The nationally ranked Physician Assistant Program at Commonwealth University - Lock Haven is designed based on the medical model that emphasizes basic sciences, clinical sciences, and the critical thinking skills required to complement physician practice.

Physician Assistant

The nationally ranked Physician Assistant Program at Commonwealth University is designed based on the medical model that emphasizes basic sciences, clinical sciences, and the critical thinking skills required to complement physician practice.



Department Chair

Jennifer K. Bell, M.H.S., PA-C

A121 Academic Building, Clearfield Campus
(814) 768-3628


Jacquelyn R. Borst, DMSc, MSPAS, PA-C

217 Health Professions Building, Lock Haven Campus
(570) 484-2958

Program Cost


Program Outcomes & NCCPA Results


Request More Information 


CU Degree Requirements (Effective Fall 2023)

CU Degree Requirements

*Please see the CU degree requirements effective Fall 2023. All enrolled students can also review their degree program requirements and track progress to degree completion in Degree Works.

Program Overview

Program Overview

Physician Assistants are healthcare professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Services commonly provided by physician assistants include:

  • Taking Medical Histories
  • Performing Physical Examinations
  • Ordering and Interpreting Lab Tests
  • Assisting in Surgery
  • Counseling Patients

Commonwealth University’s 24-month program leads to a Master of Health Science Degree in Physician Assistant Studies. The Commonwealth University PA Program is offered at three locations:

Our program offers a high-quality and affordable educational experience. In addition to the core PA education received at all campus locations, you will concentrate your studies on the care of underserved populations. The program incorporates the use of a module-based teaching format. Extensive use of small-group learning, service learning strategies, and a variety of clinical experiences result in greater than 93% 5-year average first-time pass rate on the NCCPA certification examination.

Students and graduates highly rate the quality of their educational experience and their preparedness for entry-level clinical practice. While emphasizing primary care, program graduates work in a variety of clinical settings including:

  • Surgery and Surgical Subspecialties
  • Pediatrics
  • OB/GYN
  • Internal Medicine/Family Practice
  • Emergency Medicine

The Commonwealth University PA Program is offered at three campus locations found in Lock Haven, Clearfield, and Harrisburg Pennsylvania. Each campus includes a dedicated classroom with state-of-the-art academic technology to connect the three campus locations for classroom-based instruction as well as on-site anatomy labs, physical exam labs, and study space.

Core PA Program faculty are available onsite at all campus locations and consist of physicians, physician assistants, pharmacologists, and professors of basic human and social sciences from Commonwealth University. The core physician and PA faculty have over 130 years of cumulative healthcare experience and represent leaders within the PA profession and PA education.

Accreditation:  The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Commonwealth University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Commonwealth University. 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 the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be September 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 using this link.  
  • Information regarding PA Program Accreditation and ARC-PA can be found at

Program Mission: The mission of the Physician Assistant Program is to educate and train highly-skilled Physician Assistants who:

  • are capable of providing quality health care;
  • have expertise in the health care needs of the medically underserved;
  • are prepared to critically evaluate, and become leaders in bringing about improvement in the medical and social systems that affect the health of underserved populations;
  • will seek and retain employment as primary care Physician Assistants in medically underserved areas of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Candidates for the M.H.S. in Physician Assistant Studies must demonstrate technical abilities and skills in five areas outlined in this document:  Technical Standards

Application Process and Deadlines

Application Process and Deadlines

The Admissions Committee of Commonwealth University's Physician Assistant Program welcomes applications beginning in late April with each application cycle for the class to be seated the following May. Potential students should apply to the program through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). 

Applications must be completed AND verified by CASPA by NOVEMBER 1st.  It is recommended that applicants submit their applications via CASPA by mid-October to allow adequate time for the application to be verified by CASPA.

Candidates are eligible to apply if they will complete all prerequisite courses prior to the start of the program in May but must provide a final transcript before enrolling.


Admission Criteria


  • A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Submission of 3 letters of recommendation with at least one from a current or former PA-C
  • Personal Statement 
  • Satisfactory completion of all prerequisite courses (B or better) listed below:
    • 2 Courses of General Chemistry
    • 1 Course of Organic Chemistry (at least 3 credits)
    • 2 Courses of Biology or Zoology
    • Human Anatomy
    • Human Physiology
    • Human Genetics
    • Microbiology
    • Statistics

Please Note:  We will not accept a Pass/Fail (P/F) grade for any of the prerequisite courses listed above.  All applicants must receive a letter grade for all prerequisite courses in order to be considered for an interview.

Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology courses must be completed within 5 years of matriculation.  No time limitations on other prerequisite coursework.

A combined two semester Anatomy & Physiology 1 and Anatomy & Physiology 2 course sequence is acceptable.

Science courses with labs are preferred.

Frequently Asked Questions

While not required, the following courses are recommended as they better prepare students for the rigor of the program:

  • Additional Organic Chemistry coursework
  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Physics
  • Additional coursework in the behavioral sciences: Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology

All students must show evidence of computer literacy, either through formal coursework or experience. Computer literacy includes basic understanding of the operation of computer systems, and applications such as word processing, file management, spreadsheets, and the use of the internet.

Because of the unique nature of the master’s program, transfer credits are not accepted as substituting for any component of the Graduate Physician Assistant Program.

A minimum of five students, enrolled in the Commonwealth University - Lock Haven Department of Health Sciences Pre-Physician Assistant Degree Program, meeting the entry requirements of the current 3 + 2 Majors, following a successful interview, are admitted each year.  Please discuss with the Chair of the Health Sciences Department.

**The Commonwealth University Physician Assistant Program's Admissions Committee reserves the right to make exceptions in extenuating circumstances.**
Enrollment in the Physician Assistant Program is limited. Students are selected upon evaluation of the following factors: completion of academic prerequisites, academic ability, residency, evidence of potential for future practice in primary care in medically underserved areas of Pennsylvania, evidence of personality traits indicating an ability to work effectively with people, and letters of recommendation. Those candidates who appear most qualified based upon the above factors may be asked for a personal interview. Shadowing experience with physician assistants is encouraged.  Health care experience, while beneficial, is not a requirement for admission.
Image 1Image 2

Program Highlights

  • Facilities:  Faculty deliver courses in technology-enhanced classrooms with vast multimedia capabilities at each campus location.  Each campus also includes physical diagnosis labs, anatomy labs, and study space.  Students can access open computer labs and a campus-wide wireless network when using personally-owned devices.  Students can request technology resources from Stevenson Library, Media Services.


  • Scholarships: From honorariums to tuition waivers, scholarships exist to reward your hard work and dedication to the major.  Scholarships for students enrolled in the Physician Assistant Program include:
    • CT Assist Scholarship
    • Lacy Magagnotti Memorial Scholarship
    • Michael Greenberg MD, MBA Physician Assistant Scholarship
    • Stephen and Pamela Poorman Physician Assistant Scholarship
    • The Dr. Larry H. Lytle and Lynn J. Lytle Scholarship
    • The Eleanor Baieroski Harendza Scholarship
    • The TurnKey Electric Physician Assistant Scholarship
    • Victoria J. Romeo, MD Memorial Physician Assistant Scholarship

      For more information and to apply for PA Program scholarships, visit our scholarships webpage.

Featured Program Faculty



Want to Know More?

Physician Assistant Program

Graduate Program Admissions
10 Susquehanna Avenue, Lock Haven

Contact our Admissions Office

8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday

Connect with Admissions Online

Not PrinceFaxMail PhoneSearchFacebook GitHub InstagramKickStarterLinkedInPinterestRedditRSSTumblrTwitterVineWordPressYouTube