Licensed to heal

Physician Assistant Studies

A rewarding career in health care.

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If you like helping people and have been fascinated by the medical field, a career as a PA may be for you. You’ll do almost everything a doctor does, but you’ll only need three years of graduate school to prepare. That means you’ll spend a lot less and begin your career a lot sooner.

Why become a Physician Assistant?

  • PAs usually spend more time with a patient than a doctor and are the primary medical care providers in many medical practices.
  • Physician assistants do nearly everything a physician does—provide primary care, prescribe medications and even assist in surgeries.
  • One of the fastest growing careers in America, PAs are increasingly important in all areas of health care.

I was drawn to the Union College PA program because of their dedication to giving students more than just an academic education. The professors’ mission is to prepare us for so much more than to be adequate clinicians. They strive to teach us Christian principles that I feel are sometimes underrepresented in health care, such as compassion, servanthood, humility, and self-sacrifice. They also place an emphasis on serving others and equip us with a mindset to view our patients holistically and treat them with a Christ-like attitude.

Nicole Samila
2018 graduate—now works in family practice at Adventist Health in Kerman, California
photo Nicole Samila

Real experience starts long before graduation.

estimated growth over the next 10 years

As a PA student at Union College, you’ll have many opportunities to practice your skills and make a difference in the lives of people who need it most.

Why study at Union College?

  • Your first two years of our master’s level program will be classroom training with plenty of hands-on learning, followed by 11 months of clinical rotations in many specialties.
  • With only 30 people in your class, your professors will have time to give you the help you need to succeed. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to build connections with your classmates that can last a lifetime.
  • Every month Union PA and nursing students hold a foot clinic at Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach, an organization that serves Lincoln’s homeless.
  • Our program offers more than 200 clinical sites locally and nationally.
  • The majority of our graduates have found a job within three months of passing the national certification board examination.

I’ve made friends wherever I’ve been. As an athletic trainer for a professional baseball team, I met a lot of interesting people and made friends all over the country. When I was accepted into Union’s PA program, I began to build lifelong friendships with my classmates. We all watched each other grow, became more confident and eventually became clinicians. Even though we sometimes felt nearly overwhelmed, going through the intense classroom and clinical regimen created a special bond between us.

Joel Jasa
2010 graduate—now works at an orthopedic and sports medicine practice in Grand Island, Neb.
photo Joel Jasa

Majors and minors

Union College offers a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree. See the curriculum.

Union also offers pre-PA tracks:

Biomedical science—a four-year bachelor of science degree with emphasis in pre-PA studies
Even Guide PDF | Odd Guide PDF

Health sciences—a unique bachelor of science degree program that allows you to start the PA program after three years of undergraduate studies. You will complete the bachelor of science in health sciences in four years and the PA program in six years. See the curriculum.

Why choose PA vs. nurse practitioner or physician

Physician assistant

Be trained in a medical model and have the ability to practice medicine in any speciality. Finish graduate school and start working on medical team with physicians and other care providers in just three years.

Job outlook
37% (much faster than average)

Median pay

Nurse practitioner

Receive training in the nursing model and practice medicine independent of a physician team. NPs must specialize and usually require an additional two to four years of school beyond a bachelor's degree

Job outlook
31% growth (much faster than average)

Median pay


Manage patient care in a specific chosen specialty and oversee a care team including nurses and PAs. Typically requires an additional six to eight years of training after a bachelor's degree.

Job outlook
13% growth (faster than average)

Median pay