Program Description

The program will be a year-round 27-month program with 15-months of academic education and 12-months of clinical rotations. The first cohort of students will graduate in December 2018 and be prepared to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), a computer-based, multiple-choice test comprising questions that assess core medical and surgical knowledge. Passing this exam allows graduates to become certified Physician Assistant professionals ready to embark on clinical practice.


At its 2019 March meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) placed the University of Dubuque Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of Dubuque on Accreditation-Probation status until its next review in 2021 March.

Probation is a temporary status of accreditation conferred when a program does not meet the Standards and when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened.

Once placed on probation, programs that still fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and/or risk having their accreditation withdrawn.

Specific questions regarding the Program and its plans should be directed to the Program Director and/or the appropriate institutional official(s).

Program Director’s Response

The University of Dubuque Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program recently completed a thorough self-study followed by a routine site visit from the accrediting body, ARC-PA, as part of its requirement to maintain accreditation. During this process, we learned full compliance with some of the Standards for accreditation, as dictated by ARC-PA, had not been met. As a result, our accreditation status changed from “Accreditation-Provisional”  to “Accreditation-Probation”.  The program has already begun to address the findings and believes the focus on these standards has strengthened the curriculum and assessment process.

While Accreditation-Probation status is temporary, the earliest we will be eligible for re-evaluation is March 2021. Given that it will be two years before we are eligible to regain Accreditation-Provisional status, I want to address the following items with our current students and those considering an application to our program:

  1. Students entering or completing a program with Accreditation-Probation status will graduate from an accredited program, be eligible to take the PANCE and apply for certification and licensure. PANCE eligibility requirements can be found here:  ARC-PA provides additional student information regarding Accreditation-Probation status here:   
  1. The University of Dubuque administration and PA Program faculty/staff are dedicated to successfully address ARC-PA’s concerns and demonstrate compliance in all standards. It is our goal to be exceptional in all standards and I am confident in our abilities to do this as we are already demonstrating this in over 90% of the standards.

I am proud to lead this team who is committed to developing successful PAs. While there is work to be done, we still have much to celebrate including a beautiful facility, dedicated faculty and staff, talented ambitious students, and a 100% first-time pass rate on the PANCE. That said, I leave you with Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

The Higher Learning Commission approved the University of Dubuque's request to offer the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies in December 2015.