About

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the
Physician Assistant

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) is the accrediting agency that protects the interests of the public and PA profession by defining the standards for PA education and evaluating PA educational programs within the territorial United States to ensure their compliance with those standards.

The ARC-PA is an independent accrediting body authorized to accredit qualified PA educational programs leading to the professional credential, Physician Assistant (PA). Accreditation is a process of quality assurance that determines whether the program meets established standards for function, structure and performance. The ARC-PA does not accredit any academic degree awarded by the sponsoring institution of the PA program.

The ARC-PA encourages excellence in PA education through its accreditation process by establishing and maintaining standards of quality for educational programs. It awards accreditation to programs through a peer review process that includes documentation and periodic site visit evaluation to substantiate compliance with the Accreditation Standards for Physician Assistant Education. The accreditation process is designed to encourage sound educational practices and innovation by programs and to stimulate continuous self-study and improvement.

In addition to establishing educational standards and fostering excellence in PA programs, the ARC-PA provides information and guidance to individuals and organizations regarding PA program accreditation.

The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, the American Medical Association, and the Physician Assistant Education Association (formerly the Association of Physician Assistant Programs) all cooperate with the ARC-PA as collaborating organizations to establish, maintain, and promote appropriate standards of quality for entry level education of physician assistants (PAs) and to provide recognition for educational programs that meet the minimum requirements outlined in these Standards. These Standards are to be used for the development, evaluation, and self-analysis of physician assistant programs.

The ARC-PA is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The CHEA scope of recognition is for programs preparing individuals for entry into PA practice located in institutions in the US that are accredited by recognized regional accrediting bodies. The CHEA scope does not cover the accreditation of clinical postgraduate PA programs. The CHEA Eligibility Statement is found here.

The ARC-PA is also a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) and, as such, subscribes to its code of good practice, as posted on the ASPA web site.

This web site has been designed for use by the general public, currently accredited PA programs, those interested in starting PA programs, students and potential students, and ARC-PA site visitors. The ARC-PA welcomes your comments (webmaster@arc-pa.org) about how the site can be more useful.