A World of Opportunity

The MGH Institute's Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program offers a unique blend of opportunities in the classroom and the clinical environment. Learn how to contribute and lead in an interprofessional work setting. Expand your skills and knowledge through an integrated curriculum grounded in team-based learning. And fulfill clerkships at Harvard Medical School-affiliated academic medical centers, primary care outpatient clinics, and community hospitals in Boston and beyond.

The Institute’s 25-month MPAS Program immerses students in the study of medicine through an integrated curriculum that prepares graduates to deliver high-quality healthcare. The program is based on a philosophy that values professionalism, respect for all individuals, and the provision of excellent team-based, patient-centered care.

Curriculum Overview

Students in the 25-month, full-time MPAS program will learn the art and science of medicine in an innovative, active-learning model that will prepare them for applied learning in clinical clerkships throughout the second year.

We've designed the MPAS program to meet the needs of the adult learner. Accordingly, the curriculum:

  • Promotes lifelong learning and critical-thinking skills
  • Integrates the basic sciences, medicine, and clinical skills
  • Aims to foster compassion and improve patient care by incorporating the humanities, ethics, mindfulness, and personal resilience
  • Prepares you for collaborative practice as a PA.

 

View Curriculum Plan

Founded on adult learning theory, the student-centered curriculum will present clinical medicine and patient care skills in fully integrated, system-based courses during the first 12 months of the program.

Students have the unique opportunity to learn the practice of medicine in context with an emphasis on critical thinking and the application of learning to real-world situations. Students will be engaged in independent study, team-based learning, and hands-on sessions supplemented with mentoring and traditional lecture by full-time PA and physician faculty and visiting clinical experts.

Early in their first year, students will have the opportunity to participate in clinical learning experiences, ensuring the early application of classroom lessons.

The last 13 months of the program are devoted to clinical clerkships in some of the top medical facilities in the world. Students take advantage of the MGH Institute’s membership in New England’s largest healthcare organization, Mass General Brigham, which provides unparalleled access to such renowned affiliate hospitals as Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.

Team-Based Learning Forms the Foundation

Team-based learning (TBL) is at the heart of our program. Throughout your course of study, you'll work with a team of students with diverse skills and backgrounds. Rather than sitting in lecture all day, class time is spent with your team under expert faculty guidance working through real-life clinical problems and scenarios. 

 

 

one woman feels another woman's neck with both hands under the words "team based learning"
one woman feels another woman's neck with both hands under the words "team based learning"

Clinical clerkships are an integral part of the MPAS program at the MGH Institute. During these experiences, students apply and reinforce their clinical and patient management skills. The breadth of clinical settings offers future physician assistants the ability to acquire skills and competencies in a variety of settings.

All clerkships are five weeks in length and will be composed of the core, required clinical experiences which include family and internal medicine, women’s health, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine, and psychiatry, along with two additional elective clerkships. The order of participation in each required discipline and elective assignments will depend on site availability and student needs.

Access to World-Class Health Care Facilities

The last 13 months of the MPAS program is devoted to clinical clerkships in some of the top medical facilities in the world.

Students take advantage of the MGH Institute’s membership in New England’s largest healthcare organization, Mass General Brigham, which provides unparalleled access to such renowned affiliate hospitals as Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.

Students also enjoy access to leading practitioners within and outside of the Metropolitan Boston area who serve as faculty and mentors.

Clinical Experiences

During the first year in the MPAS program, students have ongoing exposure to clinical experiences to enhance the early application of classroom learning. Among the many clinical opportunities open to both first- and second-year students is the Crimson Care Collaborative, a Harvard Medical School student-faculty collaborative practice that provides care for vulnerable populations.

Accreditation

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the MGH Institute of Health Professions Master of Physician Assistant Studies sponsored by MGH Institute of Health Professions. 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 2029 June. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

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

Program Metrics

 

Class of

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

8-year Average

Average HCE Hours**

4931

6834

6231

6257

6838

6111

6226

4875

6038

% URM Candidates***

18%

26%

18%

30%

15%

23%

28%

37%

24%

% Veterans

2.5%

10%

6%

8%

9%

7%

9%

0%

7%

Student Satisfaction
based on Exit Survey

4.41/5.0

4.34/5.0

4.36/5.0

4.35/5.0

4.17/5.0

 

 

 

4.33/5.0

First-time PANCE pass rate

88%

100%

86%

98%

86%

 

 

 

91.6%

% graduates employed within 6 months after passing PANCE

94%

96%

95.65%

94.28%

95%

 

 

 

95%

** HCE = health-care experience
***At MGH IHP, our working definition of an underrepresented minority (URM) is someone whose racial or ethnic makeup is from one of the following: African American/Black, Asian (Filipino or Vietnamese), Hispanic, Native American/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, or two or more races, when one or more are from the preceding racial and ethnic categories.

View PDF of Report

Due to a change in the NCCPA exam blueprint from 2018 to 2019, the national first-time taker pass rate dropped from 98% to 93%.

  Graduated Classes
  Class of 2019 Class of 2020 Class of 2021
Maximum entering class size (as approved by ARC-PA) 50 50 50
Entering class size 50 45 46
Graduates 50 42 43
Attrition rate* 0 .0667 .0652
Graduation rate** 100 93 93

 

 

*Attrition rate calculation: Number of students who attritted from cohort divided by the entering class size.
**Graduation rate: Number of cohort graduates divided by the entering class size.

Application Process & Requirements

Our Master of Physician Assistant Studies program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions welcomes applications from individuals holding a Bachelor’s degree who seek to enter a career as a Physician Assistant. Our professional staff is here to provide information and answer questions you have during the admission and financial aid process and offer ongoing information throughout the application process.

Students are not required to arrange their own clerkships. No student, family member of a student, or friend/acquaintance of a student is permitted to contact a clinical facility to request a clinical education experience or to explore the possibility of establishing a clinical education agreement with that facility. The Program is responsible for establishing relationships with clinical education facilities and developing preceptors. In keeping with the Program’s philosophy that clinical education is an extension of the academic program, efforts will be directed at developing a circle of clinical facilities and clinical faculty committed to working with this program to provide quality professional education.

For more information, please contact the PA Program (pa [at] mghihp.edu) directly.

Dates & Deadlines

 

Program Start Date

September 2023

Application Deadline

October 1, 2022

CASPA 2022-2023 Application Cycle

  Closed

 

Apply Now

 

The Physician Assistant Studies program at MGH Institute of Health Profession participates in the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). All applicants are required to apply online through this service.

Items to submit directly to CASPA:

  • Application with the application fee
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended
  • Three (3) recommendation letters
  • Statement of Intent
  • Healthcare experience hours verification

MGH Institute of Health Professions does not require a supplemental application.

*In order to be eligible for review, CASPA applications must be verified on or prior to the deadline. Please note: you should allow several weeks for all required documents to be received and processed by CASPA.

Degree

Baccalaureate degree (BS or BA) from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university or recognized international equivalent.

Prerequisite Coursework

Completion of the following prerequisite courses at a fully accredited institution with a grade of B- or better is required for admission.

All of these courses are offered online by the MGH Institute. Learn more about our online prereqs.

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II (8 credits with lab) or
    • Human Anatomy (4 credits with lab) and
    • Human Physiology (4 credits with lab)
  • Biology (4 credits with lab)
  • Microbiology (4 credits with lab)
  • Chemistry I & II (8 credits with lab)
  • Psychology (3 credits; Abnormal, General or Developmental Psychology are acceptable)
  • Statistics (3 credits)

All prerequisite courses must be taken at an institution that is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies. Please refer to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website for additional information.

Applicants with questions about prerequisite course equivalency and/or acceptability should complete and submit the PA Prerequisite Inquiry Form. Upon submission of the form, replies can be expected by email in 7-10 business days.

Important Notes:

  • Applicants must have all prerequisites completed at the time of application submission.
  • Prerequisite credit cannot be given for courses with a grade of Pass/Fail (Please see our Temporary Admissions Policies for COVID-19).

GRE

The GRE is not required for admission to this program.

TOEFL/ IELTS

The language of instruction and clinical education at the MGH Institute is English and a high level of proficiency in both written and spoken English is required. Applicants who have not completed either an undergraduate or graduate program where English is the language of instruction must demonstrate English Language proficiency as part of your application to the MGH Institute of Health Professions. If you have questions about the language requirements, please contact the Office of Admissions.

  • Applicants who are citizens of Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Guyana, an Anglophone country of Africa, or an English-speaking country of the Caribbean are not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.
  • Applicants who are candidates for graduation from an accredited degree-granting program in the United States or at an English-speaking school in one of the countries listed above are also not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Acceptance to the IHP will be contingent upon the successful completion of this degree prior to matriculation.

Please note that in some circumstances, demonstrating English language proficiency may be required by the academic program even if you are a citizen of a country in which the (or one of the) national language(s) is English. Decisions about the need for TOEFL or IELTS scores are at the discretion of the academic program to which you are applying in coordination with the department of OES.

The IHP accepts either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The test must have been taken within two years of the application deadline and official score reports are required. The minimum TOEFL (internet-based) score accepted is 89 and the minimum IELTS score accepted is 6.5.

  • To forward your TOEFL score please contact the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The MGH Institute of Health Professions code is 3513.
  • For IELTS, a Test Report Form may be mailed to MGH Institute of Health Professions, and score information will be verified by the IHP directly. You may designate up to 5 schools to receive Test Report Forms at the time you register for the test. To request additional Test Report Forms, contact your test center.

Please contact the Office of Admissions if you have any questions about the MGH Institute’s English Language requirements.

Transcripts

All official transcripts should be sent directly to CASPA. In order to be considered official, transcripts must be in a sealed envelope and sent directly to CASPA from the institution.

Applicants that have earned a degree from a non-US institution are required to submit a course-by-course credential evaluation from one of the following NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) members: Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc., SpanTran: The Evaluation Company, World Education Services (WES), or the Center for Educational Documentation. If you earned your bachelor's degree outside of the U.S. this credential evaluation must document the minimum equivalency of a US baccalaureate degree or higher.

The LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education) accredits medical education programs leading to the MD degree in the United States and Canada. Applicants that have earned an MD degree from an accredited LCME Canadian institution will not be required to have that degree evaluated as part of the application process.

Documents

Personal Statement

The personal statement is located within the CASPA application and must be submitted directly to CASPA.

Recommendation Letters

Three (3) recommendation letters are required for admission. Recommendation letters must be submitted directly to CASPA.

A minimum of 1,000 hours of hands-on, direct patient-care experience is required at the time of application submission. Health care experience is important as it exposes students to, and prepares them for, the challenges and rewards of working directly with patients and demonstrates an applicant's commitment to a career in the health profession.

The MGH Institute of Health Professions Physician Assistant program seeks students from a variety of healthcare backgrounds. The Admission Committee defines patient-care experience as working one-on-one with patients in a paid position. We generally do not accept volunteer hours as direct patient-care experience; however, consideration will be made on a case-by-case basis. Healthcare experience that involves observation of patient care and does not involve interaction with patients, while valuable, will not be accepted as direct patient-care experience.

The following are some examples of typically acceptable direct patient-care experience:

Nurse, CNA, medical assistant, clinic/hospital-based patient care assistant, physical/occupational therapist/therapy assistant, athletic trainer, exercise physiologist, dental hygienist, respiratory therapist, registered dietician/nutritionist, EMT, paramedic, emergency room technician, clinical researcher/research assistant with direct patient contact, optometrist, optometry assistant, radiology technician. This list is not intended to be inclusive, but to give the applicant examples of healthcare professions that are considered desirable.

When reviewing health care experience, we are more interested in the job description and the day-to-day responsibilities of an applicant than we are in the job title itself and would consider most employment as health care experience providing it involves evaluating/triaging patients, bedside care, drawing blood, obtaining EKG's, etc. Applicants are able to submit the Patient Care Experience Form if they have questions about whether their direct patient-care experience meets the admissions criteria for MGH Institute of Health Profession’s PA program.

If you're looking for job opportunities in direct patient care, below is a link with information about Patient Care Associate opportunities across Mass General Brigham. While employment in a Mass General Brigham institution does not guarantee admission to the PA program, additional consideration is given to applicants with two years of full-time employment in a Mass General Brigham institution. See information about Patient Care Associate opportunities.

Additional Considerations

  • A prerequisite GPA of 3.0 is preferred, 3.5 and above is given additional consideration
  • Successful completion of a Biochemistry or Organic Chemistry course with a grade of B or higher
  • 2,000+ hours of direct patient-care experience in a work setting. Though the minimum requirement is 1,000 hours, additional consideration will be given to applicants with 2,000+ hours.
  • Evidence of
    • leadership
    • volunteer work/service
    • compassion/empathy
    • overcoming significant personal challenges
  • Active military or veteran status
  • Current Mass General Brigham employee with 2 or more years of full-time employment

Technical standards refer to those physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities required for satisfactory completion of all aspects of the curriculum as a student in the PA program.

The qualified student must possess the mental, physical, and emotional capacities essential to attaining the competencies required to function as a physician assistant. These abilities enable the student to perform tasks required to meet the professional requirements and work demands of the practicing physician assistant.

Candidates who possess any disability that would potentially interfere with the attainment of such competencies are encouraged to contact Accessibility Resources, or the Director of the PA program, to discuss and identify possible accommodations.

Observation: Candidates must have the sufficient sensory capacity to observe in team-based learning and lecture settings, the laboratory, and the health care or community setting. Sensory abilities must be adequate to perform appropriate examination and assessments including functional vision and tactile sensation to observe, diagnose, and treat a patient's condition.

Communication: Candidates must possess sufficient ability to communicate one-on-one and in small and large group settings. As a student, one must demonstrate effective and professional verbal and non-verbal communication in academic, community, educational, and healthcare settings, and be able to demonstrate proficiency in written and spoken English.

Motor: Candidates must have the ability to participate in diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures. They must be able to negotiate patient care environments and be able to move between settings such as the classroom, health care facility, educational, or community setting. Physical stamina sufficient to complete a rigorous course of the didactic and clinical study is required. Long periods of sitting, standing, or moving are required in a variety of learning sites. Candidates must be able to coordinate both gross and fine muscular movements, maintain equilibrium, and possess functional use of the senses of touch and vision.

Intellectual: Candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and integrate information as well as be able to comprehend temporal and spatial relationships.

Social: Candidates must exercise good judgment and be able to function effectively in the face of stress, taxing workloads, and the uncertainties inherent in clinical practice. They must be able to maintain mature, sensitive, and effective professional relationships with faculty, staff, students, patients, family members, and other members of the health care and/or educational team. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are all qualities that will be assessed during the admissions process and throughout the student’s PA education.

Are students required to arrange their own clerkships?

Students are not required to arrange their own clerkships.

No student, family member of a student, or friend/acquaintance of a student is permitted to contact a clinical facility to request a clinical education experience or to explore the possibility of establishing a clinical education agreement with that facility. The Program is responsible for establishing relationships with clinical education facilities and developing preceptors. In keeping with the Program’s philosophy that clinical education is an extension of the academic program, efforts will be directed at developing a circle of clinical facilities and clinical faculty committed to working with this program to provide quality professional education. For more information, please pa [at] mghihp.edu (contact the PA Program) directly.

Does IHP offer advanced placement in this program?

No. Please note that this is a full-time day program and does not offer advanced placement for students.

Can I work while attending this program?

While the program does not dictate whether or not a student can work while enrolled, the intensity of the curriculum and varying schedules makes working very difficult and it is therefore discouraged.

How do I know if my prerequisites meet your requirements?

Applicants with questions about prerequisite course equivalency should complete and submit the MPAS Prerequisite Inquiry Form.

Who do I contact for more information about the academic program or curriculum?

If you have additional questions, please pa [at] mghihp.edu (contact the Department of Physician Assistant Studies)

For total estimated PA program costs, use our Tuition Calculators.

Visit Financial Aid & Billing for more information.

Upcoming Admissions Events

PA Faculty Experts

Faculty members in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at the MGH Institute are nationally recognized leaders in physician assistant studies and related health fields. This expertise gives students access to the innovative thinking and professional and ethical standards that will define tomorrow’s practices.

Josh Merson

Associate Chair Distinguished Teaching Assistant Professor Physician Assistant Studies

Associate Chair Distinguished Teaching Assistant Professor Physician Assistant Studies

Lisa K. Walker, MPAS, PA-C

Chair, Physician Assistant Studies Associate Professor

Chair, Physician Assistant Studies Associate Professor

Two woman holding a replica of a knee while looking at a patients knee

Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (JEDI) office helps guide programs to improve the diversity, retention, and support of faculty, staff, and students of color.

Learn More about JEDI