Physician Assistant (PA) Program

PA students practicing sutures

What is a PA?

As the physician shortage intensifies, physician assistants (PAs) will provide a critical role in meeting the primary care needs of an aging population in the United States. The PA profession is one of today's fastest growing health care fields.

Physician assistants – also known as physician associates – are licensed to practice medicine with physician collaboration. Trained mainly in primary care, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery and may also write prescriptions. PAs practice in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology and surgery. They may also work in specialty fields such as cardiovascular surgery, orthopedics and emergency medicine. 

Detroit Mercy PA graduates go on to work in all areas of medicine and many can be found in leadership position in most of the major health systems in the metro Detroit area. Several of our graduates have continued their education in selective post graduate residencies. Find out more about the PA profession at the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) website.

The PA Program is for graduate students and leads to a master's degree. But the University offers multiple ways to pursue your PA education at Detroit Mercy, including beginning as an undergraduate.

Undergraduate paths to a PA degree

  • Pre-PA program – For undergraduate students, the Pre-PA path takes you through a rigorous curriculum in biology, biochemistry or chemistry to prepare you to enter the Physician Assistant graduate program. When you earn your bachelor's degree, if you meet the criteria at the time of application to the graduate PA program, you'll be guaranteed an interview with the PA admissions committee. This is special consideration for Detroit Mercy Pre-PA graduates only. See the Pre-PA page for details and contact information.
  • Accelerated Five-Year Program – Detroit Mercy was the first to offer a five-year, entry-level master's degree PA program in Michigan. "Entry-level" means that you enter the University 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. Learn more about the Five-Year PA Program.

Graduate paths to a PA degree

There are two- or three-year possibilities for graduate students to pursue their PA master's degree.

For information on admission on other topics, see the PA Frequently Asked Questions page.


Excellent Certification Rates

Your successful completion of the program qualifies you to take the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE), and Detroit Mercy graduates have excellent PANCE certification rates.

The Detroit Mercy PA Program meets educational requirements to practice in Michigan. Graduates may find more information on licensure from the State of Michigan's Bureau of Professional Licensing.

Note: The University has not made a determination of whether our curriculum meets the PA requirements in any other state. Students are urged to contact the specific licensing board in the state in which they intend to practice in order to ensure they are in full compliance with the education, practice and certification requirements.

Accredited since 1972

Detroit Mercy's Physician Assistant Program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and has been continuously accredited since 1972. The PA Program also holds membership in the Association of Physician Assistant Programs and is host to a student AAPA chapter.

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