Academics - PA Studies


Marshall B. Ketchum University provides the highest quality physician assistant education through excellence in teaching, patient care, research and public service. The School of PA Studies offers a 27 month, post-baccalaureate program leading to the degree, Master of Medical Science (MMS).

Didactic Phase

The first year, also known as the didactic year, curriculum provides the foundation for clinical practice with instruction on patient assessment, applied medical sciences, and pharmacotherapeutics. The curriculum also incorporates clinical medicine topics, such as emergency medicine and cardiology, as well as medical professional ethics, interpersonal communications, clinical skills and procedure training, and population health. Students will also experience supervised patient interactions.

Clinical Phase

The second phase of the physician assistant program focuses on direct patient care in the various clinics, hospitals and health centers, and offers students the opportunity to experience a vast array of clinical opportunities with diverse and challenging patient encounters. In order to graduate, students must successfully complete all didactic and clinical requirements, including the Master’s Capstone Project, as well as Summative Evaluations.

Academic Requirements

The class size is 40 students, with 6-8 students assigned in small group workshops with faculty instructors.  Each student is required to successfully complete each of the four didactic quarters, and a second professional year curriculum focusing on clinical rotations and continued professional development.  All student cohorts follow the same academic schedule. Completion deadlines specific to each course are outlined in individual syllabi. The overall program curriculum does not permit students to matriculate on a part-time basis, nor does the curriculum lend itself to a decelerated learning schedule, thus all students are expected to complete the curriculum requirements within the 27 month program time-frame.

To successfully complete the School of Physician Assistant Studies Master of Medical Science Program and graduate, a student must complete and pass each course, clinical rotation, Masters Capstone Project, and multi-faceted summative evaluation. The School of Physician Assistant Studies monitors student performance and progress on an ongoing basis.

The following is the grading scale for all courses in the School of Physician Assistant Studies:

  • P = Pass (≥ 80%)
  • F = Fail (< 80%)

Master’s Capstone Project

The Master’s Capstone Project allows the PA student to complete their requirement project for their Master's degree under the guidance of a faculty and/or approved community advisor. In teams of 3-4, students will identify a population health care need to develop and implement a project to address the identified need.   Students will use evidence-based principles to research the medical issue related to their community project. The student teams will prepare and present a professional poster on their topic prior to graduation.

CA Licensing/PANCE

To become a certified PA, you must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), a computer-based, multiple-choice test comprising questions that assess basic medical and surgical knowledge.

To be eligible for the PANCE, you must graduate from a program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). PA program graduates will be deemed to have graduated from an accredited program if their PA educational program was accredited at the time of their matriculation.  Even if you have earned a medical degree from another country, you must still graduate from an accredited PA program to take the PANCE.

You must submit an application and all applicable fees to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) in advance to take the PANCE. You may schedule your exam anytime (depending on testing center availability) within the 180 day timeframe established for you based on your expected graduation date and the successful submission of all required materials to NCCPA. The five-hour PANCE exam includes 300 multiple-choice questions administered in five blocks of 60 questions with 60 minutes to complete each block. There is a total of 45 minutes allotted for breaks between blocks and you will be responsible for managing your break time. You will have 15 minutes to complete the PANCE tutorial.

Per the NCCPA Blueprint, the material on NCCPA's certification and recertification exams can be organized in two dimensions:

  • Organ systems and the diseases, disorders and medical assessments physician assistants encounter within those systems; and
  • The knowledge and skills physician assistants should exhibit when confronted with those diseases, disorders and assessments.


The MBKU faculty is comprised of principal faculty who provide the lecture, laboratory and clinical instruction to physician assistant students.  Furthermore, there will be adjunct and instructional faculty who will teach in their area of medicine/expertise.

This blend of talented and diverse clinical experts provides students with an excellent theoretical background and clinical mentoring.  In addition to the faculty's primary goal of achieving excellence in teaching, faculty are also actively engaged in research and scholarly activities, and regularly participate in professional, educational and scientific organizations at local, state and national levels. Faculty are also involved in state and national leadership roles that help influence and facilitate policy and decision making to shape the future of physician assistant education and the profession

Degree: Master of Medical Science

The degree Master of Medical Science will be conferred on students who are officially admitted to, and who satisfactorily complete, the 27-month professional curriculum in physician assistant studies.  Satisfactory completion of the MBKU program will academically qualify the graduate to sit for the PANCE.  Upon passage of the exam, students are able to apply for a license in any of the 50 states.

November Commencement Exercise

Master of Medical Science degrees are conferred at the University’s Commencement Exercise, which is held each November at the conclusion of the fall quarter.

Transcript Requests

Requests for release of records for currently enrolled students must be made through the Office of Student Affairs.


The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation - Provisional status to the School of Physician Assistant Studies sponsored by Marshall B. Ketchum University.

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 appear to demonstrate the program’s 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.