Frequently Asked Questions2019-05-03T09:44:04-04:00
I understand that there is a manual of explanation along with the Standards. Where can I find it?2021-02-18T15:02:25-05:00

The Accreditation Manual includes the Standards along with suggested evidence of compliance and performance indicators and clarifying comments to help guide programs in their self-assessment of compliance with the Standards. This manual can be found in the Resources section of the website.


Are the “suggested evidence of compliance” in the Accreditation Manual really just additional Standards?2019-07-29T11:20:28-04:00

No, the suggested evidence of compliance and performance indicators are just that: suggestions for how programs can demonstrate compliance with the Standards. They are not mandatory or exclusive lists and programs should feel free to submit other documentation in addition to or instead of the suggested evidence.

I don’t understand when to notify the ARC-PA about changes in class size.2021-02-18T15:05:36-05:00

The Standards require that programs must inform and receive approval required from the ARC-PA using forms and processes developed by the ARC-PA no less than six months prior to implementation of a proposed change in maximum entering class size of any number of students for any reason. Class size increases are considered at the commission meetings in March, June and September. Programs should note the deadlines for submitting changes for a meeting: December 31 for the March meeting, March 31 for the June meeting, and June 30 for the September meeting.

The ARC-PA does allow programs to temporarily increase class size without review by the ARC-PA when the increase is transient and required to accommodate a unique situation such as students delayed in progress through the program. However, programs making this accommodation must notify the ARC-PA via submission of the Explanation for Exceeding Class Size form.  Programs will be prompted to submit the form when student numbers entered in the portal exceed the program’s approved maximum entering class size. This flexibility is not designed to encourage a program to recruit beyond its approved maximum entering class size.  These increases DO NOT modify or reset the ARC-PA approved class size.  They are not meant to be continually increased in successive years. The maximum entering class size is approved by the ARC-PA upon review of the program during a comprehensive review or after a change request from the program.

Forms related to reporting proposed changes to the ARC-PA are available in the Change Forms section of this site.



What should I do if I don’t understand what a specific standard means or have questions about our accreditation application?2021-02-18T16:29:08-05:00

First review the Accreditation Manual for clarification.  If, after reading the manual, you still are in doubt, contact Accreditation Services by email.

Do the ARC-PA Standards require certain information be gathered from graduate surveys?2019-07-29T15:00:09-04:00
The Annotation for C2.01 of the Standards indicates that the “ARC-PA expects results of ongoing self-assessment to include …….. student exit and/or graduate evaluations of the program.” It is up to the program to determine what information/data is best collected for ongoing self-assessment.
Can preceptors still serve as health care providers for students in the program?2021-02-18T15:11:56-05:00

Standard A3.09 states that principal faculty, the program director and the medical director must not participate as health care providers for students in the program, except in an emergency situation. Standard A3.09 does not exclude the possibility of instructional faculty (including preceptors) as health care providers for students, unless of course the person serving as the preceptor is a principal faculty member of the program. It is important to read the definitions in the Standards.

I need to change the date / delay the date of my site visit. What should I do?2021-02-18T15:19:39-05:00
Those needing to change the date for a scheduled site visit should contact the ARC-PA Director of Accreditation Services with such a request as soon as such a need is known. Due to the fact that site visitors are volunteers and that the scheduling of site visits is a complex process, programs changing the dates of their visit after they have been confirmed will likely lose flexibility in rescheduling in terms of dates. Programs requesting such changes will be responsible for any and all non-refundable expenses associated with the visit that have been incurred by the ARC-PA.
Our program would like to engage the services of a consultant. Who would you recommend?2021-02-18T15:21:36-05:00
ARC-PA policy prohibits the commission, site visitors or staff from providing consultation services or maintaining or recommending consultants. The ARC-PA staff is available to answer questions regarding accreditation processes and procedures.
How do we start a PA program and have it accredited?2019-07-29T15:20:51-04:00

Institutions investigating starting a PA program should review the Provisional section of this web site and contact the ARC-PA for more information.

The ARC-PA accredits only qualified PA programs offered by, or located within institutions chartered by and physically located within, the United States and where students are geographically located within the United States for their education.

A single institution must be clearly identified as the sponsor of the program. Sponsoring institutions applying for provisional accreditation of a new PA program must be authorized under applicable law to provide a program of post-secondary education.  They must be accredited by, and in good standing with, a recognized regional accrediting agency and must be authorized by that agency to confer upon graduates of the PA program a graduate degree.

Can a program accept students prior to being accredited?2021-02-18T15:24:07-05:00
Programs pursing accreditation should not matriculate students until the program has been granted provisional accreditation. In addition, prior to achieving provisional accreditation, the program must agree to inform, in writing, everyone who requests information, applies, or plans to enroll that the program is not yet accredited and must convey the implications of non-accreditation to applicants.
What is the best way to find a program director or faculty?2021-02-18T15:26:27-05:00
Faculty positions may be posted on the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) web site by member or developing programs.
Our program is working on our instructional objectives. Do you have any suggestions for us?2021-02-18T15:28:29-05:00
The ARC-PA recognizes that writing instructional objectives that effectively guide student learning is no easy task. The ARC-PA has developed a guide that may be of help to you in developing your syllabi and objectives, describing competencies, and writing syllabi. This document is updated periodically and is available on the Accreditation Resources page of this web site.
I am a current PA student and need information on what is required for me to practice in name of state.2019-07-29T15:30:38-04:00
Information on specific state requirements for PA practice should be addressed to the state licensing board of the state you are interested in. There is summary of state laws available at the AAPA web site.
The program I am considering is on probation. If I enter that program, will I be graduating from an accredited program?2019-08-27T11:14:25-04:00
Probation is an active accreditation status and those entering a program that is on probation are entering a program that is accredited. In order to be eligible to take the PANCE, students must successfully complete a program that was accredited at the time the student matriculated. It is best to check with the NCCPA concerning exam eligibility criteria.
Can you help me decide where to go to school? How important is the degree offered?2021-02-18T15:34:00-05:00

Deciding which program to attend is not a simple task. There are many accredited PA programs, sponsored by a variety of institutions that include state funded and private funded colleges and universities, as well as the military. Programs vary in their prerequisite requirements, their professional PA curriculum, their length, the tuition they charge, and the credential they grant. More information about programs can be found by contacting the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).

If a PA program is accredited by the ARC-PA, it has met the Standards of accreditation that provide the minimum requirements and criteria to which PA programs and their sponsoring institutions are held accountable. As long as you are applying to a program that is ARC-PA accredited, you will be eligible upon graduation to sit for the PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE) offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Passing this exam is required for practice as a PA in all states.

Where should I pose questions about the Portal?2019-08-27T11:17:00-04:00

Questions about the Portal should be emailed to Portal Feedback

What are the NCCPA eligibility requirements?2019-08-27T11:22:40-04:00

To be eligible for PANCE, you must graduate from a PA program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).  PA program graduates will be deemed to have graduated from an accredited program if their PA educational program was accredited at the time of their matriculation.

**Even if you have earned a medical degree from another country, you must still graduate from an accredited PA program to take PANCE

What if my program loses its Accreditation? Will I be eligible for certification and licensure?2021-02-18T15:42:33-05:00

If your program loses its accreditation, the program will inform you of the next steps in completing your PA education.

To be eligible for NCCPA certification, you must graduate from a PA program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).  PA program graduates will be deemed to have graduated from an accredited program if their PA educational program was accredited at the time of their matriculation.  However, loss of a PA program’s accreditation may pose the risk to graduates of that program not being able to gain licensure for practice depending upon the state.

What does probation mean?2021-02-18T15:45:50-05:00

Probation accreditation is a temporary accreditation status initially of not less than two years. However, that period may be extended by the ARC-PA for up to an additional two years if the ARC-PA finds that the program is making substantial progress toward meeting all applicable standards but requires additional time to come into full compliance. Probation accreditation status is granted, at the sole discretion of the ARC-PA, when a program holding an accreditation status of Accreditation – Provisional or Accreditation – Continued does not, in the judgment of the ARC-PA, meet the Standards or when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened.

Once placed on probation, a program that fails to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and is subject to having its accreditation withdrawn.

I am a foreign trained physician. How do I become a PA in the United States?2021-02-18T15:48:14-05:00

From the standpoint of the ARC-PA, individuals educated as physicians outside of the United States are not treated any differently than any other prospective PA student. To practice as a PA in the United States one must graduate from an ARC-PA accredited program and be certified by the NCCPA. If interested in applying to a PA program, such individuals should contact the PAEA for information on specific programs.

I want to be a PA. Can you give me some more information?2019-08-27T13:17:38-04:00
Do you have a list of accredited programs?2021-02-18T15:51:55-05:00

The ARC-PA accredited PA programs are listed on the ARC-PA web site, alphabetically by state, along with information on their accreditation status and timing of next scheduled accreditation action.

I have a concern about a program. What do I do?2021-02-18T15:57:28-05:00

The ARC-PA only investigates concerns about a program if they are signed, received in writing, and related to the program’s compliance with the Standards. Concerns may be sent by mail to the attention of the Executive Director, ARC-PA at 12000 Findley Road, Suite 275, Johns Creek, GA, 30097. You may also contact the Executive Director by email as well.

What is the relationship between the AAPA, PAEA, NCCPA and the ARC-PA?2021-02-18T16:02:17-05:00

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) and the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) are the collaborating organizations of the ARC-PA. The AAPA and PAEA nominates individuals from its membership to serve as commissioners on the ARC-PA. Each commissioner serves a 3 year term, which is renewable once upon recommendation by the ARC-PA.

Do you accredit any programs other than Physician Assistant?2021-02-18T16:03:58-05:00

The ARC-PA only accredits programs that educate PAs.

Is it important for a program to be accredited?2021-02-18T16:05:29-05:00

While accreditation is considered a voluntary process, graduation from an ARC-PA accredited PA program is important for practice as a physician assistant in the United States. Graduation from an accredited program is an eligibility requirement for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physicians Assistants (NCCPA) and for state licensure.

Does the ARC-PA accredit postgraduate PA programs?2021-02-18T16:07:49-05:00

The ARC-PA does accredit clinical postgraduate programs through a different process than accreditation of entry level PA program. Clinical postgraduate programs are “formal educational programs that offer structured curricula, including didactic and clinical components, to educate NCCPA eligible or certified PA’s for a defined period of time in preparation for practice in a medical or surgical specialty. Programs typically involve full time study of 12-24 months duration and follow several models including fellowships, graduate degree programs, and residency programs.”  Information on the clinical postgraduate process can be found


I have comments on changes I think should be made to the Standards. What should I do?2021-02-18T16:09:43-05:00

Anyone with comments related to the Standards may provide their comments to the ARC-PA national office. The ARC-PA has a standing committee that reviews and evaluates the Standards and comments received related to them on an ongoing basis. Clarification and changes to wording of the standards to provide clarification can be made by the commission at any of the three ARC-PA meetings per year. Substantial changes to the Standards are made every ten years.

I am a foreign trained physician assistant. What do I need to do to practice in the United States?2021-02-18T16:11:24-05:00

Information on this and other questions related to non-US health professionals is found in this FAQ section on the page for Non-US Health Professionals.

I am interested in becoming a site visitor, what do I need to do?2021-02-18T16:14:56-05:00

The ARC-PA maintains a pool of individuals who serve as site visitors to PA programs. The pool of site visitors is composed of PA educators, practitioners, past and present commissioners of the ARC-PA, physician employers of PAs, and others who have insight into the education and practice of PAs. All of these individuals serve as volunteers. To become a site visitor, an individual must apply and undergo the selection process.  Site visitors are required to participate in an initial  and ongoing site visitor workshops. The ARC-PA posts information in the NEWS section of this web site when new site visitor selection and preparation will occur.

Who should I contact if I still have questions not answered by the web site and FAQ’s?2021-02-18T16:16:25-05:00

If you still have questions, submit them to the ARC-PA by email.

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