Master of Science Physician Assistant 90 Credits | School of Health and Natural Sciences | Dobbs Ferry
Physician Assistant Overview
The Physician Assistant program educates students to become highly-educated and qualified physician assistants. Physician assistants are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision.
Our curriculum focuses on the advanced study of medicine and public health, along with the principles of community and population-based research, ending with a presentation of a capstone project based on participation in a community-based research initiative.
We prepare students to pass the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) examination. Graduates of our program are educated to practice in any field of medicine they choose.
Physician Assistants can be found in general medical and surgical hospitals, public or private practices, outpatient care centers, health maintenance organizations, government agencies, colleges and universities, and professional schools. The Physician Assistant Studies Program at Mercy College will prepare you for a worthwhile and fulfilling career in medicine.
Graduates of the Mercy College PA Program are employed in some of the best hospital centers in and around the Tri-State area within the following medical specialties:
- Outpatient medicine or primary care
- Emergency Medicine
- Orthopedic Surgery
- General surgery
Others are employed in hospital-based medicine, critical care, urology, pain management, rehabilitation medicine, breast surgery, oncology, pediatrics, addictive medicine, dermatology and interventional radiology.
Job growth expected to
rise 31% through 2028*
For a physician assistant
in the New York region
Total Credits to Earn Your Degree
Classes in anatomy, clinical lab
procedures & pharmacology
What We Offer
The Mercy Advantage
• State-of-the-art clinical facilities
• 12,000 sq ft simulation labs in Dobbs Ferry, with more dedicated lab space in the Bronx
• Mobile health van community outreach
• Complete (9) 6-week clinical rotations and (2) shorter 3-week rotations
• Participate in international medical missions
• National accreditation from ARC-PA
Frequently Asked Questions
What are your policies about student employment while enrolled in the program?
Each term contains a full course load, so working full-time or part-time is not advised.
What are the requirements for the PA Program?
The requirements for entrance into the Physician Assistant Program are 90 credits of a general education curriculum, an overall grade point average of 3.0, and a 3.2 grade point average in the CASPA - designated science courses. While these GPAs are are a minimum entry requirement, admission is very competitive and applicants with higher GPAs have a comparative advantage for admission. Please see the How to Apply tab for additional information. Core Prerequisite Courses: BIOLOGY (19 credits): General Biology I & II; Clinical Microbiology; Human Physiology; Advanced Human Biologic Science (300 level or higher Biology Course). CHEMISTRY (11 credits): General Chemistry I & II; Biochemistry. MATH (3 credits): Statistics. BIOCHEMISTRY, MICROBIOLOGY and HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY must be taken within five years of beginning the program. In addition, two of these three courses must be completed at a 4-year institution. If these courses have been completed more than five years ago, then they must be repeated. ADVANCED HUMAN BIOLOGIC SCIENCE must be taken at a 4-year institution. Anatomy and Physiology I & II will not count as a substitution for HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY.
When will interviews be conducted?
Generally, interviews are held 3-4 times per year.
Is the GRE required?
Standardized tests are not required.
When does the Mercy College Physician Assistant Program begin?
The Mercy College PA Program begins the first week in June. All prerequisite requirements must be completed by that time.
What are the selection criteria?
All applicants will be screened according to their CASPA-designated science GPA, as well as their overall GPA. If you do not have a baccalaureate degree, you must have completed 90 credits, including all general education requirements. Please note that no more than 75 credits can be from a two-year college. Applicants who pass the first phase of review will be contacted to schedule an interview. The second phase of the review will be based on a combination of the interview, letters of recommendation, medical/community experience, personal statement and an essay completed a the time of the interview.
Is prior health experience a requirement?
Yes. A minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care (volunteer or work) experience in a health care setting, along with proper verification forms, are required for the PA Program. Additionally, 250 hours of the 500 hours must be completed in a primary care setting, e.g., outpatient internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics or OB/GYN.
Can prerequisite courses be taken at a community college?
We will accept prerequisite course from community colleges but an application is strongest when these courses are completed at a four-year institution. Please note that at least two of the following courses (human physiology, microbiology, biochemistry) MUST be completed at a 4-year institution. The advanced human biologic course MUST be completed at a 4-year institution.
How do I apply to the Program?
Please refer to the How to Apply section tab.
Program Details & Curriculum
Year I: Summer - 12 Weeks: 10 Credits
Year I: Fall Semester - 15 Weeks: 18 Credits
Year I: Spring Semester - 15 Weeks: 20 Credits
Year II: Summer - Spring - 48 Weeks: 30 Credits
Year III: Summer - 12 Weeks: 12 Credits
Total: 90 Credits
The Graduate Physician Assistant program educates students to become highly-educated and qualified physician assistants. Physician assistants are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Physician assistants perform a wide array of medical duties and work in a variety of medical settings, ranging from primary care to various subspecialties. Physician assistant education also prepares graduates to practice in emergency medicine or any surgical subspecialty. Physician assistants are able to attend to many medical emergencies, act as first or second assistants in major surgery and provide pre and postoperative care.
The Physician Assistant program at Mercy College embodies the principles of primary care medicine incorporating the biopsychosocial model of medical education. With this model, students learn to incorporate knowledge from biologic science, while integrating psychological and social factors with population/community-based medicine in order to deliver comprehensive primary health care. It utilizes broad-based medical knowledge incorporating internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics & gynecology, emergency medicine and psychiatry. Graduates of this program are educated to practice in any field of medicine they choose.
The Graduate Physician Assistant Program is a full-time weekday program that takes 27 months to complete. It is possible that some evening and weekend sessions will be held during the first three terms. The program is divided into three terms of didactic instruction, three terms of clinical rotations and a final term for the master's Capstone project. The didactic phrase of the program will be taught during the day, Monday through Friday. For the clinical or second year, students will be required to take on-call shifts, including nights and weekends, as required by the clerkship objectives and by the hosting institution.
Students move through the curriculum as a cohort. There is no opportunity for part-time study. Transfer credits for courses previously completed will not be accepted. Each term contains a full course load, so working full-time or part-time is not advised. A comprehensive financial aid program is available through the Mercy College financial aid office.
Physician Assistant Mission
The mission of the Mercy College Graduate Program in Physician Assistant Studies is to educate physician assistants to provide quality, cost-effective, accessible health care, especially to underserved patients in the Tri-state area.
To be eligible for graduation students must complete all coursework with a GPA of 3.0 or better. The coursework includes the completion of research and clinical education requirements. The words "With Distinction" will appear on the diploma of a student whose GPA, upon meeting all requirements for graduation, is 3.75 or above.
Physician Assistant Fast Facts
- Learn principles of primary care medicine with the biopsychosocial model of medical education
- Clinical sites are renowned hospitals and medical centers
- Future job opportunities abundant and in many areas of medicine
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Mercy College Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Mercy College. 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 theStandards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be June 2027. 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
Mercy College PA Program Goals
The attached document provides details on how the Mercy College PA program is achieving its program goals: Mercy College PA Program Goals.
Physician Assistant Objectives
The Graduate Physician Assistant program is a full-time program designed to prepare graduates to pass the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) examination and to practice clinical medicine at an entry-level. The program grants a dual B.S. degree in Health Sciences and a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Those students who do not have a baccalaureate degree must first complete 90 credits, including all general education requirements. All students must complete 33 credits of specific prerequisite courses prior to beginning the physician assistant curriculum.
The Mercy College Physician Assistant Program emphasizes research and writing skills as well as skills necessary to practice clinical medicine. As a master’s degree-awarding program, many of the required natural science courses are completed before entering the program, which enables the curriculum to focus on the advanced study of medicine and public health. It further allows for a three-month study on the principles of community and population-based research, ending with the presentation of a capstone project based on participation in a community-based research initiative.
Student Learning Outcomes
By the end of this program, students should be able to:
- Synthesize and apply knowledge to elicit a detailed and accurate history and perform an appropriate physical examination utilizing biological, physical, social, and behavioral sciences as a foundation across the lifespan. Distinguish acute from chronic health problems and delineate appropriate health maintenance interventions
- Apply the basic tenets of the physician assistant, including the history and philosophical base, the meaning and dynamics of medicine and the healthcare provider, the importance of physician assistants in the promotion of health and prevention of disease
- Utilize appropriate diagnostic tools, and interpret routine laboratory procedures accurately while ensuring all documentation is recorded in a uniform, concise, legally competent manner
- Formulate treatment plans for common medical problems, including written medical orders
- Perform routine medical procedures such as injections, immunizations, suturing, wound care, intravenous catheterization, cast application and incision and drainage of superficial infections
- Participate in the implementation of patient management plans through grand rounds and case presentations
- Generate a plan for continuity of care in clinic and office based care settings
- Counsel and educate patients regarding prescribed therapeutic regimens, health maintenance and disease prevention, normal growth and development, family planning, lifestyle risks, lifestyle adjustments due to illness and other health concerns
- Evaluate life threatening events and participate in appropriate therapeutic procedures
- Refer patients for medical and psychosocial concerns to community resources, social service agencies and other health care providers as appropriate
- Engage in a dynamic process of inquiry to guide evidence based clinical decisions
- Apply knowledge of the various contexts of service delivery and the implications of the social, political, demographic, and economic trends and realities on medical practice
- Integrate professional ethics, values, and responsibilities into the role of a physician assistant
- Demonstrate communication skills (written and oral) with all members of the healthcare team as well as patients, families, and payers
- Participate effectively in collaborative inter-professional relationships
Expectations of the Graduate
The Mercy College Physician Assistant Program is designed to provide students with the skills needed to practice at an entry-level proficiency with their clinical supervisors while observing all appropriate ethical and legal boundaries. Upon completion of the program, graduates are expected to:
- Master entry-level proficiencies in physician assistant knowledge and practice skills with an emphasis on the biopsychosocial approach to community based medicine toward individuals across the entire life span.
- Display professional behaviors, cultural competence, ethical values and a commitment to maintaining currency with professional knowledge and practice.
- Use a dynamic process of inquiry to guide evidence-based clinical decisions to completely fulfill a physician assistant's responsibilities within a complex and changing health care environment.
- Demonstrate a commitment and ability to advocate with professional colleagues for access by a diverse population to health care education to foster life and community integration after illness.
- Analyze the implications of current health care policy and identify various health care delivery systems.
Specifically, graduates are required to perform the following tasks with competence:
- Elicit a detailed and accurate history and perform an appropriate physical examination on any patient within any setting; distinguish acute from chronic problems and delineate health maintenance needs.
- Record findings in a uniform concise, clear and legally competent manner.
- Determine appropriate diagnostic tools and interpret the results of routine laboratory procedures, radiographic and electrocardiographic studies.
- Development treatment plans for common medical problems, including written medical orders.
- Perform routine medical procedures such as injections, immunizations, suturing, wound care, intravenous catheterization, cast application and incision an drainage of superficial infections.
- Perform patient rounds in acute and long-term inpatient care settings, record patient progress notes and pertinent case summaries, develop and implement patient management plans.
- Assists in the provision of continuity of care in clinic and office based care settings.
- Counsel and education patients regarding prescribed therapeutic regimens, heath maintenance and disease prevention, normal growth and development, family planning, lifestyle risks, lifestyle adjustments due to illness and other heath concerns.
- Perform independent evaluations and initiate therapeutic procedures in life-threatening events.
- Maintain knowledge of referral mechanisms for medical and psychosocial concerns. Facilitate referral to community resources, social service agencies and other health care providers as appropriate.
Program Pass Rates
Program results from the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) can be found on the document below:
Medical Director: David Cherkas, MD FACEP
Dr. Cherkas is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University with a degree in biomedical engineering. He attended Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and then went on to do Emergency Medicine Residency at Rhode Island Hospital/Brown University. He has been a board certified Emergency Physician and an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital for more than 10 years. He has published numerous articles on various topics including trauma, resuscitation and medical education. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the faculty teaching award on 2 occasions. Dr. Cherkas served as the associate residency director for 7 years and has also participated on a number of national committees including the SAEM guidelines committee and ACEP clinical policies committee. He was selected for fellowship by ACEP. He has been the medical director of the Mercy PA program for 7 years.
Program Tuition and Fees
Estimates of all costs (tuition, fees, etc.) - 2019 - 2020
|Tuition||$1,030/credit (90 credits) = $92,700|
|Books, medical equipment, uniforms||$6,024|
|Supplemental application fee||$40|
Policies and procedures for refunds of tuition and fees
When a student officially withdraws from any course or courses by filing a formal withdrawal notice (Drop/Add Form) with the Office of Student Services, refund of tuition will be made according to the outlined schedule below. See the course bulletin for specific refund dates. The date of withdrawal may be processed at the Office of Student Services or via the web at Mercy Connect. Fees are non- refundable once course begins.
|Semester - Date of Withdrawal*||Tuition Refund|
|Prior to second week of schedules course meetings||100%|
|Prior to third week of scheduled course meetings||80%|
|Prior to fourth week of scheduled course meetings||50%|
|During or after the fourth week of scheduled course meetings||No Refund|
*All fees are non-refundable and subject to change without prior notice.
Physician Assistant Technical Standards
To be a physician assistant, you must possess a number of abilities and skills. Therefore, to successfully complete the the Mercy College Physician Assistant Program, each student must be able to:
- Acquire information from written documents and visualize info as presented in images from paper, film, slides and video
- Comprehend X-ray, EKG, and other graphic images with or without assistive devices
- Exercise good judgment
- Complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients properly
- Observe patient accurately, at a distance and close at hand, with or without standard medical instrumentation
- Speak to, hear and observe a patient in order to elicit information
- Communicate effectively with patients and their families in both written and oral modalities
- Communicate effectively and efficiently in oral, written, and electronic format with members of the health care team
- Possess motor skills necessary to perform palpitation, percussion, auscultation and other diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers
- Perform basic laboratory tests and emergency therapeutic procedures including airway management, placement of intravenous catheters, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, application of pressure to control bleeding and suturing of wounds
- Tolerate physically taxing workloads
Social and Behavioral
- Develop mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients
- Describe changes in mood, activity and posture and perceive nonverbal communication in patients
- Function effectively under stress
- Adapt to changing environments
- Display flexibility and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the practice of clinical medicine
- Possess good interpersonal skills in order to be an integral member of a medical team
Problem Solving/Critical Thinking
- Measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate, synthesize and comprehend three-dimensional relationships including spatial relationships of structures according to standard medical care
Upon acceptance into the Physician Assistant Program, each student will be assigned a faculty member who will serve as his or her advisor. The advisor will offer counsel on issues related to requirements for program completion, the development of long-term plans of study and future professional direction, and academic standing in the program.
Physician Assistant Clinical Rotations
During the clinical year, students complete nine six-week rotations in emergency medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, primary care, surgery, pediatrics, and an elective rotation. In addition, students complete 2 shorter 3 week rotations in long term care and psychiatry.
In order to participate in clinical education a criminal background check may be required. The majority of clinical sites now require students to pass a background check prior to starting their affiliation. It is the student's responsibility to perform this and supply the necessary documentation to the clinical facility well in advance of the start date of their affiliation. Policies regarding criminal background checks vary from facility to facility. Some facilities require fingerprinting and/or drug screening in addition to a background check. It is the student's responsibility to contact the Clinical Coordinator to find out the specific procedure at that facility and to have it completed and submitted within the specific time frame for the facility. If a facility has no preference the Clinical Coordinator will provide the student with an acceptable company. Cost of the background check is the student's responsibility. A student may be required to have more than one background check performed during the course of the program.
Accepted students are required to submit evidence of physical examination as well as the following immunizations:
- PPD (Mantoux) TB skin test
- Hepatitis B series
Please note that the Mercy College PA Program will keep no student health records other than documentation of immunization.
The Physician Assistant Program maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding cheating and plagiarism. Plagiarism is the appropriation of words or ideas of another without recognition of the source. Professors reserve the right to use all appropriate and available resources to verify originality and authenticity of all submitted coursework. An instructor who determines that a student has cheated or plagiarized will give an F for the assignment and may give a grade of F for the course. Additionally the faculty member will submit a written report of the incident to the program director and executive dean for academic engagement and planning. Plagiarism and cheating will be grounds for dismissal depending on the circumstances. The matter is dealt with by the instructor and the student, in consultation with the director of the graduate program, the school dean, and the executive dean for academic engagement and planning.
Any student whose cumulative program or term GPA falls below 3.0 (without rounding) after any given semester will be placed on academic probation. In all subsequent terms in which the student is on academic probation the student is required to achieve a term GPA of 3.0 or better. If a term GPA of 3.0 or higher is not achieved the student will be dismissed from the program. If the student is not able to achieve the student will be dismissed from the program. If the student is not able to achieve a cumulative program GPA of 3.0 within two terms, the student will be dismissed from the program. A student must have a cumulative program GPA of 3.0 or higher by the end of the didactic year to be able to register for Clinical Clerkship courses. If a student receives a grade of F or FW in any course the student will be subject to dismissal from the program. Once a student is dismissed from the Program he or she may not re-apply to the PA Program.
For all students on probation, future registrations must be reviewed and approved by the director of the student's program as well as the graduate dean.
Attendance and punctuality in all classes and clinical education assignments is required, unless the students is excused for extenuating and extraordinary life circumstances. If absence is due to illness, a note signed by an M.D. must be submitted. A maximum of three undocumented absences from class will result in failure in the course and may jeopardize the student's standing in the program. Course instructors or clinical instructors must be notified in advance regarding absences. If a student misses a test or exam without previously contacting the instructor, the situation will be reviewed by the faculty and may result in a grade of F for that test or exam. Absence from a clinical assignment is subject to the rules and regulations of the institution.
It is expected that Capstone students shall make satisfactory progress with their program's culminating activity. After the student registers for all sections of his/her Capstone requirement, he/she will be given one subsequent term to complete his/her work. The Maintaining Matriculation registration must be completed for this subsequent term is no other courses are taken. After this period, a Capstone Continuation fee (equal to the cost of one graduate credit) will be charged for each additional term required to complete the project. The course number in all programs is 890. Students can only register for Capstone Continuation for two terms.
A student's degree will not be released until all Maintenance of Matriculation and Capstone Continuation registration and fees are recorded appropriately on a student's record.
Maintenance and Matriculation
It is expected that students will fulfill the requirements for their graduate degree by registering over successive sessions. For cohort programs, registration is required during summer session(s). For non-cohort programs, summer registration is not required. Registration is accomplished by either enrolling in classes or maintaining matriculation. The Maintenance of Matriculation fee is $100 per session when student does not enroll in classes and is processed as a registration. The course number in all programs is 899.
Students who have not maintained matriculation and wish to return to their program within one year after their last course will be charged the Maintenance of Matriculation fee of $100 for each missed session. Maintenance of matriculation without attending classes is limited to one year. Activated U.S. Military Reservists are not required to pay the Maintenance of Matriculation fee.
Maintenance of Good Academic Standing
The cumulative GPA for both good academic standing and degree conferral is a 3.0. A student admitted as a Special Matriculant is required to achieve a 3.0 average or better after completion of six credits. Please note certain graduate programs may have more stringent program policies. Please check the specific program regulations. Grades are subject to review by the faculty advisor and program director at the end of each term. If the academic average falls below 3.0 the student will be placed on academic probation.
Student Employment Within the Program
Students will not be asked to serve in any capacity as administrative personnel, instructors or clinical preceptors. At times high performing second year students may be offered Teaching Assistantships.
Academic Program Sequence Map
Download a copy of the sequence map for:
How To Apply to the Physician Assistant M.S.
The following prerequisite courses are to be completed prior to the start of the Program:
- Biology I and II with lab
- Chemistry I and II with lab
- Microbiology with lab*
- Human Physiology*
- Advanced Human Biologic Science (300 level or higher Biology course)**
*Biochemistry, Microbiology and Human Physiology MUST be taken within five years of beginning the Program. In addition, two of these three courses MUST be completed at a 4-year institution. If these courses have been completed more than five years ago, then they must be repeated.
**Advanced Human Biologic Science MUST be taken at a 4-year institution.
Anatomy and Physiology I & II will not count as a substitute for Human Physiology.
CASPA-designated science courses
Applicants who have earned an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 and a minimum GPA of 3.2 in the CASPA-designated science courses and have completed 90 credits including all general education requirements are eligible to initiate the application process. Please note that no more than 75 credits can be from a two year college. All applicants are required to submit to CASPA:
- Completed CASPA application by November 1st.
- Three letters of recommendation, at least one from a registered physician assistant, physician or a work supervisor. The recommendations should give evidence of academic and professional qualifications for graduate study. Recommendations should be dated within six months from the date of the application.
- A personal statement, detailing the applicant’s reasons for pursuing a degree in Physician Assistant Studies.
- Official transcripts from all colleges attended.
- A minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care (volunteer or work) experience in a health care setting, along with proper verification forms, are required for the PA Program. Additionally, 250 hours of the 500 hours must be completed in a primary care setting, e.g., outpatient internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics or OB/GYN.
Submit a Mercy College Supplemental Application
In addition, applicants are required to submit a Mercy College Supplemental Application which will include:
- Write an essay ( not more than 500 words, 10-12 font; all applicants.) This essay should answer the question: The mission of the Mercy College Physician Assistant Graduate Program is "to educate physician assistants to provide quality, cost effective, accessible health care especially to underserved patients in New York City and Hudson Valley. With your personal life experiences, interests, talents, academic background and training, how would you advance this mission as a future alumna of the program?
- Supplemental application fee of $40 can be submitted via your Mercy College portal, once you application has been completed through CASPA. Please know once Mercy College receives your CASPA application, an email will be sent within 24 hours with details on how to access your Mercy College portal.
- Canadian transcripts issued in English are not considered foreign and do not need to be evaluated
- However, French-Canadian transcripts must be evaluated
- CASPA does not accept Caribbean Medical School transcripts, even if issued in English. They must be evaluated.
- CASPA only accepts the following credential evaluation services: