Physician Assistant Studies

In a healthcare industry that has seen constant change, the role of a physician assistant is more important than ever. It’s no surprise that being a PA consistently ranks in the top percentile for overall “100 Best Jobs” with US News & World Report and Forbes. Again in 2024, PAs ranked number 2 for 100 best healthcare jobs. At Canisius University, our Physician Assistant program is designed to develop dedicated and skilled clinicians who follow the highest professional standards. Through a transformative learning environment, students in our PA program can discern a greater purpose for their occupational service, achieve mindfulness, and become leaders in their community and the medical profession.

$950/credit hour
27 months
Program Director
Dr. Aimee Larson, DMSc, PA-C
Now Accepting Applications For:
January 2025 Cohort

The Physician Assistant program at Canisius is a seven-semester, master’s degree program consisting of two main phases: didactic (classroom) training and clinical training. In the didactic phase, you will spend the first 3 semesters on campus with access to some of the latest medical education technology. Students and faculty will also have access to extensive online resources, including a medical library with over 120 of the most widely used medical textbooks as well as popular medical journals. Lectures and seminars will be provided by program faculty as well as distinguished guests with extensive experience in their field. In addition to classroom instruction, you will have multiple opportunities to practice skills in patient interviews, physical exams, diagnostic testing, and procedures in a simulation lab. Students will also experience early clinical exposure opportunities in community hospitals and clinics to help prepare for the clinical setting. 

PA studies canisius
A dedicated classroom for Physician Assistant students allows learners to experience lecture-based content and active learning sessions while moving seamlessly through the space.

The second phase of training will consist of 4 semesters of clinical experience. During this phase, you will attend 8-week clinical rotations in both family medicine, and hospital medicine, and 4-week clinical rotations in emergency medicine, general surgery, women’s health, pediatrics, outpatient internal medicine, and behavioral health. In addition, you will have the opportunity to choose from two elective rotations in areas such as orthopedics, critical care, neurology, cardiology, rheumatology, and other subspecialties. Because of our strong working relationship with some of the largest medical organizations in Western New York, students will have access to outstanding clinical experiences in a variety of settings. Quality clinical experiences often lead to quality employment opportunities for PA students. Our goal is to retain at least 50% of our graduates practicing in the Western New York area.


As a student in our PA program, you will learn in a state-of-the-art simulation lab equipped with simulation mannequins, four simulated examination rooms with audio/visual recording abilities, and multiple Anatomage virtual human anatomy tables. Highly sought-after, these tables are used in some of the finest teaching facilities around the country. The tables will be used throughout the entire program to supplement classroom and clinical learning. Students will be able to review videos of performance in all areas of medicine with direct feedback from a faculty member. This method has been proven to increase confidence in the clinical setting.

The program also has a very valuable affiliation with Sisters of Charity Hospital for in-situ simulation. Our students have the opportunity to attend realistic medical simulations with hospital staff, medical and pharmacy residents, and other interprofessional learners. In-situ simulation occurs in the actual clinical setting with on-duty providers and learners during the actual workday and using the available resources for that clinical setting. This allows our students to be immersed in real-world scenarios before entering the clinical phase of training. 

The Canisius University PA program has also formed an affiliation with the University at Buffalo to participate in their nationally recognized interprofessional collaborative practice program. Students will be credentialed in a number of activities involving collaboration with students in medicine, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and more. These credentials translate well with potential employers.  

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While many PA programs have larger cohort sizes up to 60+ students in each cohort, students in our program benefit from a cohort size that is much smaller. Our average cohort will consist of 30 students, ensuring a more intimate learning environment and greater interaction between students and faculty.

A service-learning requirement provides our students with early exposure to underserved members of the Western New York Community, and the social and medical issues that affect patient care and health outcomes of patients from different socioeconomic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Additionally, students will also have access to one of the largest online libraries for medical references available. This includes popular medical texts, journals, weekly case reviews, and more. 


The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Canisius University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Canisius University.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at

Extended Learning Opportunities 

Students will learn gross anatomy on our anatomage tables
Students will learn gross anatomy on our Anatomage tables
  • Interdisciplinary training with students and faculty from the University at Buffalo medical programs culminating in micro-credentialing of skills acquired. This allows our graduates to be more competitive in the job market after graduation
  • In-situ simulation exercises at Sister's of Charity Hospital with hospital staff, medicine residents, and other interprofessional learners 
  • Travel to state and national Physician Assistant conferences available. Second-year students will be encouraged to raise money and compete in the Annual Challenge Bowl competition at the AAPA conference
  • A service-learning requirement that will ensure early exposure to underserved members of the Western New York community
  • An awareness through service-learning of the social and medical issues that affect care and health outcomes of patients from different socioeconomic, religious, and cultural backgrounds