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A Practical Solution

Because of the advantages of having a master's degree, physician assistants are seeking ways to further their education. Recognizing that returning to a college campus for postgraduate study is impractical for most working physician assistants, the University of Nebraska Medical Center Physician Assistant Program offers a degree advancement option (DAO) to enable practicing PAs to advance from the bachelor's degree to the master's degree. Now in its third decade, this program has provided master’s degrees to thousands of practicing PAs.

This program provides an opportunity for practicing physician assistants with a bachelor's degree to obtain a professional postgraduate master's degree in as little as five semesters at a reasonable cost and without any required travel. The program can be completed in 5 semesters. However, students are allowed up to five years to complete the DAO. Upon completion of the program, physician assistants are awarded the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree.


The Degree Advancement Option curriculum meets the requirements for AAPA category II CME credit on an hour per hour basis. 

Features of the Program

Students in the Degree Advancement Option

  • Acquire new competencies and skills by completing 800 hours of advanced supervised clinical practice at their place of employment,
  • Learn current concepts in the areas of health care policy and medical ethics,
  • Improve research skills by investigating a medical topic and presenting the results in a scientific paper.
  • Select the option of the education track and study instructional design, education theory and leadership, and complete 320 hours of teaching in a supervised environment

General Information

  • Successful candidates earn the professional degree - Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS).
  • Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Approved by the Regents of the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska State Department of Education.
  • Approved for military tuition assistance, and VA educational benefits.
  • Options for study are available in almost every medical specialty or the education track can open opportunities in academia or community health promotion.

Admission to the Program

Admissions Requirements

  • Accredited PA Program graduate with a bachelor's degree from an approved institution of higher learning
  • PA student GPA of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Current or prior certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)
  • Personal professional liability coverage
  • Current State PA license (military or federal employees are exempt)
  • Must be employed in a clinical or educational role (PA's employed full-time or part-time can qualify)  

If you choose the clinical track, you must identify a physician who agrees to be your preceptor for the duration of your clinical practice experience. If you choose the education track, you must identify a mentor for the supervised teaching practice courses. 

Applicants will be considered without regard to age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, political beliefs, or disability.

How to Apply

For information on how to apply to the MPAS DAO Program, visit the "How to Apply" website. For information on application deadlines and interview dates, visit the "Application Deadline" website.

Review the Computer Requirements.

Academic Progress

Students enrolled in the MPAS Degree Advancement Option are expected to make satisfactory academic progress toward the completion of their Plan of Study and degree requirements.  All courses must be passed with a grade of “C” or better and a 2.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) must be maintained throughout enrollment in the program.  Courses may be repeated only once, and a cumulative GPA below 2.0 at the completion of any semester will result in dismissal from the program. 

Degree Completion

Upon successful completion of all requirements by the deadline dates set by the Program, graduates of the MPAS DAO are welcome to participate in the graduation ceremonies in Omaha, Nebraska (May and December only). Graduates will be awarded the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree. 

MPAS DAO Courses and Practice Concentrations

The MPAS Degree Advancement Option consists of 36 semester credit hours of didactic courses and either educational methodology or clinical experiences intended to be completed in five semesters. Please note, the program cannot be completed any sooner than 5 semesters. Students must choose either the clinical track or the education track for their program of study. In order to complete the program in five semesters, students must complete one didactic course each semester combined with one course from the clinical track or one course from the education track. UNMC has Fall, Spring and Summer semesters. The courses required to complete the program are listed below.

Didactic Courses
Clinical Track Courses 1
Education Track Courses 2

To complete the clinical track of this program, students are required to complete and document a total of 800 clinical hours (160 hours in each of five semesters) in a specific core area. During your first three semesters of the Advanced Clinical Practice coursework, you will meet objectives for one of our five Core Areas. The five core areas are: family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery. Your core area should be based on the type of clinic/practice in which you are employed. During your final two semesters of the Advanced Clinical Practice coursework, you may meet objectives for a more specialized concentration area if you so choose. A full list of these concentration areas can be found below. The concentration areas available within a specific core area are listed to the right. Note: Each semester is 14-16 weeks in length. Students cannot log more than 160 hours in a semester. (See Core & Concentration options indicated below)


Supervised Teaching Practice: to complete the education track of this program, students are required to complete and document a total of 320 clinical teaching hours (160 hours in each of two semesters) in a supervised situation. This can be associated with a formal institution of higher learning or can be other forms of community education/patient education. Each semester's log will include involvement in all aspects of instruction, including but not limited to: curriculum design, curriculum promotion, course preparation, instructional delivery (classroom, one-on-one, practicums, experimental training, etc.), evaluation analysis, academic/instructional counseling, strategic planning, and administrative responsibilities related to education. The log time should represent a mix of activities, including: meetings with the student's mentor, independent student activities (e.g., the study of instructional content, development of instructional strategies, and preparation of materials), actual teaching, and analysis of learning outcomes (for learners, teachers, courses, and programs).

Education goals and objectives have been established for the following practice areas. The student should select the core area that best matches his/her clinical practice, and identify any further focus of concentration if desired. The applicant whose concentration is not listed below should contact the program.

Core Areas and Concentrations (Clinical Track ONLY)

(available concentrations are listed under each core area)

Family Medicine

  1. Dermatology
  2. Emergency Medicine
  3. Family Medicine
  4. Obstetrics/Gynecology
  5. Urgent Care

Internal Medicine

  1. Allergy/Immunology
  2. Cardiology
  3. Critical Care
  4. Dermatology
  5. Endocrinology
  6. Gastroenterology
  7. Geriatrics
  8. Infectious Disease
  9. Internal Medicine
  10. Nephrology
  11. Neurology
  12. Occupational Medicine
  13. Oncology/Hematology
  14. Ophthalmology
  15. Pulmonology
  16. Radiology
  17. Rheumatology
  18. Sleep Medicine


  1. Neonatology
  2. Pediatrics
  3. Pediatric Cardiology
  4. Pediatric Orthopedics
  5. Pediatric Pulmonology


  1. Pain Management
  2. Psychiatry


  1. Anesthesiology
  2. Bariatric Surgery
  3. Burn Management
  4. Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgery
  5. Neurosurgery
  6. Orthopedics
  7. Otolaryngology
  8. Physiatry
  9. Plastic Surgery
  10. Rehabilitation
  11. Trauma Surgery
  12. Surgery
  13. Urology

2017-2018 Tuition & Fees

Tuition $500.00 per credit hour
Technology Fee $100.00 per semester
Online Course Fee $35.00 per credit hour
Library Fee $6.25 per credit hour

Estimated total cost of the program is $16,069. This total is based on 36 semester credit hours, 5 semesters enrolled and the 2016-2017 tuition and fees rates. Please refer to the Curriculum to review the recommended plan of study for 5 semesters. Please note that if you do not finish the program in 5 semesters, you will incur additional fees.

One-time costs:
$60 Non-refundable application fee
$50 Academic Records application processing fee submitted upon program completion

Tuition and fee charges are subject to change each fall, as determined by the College of Allied Health Professions and the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

Students are responsible for purchasing their textbooks from whatever vendor they choose; costs of textbooks will vary by course and are not included in the tuition and fees for the program.

Financial Aid
The Master of Physician Assistant Studies Degree Advancement Option students are considered part-time students. Students enrolled in the program may be eligible for financial aid including loans and deferment of student loans during the program. After you have been accepted into the program, the UNMC Financial Aid office will be able to assist you. Students who wish to be considered for financial aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center recognizes credit earned through military service as well as ACE credit. Tuition assistance can be used for active duty military. We also participate in the Yellow Ribbon Post 9/11 GI Bill program as well as other financial aid programs.