When you go to a doctor's appointment, it is likely that you will be seen by a physician assistant. Doctor's offices, outpatient care centers and general medical and surgical facilities hire physician assistants to conduct routine physical exams, treat a number of ailments and interpret scans and tests. Even though going to school to become a physician assistant can be expensive as tuition averages $39,061 annually, some affordable choices exist.

University of South Dakota

Students sitting in class
Students sitting in class

At the time of publication, the University of South Dakota offers the most affordable physician assistant studies program in the country with an annual out-of-state cost of $18,193 and an in-state cost of $16,111 -- a 53-percent discount compared to the national average. USD offers a two-year, highly intensive program that prepares students for a career as a health care provider. The program features a 12-month classroom learning curriculum followed by 12 months of clinical experience. During the second year of the program, students are exposed to a number of clinical areas under the supervision of licensed physicians.

Touro College

Students studying in a classroom
Students studying in a classroom

Touro College awards the highest number of physician assistant degrees in the country each year and is the second-most-affordable program in the nation at a cost of $24,646 annually, at the time of publication. The school is an independent institution of higher learning, established to enrich Jewish heritage, and consists of campuses in New York, Nevada and California. The Manhattan campus offers a 32-month physician assistant program that awards successful candidates with a Bachelor of Science in health sciences or a Master of Science in physician assistant studies.

Cleveland State University

Physician talking with assistant
Physician talking with assistant

Offering the third-most-affordable physician assistant program in the country, Cleveland State University offers a Master of Science in health sciences with a track in physician assistant to successful students. Through a partnership with Cuyahoga Community College, known as Tri-C, students are able to earn a Post-Degree Professional Certificate in Physician Assistant Studies. At the time of publication, out-of-state tuition totals $25,336, while students residing in Ohio pay $22,157 per year.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Students working together, surrounding another student with a laptop computer
Students working together, surrounding another student with a laptop computer

With an out-of-state tuition of $26,160 annually and an in-state cost of $17,654 at the time of publication, University of Maryland Eastern Shore offers a Master of Medical Science degree through its Physician Assistant Department. The program prepares graduates to provide health care services to both rural and urban patient populations suffering from acute or chronic medical conditions. One of the most affordable programs in the country, it features a five-semester classroom instruction curriculum followed by 12 months of clinical study.