Purpose:An entry-level doctoral degree for the physician assistant (PA) profession has been a perennial issue since the master's degree approval in 2000 and the 2009 release of the Clinical Doctorate Summit Report. Many PA counterparts have transitioned to required or optional doctoral degrees for entry into practice. Although the PA profession has not adopted an entry-level doctorate, postgraduate doctoral programs have proliferated. This study's aim was to compare the cost of post-PA doctoral degrees to the estimated cost of an entry-level PA doctorate.Methods:Cost of a post-PA doctoral degree was obtained from data on 15 postgraduate doctoral programs associated with PAEA member programs. Historical, aggregated data on PA program characteristics were collected from PAEA Annual Program Survey reports to estimate costs for an entry-level doctorate and to propose a likely model. For comparison, educational program data from health professions that have transitioned to entry-level doctorates were assessed.Results:The average cost for postgraduate PA programs is significantly higher than the projected add-on cost for an entry-level PA doctorate, which ranges from $5,731 to $15,563. Directors of post-PA doctorate programs report that enrollments are generally near or at capacity.Conclusions:Implementation of an entry-level doctorate by accredited PA educational programs has the potential for significant economic and chronological advantages over postgraduate doctoral programs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas