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.
  • Studying at SAU for your Physician Assistant degree means you graduate prepared to practice. More than 90% of students who took the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) passed on their first try.
What is the Career Outlook for Physician Assistants?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projection of a 37 percent increase in PA positions through 2030. The median annual wage for a physician assistant in 2020 was $115,390 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

And students from St. Ambrose University are no exception. Our MPAS graduates are tremendously successful in securing employment (see Program Goals below), and many receive multiple offers prior to graduation.

What have alumni of this program done?

More than half of our alumni work in underserved or rural areas delivering primary care. Graduates are practicing in 20 different states in 25 different specialities.

Madeline Schroeder '16 MPAS was recognized in 2019 with the Emerging Leader Alumna Award for her deep dedication to service.

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 $13,315/semester for new students entering during the 2022-23 academic year. There are some additional costs for textbooks and technology. We estimate your total tuition for the program to be $106,518.

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.

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.
Criteria #1 ARC-PA Accreditation

Measures/Benchmarks: ARC-PA Accreditation Status/ Maintain Accreditation Status 


CriteriaDates Obtained
Accreditation - Initial Provisional March, 2014
Accreditation - Provisional Monitoring March, 2017
Final Provisional Accreditation March, 2019
Accreditation - Continued March, 2021
Next Accreditation Review March, 2029

2. To maintain a level of PANCE pass rate above the national average.


1. PANCE Performance/ Cohort Above National Average for First-time test takers
2. PANCE Performance/ Cohort Above National Average for Overall Student Performance: NCCPA Report, June 2, 2022 (pdf)


CriteriaClass of 2017Nat'l Avg. 2017Class of 2018Nat'l Ave 2018Class of 2019Nat'l Avg. 2019Class of 2020Nat'l Avg. 2020Class of 2021Nat'l Avg. 2021
PANCE Performance 1st time test takers 100% 97% 83% 98% 100% 93% 93% 95% 93% 93%
PANCE Performance Overall 100% 95% 100% 97% 100% 91% 100% 93% 100% 96%


3. Meet the primary care workforce needs

Measure/Benchmark - Graduates practicing in primary care at or above the national average


CriteriaClass of 2017Nat'l Avg 2017Class of 2018Nat'l Avg 2018Class of 2019Nat'l Avg 2019Class of 2020Nat'l Avg 2020
Graduates Practicing in Primary Care 28.7% 26.8% 41.5% 25.8% 23% 25% 36% 28%

4. Demonstrate the highest standards of student professionalism.

Criteria #1 Student Professionalism


1. Student End of Didactic Phase (Preparation in Professionalism): ≥ 3.5 out of 5 for cohort average
2. Preceptor Evaluation of Student (Professionalism):  ≥3.5 out of 5 for cohort average 


CriteriaClass of 2018Class of 2019Class of 2020Class of 2021
Student End of Didactic Phase (Preparation in Professionalism) 4.12 4.95 4.87 4.95
Preceptor Evaluation of Student (Professionalism) 4.61 4.71 4.85 4.87

5. Work effectively with other members of the healthcare team.

Criteria #1 Interprofessional Teamwork


1. Student End of Didactic Phase (Preparation for Interprofessional Teamwork): ≥3.5 out of 5 for cohort average
2. Preceptor Evaluation of Student (Interprofessional Teamwork): >3.5 out of 5 for cohort average


CriteriaClass of 2018Class of 2019Class of 2020Class of 2021
Student End of Didactic Phase (Preparation for Interprofessional Teamwork) 4.87 4.95 4.95 4.95
Preceptor Evaluation of Student (Interprofessional Teamwork) 4.84 4.90 4.61 4.80

6. Demonstrate student service or assume leadership roles within the profession and the community.

Criteria #1 Community Service


1. Community Service Hours while in PA Program:  ≥10 hrs per person average for each cohort 


CriteriaClass of 2019Class of 2020Class of 2021Class of 2022
Community Service Hours 4.00 hrs 13.06 hrs 13.7 hrs 14.24

Criteria #2 Leadership Roles


1. Student Participation in Leadership Roles in PA Society, State or National Organizations:  ≥ 10 students per cohort 


CriteriaClass of 2020Class of 2021Class of 2022Class of 2022
Leadership Roles 15 16 16 18

7. To recruit and retain qualified student applicants.

Criteria #1 Recruit Qualified Applicants


1. Applicant Cumulative GPA: ≥ 3.5 for cohort
2. Applicant Science GPA: >3.3 for cohort


CriteriaClass of 2018Class of 2019Class of 2020Class of 2021
Applicant Cumulative GPA 3.53 3.65 3.71 3.70
Applicant Science GPA 3.38 3.53 3.58 3.60


Criteria #2 Student Retention in Program


1.     Student Graduation Rate: > 90% of cohort
2.     Student Attrition Rate < 10% of cohort 


CriteriaClass of 2018Class of 2019Class of 2020Class of 2021
Student Graduation Rate 100% 100% 100% 100%



CriteriaClass of 2018Class of 2019Class of 2020Class of 2021
Maximum Entering Class size (as approved by the ARC-PA) 30 30 30 30
Entering Class Size 30 30 30 30
*Attrition Rate 0% 0% 0% 0%
**Graduation Rate 100% 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.

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-Friday, 8 a.m. – 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.

View Master of Physician Assistant Studies courses and descriptions in the online course catalog

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

Our Department

Faculty and Staff

Suzanne Peppers, MMS, Director and Assistant Professor
David Rohlf, MD, Medical Director

Mary Jo Bloominger, MPAS, PA-C, Asst. Professor
Jenny Ferrell, Administrative Assistant
Angie King, Program Coordinator
Tammy Moran, MS-PAS, PA-C, Lecturer
Janelle Pillard, MSPA, Asst. Professor
Angela Schmieder, MMS, PA-C, Director of Clinical Education
Adam Spiegel, Clinical Placement Coordinator
Janelle Stieger, Clinical Compliance Coordinator

Ready to Apply?

MPAS students from the Class of 2021 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 our students to achieve their goals.

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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