Update on Yale PA Online Degree Program

Dear Yale PA Community, 

We are writing with an update on the Yale Physician Assistant Online Program. As we shared with you last spring, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) will conduct an on-campus site visit here at Yale in June 2017. The ARC-PA will then inform us, likely in September 2017, whether we have been granted “provisional accreditation.” If we receive this accreditation, the first cohort of 48 students would matriculate in January 2018. 

In order to prepare for this timeline, we are launching a website and social media channels for the PA Online Program on Nov. 22. The website will include information about the application and admissions process as well as the curriculum. Visitors to the site will be able to request more information about the program and learn more about our program partner, 2U, who provides a high level of technology expertise and an outstanding platform for delivering online education. This website, combined with the PA Online social media channels, will ensure that all interested, qualified applicants who are unable to study in New Haven can learn about the opportunity to receive an exceptional physician assistant education from Yale. 

Prospective students will also be able to use the website to begin the application process. The ARC-PA allows us to accept applications and offer admission to prospective students pending the accreditation decision. We will keep prospective students fully informed about the accreditation process and timeline, and all applicants will be updated about our accreditation status. 

We remain committed to keeping you informed about the Yale PA Online Program, and we will be in touch with future updates.


Richard Belitsky, MD 

Deputy Dean for Education 

James Van Rhee, PA-C, MS
Yale Physician Assistant Online Program

Dear Yale PA Community,

I want to keep you informed about our efforts to implement a new Online PA Program at Yale School of Medicine. We recently held several Town Hall meetings with our current students, and we know that there is a range of opinions about Physician Assistant online education. We have listened carefully to the thoughts and ideas you and our students have shared. Along with the potential benefits and opportunities a Yale PA Online Program might create, we also heard a number of concerns. For example, some of you are worried about the potential negative impact on the reputation of the PA profession, which is admittedly young and still working to achieve a better understanding and broader acceptance by the public. In addition, there are concerns about the challenges of providing high-quality clinical education and ensuring appropriate oversight using sites and practices that are geographically dispersed and distant from New Haven.

While acknowledging the importance of these and other challenges, we have decided to proceed with seeking accreditation approval from the ARC-PA for a Yale Physician Assistant Online Program, one that is separate and distinct from the current residential Physician Associate Program that you attended. We are doing so because we believe there is tremendous value in making a high-quality Yale PA education accessible to a greater number of qualified students and increasing the number of PAs available to meet the nation's growing healthcare needs, especially in primary care. We will proceed carefully, committed to excellence and mindful of the many issues that you and others have brought to our attention. We will provide you with regular updates as we proceed. In addition, we will create an advisory structure that includes student as well as alumni participation and input to help guide us in this new endeavor.


Richard Belitsky, M.D.
Deputy Dean for Education

Dear Yale Physician Associate Community,

Jim Van Rhee, our Physician Associate Program Director, and I met with the PA Program faculty on August 19 and with students in the PA Program on August 28 and again on September 4 to discuss the status of the proposal to launch a Yale Online PA program.

The goal of the conversation was to share the medical school leadership’s current thinking about the initiative and listen to the ideas and perspectives of our faculty and students. We appreciated the open dialogue and the many thoughtful ideas that were shared with us.

Within the next few weeks, the leadership of the Yale School of Medicine plans to contact the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) to request that we begin the accreditation process for the online program. Based on your feedback as well as that from the ARC-PA, there will be several key differences from the original proposal that was made earlier this year. These include:

  • Applying to receive accreditation for a new, separate online program rather than an expansion of the existing residential program.
  • Naming the program “Yale Physician Assistant Online.”
  • Having only one cohort of students start per year.
  • Keeping the first cohort to no more than 50 and the largest expected cohort to no more than 150.

Most important, I want to emphasize our firm commitment to exceptional, high quality PA education in all of our endeavors. This includes ensuring that the academic standards of the online program are equivalent to those in our current residential program.

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress, with more in-person discussions and other communications. Your ideas and input are very important to us, so please feel free to reach out to us and share your views


Richard Belitsky, M.D.
Deputy Dean for Education, Yale School of Medicine

Dear Yale PA students and alumni,

Quite a number of you have reached out to express your opinions and concerns about our plan to establish a distance-learning program leading to the PA degree. I am heartened by your deep care for the future of the Yale Physician Associate Program, and am writing to give you an update on where things stand.

As you may have heard, we were recently informed that ARC-PA did not approve our proposal as an increase in class size. This was due to the policy that they will not consider a new request for an increase in class size from a program until four years after the program’s most recent submission and approval for a class size increase. However, the ARC-PA also stated that the most effective way for them to evaluate the proposed online program would be for Yale to apply for a new PA program separate from our currently accredited program using the provisional accreditation process. We feel this is a reasonable response from the ARC-PA. We also recognize that this is the approach many of you have suggested to us as a possible plan for moving forward.

I will keep in touch as we consider our next steps.


Richard Belitsky, M.D.
Deputy Dean for Education