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Matt McQuillan

To learn more, email Matthew McQuillan, program director.

M.S. in Physician Assistant

Physician Assistants are nationally certified medical professionals who practice on health care teams. PAs are state-licensed to provide patient care and can prescribe medications in all 50 states. At Rutgers, our program builds a strong educational foundation in sciences, including anatomy, physiology, microbiology, genetics, and pathology, in preparation for immersion into hands-on clinical experiences.

A virtual cadaver is helping Physician Assistant students deepen their understanding of anatomy and clinical medicine. The ability to undo mistakes, which can’t be done on a real cadaver, allows the PA students to explore without fear.

3 degree options:

  • Master of Science – for those already holding a bachelor degree
  • Articulated Bachelor of Arts/Master of Science or Bachelor of Science/Master of Science – a 3+3 program offered in affiliation with 10 college partners
  • Master of Science/Master of Public Health Dual Degree – a 4-year, dual degree program for students already accepted to the PA program.

We are committed to to diversity through  holistic admissions process and have intensified recruitment efforts to enroll more underrepresented groups.

Learn how our program has been working to attract candidates from different racial, ethnic, sexual, and economic backgrounds. A story in Rutgers Today highlights what brings candidates from different backgrounds to Rutgers.

Best Grad School USNews

Questions? Contact us at 732 235-4445 or

  • The PA program in consistently named as a Top Graduate Program by US News & World Report, ranking 16 out of 154 schools nationwide in the most recent survey in 2015, and 7 out of 73 PA Programs in the Journal of Physician Assistant Education in 2010.
  • 98% first-time pass rate on the PA National Certifying Examination (PANCE) from 2013-2017, with class performance above the mean in all areas
  • Innovative curriculum delivers small group learning, simulation, medical Spanish option, and international rotation option
  • Students engage with the underserved through the HOPE (Health Outreach Patient Experience) Clinic, working side-by-side with faculty and other students providing needed primary care while participating in a service learning initiative
  • Unique PA Faculty Practice in orthopedics and neurosurgery provides students with clinical training opportunities with PA Faculty preceptors in these specialties.
  • Commitment to diversity through our holistic admissions process and with intensified recruitment efforts to enroll more underrepresented groups
  • One of few PA Programs to offer both full time and part time options.

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Rutgers University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Rutgers 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 2026. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

Data on our outstanding pass rates can be found here. We are extremely proud of our class of 2019 for achieving a 100 percent first-time pass rate.

Mission Statement:

The Rutgers University Physician Assistant Program enhances the delivery of humanistic patient care and advances the PA profession through a dynamic blend of educational programs, research, and service. Carefully crafted curricula and thoughtful mentorship of students develops collaborative, caring, and competent healthcare providers.


The Rutgers University Physician Assistant Program aspires to be recognized as a leader in education and health care delivery, achieved through dedication to educational excellence, interprofessional collaboration, innovative practice models, and community engagement.

In order to meet our mission and achieve our vision, the Rutgers University Physician Assistant Program emphasizes the following values:

  • Excellence in teaching
  • Service to the community
  • Inclusion and diversity
  • Academic and professional integrity
  • Adaptability and responsiveness
  1. Provide broad-based, high-quality education to graduate PAs who are well-prepared for work in a variety of settings
  • The intense curriculum includes 122 credits across three years, with a full year of clinically-focused basic science preparation.
  • Clinical rotations are offered in nine disciplines: Internal Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Emergency Medicine, Intensive Care Medicine, Psychiatry, Ambulatory/Family Medicine, and a Medical Sub-specialty. In addition, students choose two electives.
  • Graduates of the Program work in all types of settings including: inpatient units, emergency departments, rural health clinics, federally qualified health centers, community health centers, freestanding surgical centers, solo physician practices, single specialty physician practices and multi-specialty physician practices.
  • The Class of 2017 achieved a 100% first-time pass rate on the PANCE as compared with the National First Time Taker Pass Rate of 96%. As a cohort, the 2017 student performance exceeded the national average in all areas of the exam.
  1. Foster humanistic care with an emphasis on beneficence.
  • The Program includes a threaded humanities curriculum, including opportunities for self-reflection throughout the entire three years.
  • For the Class of 2017, 95% of the graduates surveyed agreed that the program prepared them well to practice humanistic care with an emphasis on beneficence.
  • Clinical sites are now evaluated by students on the ability to develop skills in providing humanistic care.
  1. Promote a culture of diversity
  • The student body includes a diverse mix of individuals from across the country representing various ethnic and racial groups. The following  indicates the percentages of people of color:
    • Class of 2017: 33%
    • Class of 2018: 29%
    • Class of 2019: 38%
    • Class of 2020: 45%
    • Class of 2021: 47%
  • The Program continues to focus recruitment efforts on identifying applicants from underrepresented groups.
  1. Foster the value of service to the community and the profession
  • Students are required to participate in a wide range of community service activities and many surpass the minimum requirements.
  • Program faculty have a long history of serving the profession in various capacities on the local, state, and national level
  1. Advance interprofessional education and practice
  • Students participate in several IPE events hosted by the PA Program and other schools within Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. Students have rated these experiences as highly valuable.
  • Students participate in interprofessional education and practice at a local clinic beginning in the first year of the Program.
  1. Cultivate a foundation of lifelong learning
  • Introduction to Scientific Inquiry, Applied Clinical Research, and evidence based medicine requirements prepare students for evaluating the medical literature.
  • The PA Program Research Day highlights the work performed by students and provides an opportunity for dissemination of their scholarly work.

The Rutgers University Physician Assistant Program is committed to the ideals of excellence in fostering an enriching learning community of students, faculty and staff from a broad spectrum of nations, cultures, and historical perspectives.  Diversity is an integral component of the human experience, and encompasses but is not limited to issues of race, ethnicity, culture, social class, national origin, gender, age, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation.  Our goal is to create a consciousness of diversity reinforced with equity and excellence through our policies and practices at the Physician Assistant Program.


Please call 732-235-4445.
Rutgers University Physician Assistant Program (PA)

Rolling admissions up to Sept. 1.

Admission to the PA program is extremely competitive, with over 1,400 applications for 50 seats. Our admissions committee thoroughly reviews each application and chooses the most competitive applicants for an interview.

There are two routes into the Physician Assistant program:

  • Students who have earned a baccalaureate degree prior to matriculation and who have completed prerequisite courses are admitted directly into
    the Master’s program. The majority of our applicants apply with a bachelor’s degree either completed or in progress.
  • There is an accelerated 3+3 option for students who are already enrolled in one of our matriculated institutions. Please see the Articulated
    BA/MS or BS/MS Degree (3+3) Program section for more information.
Application Process
  • The CASPA application for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle will be available in April 2020 (date to be announced):
  • Applications must be complete and verified by CASPA by September 1st, 2020. As per the CASPA website, it is suggested that applicants complete their application in CASPA 6-8 weeks prior to the program’s deadline to ensure that they meet the September 1st deadline.  Please use the CASPA Quick Start Guide for more information regarding complete versus verified applications.
  • A complete application includes three letters of recommendation, all supporting materials (including all post-secondary transcripts), and a $25 supplemental fee. Once the application is marked complete by CASPA, it must be verified by CASPA prior to the application being sent to the PA Program for review.  The program does not make exceptions for applications completed, but not verified by the deadline; applicants are encouraged to submit their application based on CASPA’s guidelines.
    • Our office will close on Monday, September 7th in observation of Labor Day. We will resume operations on Tuesday, September 8th. Please contact the office before Friday, September 4th with any application-related questions.
  • The Rutgers University PA Program practices rolling admissions.  Therefore, preference is given to applicants who apply early.  The program does not fill all seats in the class until all qualified applicants are considered.
  • GPA requirements: Applicants must have an overall and science (including math) GPA of at least 3.2 (on a scale where 4.0 equals A.).
  • Applicants with a science (including math) and/or overall GPA of less than 3.2 should submit a letter of explanation in the designated upload area of the CASPA portal surrounding the circumstances of their academic performance if they want to be considered for further review. This is an opportunity to provide the Admissions Committee with additional information about their candidacy.

Prerequisite Coursework

If prerequisite courses were completed with a grade of  “C” or better, the applicant is not required to retake courses.  If the applicant has not taken any coursework within the previous 10 years, refresher courses, specifically in the biological sciences, are recommended. When considering which courses to choose, we suggest the following: genetics, microbiology, immunology, cell biology, and biochemistry.

Course Prerequisites for the 2020-2021 Admissions Cycle:

  • General Psychology (3 credits)
  • English Composition (3 credits)
  • Statistics (Preferably Applied Statistics or Biostatistics from the Psychology, Biology or Math Depts.) (3 credits)
  • Human Anatomy (3-4 credits)*
  • Physiology (3-4 credits)*
  • Microbiology (3-4 credits)
  • Biochemistry (3 credits)
  • Additional upper level biology coursework (6-8 credits)

*Combined Anatomy and Physiology courses are acceptable provided the total amount of credits is 6-8.

It is preferable that applicants complete all the required prerequisites prior to applying to the program; however, applicants with incomplete prerequisites may apply. Applicants with outstanding prerequisites must state how they will satisfy the prerequisites by the end of the spring semester prior to the start of the program.

Please click here  for more information on our prerequisite requirements.

If any of the prerequisite courses have been satisfied by taking a CLEP exam, the scores should be submitted directly to the PA Program. The CLEP Designated Institution Code is 2145.  The program requires a score that is equivalent to a letter grade of C or higher. At this time, the American Council on Education (ACE) recommends a credit-granting score of 50 for each CLEP exam. This is a scaled score, equivalent to earning a C in the relevant course.


A well written, grammatically correct essay is expected.  The personal narrative is the applicant’s opportunity to share background information that is not readily evident in other sections of the CASPA application.  Individuals are encouraged to discuss any of the following that might apply:

  • Motivation to become a PA
  • Unique life experiences
  • Success in overcoming adversity
  • Leadership roles
  • Positive attributes they bring to the PA program and ultimately the PA profession

Letters of Recommendation

Three Recommendation Forms must be completed through CASPA.  Applicants should seek recommendations from individuals who are thoroughly familiar with their academic ability, their work ethic and professionalism, and their general characteristics.  Examples may be an instructor, a previous employer or volunteer supervisor, a community leader, etc.  Many of our more highly competitive applicants have recommendations by healthcare providers such as physicians and PAs.

Patient Contact Experience:

Patient contact experience is required. The program has not established a minimum number of hours of health care experience, but the most competitive applicants will be able to document experience working directly with patients. Examples of the types of experiences that are recommended include, but are not limited to, medical assistants, nursing assistants/aides, nurses, EMTs, patient care technicians, physical therapy assistants, and hospice volunteers.

PA Shadowing

it is important that applicants spend time with PAs to ensure a sufficient understanding of the PA role in the delivery of healthcare. Therefore, applicants to the PA Program must be able to demonstrate familiarity with the PA profession through direct experience, which is best done through shadowing.

There are no minimum-hour requirements for healthcare experience, patient care experience, PA shadowing, or volunteer work. The objective of accruing hours is not necessarily to obtain specific skills, but rather to ensure the applicant has had adequate exposure to healthcare, patients, and the role of the PA. When the Admissions Committee considers volunteer work, we seek applicants who have shown consistent commitment to serving the community. To get an idea of the number of hours accrued by the most competitive applicants, please refer to the FAQ section to view the data from one of our recent matriculated classes.

International Students:

Applicants who received their degrees outside of the U.S. are required to take the TOEFL exam, unless they have obtained a Bachelor’s degree or higher in a country where English is the official language and English is the applicant’s primary language.

If an applicant has an Associate’s degree from the U.S., TOEFL scores are required. The Program requires a minimum total score of 100 and a minimum speaking score of 26 on the web-based test. TOEFL scores should be submitted directly to CASPA. The TOEFL Designated Institution Code is 3709. TOEFL scores remain valid for 2 years after the test date. Because language proficiency can change considerably in a relatively short period of time, TOEFL scores more than 2 years old cannot be reported or verified. The Program will superscore if an applicant submits multiple exam results.

Please contact the Program if you are unsure if you are required to submit TOEFL scores.

All foreign transcripts must be evaluated by an evaluation agency and submitted to Rutgers University PA Program in support of your application. Applicants may use any agency that is recognized by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (hyperlink: World Education Services, Inc. is recommended.

Screening Committee Considerations

When initially screening applications, the committee looks for evidence of:

  • Ability to handle a rigorous science course load (previous coursework and GPA)
  • Prior healthcare experience
  • Familiarity with the PA profession (PA shadowing)
  • A commitment to community service


Diversity and inclusion are key foundational elements of the Rutgers School of Health Professions Physician Assistant Program. In our goal to enhance the student body, we define diversity broadly. Diversity may include, but is not limited to, gender,