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Types of Doctoral Degree Programs for PAs

Types of Doctoral Degree Programs for Physician Assistants

Doctor of Medical Science (offered by A.T. Still University)

The establishment of ATSU's new discipline-specific Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) program is an important pathway for physician assistants wishing to become leaders and scholar-educators in order to enhance the delivery of whole person healthcare to underserved populations.

Students in this exclusive post-professional, terminal PA degree program must be currently or previously certified or licensed to practice as physician assistants who want to advance their careers in whole person healthcare including:

  • Educational leadership
  • Industry leadership
  • Federal, state, local, and healthcare policy and advocacy

Doctor of Physician Assistant Studies (DPAS)*

This is a clinically-focused terminal degree anchored by clinical practicum to achieve defined clinical competencies over the course of the program. The focus is on incorporating current clinical trends and evidence-based medicine modeled after graduate medical education for physicians. Students can choose to advance their careers in delivering whole person healthcare in professions such as:

  • Primary care
  • Hospital medicine
  • Emergency medicine

Physician Assistant PhD*

Some individuals may consider enrolling in a very focused physician assistant PhD program in order to perform advanced healthcare research, fine tune their skills, or develop a specialization. This type of physician assistant doctorate program may require students to complete original research or submit a dissertation as part of their graduation requirements, additional coursework or practical training might also be components of a physician assistant doctorate program. Source:

Due to the specialization of this type of traditional PA PhD program, many of these doctorally-prepared individuals are not necessarily equipped with the skills needed to address issues of the modern workplace in order to properly train the next generation of PAs.

*These programs are not offered by A.T. Still University.