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Physician Assistant Programs in Illinois

Updated on May 20, 2014
Routine health care is part of a physician assistants tasks.
Routine health care is part of a physician assistants tasks. | Source

Illinois universities and colleges have a lot of RN programs, but there are only five physician assistant programs in Chicago, with one school in Carbondale. It's these medical degree professionals that may help keep the health-care worker shortage at bay, especially in rural areas. Before discussing these physician assistant programs in Illinois, I want to provide a brief overview of a PA.

What is a physician assistant?

A physician assistant examines, diagnoses, and treats patients' routine injuries and illnesses under the supervision of a physician.

A physician assistant does have the capability to prescribe medications in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S.

This is one of the fast growing health care professions, with the U.S. Department of Labor indicating a 30 percent growth in jobs between 2010-2020.

The growth may be attributed to many doctors wanting to specialize after medical school -- rather than become a general practitioner. As such, this allows the physician assistant to serve the role of a primary health care provider in some under-served areas.

Another reason for the rise in physician assistants may be related to the high cost of medical school and the low pay of being a family doctor, which averages $177,036.1

Compare the GP salary with a specialist such as a surgeon, who averages $311,334.1

A physician assistant, who does not need to go to medical school, would need a master's degree to get started in this position, which has an average earning of $90,536.1

Although medical school is more money and does offer a high earning potential, many employers recognize that a physician assistant can provide routine care at almost half the cost. This may be another reason why the growth.

1. All wage figures are from

5 physician assistant programs in Chicago

The five PA programs are listed in alphabetical order, with contact information and maps.

All are accredited and prepare you to take the PANCE -- Physician Assistant National Certification Exam -- which allows you to become a licensed practitioner.

All, also, have a common theme: Commitment.

These are full-time courses of study, and you're most likely going to struggle if you try to hold a job during your academic career.

John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Malcolm X College PA Program
1900 West Van Buren, Suite 3241
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: 312-850-3532
Fax 312-850-3536

1. John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County | Malcolm X College Physician Assistant Program

Admission to the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County | Malcolm X College PA Program will be tough, with less than 25 open seats each year.

The school, which gives applicants from Chicago and Illinois priority, tries to select candidates that have a history working with under-served community practices.

The program is 78 credit hours long and provides an associate in applied science or master of medical science (if you already have a bachelor's degree).

Your past academic work, time spent working with patients, interviews, statements and essays, along with the application and pre-admission exam are part of the selection factors.

Matriculation deadline: Jan. 15 each year.

Malcolm X College

A marker1900 West Van Buren, Suite 3241 -
1900 W Van Buren St #3241, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
get directions

Midwestern University
555 31st Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515
PA program phone: 630-515-6034
Admissions phone: 800-458-6253
Admissions email:

2. Midwestern University PA Program

The physician assistant studies program at Midwestern University offers a master in medical science in 27 months.

There are about 80 open seats per year -- of which 95 percent of matriculants graduate and go on to take the PANCE.

The educational facility's pass rate for 1st time test-takers of the PANCE from 2007-2011 is 99 percent. (The national average is 92 percent.)

Admission is based on GPA, graduate record exam scores, academic history, desire and commitment to work in health care, among other items.

Completed applications need to be submitted by Oct. 1.

Midwestern University

A marker555 31st Street, Downers Grove, IL 60515 -
555 31st St, Downers Grove, IL 60515, USA
get directions

Northwestern University
Abbott Hall, 4th Floor
710 N Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 312-503-1851
Fax: 312-503-2729

3. Feinberg School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program at Northwestern University

The Feinberg School of Medicine physician assistant program at Northwestern University is a new program, which started in 2010.

Only one graduating class has taken the PANCE exam as of 2012. From that class, 96 percent had a first-time pass rate.

A new kid on the block, this master of medical science program is 24 months long, with 108 credit hours needed.

Entrance into the medical program is based on your prior academics, GRE score, experience in health-care, references, and personal statement, among other items. About 30 students will be accepted.

Admission deadline is Dec. 1,

Northwestern University

A marker710 N Lake Shore Drive -
710 N Lake Shore Dr, Northwestern University
get directions

Rosalind Franklin University
College of Health Professions
3333 Green Bay Road
North Chicago, IL 60064
Admissions: 847-578-8686
Admissions email:

4. Rosalind Franklin University PA Program

Began in 1991, the physician assistant program at Rosalind Franklin University Medical School has granted masters of medical science degrees to hundreds of physician assistants.

As a private educational facility, RFU's admissions policy doesn't make any distinction for state of residency, which means Illinois residents don't get preference. Your past academics, GRE score, patient care experience, recommendations, among other items are what will get you in the door here.

There are about 65 students admitted to the 24-month program each year.

PANCE test-takers have a 95 percent first-time pass rate from the last five years.

Admission deadline is Dec. 1.

Rosalind Franklin University

A marker3333 Green Bay Road -
3333 Green Bay Rd, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA
get directions

Rush University
600 South Paulina Street
Suite 1021F-AAC
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: 312-563-3234
Admissions email:

5. Rush University Physician Assistant Program

Like Rosalind Franklin University, Rush University is a private institution and doesn't give preference to Illinois residents for its physician assistant program.

Rush admits about 30 students each year to the 33-month PA program -- of which 21 months are spent in clinicals.

Also like the other medical schools admissions policies, Rush has a large focus on health-care experience. The school indicates that 1,500 hours is the minimum amount of direct patient contact that's needed to be a competitive candidate.

Admissions is also based on academics, GRE scores, and many other factors.

Deadline for admissions is Dec. 1

Rush University Medical Center

A marker600 South Paulina Street -
600 S Paulina St, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
get directions

Southern Illinois University PA Program
Lindegren Hall, 129
Mail Code 6516
Carbondale, IL 62901-6519
Phone: 618-453-8851
Fax: 618-453-7216

6. Southern Illinois University PA Program

Unlike all the other medical schools, Southern Illinois University physician assistant program is in Carbondale -- about 300 miles away from the Windy City.

The SIU program, which began in 1997, is 26 months long and offers a master of science in physician assistant studies. About 30-34 students are accepted each year.

The curriculum focuses on problem-based learning and clincials to prepare you to become a primary care provider.

Acceptance into the program will require stellar GPAs, more than 2,000 hours of health-care experience, good letters of recommendation, among other items.

The school has a first-time PANCE pass rate of 97 percent over the last five years -- from 2007-2011.

Deadline for application, which is required to be submitted the year before matriculation, may vary each year, beginning April 15 and ending September 1.

Southern Illinois University

A markerSIU -
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
get directions

I hope this article has helped guide you on your way to your medical studies by listing the six physician assistant programs in Illinois.


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    • tamron profile image

      tamron 4 years ago

      Great alternative if you can't afford the college to be a doctor. Well written and illustrated! Stumble ya!

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