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Physician Assistant (MSPAS)

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) at Milligan is a 28-month, 108-credit hour program that prepares highly trained healthcare professionals with a foundation in primary care to work with physicians and other members of the healthcare team in a variety of medical specialties. Applicants must have an earned bachelor’s degree and have completed the prerequisite requirements for admission to the program.

Milligan’s MSPAS program has received the status of Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and began its first class in January 2018. The program continues to begin a new class of students in January of each year.

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America needs PAsWhat does a PA do?

Physician Assistants are nationally certified and state licensed medical providers trained to diagnose and treat patients as well as prescribe medication. PAs are a key part of the patient-centered healthcare team. Learn more:


The 108-credit hour curriculum unfolds in two phases over the course of 28 months:

  • Didactic Phase consisting of 72-credit hours of course work delivered in face-to-face instruction over the course of 15 months
  • Clinical Phase consisting of 36-credit hours of clinical rotations. Each student completes a series of eight, six-week clinical placements over the course of 13 months. Students may suggest a clinical rotation site and/or clinical preceptor at least three months prior to the start of a rotation. However, students will NOT be required to provide or solicit clinical rotation sites or preceptors. Approval of a student requested rotation site and/or preceptor lies with the clinical coordinator and other PA faculty.

Graduation takes place in May of each year.

course descriptions »


Milligan’s PA program has a 96% overall first-time pass rate on the PANCE (Physician Assistant National Certification Exam). The national average for all PA program first-time test takers in 2020 was 95%.
Review Milligan’s report here »

Student attrition RATE

Milligan’s attrition rate for the class of 2021 was 3.8%. The graduation rate was 96.2%.
Review Milligan’s report here »


The Milligan University PA Program competencies are defined using the “Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession” and can be viewed here »

Mission & Goals

Mission: To prepare physician assistants as servant leaders who provide clinical expertise while making positive contributions to the profession, the communities they practice in, and society as a whole.

Goals: The Milligan University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program goals are designed to educate physician assistants who:

  • provide competent and compassionate health care to diverse individuals and populations across
    the lifespan
  • effectively interact and communicate with all health professionals, patients and patients’ families
  • engage in life-long learning to maintain professional quality
  • demonstrate competence in social, legal, and ethical issues related to healthcare practice
  • apply evidence-based medicine into all areas of practice
  • demonstrate the ability to integrate practice with a Christian worldview

Please click here to see the success of the Milligan University PA Program in achieving its goals »


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

Institutional accreditation: Milligan University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, master’s, education specialist, and doctorate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Milligan University.

Professional Licensure

ARC-PA accredited physician assistant programs satisfy the states’ educational requirements in all states.  Students  graduating from an ARC-PA accredited program are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE) and apply for licensure in any state.  For more information regarding state qualifications and licensure requirements, please refer to the AAPA Initial Licensure Requirements at https://www.aapa.org/download/19739/.


The faculty of the Milligan University Physician Assistant Program are committed to preparing PAs as servant leaders with clinical expertise. Combined, our faculty have over 50 years of clinical experience in multiple different specialties along with many years of teaching experience. Five of the faculty members are certified physician assistants who practice clinically, while two other faculty members hold a Ph.D. Our faculty members value Milligan’s longstanding tradition of forming great mentoring relationships with students, and they are dedicated to ensuring that students are successful both during the program and as practicing PAs.

Meet our PA faculty »


A financial investment from Ballad Health (formerly Mountain States Health Alliance) has established the Ballad Health Physician Assistant Center, housed in Milligan’s B. D. Phillips Building. This area has three private exam rooms equipped with appropriate medical equipment along with a larger space that has an open floor plan with 13 patient exam tables.  Eight of these exam tables are equipped with medical equipment including ophthalmoscopes, otoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, wall desks, and privacy curtains that separate each area. The Center is used to train students in a wide array of clinical competencies, including communication, history taking, physical examination, counseling, and patient safety.  Clinical skills training, such as practice with urinary catheter trainers, IV injection manikin arms, casting, and suturing, also take place in the Ballad Health PA Center.

In addition to brand-new facilities, recent renovations to Milligan’s Science Building and expansions to its gross anatomy lab allow physician assistant students to participate in dissection of human anatomical donors. The program’s close proximity to other healthcare programs, which allow for numerous interprofessional education opportunities, and the Johnson City Medical Center, a reputable tertiary teaching hospital, are other advantages that set the University’s physician assistant program apart from many other programs.


All applicants to the Milligan University Physician Assistant Program must apply through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). The application cycle for the class that begins January 10, 2022, will open on April 29, 2021, and close on September 1, 2021. All applications must be verified on or before this date. Applications that are not verified by this deadline will not be reviewed.

The Milligan PA program utilizes a rolling admission process, meaning we review applications as they are completed and make decisions throughout the admissions cycle until the class is filled. Applicants should apply as early as possible and check the CASPA site frequently until all requirements including references have been submitted and the application is complete.

Selected candidates will be considered for a face-to-face on-site interview. Each cohort/class will have a maximum of 26 students. No advanced placement status will be given to students in the program.

All applicants who are offered a seat of admission will be required to pay a $1000 non-refundable deposit which will be applied to your account upon matriculation.

Veterans: Milligan University is a military-friendly institution. Learn more »

Academic Profile

For reference, the academic profile of each individual class is as follows:

Year Average Cumulative Undergraduate GPA Average Prerequisite Science GPA Average GRE Score
Class of 2020 3.59 3.65 305
Class of 2021 3.68 3.66 305
Class of 2022 3.60 3.64 305
Class of 2023 3.75 3.71 302

Admission Requirements

The minimum requirements to be considered for admission to the Physician Assistant program are as follows:

  • A baccalaureate degree with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0.
  • A minimum 3.0 GPA for prerequisite science courses
  • Health care experience with a minimum of 300 documented hours of direct patient care or observation experience. Click here for more info »
  • Strong verbal and quantitative reasoning skills as reported on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). A minimum composite score of 289 will be accepted, and the exam must have been taken within the past five years. GRE scores are to be submitted directly through Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA), and the Milligan University PA GRE code is 7342.  Click here for Applicant FAQ for GRE Scores »
    • Although many testing centers are closed at this time, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) offers an “at Home” option for the GRE.  Please click on the following link for more information: https://www.ets.org/s/cv/gre/at-home/. If you still cannot take the GRE, please include an explanation for the PA program admissions committee in the part of your CASPA application where you can discuss how you have been affected by COVID-19.
  • Three completed reference forms through CASPA from persons who have adequate knowledge of the applicant’s Christian commitment, character, and professional qualities of potential for success as a graduate student. At least one reference must be from someone with/for whom the applicant has worked/volunteered in a health care setting.
  • Meet technical standards (download PDF)
  • Clear level one background check if offered and accept a seat of admission
  • Obtain BLS certification through the American Heart Association prior to starting the program
  • A completed baccalaureate degree that includes the following prerequisite courses:


    You might be able to take some prerequisite courses at Milligan at a reduced rate. Learn more »

    • Math and Science
      • General Biology- 4 semester hours*
      • Anatomy & Physiology- 8 semester hours*
      • Microbiology -4 semester hours*
      • General chemistry-8 semester hours*
      • Organic chemistry or Biochemistry -minimum 3 semester hours, lab not required
      • Statistics- 3 semester hours
      • *courses must include live hands on lab; courses with online laboratory will not be accepted. More competitive applications will show successful completion of science courses that are above the introductory or “essentials” level.
    • Social Science
      • Intro to Psychology, Intro to Sociology, OR Intro to Anthropology- 3 semester hours
      • Developmental Psychology OR Lifespan Psychology- 3 semester hours
    • Communication
      • Writing/English Composition-6 semester hours
      • Public Speaking-3 semester hours
    • Medical Terminology – 1 semester hour
  • International students whose native language is not English or do not hold a bachelor’s degree completed in residency in the U.S. must also provide proof of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of at least 79 or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 6.5. International students should click here for information on the immigration/visa process »

Substitution or waiver of a requirement for any of the above prerequisite courses may be granted by the Physician Assistant program admissions committee on an individual basis.


Prospective students meeting the minimum admission criteria will be considered for a face-to-face on-site interview. However, meeting the minimum requirements guarantees neither an invitation for a face-to-face on-site interview nor admission to the program as most if not all successful applicants will generally exceed these minimum requirements. Selection for the physician assistant program is very competitive, and all parts of each application are reviewed including undergraduate cumulative and pre-requisite course GPAs, health care experience, letters of reference, personal statement, and GRE scores. Personal interviews with the principal physician assistant faculty will be required for final admission and will be offered only to the most qualified individuals. Final selection of students will be made by the admissions committee of the Physician Assistant program. See the Admission section above for interview and admission timeline.

International Students

International students must provide proof of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of at least 79. Please have your score sent directly from the Educational Testing Service to Milligan’s PA Admissions Office. All international applicants must have taken the TOEFL within the last two years. You cannot be exempted from this requirement unless English is your native language, you are a U.S. citizen, or you have received an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university.

After a student is admitted, there is required documentation to submit BEFORE form I-20 can be issued.  Students may begin gathering and submitting this information even prior to admission, but no I-20 will be issued until a prospect has been fully admitted AND has submitted the required documentation. International students should click here for information on the immigration/visa process »


Tuition & Fees

The Milligan PA program is priced competitively, and we will work with you every step of the way to help investigate all the options available for financing your education.

The tuition rate for 2022 is $800 per credit hour, for a total approximate tuition cost (108 credit hours) of $86,400 plus applicable fees.

Tuition (per credit hour) $800 x 108 credit hours = $86,400
Technology Access Fee *$300/semester x 4 semesters = $1,200 total
Graduate Activity Fee (Wellness Center, Health Services, etc.) *$100/semester x 4 semesters = $400 total
Life-time academic records fee $75 one time fee
Additional course fees $5,400 (click here for details)
Criminal Background Screening $145 one time fee (additional fees may apply)
Repeat Criminal Background Screening for Clinical Year $115
AAPA & TAPA Student Membership Fees $125 one time fee
Professional Instruments $1,000 (approximate)
Textbooks $1,440 (approximate)
Laptop Computer $1,500 (approximate)

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available for graduate students. Click here to learn more about the types of aid available and your payment options »

Veterans Scholarship Information

If you qualify for VA Chapter 33 Yellow Ribbon benefits, you may also be eligible for a Yellow Ribbon scholarship from Milligan. There are a limited number of scholarships available each year so apply now! Click here for more information about VA Educational Benefits at Milligan »

Expectations and Responsibilities

Student Expectations

All students at Milligan are expected to uphold the expectations and responsibilities for student lifestyles at Milligan University. Milligan University adopts specific rules on the basis of the belief that God’s Word, as the final rule of faith and practice, speaks on many matters pertaining to personal conduct. Therefore, behavior that conflicts with Scripture is unacceptable. Historically, communities also have developed guidelines that help put into practice basic moral and social principles. Such standards serve as a guide toward worthwhile goals relevant to one’s academic, spiritual, social, and physical well-being.

Students should consult the Student Handbook for further guidance regarding acceptable personal lifestyle and conduct while enrolled at Milligan University. A student’s matriculation and enrollment at Milligan University is their pledge to uphold the policies and expectations outlined in the Student Handbook and Catalog.


This is a rigorous, full-time, 28-month academic program.  Employment of any type while enrolled in this program is not possible.

Advisory Committee

The Milligan University Physician Assistant Program Advisory Committee serves the PA program by being an advocate for the program in the community and by assisting the program in maintaining and improving all aspects of the program, especially the clinical phase.  The Committee also serve the program by providing increased communication between the program and community leaders to help faculty members have a better understanding of the community outlook of the program, to create better learning opportunities for students, and to provide a connection for potential employment opportunities for graduates.

The PA Program Advisory Committee is composed of healthcare professionals, leaders of healthcare organizations, Milligan University faculty and staff, the PA program director, and other leaders of our community who support the mission and goals of the program.  Advisory Committee membership is by invitation from the program director and is based upon recommendation from program faculty, a member of the Milligan University faculty/staff, or a member of the professional community.

Specific responsibilities of the PA Program Advisory Committee include:

  1. Identification of healthcare providers in specific specialties who are willing to serve as clinical preceptors
  2. Serving as program advocates by supporting and promoting the program
  3. Reviewing program policies and procedures as needed
  4. Assisting the PA Program Admissions Committee with the admissions process as needed
  5. Assisting with evaluation of students as needed

The committee will meet on an annual basis with additional meetings to be scheduled if the need arises.  We are very grateful to each member for their willingness to serve on the Milligan University PA Program Advisory Committee.

PA Advisory Committee

Name Profession Organization
Jim Aderhold, PA-C Family Medicine Physician Assistant Unicoi Medical Associates
Emily Campbell, MD Family Medicine/Sports Medicine Holston Medical Group
Stephen P. Combs, MD, CPE, FACFE, FAAP Chief Medical Officer Ballad Health Medical Associates
Eric Deaton, MBA Chief Operating Officer Ballad Health
Mark Fox, MBA Vice President for Student Development and Athletics Milligan University
Mark Harrell, MD Emergency Room Medicine Morristown Hamblen Healthcare System
Andrew Hull, PA-C Physician Assistant Program Director and Area Chair Milligan University
Christy Isbell, PhD Program Director and Area Chair of Occupational Therapy; Professor of Occupational Therapy Milligan University
Sheree King, PT Physical Therapist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist Wellmont Cancer Institute
Richard McDavid, MD Family Medicine Veterans Administration
Myra O’Dell, MBA Partner and Investment Advisor BCS Wealth Management
Jim Pearson, MD Pediatrician First Choice Pediatrics
Rebecca Sapp, PhD Director of the Counseling Center and Associate Professor of Counseling Milligan University
Melissa Witzigman, PA-C Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant Ballad Health

Adjunct Instructors

Amber Dykes, PA-C, Inpatient Physician Assistant, IPC of Tennessee

Connie Pennington, MD, Colorectal Surgeon, Colon and Rectal Surgery Consultants, P.C.

David Cluck, PharmD, BCPS, AAHIVP, Associate Professor, East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy

Jim Thigpen, PharmD, BCPS, Associate Professor, East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy

Nathaniel A. Justice, MD, MBA, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, East Tennessee State University

Robert Wood, PharmD, BCPS, VHA-CM, Inpatient Medicine Pharmacy Specialist, Mountain Home VA Healthcare System

T. Watson Jernigan, MD, MA, Professor, Quillen College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

W. Stacy Melvin, PA-C, Orthopaedic Physician Assistant, Appalachian Orthopaedic Associates

Meet our full-time PA faculty »


Andrew Hull

Andrew Hull

Area Chair and Director of the PA Program; Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies

Phone: 423.461.1558
Contact via email
Office: B.D. Phillips Building


Dr. Ron Blackmore

Ron Blackmore

Medical Director, PA Program


Heather Justice

Heather Justice

Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies, Assessment Coordinator

Phone: 423.461.1552
Contact via email
Office: B.D. Phillips Building


Maureen Knechtel

Maureen Knechtel

Associate Professor of Physician Assistant Studies, Academic Coordinator

Phone: 423.461.1539
Contact via email
Office: B.D. Phillips Building


Dr. David Gibbons

David Gibbons

Associate Professor of Physician Assistant Studies, Admissions Coordinator

Phone: 423.461.1515
Contact via email
Office: B.D. Phillips Building


R. Shane Smith

R. Shane Smith

Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies

Phone: 423.461.1525
Contact via email
Office: B.D. Phillips Building