schedule
    Course Credits
    PAS 5800 Clin. Rotation III 8
    PAS 5890 PA Seminar III 1
    Total 9

    Total number of credit hours = 169 or 170
    Courses listed as Objective # are Core Curriculum requirement
    Link to Undergraduate Course Descriptions


    Track Curriculum

    Find Degree Requirements in the Undergraduate Catalog

    Five-Year Master's Degree Track Curriculum

    The program has two phases: undergraduate and graduate.

    Undergraduate Phase

    The three years of medically related undergraduate science courses, pre-requisite introductory health care courses along with all of the components of the core curriculum and general education requirements for a bachelor's degree are included in the undergraduate phase. The undergraduate phase also includes a required co-operative education component that students complete during the third summer.

    The clinical training requirement provides training and certification as basic emergency medical technician or nurse's aide. After completion of certification, students will gain practical skills by working in the field during summer term year three.

    To remain in good academic standing and progress to the Professional Phase of the program, a student must maintain a 3.5 overall GPA and a 3.3 in sciences.

    The GRE/PA Application and interview is completed in year 3. Students in good academic standing having completed the entire undergraduate phase are eligible for the graduate phase of the program.

    The Graduate Phase

    The Graduate Phase (years four and five) is 24 months of continuous study and consists of additional graduate course work in the medical sciences and related educational experiences, which address the physical, interpersonal and psychosocial needs of patients. During the fifth year, students acquire medical expertise through a broad range of intensive clinical rotations, community health education and health projects with medically underserved communities. Each student completes the course of study with a preceptorship in primary care medicine.

    Upon completion of the full five-year program, graduates are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.

Pediatric practice by female students
Male PA students doing suture practice
PA students practice casting