The 10 Cheapest PA Schools in the US

October 20, 2023


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 10/17/23

If you’re interested in becoming a physician assistant without breaking the bank, read on to learn more about the cheapest PA schools in the nation. 

There are many healthcare occupations students can pursue if they don’t want to go through the extensive process of becoming an MD. One popular option is becoming a physician assistant (PA).

While PAs collaborate with and are supervised by physicians, they still work closely with their patients, administer diagnostic tests, perform procedures, help diagnose illnesses, and create treatment plans. 

A PA degree takes three years to complete and often comes with a hefty price tag. But, there are various options for students looking to obtain their PA degree without drowning in debt, which is what this guide will go over!

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The Cheapest PA Schools in the US

To give you a variety of options to choose from, here are the 10 cheapest PA schools in the US.

1. Wichita State University

Wichita State University has the cheapest PA program in the country. For the full three years of this program, residents can expect to pay about $28,760, and non-residents can expect to pay $39,850 for tuition

Not only is this program the cheapest, but it is also the first and longest-running in Kansas. As such, Wichita offers its students a comprehensive master’s program with high pass rates, strong community affiliations, and dedicated faculty. 

To attend this distinguished program, students should aim to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their undergraduate degree. Standardized test scores such as the GRE are not required to apply to Wichita

Most PA programs require students to have extensive clinical experience before applying to their programs. Wichita is one of the few schools that doesn’t have this application requirement!

However, it can significantly boost your application and is expected. Ensure you pursue at least one clinical role before applying to Wichita to maximize your chances of admission! 

2. Texas Tech University

The Texas Tech University PA program involves 15 months of a rigorous academic curriculum and 12 months of hands-on clinical experience in various clinics across West Texas. 

These clinical rotations give students experience in internal medicine, family medicine, prenatal and gynecology, pediatrics, emergency medicine, surgery, and psychiatry. After rotating through all of these specialties, students will have the chance to choose a specialty. 

Tuition for this program costs $44,880 for in-state residents and $95,880 for out-of-state residents.

Prospective students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 to be considered for admission and must submit GRE scores that are less than five years old.

3. CUNY - York College

CUNY College offers another excellent PA program with low tuition costs. New York residents pay around $36,655 for tuition for all three years, whereas non-resident students pay $74,385.

Like many other schools listed in this guide, a GPA of at least 3.0 is required to join this program. While CUNY does not require its aspiring PA students to write the GRE, it does require them to have at least 500 hours worth of volunteer or work healthcare experience.

4. University of Wisconsin

The PA program at the University of Wisconsin is dedicated to educating students on how to deliver comprehensive healthcare in a culturally and ethically sensitive manner. UW uniquely offers two PA programs for students to choose from:

  • Campus Track: a full-time, three-year PA program offered at the UW-Madison campus
  • Distance Track: a part-time, 36-month program with the option of distance learning

The campus track option is the most common and costs about $40,797 in tuition for residents and $82,832 for non-residents. 

With higher admission expectations, UW requires its applicants to have a minimum GPA of 3.2 and 1,000 hours of direct patient experience from paid employment, volunteering, or clinical research. The GRE is not required to apply to UW. 

5. University of Texas - Southwestern

The University of Texas Southwestern’s tuition costs $39,648 for in-state students and $90,831 for out-of-state students. While most PA programs are 24-27 months long, UT’s is 30 months to provide students with 15 months of academic training and 15 months of clinical rotations.

UT is also conveniently located in the heart of Dallas, making it a hotspot for health care, business, education, and the arts.

While UT doesn’t provide specifics on its GPA requirements, they strongly encourage students to have pre-admission hands-on patient care clinical experience. There is no minimum amount of hours students should have, but to increase your chances of gaining admission, do your best to get as many as you can!

6. Indiana State University

Indiana State University offers one of the most selective PA programs in the nation, accepting only 30 students into their program annually. These 30 students are given access to world-class staff and resources to ensure their educational success.

To gain a spot in this revered program, students should have a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0, at least 500 hours of healthcare or direct patient care experience, and a GRE score of 155 in the Verbal section, 155 in the Quantitative section, and 4.0 in the Written section. 

Indiana residents pay around $40,734 in tuition costs for this PA program, and non-residents pay $80,073. 

7. University of Arkansas 

Another great affordable PA option is the University of Arkansas. In-state students pay $46,669 for tuition, and out-of-state students pay $73,500. 

This program strives to equip students with a broad range of medical knowledge and skills in order to prepare them for careers as physician assistants that provide high-quality, compassionate healthcare to diverse populations of patients.

Students spend the first 13 months of the program learning medical fundamentals through classrooms, labs, seminars, patient simulators, service learning, and patient encounters. The second stage of this program consists of 15 months of 10 required clinical rotations and two electives.

A minimum cumulative GPA average of 3.0 and at least 500 hours of direct patient care are required to be considered for Arkansas’ program. Students must also write the GRE as part of the admission requirements.

8. University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley

Another one of the cheapest PA schools in the nation is the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus. This program provides students with an innovative advanced medical education to help them transform healthcare delivery. 

To attend this PA program, students must have a GPA of at least 3.0, submit GRE scores, and take the Altus Suite. As part of this, students are required to complete the CASPer and have the option to also complete the Snapshot

While UT doesn’t specify how many hours of experience students should have to be considered competitive, they require you to detail your patient care and health-related experience on your application.

The cost to attend UT is about $41,865 for residents and $83,856 for non-residents. 

9. Missouri State University

Missouri State University aims to prepare its students for the modern world of medicine by offering them state-of-the-art facilities that include a cadaver lab, simulation center, skill lab, and on-site clinic that serves uninsured low-income adult patients. 

As a distinguished PA program, prospective Missouri State students are held to high academic standards when being considered for admission. 

The 2022 entering class had a median GPA of 3.7-3.8 and more than 5,000 hours of paid, direct patient healthcare experience. This class also had an average score of 304 for the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE.

For students who wish to write the MCAT instead of the GRE, this option is available, but data on the MCAT averages is not. 

Missouri State University’s tuition costs $56,710 for in-state students and $86,812 for out-of-state students. 

10. University of Nebraska 

While the University of Nebraska is the most expensive PA school to attend on this list, it is still relatively cheap in comparison to most PA programs. In-state residents can expect to pay around $55,545 for tuition, and out-of-state residents can expect to pay $87,135. 

Nebraska’s PA program consists of 13 months of academic work, 10 months of required clerkships in specific areas of clinical medicine, and five months of elective clerkships in your choice of primary care areas.

The 2022 entering class had a cumulative median GPA of 3.67 and a science GPA of 3.52. Students are also strongly encouraged to have pre-admission clinical experience working with patients directly. Nebraska states the most competitive applicants have at least 2,000 hours of direct patient care.

Find More PA Schools With Low Tuition

Although we’ve listed the top 10 cheapest schools already, there are still plenty of affordable PA schools in the US. You don’t have to fret if none of the above schools are calling your name! 

With our interactive PA school selection tool down below, you can find an inexpensive school that suits all your needs. 

Can You Go to PA School for Free?

While we’ve gone over the cheapest PA schools in the nation, you might want to lower your costs even more by trying to attend PA school for free! 

While no PA program is free to attend, you can apply for various scholarships that can cover the full cost of your tuition. 

One of the most popular scholarships aspiring PA students seek is the NHSC Scholarship Program. This program awards students pursuing primary care health professions training. Recipients of this award will be given enough grants to cover the following for up to four years of education:

  • Full cost of tuition and other fees
  • Annual payment for other reasonable education costs
  • Living expenses through monthly stipends

In order to be eligible for this scholarship, students must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be enrolled in full-time school at an accredited PA program
  • Commit to serving two years working full-time in an NHSC-approved Health Professional Shortage Area
  • Have a good credit score and a clean background check to prove you honor your legal obligations
  • Demonstrate high academic performance
  • Have a strong commitment to the field of primary care
  • Have an interest in providing care to underserved communities
  • Have relevant work/volunteer experience that prepared you to work with underserved populations

If you believe you check off all the eligibility requirements, you’ll need to submit the following as part of your application:

  • Answers to the provided essay questions: these essays seek to prove your interest in and commitment to primary care service in underserved communities
  • Recommendation letters: these letters must provide descriptions of your school performance, academic/work/personal achievements, ability to work with diverse populations, and your motivation and commitment to work with underserved communities 

If you are a student from a disadvantaged background, you may be given priority over other students for this scholarship because you have characteristics that increase the chance of you continuing to serve underserved communities after your NHSC service obligation is complete.

FAQs: Cheapest PA Schools

If you have any remaining questions about the cheapest PA schools, read on to find your answers!

1. Where is the Cheapest PA Program?

Wichita State University in Kansas has the cheapest PA program.

2. What is the Average Cost of Tuition for PA Programs?

The average cost of tuition for PA programs is about $80,000, with higher-ranking schools costing well over $100,000. 

3. Are the Cheapest PA Schools in Texas?

Three of the cheapest PA schools are in Texas: Texas Tech University, the University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley, and the University of Texas Southwestern.

4. How Hard is it to Get Into PA School?

Many PA programs only accept a small fraction of their applicants, so they are quite competitive. To increase your chances of getting into your top choice, ensure you maintain a high undergrad GPA and have direct clinical patient experience.

5. How Long is PA School?

PA programs are typically around 27 months long, but can be 30 months long. 

6. What Kind of Degree Is a PA Program?

PA school is a graduate-level program that is a master’s degree.

Final Thoughts

Completing a PA program will help you land a fulfilling career in medicine where you impact the lives of patients every day! While PA school will be challenging, joining any one of the schools listed in this guide will allow you to begin your medical journey with less debt and less stress!

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