Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Student Questions

(updated 7.2011)

Which states require passage of the NCCPA board exam to be PA-C?

This question is best answered with information provided by the NCCPA or AAPA.

I am a current PA student and need information on what is required for me to practice in [name of state].

Information on specific state requirements for PA practice should be addressed to the state licensing board of the state you are interested in. There is summary of state laws available at the AAPA web site.

The program I am considering has provisional accreditation. What happens to me as a student if it does not receive accreditation?

Provisional accreditation is an active accreditation status. Prior to 2003, those graduating from a PA program that held an active accreditation status at any time during the student's enrollment were considered graduates of an accredited program, and thus were eligible to sit for the NCCPA exam. This policy changed in 2003 and in order to be eligible to take the PANCE, students must successfully complete a program that was accredited at the time the student matriculated. It is best to check with the NCCPA concerning exam eligibility criteria.

What does probation mean?

Probationary accreditation is a temporary status of accreditation granted when a program does not meet the Standards and when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened. Programs with probationary accreditation are still considered accredited.

The program I am considering is on probation. If I enter that program, will I be graduating from an accredited program?

Probation is an active accreditation status and those entering a program that is on probation are entering a program that is accredited. If the program remains on probation or is removed from probation and granted full accreditation by the time of your graduation, you would be graduating from an accredited program. In the past, the NCCPA allowed graduates to sit for the PANCE exam as long as the program from which they graduated was accredited at any point during the students' enrollment. This policy changed in 2003 and in order to be eligible to take the PANCE, students must successfully complete a program that was accredited at the time the student matriculated. It is best to check with the NCCPA concerning exam eligibility criteria.

Can you help me decide where to go to school? How important is the degree offered?

If a PA program is accredited by the ARC-PA, it has met the Standards of accreditation that provide the minimum requirements and criteria to which PA programs and their sponsoring institutions are held accountable. As long as you are applying to a program that is ARC-PA accredited, you will be eligible upon graduation to sit for the PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE) offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Passing this exam is required for practice as a PA in all states.

Deciding which program to attend is not a simple task. There are many accredited PA programs, sponsored by a variety of institutions that include state funded and private funded colleges and universities, as well as the military. Programs vary in their prerequisite requirements, their professional PA curriculum, their length, the tuition they charge, and the credential they grant. More information about programs can be found by contacting the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).