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The policies of Northwestern University and the Physician Assistant Program apply to all students, principal faculty, and the program director regardless of location.

 PA Program Academic Standards

To graduate from the PA Program and earn a Master of Medical Science degree, the candidate must:

  • Achieve a grade of C or better in all PA Program courses.
  • Achieve a minimum overall GPA of 3.00 at the end of the program.
  • Successfully complete the PA Program Summative Evaluation.

To achieve satisfactory academic progress in the Physician Assistant Program, the student must maintain an aggregate grade of B (GPA of 3.00). The PA Program considers a grade below “C” in any of the Physician Assistant Program courses to represent unsatisfactory academic progress and may result in academic warning, probation or dismissal from the program. Unsatisfactory academic progress will result in a review by the Student Promotions Committee and may result in repeating course work, academic warning, academic probation or dismissal from the PA Program. 

The principal PA Program faculty members review each student’s progress each semester. The purpose of this review is to clarify each student’s academic status and his/her progress toward completion of the Physician Assistant Program. Factors to be considered in this review include an internal audit of grades earned in completed courses, professional development and professional/ethical behavior.

Academic progress in the second year is evaluated with end of rotation exams scores, preceptor evaluations and other course work requirements.

To remain in good academic standing, all PA students must receive a grade of C or better in all PA Program courses and a passing grade in all clinical rotations. The academic review process exists to assist students with identification of problems and issues that may be associated with academic or professional difficulties. The process occurs so that appropriate guidance, advice and remediation options may be effected.

 Technical Standards

Applicants will be asked to evaluate themselves according to the technical standards established by the faculty before matriculation and at various points throughout the curriculum. These standards include observation and communication skills, reasoning abilities and motor skills necessary for the performance of laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures. 

Decisions on whether these standards are met may be adjudicated by the Student Promotions Committee. Appeals of such SPC decisions will be reviewed by the Vice Dean for Education.

Below are the technical standards the faculty deems necessary for a student to matriculate, remain in good standing and ultimately to achieve all the competencies necessary for graduation with the Master of Medical Science degree. The Feinberg School of Medicine therefore requires applicants to confirm their ability to comply with these standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, as a condition of admission to the PA program.


Students must be able to observe and interpret demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. The student must be able to accurately determine and interpret physical findings in patients through the use of vision or hearing or the functional equivalent. The student must also be able to use touch perception or the functional equivalent to palpate and percuss during physical examinations.


Students must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, families, and colleagues to elicit information in both verbal and non-verbal forms. They must be able to obtain a medical history in a timely fashion and establish therapeutic relationships with patients. Students must be able to record information accurately and clearly and communicate effectively and efficiently with other healthcare professionals in a variety of patient settings.

Motor Skills

Students must be able to perform basic laboratory tests and physical examinations. The student must be able to adhere to universal precautions in performing these activities.

Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative & Quantitative Abilities

Students must be able to calculate, measure, reason, analyze and synthesize. The most critical skill required of physician assistants, problem solving, demands all of these abilities. Students must be able to participate and learn through a variety of modalities including but not limited to classroom instruction, small groups, team and collaborative activities.

Behavioral & Social Attributes

Students must demonstrate the ability to exercise good judgment, the timely completion of responsibilities related to the diagnosis and care of patients and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients and colleagues. Students must be able to work collaboratively in a healthcare team and function in stressful work environments such as hospitals and clinics. They must be able to demonstrate reasonable flexibility in adapting to changing work situations.


The Feinberg School of Medicine encourages application by qualified students with disabilities who meet these technical standards either with or without the use of reasonable accommodations. Information regarding disability accommodations may be obtained through Accessible NU and the Office of Student Programs & Career Development.

 Advanced Placement

No advanced placement within the Physician Assistant Program will be allowed for prior academic or clinical experience. Coursework in the Physician Assistant Program is different from most traditional graduate programs. Due to the knowledge base each semester building on the knowledge gained from the previous semester, it is vital that all students of the Northwestern University Physician Assistant Program complete the required work in the prescribed sequence. 

 Background Checks

Once admitted to the program, all matriculating students will be subject to a background check to be completed prior to matriculation. The program will follow background check procedures used by other programs within the Feinberg School of Medicine. Matriculating students will not subject to any fees directly related to this process.

Should criminal or other dubious legal histories be uncovered during the background check, the program reserved the right to rescind offers of admission.


The Northwestern University Physician Assistant Program will not employ any physician assistant student as a graduate assistant, instructor, or in any other capacity within the program. No student shall serve as a substitute for or function as instructional faculty, nor clinical or administrative staff. Students enrolled in the PA Program cannot substitute for practicing physician assistants or provide unsupervised services while at any clinical site. Northwestern University employee policies do not apply to students while in the PA Program. PA students credentialed or licensed in other non-PA professions must not function in that role while in the role of a PA student.

The PA Program faculty strongly discourages students from working during the didactic or clinical years; however, the program does not prevent students from obtaining outside employment. The program will not make any scheduling/course work exceptions that may arise from employment.


Within the syllabus of each course the grading methodology and elements are defined. Each element (quiz, exam, group session, etc.) are assigned a point value within the context of each course. The points are totaled and a final grade determined. The letter grade is determined from the point scale outlined in the course syllabi.

 Health Insurance

All PA students are required to have health insurance throughout their two years of the program. Students are to complete the Coverage Selection Form to either elect or decline the insurance that Northwestern University offers. Proof of University or other health insurance coverage must be provided to the PA program. See the Health Services-Chicago website for more information.

 Health Requirements for Admitted Students

Mandatory health entrance requirements must be completed by all students prior to the start of classes. It is strongly advised that newly admitted students begin completing these health entrance requirements as soon as possible, so ample time is allotted to complete the antibody titer testing, tuberculosis screening, and vaccination history.

The Student Immunization Form can be accessed online through Northwestern Medicine Student Health Service. Complete and submit the form on or before May 1.

 Refund Policy

Once enrolled, a student wishing to withdraw from the program will have his tuition refunded to the degree determined by the following schedule:

  • 0-25% of term elapsed: 75% of tuition paid will be refunded
  • 26-50% of term elapsed: 50% of tuition paid will be refunded
  • 51-100% of term elapsed: 0% of tuition paid will be refunded

Financial aid recipients who withdraw from the University may be required to return a portion of their financial aid to the federal programs. The policy is subject to change in accordance with revisions in federal regulations. A full description of the University's refund and repayment policy as it applies to PA students is contained in the Financial Regulations of 2021-22. Please see the handbook of Financial Regulations for Students.

 Safe and Healthy Learning Environment

Feinberg believes that an effective learning environment is one in which all involved are treated with respect. Discover how we foster a safe and healthy learning environment and connect with student support resources.

 Student Records

The following matriculated student records will be maintained by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program for the length of time specified. These records and others maybe maintained by other departments within the institution. For example, transcripts are maintained by the registrar and health records are maintained by student health.

Document Length of Time

Educational transcripts


Admission records


Didactic/clinical performance


Clinical rotation schedule


Advising records

Ten years after graduation

Remediation records

Ten years after graduation

Disciplinary/dismissal records


Health/immunization screening assurance

One year after graduation

Official Transcripts: Northwestern University has authorized Parchment Exchange to provide online transcript ordering services to PA Program Alumni. Visit this page for more information or to request a transcript. Current students may obtain official transcripts through their CAESAR account.

For questions or assistance, contact the Northwestern University Registrar at or 847-467-0760.

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