During Procedures class, this first year student checks the landmarks on a skeleton before performing a simulated lumbar puncture

Program Curriculum | M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies

The curriculum includes core knowledge about the established and evolving biomedical, clinical preparatory, behavioral and social sciences; informational literacy; health policy and professional practice; and the application of this knowledge to patient care through supervised clinical practice and practicums. The curriculum is of sufficient breadth and depth to prepare students for clinical practice of medicine and assist students in becoming critical thinkers who can apply the concepts of medical decision-making and problem solving. Building on Carroll University's health sciences area commitment to provide service to culturally diverse populations, there is emphasis on primary care, cultural competency and Hispanic health care.

Common themes across the curriculum include:

  • ethical inquiry and practice
  • professionalism
  • scientific inquiry
  • critical thinking
  • problem-solving
  • decision-making as incorporated into the clinical practice and clinical research models
  • the presentation of content across the lifespan
  • exploration of the effects of gender, culture and cognitive level
First year student performing an ophthalmoscopic exam on fellow student during Patient Assessment course

There is collaborative teaching across courses with planned redundancy of subject matter. Constant reinforcement of content with clinical experiences occurs through observations of and exposure to client/patients in academic courses, service-learning and clinical rotations. The students learn in an interdisciplinary heath care and graduate environment that promotes interdisciplinary clinical practice and lifelong learning. During the first year, PA students will take an inter-professional practice course, with physical therapy and occupational therapy students, to strengthen their understanding of collaboration, communication, and cultural competency.

The Carroll University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program is a post-baccalaureate program divided into one year of course work with supervised clinical practicums, followed by one year of clinical rotations. The program begins late May/early June and runs full time for two years.

The supervised clinical practicums (Foundations of Cultural Competence and Health Disparities Courses) in the first year provide students with hands-on patient/client experience that allows students to integrate classroom learning with practical and clinical applications while providing service to the community and help students develop clinical skills, and emphasize wellness and prevention across the lifespan.

Students participate in 12 months of full-time clinical rotations in the areas of family practice, internal medicine, emergency medicine, women’s health and prenatal care, behavioral medicine, pediatrics and general surgery in the second year. An additional four-week elective will be taken in either a medical or surgical subspecialty area. Clinical education experiences occur off campus, in a variety of urban, rural and underserved locations. Students are responsible for arranging their own transportation and housing as well as any associated additional costs during the clinical year. An international physician assistant clinical experience during the elective rotation is available to students.

Due to the academic rigor of the master of science in physician assistant studies program, students are highly encouraged not to work during their first year. Students are not allowed to work off campus during the second year except during breaks between clinical rotations. Additionally, students are not allowed to work on campus within the physician assistant program at any time during their first or second year.

Curriculum and Course Descriptions

Learn more about the physician assistant studies curriculum and read course descriptions in the Carroll University catalog.

a woman in a hospital bed holding up a cell phone.

First year student performing a cardiac ultrasound on fellow student during Procedures course. 

a group of Carroll University students practicing in a patient room.

First year students evaluating a simulated patient during Clinical Decision Making course

a woman practicing on a patient mannequin.

First year student intubating simulated patient during Emergency Medicine Course. 

Panoramic View of campus