Program profile

A page within Physician Assistant Studies

Program profile

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse Physician Assistant Program. 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remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards.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 2027. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.


In collaboration with nationally renowned partners, we develop exemplary PAs, in an inclusive culture, who equitably optimize the health of our region.


We will continue to be a nationally recognized program by:

  • Selecting students with the academic background, interpersonal skills and maturity necessary to be outstanding physician assistants
  • Educating students who will excel in improving the health and wellness of patients through the supervised practice of medicine
  • Developing students who are grounded in professional ethics, cultural sensitivity, and the use of evidence based medicine. 

Goal 1:  The program will attract highly qualified applicants with the academic background necessary to successfully complete the rigorous training required to become a physician assistant. 

Since 2010, the number of applicants received and the ratio of applications to available spots has progressively increased. The pool of applicants remains strong academically, as indicated by GRE scores and undergraduate GPA of those matriculating into the program. Our graduation rate over the past 5 years has been 97% with a first time pass rate on the PANCE of 100%.

Number of
Ratio of
to Available Spots
2018 394 25 15.8 3.91 3.89 315
2019 416 28 14.9 3.89 3.86 314
2020 413 28 14.8 3.87 3.86 315
2021 486 28 17.4 3.92 3.89 314
2022 491 28 17.5 TBD TBD TBD

Recent student attrition information is available at Student Attrition

Goal 2:  The program will ensure that it's graduates attain the medical knowledge necessary to become highly competent physician assistants. 

The first time pass rate on the PANCE for our 5 most recent graduating classes is 100%. The students consistently demonstrate excellent patient care as assessed by preceptors during clinical rotations, formative and summative faculty assessments, and employer surveys. To view PANCE performance please visit NCCPA PANCE Exam Performance Summary Report Last 5 Year

Goal 3:  The program will ensure the development of excellent interpersonal skills essential for the effective practice of medicine as a physician assistant.

During the didactic year, faculty members assess professionalism and interpersonal skills during formative assessments of history-taking skills as well as classroom interactions before students may progress to the clinical year.  Preceptors of students during the clinical year and employers of graduates have consistently rated our students’ interpersonal and communication skills favorably on clinical rotation evaluations and employers’ surveys, respectively.

Goal 4:  The program will educate physician assistants who will meet the healthcare needs of the regions served by the partner institutions. 

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies was first offered to the graduating class of 2006. Since that time, 90% of our graduates have stayed and helped meet the needs of the tri-state area served by the partner institutions.  

of Practice
Number of
Minnesota 113
Wisconsin 89
Illinois 4
Iowa 4
Oregon 3
Texas 3
Virginia 2
Alaska 1
Arizona 1
Indiana 1
Michigan 1
New Hampshire 1
North Carolina 1
North Dakota 1
Washington 1

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the national median average salary is $121,530 in 2021. The 2021 median average salary in Wisconsin was $121,470 and $127,870 in Minnesota, per the U.S. Department of Labor sponsored Career One Stop . 

This full time, in-person program accepts and enrolls one class per year. Accepted students must begin the program in the summer, with classes typically beginning after Memorial Day. 

The curriculum is tightly sequenced over 24 months and consists of a 12-month Preclinical Year and a 12-month Clinical Year. The Clinical Year includes 44 weeks of clinical rotations. 

*In extenuating circumstances, a current student may request extension of the didactic curriculum from one to two years. Program administration will only consider requests submitted by current students (requests will not be accepted as an initial enrollment option for incoming students). The clinical phase of the curriculum is only available on a full-time basis.  

Students complete eleven, 4-week clinical rotations during the second year (June - April). Seven rotations are in required (core) areas of medicine and intended to provide a broad foundation for a generalist physician assistant. Core areas include:

  • General surgery
  • Emergency medicine
  • Obstetrics/gynecology
  • Pediatrics
  • Internal medicine
  • Family medicine (rotations typically occur in rural sites outside of La Crosse, Rochester, and Marshfield)
  • Behavioral health

The remaining four supplemental rotations occur in practice environments intended to broaden skill and knowledge base in addition to providing depth to the student's area/s of interest. Supplemental choices are determined by the program based on preceptor/site availability and student interest. 

Clinical rotations are completed within the health systems of our partner institutions. This provides students with a variety of opportunities for experiences in the many rural and suburban clinics and hospitals within these health systems in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Additional information about partner specialties and practice sites is available via the links below.

Students are responsible for their own housing and transportation during the clinical year. Some clinical sites are able to provide housing; however, this is highly specific to the location and current availability. Students are encouraged to secure housing through known contacts, personal connections, former students, and the program’s index of clinical housing opportunities. 


Health Science Center (HSC) serves as the UWL-PA program's home. The HSC  provides lecture space for didactic courses, exam rooms, and a student resource room. Take a virtual tour of the facility you will use in the first year of your program.

UW-La Crosse, in partnership with the Gundersen Medical Foundation of La Crosse and the Mayo Clinic School of Health Science of Rochester, Minnesota, first established this physician assistant educational program in 1995 as a Bachelor of Science program. In June of 2004, the program enrolled its first class in the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program. Marshfield Clinic joined the programmatic partnership in August of 2017. This addition provided additional sites for student clinical rotations. Over the course of the program, the regions served by our students through partner institutions have expanded to include central and western Wisconsin, eastern Minnesota, and Iowa.