Pre-Accredited Phase

To maintain good academic status, students must earn the following:

  1. 3.0 semester and cumulative GPA,
  2. 'C' and better in all courses, and
  3. 3.0 cumulative GPA in the science prerequisite courses by the end of the pre-professional phase. 

**The science prerequisite courses include Biology I & II with labs, Chemistry I & II with labs, Physics I with lab, Microbiology with lab, Anatomy I & II, Physiology I & II, and Histology.

Accredited Phase

Final approval for entrance into the accredited phase will be predicated on completing all academic and program requirements satisfactorily. Students who do not meet the academic or program requirements set forth by the Physician Assistant Studies Department will be delayed entrance into the accredited phase or will be dismissed. Students will receive explicit information regarding these program requirements from the Office of the Dean.

The academic and program requirements for entry into the accredited phase are as follows:

  1. Successful completion of all required RSHS pre-professional course work with a “C' or better and a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA for the required pre-professional course work; and a 3.0 GPA in the following prerequisite courses: Biology I & II with labs, Chemistry I & II with labs, Physics I and lab, Microbiology with lab, Anatomy I & II, Physiology I & II, and Histology. The grade earned at the other institution will be used to calculate the prerequisite GPA for any prerequisite courses completed at another college or university.
  2. Shadowing a physician or physician assistant is strongly recommended before starting the accredited phase. These experiences will serve as examples of physician assistants' various clinical roles and responsibilities and the many practice settings available upon graduation.
  3. Depending on the various clinical sites where a student will be assigned, they will be required to comply with Pennsylvania Act 33 Child Abuse History Clearance and Act 34 Criminal Background Clearance under the Child Protective Services Law, as well as Act 73 - FBI Criminal Record Background Checks. Acts 33 and 34 require a report of criminal history record information from the Pennsylvania State Police.
  4. Completion of all pre-clinical health requirements, including documentation of ability to meet the performance indicators and technical standards, by spring of the third year. In cases where immunity is not obtained or test results are positive, students may either be expected to engage in additional testing or immunizations or be removed from the clinical experience due to the health risks presented to themselves, their classmates and faculty, and their patients. Some clinical sites demand drug screening tests before they are placed in that facility for clinical rotations. Should a student be assigned to one of these clinical sites, they will be required to take appropriate drug screening tests, and all costs incurred will be the student’s responsibility. Positive drug tests will affect a student's standing in the academic program.
  5. Successful completion of personal interviews is mandatory for physician assistant studies students. Students will receive information from the department regarding the scheduling of interviews. Pre-professional students seeking admission or progression into the accredited phase of the program must receive a recommendation from the  Accredited Phase Review Committee, based upon successful completion of interviews with departmental faculty members. These interviews will review student performance and their potential to achieve academic and career satisfaction. Upon completion of the interview process, students not granted a recommendation will not be admitted into the accredited phase. Students recommended for the accredited phase who cannot start the program at the designated time may reapply for the following year and may be required to repeat the interview process. However, a seat cannot be guaranteed.
  6. All new accredited phase students must attend the departmental orientation program at the start of the summer semester.
  7. The RSHS faculty maintains the right not to admit a student into the accredited phase of their program if they determine that student is not a suitable candidate to proceed, even though that student has met the academic and program requirements (e.g., they were convicted of a felony or failed to exhibit ethical and professional attitude and behavior). Please refer to the RSHS Academic Student Handbook sections "Academic Integrity,” "Student Conduct and Disciplinary Action,” and "Certification, Licensure, and Registration.” You can also refer to the Physician Assistant Studies Policies and Procedures.

**Pre-professional students who have earned a cumulative 3.0 GPA or better but who in their final semester fall below the 3.0 semester GPA requirement for the first time in their academic career will be allowed to begin the accredited phase on academic probation. Should they fail to meet the 3.0 semester GPA requirement in a subsequent semester, they will be academically dismissed from the RSHS. **

Academic Probation and Student Attrition

Read about the Physician Assistants department policies regarding academic probation and information regarding student attrition.

First-year students will be placed on academic warning upon completion of the first semester if their semester GPA falls below the required minimum for their respective program. Academic warning is not posted on students' transcripts.
Except for first-semester first-year students, students who fail to meet the pre-professional academic standards delineated above will be placed on academic probation beginning the following semester. Academic probation is not posted on students' transcripts. Students may only be on Academic Probation one time during the pre-professional phase. A second violation of pre-professional academic standing will result in a student's permanent dismissal. If a student on academic probation completes the pre-professional phase with no further academic difficulties and meets the minimum academic standards to matriculate into the professional/accredited phase, the probationary status will be removed, and the student may begin the professional/accredited phase with a clean academic record. The exception to this policy occurs for all programs, except Athletic Training and Health Management Systems (BS program), when the student is placed on academic probation during their last pre-professional semester. In this case, the student begins the professional/accredited phase on academic probation and may not fall below the professional/accredited phase academic standards again at any other time during the professional/accredited phase. Falling below the professional/accredited standards in these cases will result in a student's permanent academic dismissal.
Students who fail to meet the accredited phase standards delineated earlier will be placed on professional/accredited phase academic probation once during the professional/accredited phase. A second violation of professional/accredited academic standing will result in a student's permanent dismissal. If a student completes the professional/accredited phase with no further academic difficulties and meets the minimum academic standards to graduate, the student will earn a professional degree. Students who do not meet the professional degree standards but who have a minimum of 120 credits and an overall GPA of 2.75 will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree and be dismissed from the remainder of the professional/accredited phase of their programs. NOTE: A professional/accredited phase student who fails a required course or clinical education course during their education, regardless of overall and/or professional GPA, will be placed on academic probation and be required to repeat the course with a "C" grade or higher or a Pass/Honor grade for a clinical course. This situation may require the student to drop back a minimum of one year/level or adjust their clinical education sequence because a student cannot progress in the professional/accredited phase without completing all required coursework and clinical education experiences in the curricular sequence. Permission to drop back is based on space availability in the lower-class level.
In order to be compliant with the ARC-PA Standards of Accreditation, we are required to share information related to student attrition. Student attrition is when a student enters the accredited phase of the program (in the summer semester after his/her 3rd year in the program) but does not graduate with that cohort of students. Please note that student attrition can be the result of several things including: poor academic performance, medical leave of absence, a change in major or deceleration within the program.

*Attrition rate calculation: Number of students who attritted from cohort divided by the entering class size.

**Graduation rate: Number of cohort graduates divided by the entering class size.

Attrition Table

Graduated Classes
Class of 2021 Class of 2022 Class of 2023
Maximum Entering Class Size (as approved by ARC-PA) 40 40 40
Entering Class Size 70 37 35
Graduates 66 35 34
*Attrition Rate 5.71% 5.40% 2.85%
**Graduation 94.29% 94.6% 97.14%