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Since 1998 US News has been publishing the only known ranking of PA programs.
Their rankings are based on subjective peer assessment surveys of PA program faculty.
These peer assessment surveys are sent to deans, other administrators, and faculty at accredited physician assistant programs.
Respondents rate the academic quality of physician assistant programs on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding). They are instructed to select "don't know" if they did not have enough knowledge to rate a program.
Only fully accredited programs in good standing during the survey period are ranked. Those schools with the highest average scores appear in the rankings.
US News and World Reports ranked 154 of the 238 PA programs in the United States, leaving out 84 US PA programs.
At the time of this writing, there are 22 developing and non-accredited PA programs which means the US News rankings leave many PA schools in the dust.
A Broken PA School Ranking Model
US News ranks schools based solely on the results of a subjective survey without providing evidence for their validity. Not to mention, how much does a PA school's departmental faculty really know about other PA programs? Could their opinions be biased?
A useful ranking system should be “measurable, reproducible, and not opinion based.
The current approach to PA school ranking is outdated and provides little to no value for pre-PAs making critical application decisions.
A Better Physician Assistant School Ranking System
When surveyed 79% of PA school faculty agree that that 5-year PANCE pass rates should be used as a ranking criterion for PA schools.
Multiple studies use a school’s first-time PANCE pass rate as a standardization tool to evaluate other program characteristics, such as degree granted upon completion, class size, and curriculum length.
Objectively, PAs that scored higher on the PANCE tended to have scored higher on the Physician Assistant National Recertification Examination (PANRE).
Not to mention, to practice as a PA you must first pass your PANCE, so in this regards it should not be taken lightly when you are considering where to invest your 100+ thousand dollars of PA school tuition.
PA Schools Ranked by 5-year PANCE Pass Rates
Below is an interactive table of all US physician assistant programs ranked by 5-year PANCE pass rates.
I contacted the NCCPA who surprisingly does not make this information available to the public, so we have to rely solely on a PA school's willingness to publish their individual PANCE pass rates.
The data in this table is based on what PA schools choose to publish.
I have provided links to these publications along with links to the PA program websites in the table below.
We tried to use 5-year data whenever possible. Many newer programs (for obvious reasons) do not have 5-year data and some schools, if they do, have chosen not to make this information readily available or just haven't updated their reporting.
This is an interactive table which you can search (using the provided search box) or reorganize in real-time by clicking on the column header.
Please share this post and let's work together to create a better, unbiased, objective, fair and useful ranking system!