Physician Assistant Program—MS

The Boston University Master of Science (MS) degree will be conferred upon those students who successfully complete the 28-month Physician Assistant (PA) Program. This professional degree program, housed in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences, is the first educational program for master’s-prepared medical providers at the BU School of Medicine. The academic program is divided into didactic and clinical phases. The first 12 months of training, comprised largely of traditional lectures, seminar sessions, and laboratories, provides the basic and clinical sciences foundation requisite for medical practice as a physician assistant. Principles of clinical research are taught in the first semester and reinforced with journal clubs throughout the first and second year. Important clinical skills such as history-taking, physical examination, and basic surgical skills are introduced and practiced during the first year. The second phase of the program is comprised of both clinical clerkships and the thesis proposal/research project. The clerkships engage students in clinical practice in inpatient (hospital), outpatient (clinics and community health centers), long-term care and emergent medical settings. The thesis project requires students to develop a comprehensive research proposal related to clinical practice, health policy, or workforce.

The PA Program is designed as an intensive, full-time program; students who need additional time to complete the program may be accommodated under very limited circumstances. All of the curriculum elements listed below are required for successful completion of the program. While we have elective clerkships from which to choose, all students must complete five electives in order to graduate from the program. Consistent with physician assistant programs in the United State accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education of the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), students who successfully complete the program are eligible to sit for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) national licensing examination.

Program Requirements

The First Year

During the first three semesters, the PA student will learn basic science foundations, pathophysiology, and therapy in a systems-based approach similar to and integrated with the medical school. Assessment of PA students’ medical knowledge and development of clinical reasoning will be made using multiple choice examinations, journal club assignments, objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE), and preceptor evaluations. Clinical skills such as history-taking, physical examination, oral presentation, and medical record-writing will be taught and assessed using preceptor and faculty observation. The curriculum of the first year has been developed so that each topic builds on a previous concept.

  • GMS PA 700 Anatomy 5 cr
  • GMS PA 701 Basic Medical Sciences 3 cr
  • GMS PA 702 Physiology 4 cr
  • GMS PA 703 Introduction to Research 2 cr
  • GMS PA 704 Introduction to Clinical Medicine 2 cr
  • GMS PA 720 Disease and Therapy I 4 cr
  • GMS PA 721 Disease and Therapy II 4 cr
  • GMS PA 722 Disease and Therapy III 4 cr
  • GMS PA 723 Clinical Practicum I 2 cr
  • GMS PA 740 Disease and Therapy IV 4 cr
  • GMS PA 741 Disease and Therapy V 4 cr
  • GMS PA 742 Disease and Therapy IV 4 cr
  • GMS PA 743 Clinical Practicum II 2 cr
  • GMS PA 744 Preventive Medicine 1 cr

Clinical Training

Completion of 56 weeks in the clinical setting is required of all PA students. Mandatory clerkships, one month in duration, include Internal Medicine (2), Primary Care (2), Pediatrics, OB-GYN, Psychiatry, General Surgery, and Emergency Medicine. Each student will also be required to complete five elective rotations in specialty areas (both medicine and surgery) or in sub-internships in primary care, internal medicine, or emergency medicine. The goal of the clinical training is to provide direct experience related to clinical practice as a physician assistant. The student rotates within a range of clinical settings (inpatient, outpatient, long-term care) with a variety of health care teams. Evaluation of the student’s clinical acumen will be made by each clinical site and by an end-of-rotation knowledge-based examination. Preparedness for clinical practice will be objectively established by a seven-station clinical skills examination and at the site visit that occurs within three months of graduation.

  • GMS PA 801 Internal Medicine I 4 cr
  • GMS PA 745 Advanced Clinical Medicine 4 cr
  • GMS PA 802 Internal Medicine II 4 cr
  • GMS PA 810 Primary Care I 4 cr
  • GMS PA 811 Primary Care II 4 cr
  • GMS PA 820 Emergency Medicine 4 cr
  • GMS PA 830 Pediatrics 4 cr
  • GMS PA 840 Psychiatry 4 cr
  • GMS PA 850 Obstetrics and Gynecology 4 cr
  • GMS PA 860 Surgery 4 cr
  • GMS PA 870 PA Professional Practice 2 cr
  • GMS PA 900 Elective I 4 cr
  • GMS PA 901 Elective II 4 cr
  • GMS PA 902 Elective III 4 cr
  • GMS PA 903 Elective IV 4 cr
  • GMS PA 904 Elective V 4 cr


Students in the PA Program are required to complete a research thesis proposal that demonstrates the student’s ability to interpret the medical literature, develop a hypothesis-driven project, and analyze the significance of the project. They will be mentored by an advisor from the School of Medicine or Public Health to develop their project related to clinical medicine, PA education, or health workforce. Each student is provided two dedicated months during their clinical phase for completing their project. Once the final draft is signed by the thesis advisor, the manuscript will be graded by two members of the Thesis Committee. There is no oral defense.