How Can I Know if a Distance Learning Physician Assistant Program Is Accredited?

The accrediting agency for physician assistant programs (both traditional and distance learning) is the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA). To determine if the distance learning program you are considering is accredited, visit the ARC-PA website and see if it is on the list of accredited programs. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Why Accreditation is Important

It is vital that aspiring physician assistants enroll in an accredited distance learning physician assistant (PA) program. Only graduates from an accredited distant learning physician assistant program are eligible to take the national certifying exam and to be licensed by their states.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Degree Levels Master's degree
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree in related field, direct patient care experience
Online Availability Available through many programs, though some require on-site clinical rotations
Continuing Education Postgraduate clinical programs are available
Median Salary (2018) $108,610 (for physician assistants)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 37% (for physician assistants)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Program Accreditation Information

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA), sets the standards for entry-level physician assistant programs (distance learning and traditional programs). It is responsible for evaluating each entry-level program to ensure it meets the outlined educational standards. ARC-PA receives help in establishing and maintaining standards from:

  • American Academy of Physician Assistants,
  • Physician Assistant Education Association,
  • American Medical Association,
  • American College of Surgeons,
  • American College of Physicians,
  • American Academy of Pediatrics,
  • American Academy of Family Physicians,

How to Determine if a Program is Accredited

Legitimate accrediting agencies are listed on either the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), websites. ARC-PA is listed on the CHEA website as a recognized accrediting organization for physician assistant programs. Although ARC-PA accredits entry-level and postgraduate PA programs, it is recognized by CHEA only for accreditation of entry-level programs.

All 145 entry-level physician assistant programs accredited by ARC-PA are listed on its website. Check to see if the distant learning physician assistant program that you are considering is listed. If it is, then the program is accredited.

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