Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Physician Assistant Program


This page is intended to be a general overview of the PA Program's policies.  A complete guide to these policies is contained in the Program Handbook, distributed to all matriculating students.

Health Insurance

All PA students are required to have health insurance throughout their 2-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

All PA students at Northwestern are required to meet entrance health requirements. Please review the "Admitted Students" page under the "Admissions and Financial Aid" section for more detailed information.

Advanced Placement

Course work 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.  No advanced placement within the Physician Assistant Program will be allowed for prior academic or clinical experience.

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.


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 on-line transcript ordering services to PA Program Alumni. For more information, or to request a transcript, please click to the link below. Current students may obtain official transcripts through their CAESAR account under the "My Academics" menu.

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


The Program will not employ any physician assistant student as a graduate assistant or in any other capacity within the program.  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 Program.  PA students credentialed or licensed in other non-PA professions cannot function in that role while in the role of a PA student.

While the Program does not encourage students to work during the didactic or clinical years of the program, the program does not prevent students from obtaining outside employment.  The program will not make any exceptions, due to outside employment, in regard to course work or clinical assignments for the student who does engage in outside employment.

Leave of Absence

Due to the intensive nature of physician assistant education, all academic activities are considered to be an important part of the overall educational experience. The Program encourages all students to engage in their education with consistent attendance.  Leaves of absence will be individualized to the specific situation but will follow the general policies and procedures outlined below.  Program faculty will be notified of all instances of leaves of absence. Students are urged to submit requests for absence as soon as an absence is anticipated.  All requests for a leave of absence, whether administrative or medical, should be submitted IN WRITING to the Program Director or their designee.

A. Administrative Leaves of Absence

Administrative leaves of absence may be granted for personal, educational, financial or other reasons which must be stated in the letter of request. If the student is in academic difficulty, the program director or designee will consult with the faculty and course instructors of record prior to approval of the request. During both the Pre-Clinical and Clinical year, administrative leaves will be considered on a case-by-case basis. During the Pre-Clinical year, when more than two weeks of leave are needed, the usual recommendation is withdrawal from school and readmission.

B. Medical Leaves of Absence

Medical leaves of absence require a statement from the appropriate licensed health care provider as to the expected duration of absence. Details as to the reason for the medical leave are not required.  Reinstatement must be approved by the Program Director or their designee, who will need to be assured that the student is again ready for the rigors of medical studies.  While a statement of readiness from the student's health care provider may be sufficient, the right to require a second opinion regarding readiness is reserved. This consultation will come from a health care provider approved by the program, and any cost involved will be borne by the student.  With medical leaves of longer than two weeks, the usual recommendation is withdrawal from school and readmission.

C. Excused Absences (Up to 72 Hours in Length)

Excused absences will be determined on a case by case basis. Valid reasons for requesting an excused absence include personal illness and family emergencies. Personal illness lasting longer than 3 days may require documentation by a medical provider. The student must notify the program via phone or e-mail to report all absences. Please note that absence requests related to attending weddings, homecomings, the need to make an early flight for vacation, etc., will not be granted.
With excused absences during the didactic year:

D. Exit Interview

Should you be granted an extended administrative or medical leave of absence, withdraw from school, or be dismissed, the student is required to have an EXIT INTERVIEW with the PA Program Director or designated faculty member. This will involve returning any instructional property that has been entrusted to you and turning in your identification badge and white clinical jacket.  Other things to be considered at this time are clearance of all current debt with the university, the onset of the grace period if you should have school loans, and termination or conversion of your health and disability coverage. You may also want to arrange for an EXIT INTERVIEW with Financial Aid.  Students dismissed from the Program will no longer be able to attend program classes and activities unless an appeal is in process.

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 utilized 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.

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 2013-14.  This pamphlet is distributed by the Office of Student Accounts (Abbott Hall, first floor).  See also the handbook Financial Regulations for Students on the Chicago Campus.

Academic Policies

Honor Code

The Standards of Honor and Professional Conduct Policies are guided by the mission and vision statements of our institution.  

Physician Assistants are called to the highest standards of honor and professional conduct. Understanding that this responsibility begins not upon graduation but rather at the inception of one's medical education, the students of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program uphold the following standards which serve as an embodiment of conduct and integrity. These standards strive to foster an atmosphere of honesty, trust, and cooperation among students, instructors, patients, and society.

Behavior considered appropriate for a career in medicine includes, but is not limited to, honesty, trustworthiness, professional demeanor, respect for the rights of others, personal accountability, and concern for the welfare of patients. In these areas, PA students are bound by:



Professional demeanor

Respect for the rights of others

Concern for the welfare of patients

Academic Progress

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

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 academic review 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 towards completion of the Physician Assistant Program. Factors to be considered in this review include the following: 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.


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.

Student Grievance/Dismissal/Appeals Policy

When a student fails to achieve satisfactory academic progress, accused of academic dishonesty, or is accused of other program violations the Academic Review Process will be initiated.  (See sexual harassment policy the handling of grievances.)

Appeal Process

Students who disagree with the plan of action set forth by the Program Director may have the decision reviewed by the Dean of the Feinberg School of Medicine.  See the Feinberg School of Medicine Appeals Process for more details.

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.