Physician Assistant Program

Physician Assistant (2026)

Program Details

Looking to meet the healthcare needs of Montana and the surrounding region, Carroll College is developing a Physician Assistant program. Starting in 2026, pending provisional accreditation, this intensive 27-month program will prepare students to earn a Master of Science (MS) in Physician Assistant Studies.

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About the Program

The Pre-Physician Assistant (PA) program at Carroll College focuses on essential medically related sciences including microbiology, anatomy, and physiology. Depending upon the chosen major, Carroll also requires up six credits of internships as a way to help students build experience with work in this field. Students interested in pursuing a career as a PA often major in Biology, Health Sciences, or Chemistry; however, students can also major in any degree program as long as they complete courses in the perquisites for their chosen graduate programs.

Carroll College’s Physician Assistant program is currently seeking accreditation through ARC-PA. Depending on accreditation, our first cohort of up to 34 students will begin fall of 2026, which means an applicant can start our Pre-Physician Assistant program today and begin working toward acceptance in our Master’s program.

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More than 140 accredited Pre-PA programs are located throughout the United States. They are generally affiliated with two- and four-year colleges and university schools of medicine or allied health. Most program application deadlines fall between November and March and most programs begin between May and September. A list of PA programs can be found on the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) website.

Coming in 2026

Carroll College has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Carroll College anticipates matriculating its first class in August 2026, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status at the March 2026 ARC-PA meeting. 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.

With individualized instruction from supportive faculty, Carroll’s program will help meet significant needs which exist in Montana and the region, especially in rural communities. According to the October 2022, Montana Department of Labor and Industry Postsecondary Workforce Report, Montana’s employment demand for physician assistants is nearly twice the available supply. 

Gaining accreditation for a PA program is a multi-year process and Carroll has set a goal matriculation date of fall of 2026 for the first cohort of 34 students in the program. 


Developments in the Program

Carroll College is pleased to announce significant advancements in the planning of its new graduate-level Physician Assistant (PA) program. Carroll has hired Ms. Claire Hull, '88, as the Founding Program Director. 


Carroll College’s Physician Assistant program is currently seeking accreditation through ARC-PA. Depending on accreditation, our first cohort of up to 34 students will begin fall of 2026, which means an applicant can start our Pre-Physician Assistant program today and begin working toward acceptance in our Master’s program.

Clinical Opportunities

If you are a clinician or alumni interested in supporting the program with clinical opportunities, please reach out to

A growing and lucrative profession

US News and World Report lists a Physician Assistant as the #2 Best Health Care Job, #3 on their 100 Best Jobs List, and #3 as the Best STEM job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median income of Physician Assistants as $121,530.00/year and projects the field for Physicians Assistants to grow by 28% between now and 2031.

Jean Branscum

The launch of Carroll College’s new Montana-based Physician Assistant educational program is an exciting growth opportunity for addressing workforce shortages and increasing skilled allied health care providers in our state. Physicians play a key oversight role of Physician Assistants. That starts with their training experience and lasts throughout their career in medicine. The MMA looks forward to the day when these talented students join the health care teams across Montana. The Montana Medical Association has no doubt that future graduates of this new PA program at Carroll College will deliver outstanding care to future patients and strengthen the health care landscape of Montana and beyond.

Jean Branscum CEO, Montana Medical Association

Physician assistants are licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician.

As skilled licensed medical professionals, physician assistants diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. PAs exercise autonomy in medical decision-making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services, with the opportunity to practice in every state and in every medical setting and specialty, further improving healthcare access and quality.

Today, PAs also perform many duties that were once considered the sole purview of physicians—and while many can be found working in primary care, such as general internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine, an increasing number choose specialty areas like general and thoracic surgery, emergency medicine, and orthopedics.

PAs must graduate from an accredited educational program, pass the physician assistant national certifying exam (PANCE), and gain licensure from the state medical or PA board.

The establishment of an accredited Physician Assistant Program that successfully prepares students for licensure is an extensive process, and Carroll is planning to matriculate our first program cohort in the fall of 2025.

Applicants will have earned a Bachelor’s degree prior to the start of the program. Most successful students have completed coursework in biology, physiology, chemistry, and other health-related sciences. Carroll’s Pre-Physician Assistant program provides a list of common prerequisites for students applying to Physician Assistant programs. 

Applicants will also have completed patient care hours. While the exact requirement for Carroll’s program is still to be determined, existing Physician Assistant programs, on average, require 2,854 patient care hours for new students.

Carroll plans to enroll up to 34 students per class.

Acceptance to PA schools is highly competitive. The average undergraduate overall GPA for first-year students is 3.52 (3.52 science/3.63 non-science). Many PA programs require health care experience for PA school candidates and the mean patient care experience hours for new students is 2,854.

It is a 27-month program. The program will entail approximately 15 months of academic curriculum and 12 months of clinical rotations.

Carroll is beginning the process to hire a Founding Program Director who would be onboard by the summer of 2023.

The national search firm of Scott Healy & Associates is managing the search.

A position description will be posted on our employment page.

In the future, Carroll has plans to hire a Medical Director, Director of Clinical Education, Principal Faculty, Instructional Faculty, and an Administrative Assistant.

Employment inquiries can be directed to

If you have an interest in financially supporting the program, please reach out to Chris Aimone, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, at, 406-447-4445.

If you are interested in supporting the program with clinical opportunities, please contact

You can email questions to In addition, this website will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

Fill out this inquiry form and we will send periodic updates as Carroll continues to develop the PA program.

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