Master in Physician Assistant Studies Bridge Program (MPAS)

The Master in Physician Assistant Studies Bridge Program (MPAS) curriculum is a web-based program that enables a practicing physician with a Bachelor’s degree to obtain a Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies allowing the physician assistant to remain in their community while completing their course of study. The degree awarded at the completion of the Bridge Program will be a professional Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS).

While enrolled in the Bridge Program, each student will enroll in three clinical tracks (four weeks each) and the research experience course. The emphasis of the clinical tracks is to encourage life-long learning in the area of the professional competencies as agreed on by our professional organizations.


The College of Health Affairs at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has initiated a new, fully online MPAS program that allows individuals to earn a Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies while continuing their careers in the public health and health care fields.  Through online learning, e-mail and telephone conferencing with faculty, and the internet library resources, the program allows health care professionals to earn an accredited MPAS while maximizing flexibility in where and when they study.

Objective of the Program

The principle purpose of the program is to advance the goals of  the physician assistant competencies.  The curriculum covers all of the physician assistant competencies through the provision of courses in each of the following core public health disciplines:  biostatistics, social and behavioral competence , environmental health, epidemiology, and health policy and management. The curriculum includes an additional course in the areas crucial to current practice, evidence base medicine research. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate current literature from the medical journals in light of research design and data collection. The research course introduces students to the concepts of evidence-based medicine and medical research design, while stressing the examination of evidence from clinical research as a basis for clinical decision-making.

Intended Audience

The program is designed for the full-time, working physician assistant who wishes to continue working in the health care field while earning a Master’s degree. Current practicing physician assistants can gain a greater understanding of the following:

  • Best practice community approaches to health promotion
  • Applied life-long learning competencies
  • Research design and interpretation of findings from research studies
  • Methods for analysis of data

Program Format

The program can accommodate individual interests and strengthen participant’s skills. The program is designed to provide an excellent grounding evidence base medicine that accommodates the demanding schedule of the working health care professional.

The program makes use of online internet-based technology, an online library, and email to deliver the course content to enrolled students. Because online education differs in many respects from the traditional mode of classroom delivery of courses, classes may begin with orientation to distance learning through internet-based technology. Some students will be proficient in use of the internet, while others will need an introduction to the technology.

All students learn ways to get the most out of their distance-learning-based education.  They receive instruction in methods for maximizing the effectiveness of distance learning, given their individual learning styles, and the policies different teachers employ for email and phone communications, assignments, and group projects, examinations, and grading.  There are no residency requirements.