Physician Assistant Program

Carroll College plans to establish a graduate-level physician assistant educational program.

Physician Assistant Studies at Carroll College

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

Physician assistants (PAs) are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Trusted, rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals, PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice (AAPA.org).

Carroll College is applying 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 2025, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status. 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.

Why Carroll?

Building on Carroll’s highly successful undergraduate nursing, pre-med, allied health and health sciences programs, a graduate-level physician assistant program is a natural progression for the college and a strong fit for the mission of Carroll College in serving others.

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 2025 for the first cohort of 34 students in the program.

“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

Who Can Apply?

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.

Interested in learning more?

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Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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 PA@carroll.edu.

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

If you are interested in supporting the program with clinical opportunities, please contact pa@carroll.edu.

You can email questions to pa@carroll.edu. 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.