Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Whether you want to provide primary care to residents in rural America or work in hospitals in underserved communities, St. Ambrose has a program to help you achieve – and exceed – all of your goals. 

Our graduates work in family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, and other sectors within rural and underserved populations.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Only MPAS Program In QC and Western Illinois Region
  • We Invest In Your Success

Students Practice Exam

Exam Observation

Student and Patient in exam room

At SAU, we prepare highly qualified and compassionate Physician Assistants by providing deep learning opportunities in the classroom and in communities. You will work side-by-side with experts and specialists in medical communities, and just as closely with program faculty and mentors.

See the MPAS Fact Sheet (pdf)

students in CHHS lab

Your Career as a Physician Assistant

Our 2016 MPAS graduates were tremendously successful in finding employment, and many received multiple offers prior to graduation.

Read more about our MPAS grads

More Information on the Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program

What will I learn?

You will be trained in the medical model to provide patient care, including physical examinations, ordering tests, diagnosing and treating illness, performing minor procedures, as well as first-assisting in surgery.

Our 29-month program is comprised of 124 credit hours. We accept a new class of 30 students annually through a competitive application process and coursework begins in the summer.

The first 14 months of the program are didactic. Classroom and laboratory studies include anatomy, pathology, physical examination and clinical medicine. The following 15 months are clinical rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, surgery, OB-gyn, and psychiatry.

Graduates will be eligible to seek initial licensure in all 50 states once they have graduated from SAU's accredited PA program and passed the NCCPA exam (PANCE). In some cases, jurisdictions may require current NCCPA certification, as well as other documentation or fees when applying. For more information about such licensure application requirements, please visit the respective state licensing websites.

What are some of the advantages of the SAU MPAS program?
  • Based on projected needs in rural states, primary care is an emphasis of our program. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports the demand for physician services is increasing rapidly while the nation's population continues to age, grow, live longer, and has more chronic illnesses. Physician assistants are part of the solution to help alleviate shortages.
  • We have a strong history and regional reputation for training high-quality, caring health professionals. Each year, more than 500 students enroll in SAU accredited health sciences programs in nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and social work. In fact, the St. Ambrose University College of Health and Human Services houses two of the top doctoral programs in the country: Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.
  • Job opportunities abound for Ambrose PA graduates. We've also curated a list of job positions from around the country. Take a look at it here.
What is the Career Outlook for Physician Assistants?

In 2017, Forbes Magazine gave the physician assistant graduate degree a first-place ranking based on salary and employment outlook, citing, in part, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projection of a 37 percent increase in PA positions by 2026. The average annual wage for a physician assistant in 2016 was $102,090 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

And students from St. Ambrose University are no exception. Our 2016 MPAS graduates were tremendously successful in securing employment, and many received multiple offers prior to graduation. Some also received signing bonuses and tuition compensation from their employers. Read more about our graduates by clicking here.

Mission and Goals


The mission of the St. Ambrose University Physician Assistant Program is to prepare physician assistants to deliver high-quality patient-centered care with compassion and respect.

The program provides a supportive environment to assist students as they develop into professionals with the knowledge and skills to contribute to the health and welfare of their communities.

Program Goals

  1. Maintain an accredited MPAS program
    This goal is achieved by the St. Ambrose University Physician Assistant Program having provisional accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
  2. Maintain a level of PANCE pass rate above the national average.
    Since 2016, we have had two classes with a 100% first time pass rate (2017 and 2019) and a 97% first time pass rate for the class of 2016. The class of 2018 had a first time pass rate of 83%. The five year first time taker average pass rate for the program is 95%. See the latest NCCPA report (pdf)
  3. Meet the primary care workforce needs – especially in rural and underserved populations.
    a. The curriculum at St. Ambrose University is designed to help prepare students to work in the primary care field with seven out of nine required rotations in a primary care field.
    b. St. Ambrose University has graduated two classes thus far with >50% of graduating students working in primary care in a rural or underserved area.
  4. Demonstrate the highest standards of professionalism
    a. Students at St. Ambrose University are evaluated each semester by their professors and preceptors to ensure they maintain the highest standards of professionalism.
    b. All cohorts have had > or =95% of students meet or exceed this goal.
  5. Work effectively with other members of the healthcare team
    a. Students at St. Ambrose University are evaluated each semester by their professors and preceptors to ensure they work effectively with other members of the health care team.
    b. All cohorts have had > or =95% of students meet or exceed this goal.
  6. Demonstrate service or assume a leadership role within the profession and the community
    a. The St. Ambrose University Physician Assistant Program encourages throughout the program and after graduation.
    b. Students have assumed leadership roles in the PA student society.
    c. Student service hours have ranged from 6-12 hours per student per year.
  7. Recruit and retain qualified applicants
    The success of this program is based on attracting and recruiting highly qualified applicants that will be able to handle the rigor of this type of teaching format. Each year, approximately 100 applicants are interviewed for the 30 seats available. Our data, along with our graduation and PANCE pass rates indicate that we recruit highly qualified applicants. The MPAS program has had a 100% graduation rates for the last three classes. This demonstrates that the program selects students that will perform well in a rigorous educational program. (See the latest Attrition Data Table below)
    Class of 2018 Class of 2019 Class of 2020
    Maximum Entering Class Size (as approved by ARC-PA) 30 30 30
    Entering Class Size 30 30 30
    Graduates 30 30 30
    *Attrition Rate 0% 0% 0%
    **Graduation Rate 100% 100% 100%

*Attrition rate calculation: Number of students who attritted from cohort divided by the entering class size.
**Graduation rate: Number of cohort graduates divided by the entering class size.

What have alumni of this program done?

More than half of our alumni work in underserved or rural areas delivering primary care. Here are examples of other jobs our alums have secured:

  • Trevor Portiner '16 MPAS works in internal medicine at Lower Manhattan Hospital in New York.
  • Jennifer Hermanson '16 MPAS works in neurosurgery in Anchorage, Alaska.

Madeline Schroeder '16 MPAS was recently recognized with the Emerging Leader Alumna Award for her deep dedication to service. Read this story.

How much will this degree cost?

When you enroll in a graduate program, you are making a personal, professional, and financial investment. The cost may seem daunting, but there are programs that can help.

MPAS students are part of the One Price Plan that ensures tuition costs remain at one rate throughout the normal course of full-time graduate study. Additionally, the cost is consistent across semesters, making financial planning easier.

The One Price tuition is $12,675/semester for new students entering during the 2020-21 academic year. There are some additional costs for textbooks and technology. We estimate your total tuition for the program to be $101,400.

Loan Repayment Programs
Due to a nationwide shortage of physician assistants, there are several loan repayment programs that offer partial or full repayment of college loans. The American Association of Medical Colleges provides a database to search loan repayment/forgiveness and scholarship programs.

Specifically in Iowa, the Primary Care Recruitment and Retention Endeavor offers two-year grants when PAs work in a health professional shortage area. MPAS students may be eligible for low-interest federal student loans. Our Financial Aid Office can provide you with more information.

Graduate Fees

2021-22 Fees

Graduate level students taking 9 or more credit hours $280/yr. ($140/semester)
Graduate level students taking 8 or less credit hours $140/yr. ($70/semester)

Faculty and Staff

Kerry Humes, MD, Director and Assistant Professor
David Rohlf, MD, Medical Director

Mary Jo Bloominger, MPAS, PA-C, Asst. Professor
Beth Carlson, Assistant Clinical Coordinator
Christy Dwyer, Administrative Assistant
Katie Gimbel, MPAS, PA-C, Clinical Coordinator and Clinical Asst. Professor
Angie King, Program Coordinator
Suzanne Peppers, MPAS, PA-C, Asst. Professor
Angela Schmieder, MPAS, PA-C, Clinical Coordinator and Clinical Asst. Professor
Yvette Work, Contract Coordinator

Requirements and Policies

Degree Requirements

Prerequisite Coursework is listed on the Admission and Application page

The Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program (MPAS) is 29 months in length consisting of a 14-month didactic component followed by 15-month supervised clinical clerkship component. The didactic phase is comprised of classroom instruction in advanced basic sciences, clinical skills, clinical medicine, pharmacology, behavioral medicine, ethics, and research.

In general, classes are held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students are expected to attend all classes and should have no other commitments during these hours.

The clinical phase of the program consists of 15 months of supervised clinical clerkships. Most clerkships are 4 weeks in length with some exceptions. There are eight required clerkships to include: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics-Gynecology, Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, and General Surgery.

In addition to the required clerkships, students will choose four electives. Some rotations will require students to work on the weekends and evenings. Students are required to be available as instructed by their preceptors. Several times throughout the clinical phase, students will return to campus for end-of-rotation exams as well as other educational sessions. A separate handbook will be distributed during the clinical year orientation detailing specifics for the clinical year.

Note: We do not allow for advanced standing, regardless of previous graduate work in healthcare. All incoming students must complete the entire PA curriculum.

Year 1: Summer (8 weeks)
MPAS 550 Gross Anatomy, 5 credit hours

Year 1: Fall (19 credits)
MPAS 510 Advanced Physiology, 5 credit
MPAS 520 Medical Pathology, 5 credits
MPAS 530 Clinical Laboratory Science, 2 credits
MPAS 600 Professional Practice Issues, 1 credits
MPAS 620 Communication in Medicine I, 2 credits
MPAS 630 Healthcare Systems, 2 credits
MPAS 690 Medical Ethics, 2 credits

Year 1: Spring (22 credits)
MPAS 640 Medicine I, 9 credits
MPAS 650 Pharmacotherapy I, 3 credits
MPAS 660 Clinical Skills I, 2 credits
MPAS 625 Communication in Medicine II, 1 credits
MPAS 670 Issues in Research I, 3 credits
MPAS 680 Behavioral Medicine, 4 credits

Year 2: Summer (16 credits)
MPAS 645 Medicine II, 11 credits
MPAS 655 Pharmacotherapy II, 3 credits
MPAS 665 Clinical Skills II, 1 credit
MPAS 675 Issues in Research II, 1 credit

Year 2: Fall (14 credits)
MPAS 677 Research Application, 2 credit hours
MPAS 700s Clinical Preceptorships, 12 credit hours

Year 2: Spring
MPAS 700s Clinical Preceptorships, 16 credit hours

Year 3: Summer
MPAS 700s Clinical Preceptorships, 16 credit hours

Year 3: Fall
MPAS 700s Clinical Preceptorships, 16 credit hours

Total credit hours: 124

Ready to Apply?

The 2019 Master of Physician Assistant Studies cohort at St. Ambrose achieved a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the NCCPA exam, an accomplishment that speaks to the strength of the program, dedication of faculty, and the deep drive of the students to achieve their goals.

Read This Story

Korbyn Granado-Bolton

Master of Physician Assistant Studies,Neurosurgery PA-C, MercyOne Medical Center, Des Moines, Iowa,Class of 2019

Korbyn and her classmates learned an amazing amount of medicine in 29 months, and the strength of our MPAS program was clearly evident: every member of the 2019 cohort passed the NCCPA exam. Korbyn was offered a job in Neurosurgery at MercyOne Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, two months before graduating.

See My Story

Apply Visit Info


Angie King

Master of Physician Assistant Studies
Center for Health Sciences Education #287
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52804

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