Program Description

The University of Dubuque Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program is preparing clinicians who are educated in all aspects of health care with special emphasis placed on primary care in rural and under-served areas.  PAs are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient's principal healthcare provider.  PAs play a vital role in increasing patient access to high-quality care and are able to do this because of their general medical training based on the medical model. 

The PA Program is located on the beautiful University of Dubuque campus situated inside Linda Chlapaty Hall which was constructed specifically to house the PA program, including classrooms, labs, exam rooms, and offices, and was dedicated in September 2016.  It adjoins the University Science Center and provides students with state of the art equipment and facilities including  a cadaver lab, skills lab, and exam room suite.

Students accepted into the MSPAS  program hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree and, on average, have 2000 hours of direct patient contact experience.  Students spend 15 months in the pre-clinical phase with classroom instruction in anatomy, physiology, physical examination, pharmacology, skills and procedures, clinical medicine, and evidence-based medicine. The following 11 months are spent in the clinical phase comprised of supervised clinical rotations where students gain hands-on experience in the core areas of family medicine, rural medicine, general surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, women's health, psychiatry, and internal medicine, plus two electives. The 27th month is spent back on campus to complete the clinical phase capstone project and a review course.

We are proud to report a 100% job placement rate and 100% overall pass rate on the PA national certification exam for our first two graduating cohorts. We hope you join us to leave your impact on the future of health care!  

UDPA starts with you.


At its March 2021 meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) extended Accreditation-Probation status for the University of Dubuque Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program sponsored by the University of Dubuque until its next review in June 2022.

Probation accreditation is a temporary accreditation status initially of not less than two years. However, that period may be extended by the ARC-PA for up to an additional two years if the ARC-PA finds that the program is making substantial progress toward meeting all applicable standards but requires additional time to come into full compliance. Probation accreditation status is granted, at the sole discretion of the ARC-PA, when a program holding an accreditation status of Accreditation - Provisional or Accreditation - Continued does not, in the judgment of the ARC-PA, meet the Standards or when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened.

Once placed on probation, a program that fails to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and is subject to having its accreditation withdrawn.

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

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at

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 June 2022. Given that it will be over a year 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% job placement rate. 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.