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School of Medicine

Students and doctor examining a skeleton

Physician Assistant

Our faculty is dedicated to helping you succeed in an increasingly vital health care role. During your course of study, you'll have clinical experience, extensive training in the classroom and access to state-of-the-art technologies. This will teach you how to work as part of an interprofessional health care team. 

The Role of a Physician Assistant

Our graduates play an important role in our state's health care.

Physician assistants are licensed to practice under physician supervision and can: 

  • conduct physical exams.
  • diagnose and treat illnesses.
  • order and interpret tests.
  • counsel on preventive health.
  • assist in surgery.
  • write prescriptions.


Extensive Curriculum

Our extensive curriculum will give you the foundation you need to make sound medical decisions. You'll gain experience through simulations, hands-on training and cadaver-based anatomy instruction. You will also learn the latest ultrasound techniques. During your clinicals, you'll have many options to choose from with a wide variety of specialties at sites that are close to our campus. Through it all, you'll get personalized attention thanks to our small student-to-faculty ratio.


Career Outlook

As our health care system changes, PAs are seen as key components. The profession as a whole is projected to grow 30 percent by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We offer a Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) review course immediately prior to your graduation, which can help you get certified and ready to work as soon as possible. 


Our Path Forward

The USC School of Medicine –Columbia Masters in Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program strives to produce highly competent, compassionate physician assistants who are committed to lifelong learning and advancing the PA profession. The program is dedicated to producing physician assistants who deliver high-quality, patient-centered care and excel as members of an interprofessional health care team while making significant contributions to the health care needs of South Carolina and the nation.

We prepare Physician Assistant graduates to improve access to primary medical care for the citizens of rural and medically-underserved areas of South Carolina, and the nation.

  1. Enroll diverse and highly-qualified students who reflect the dynamic population of South Carolina and the nation.
  2. Encourage life-long professional involvement, scholarly activity, leadership and service.
  3. Maintain a level of PANCE pass rates that meets or exceeds the national average.
  4. Maintain an overall graduation rate of 95 percent or better for entering University of South Carolina Physician Assistant students
  5. Maintain an accredited program with an innovative curriculum that prepares entry-level graduates for the contemporary practice of medicine.

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the University of South Carolina Columbia School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of South Carolina.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appears to demonstrate the ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class. The USC PA Program was approved by the USC Board of Trustees in December 2015 and the South Carolina Commission of Higher Education in May 2016.

Follow-up provisional visits are conducted to programs that have successfully achieved provisional accreditation. Follow-up visits must occur no sooner than four months after students have entered the clinical phase of the program and no later than six months after graduation of the first class. The ARC-PA retains the right to require an earlier follow-up provisional visit. Students entering during the provisional accreditation period are permitted to sit for the Physician Assistant Certifying Examination (PANCE). Information regarding the process can be found on the ARC-PA's website. 

Accreditation Standards [pdf]

We will list our PANCE pass rates in 2019 after our first class graduates and sits for the exam. 

Follow Us on Social Media

You can keep up with our program's growth on Facebook and Twitter.

Important Information About Programs Leading to Licensure

Each state has its own individual licensing boards along with their own Physician Assistant licensure requirements.  The master’s degree program in Physician Assistant Studies at the University of South Carolina is provisionally accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), thereby making its graduates eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and professional licensure in the state of South Carolina.  However, we cannot confirm that the program meets the requirements for professional licensure in other states. Students living outside of South Carolina should click here for information regarding state licensure specific to individual states throughout the U.S.  The University of South Carolina School of Medicine Physician Assistant program requires that all core supervised clinical practical experiences (SCPE) must be completed within the state of South Carolina.