Physician assistants are formally trained in graduate level programs to provide diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive health care services under the authority of a physician. The U.S. News and World Report provides the sole ranking guide for the top programs in its annual report. Its latest rankings came out in 2007. The American Academy of Physician Assistants provides a listing of more than 140 accredited programs in the U.S.

University of Iowa

This school's program tops the U.S. News and World Report's list with a score of 4.3 out of 5. Founded in 1972, the school believes its program is unique its design to have the students complete more than 60 percent of their academic curriculum with sophomore medical students. Since 1974, its graduates consistently score among the top 5-10% of all programs in the country each year on the National Certifying Examination for Physician Assistants (PANCE).

University of Iowa 1 Jessup Hall Iowa City, Iowa 52242 (319) 335-3500 uiowa.edu

Duke University

The school prides itself on being the birthplace of the physician assistant profession. Its school was founded in the mid 1960s by the pioneering Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr., then Chairman of the Department of Medicine. It divides its two year program into a 12-month period of preclinical studies followed by 12 months of hands-on clinical experiences in primary care and various specialties.

Duke University Durham, NC 27708 (919) 684-8111 duke.edu

Emory University

This program is one of the oldest in the country and ranked third on the U.S. News guide. Apart from its excellent program, they have a demonstrated commitment to provide care to the medically under-served. They are a founding partner of the South Georgia Farmworker Health Project and offer community health and leadership courses.

Emory University 201 Dowman Drive Atlanta, Ga. 30322 (404) 727-6123 emory.edu

George Washington University

This top-ranked program is unique in its offering of two programs. Its 24-month PA-MSHS program leads to a physician assistant certificate along with a Master of Science in Health Sciences. Its 36-month PA-MPH programs leads to physician assistant certificate, a Master of Science in Health Sciences and a Master in Public Health degree.

The George Washington University 2121 I Street, NW Washington, DC 20052 (202) 994-1000 gwu.edu

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center--Dallas

This program receives recognition from the medical community often. Its students have been the only Americans to win the Sidney Rodenberg Memorial Scholarship Award, it has more Nobel Prize-winning faculty than any other medical school in the world and its faculty publishes extensively in top medical journals. Over the past five years, 99 percent of its graduates passed the national certification exam on the first attempt.

UT Southwestern Medical Center 5323 Harry Hines Blvd. Dallas, TX 75390-9003 (214) 648-3111 utsouthwestern.edu

University of Utah

Organized in 1971, this program is located within the school's Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. It is especially focused on providing care to patients in medically under-served and rural communities. They emphasize small group teaching by highly experienced teachers.

University of Utah 201 Presidents Circle Room 201 Salt Lake City, UT 84112 (801) 581-7200 utah.edu

University of Washington

This program is likewise focused on providing care to the medically underserved and to rural areas, concentrating in the school's geographic region of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. They are one of the few schools to offer a "competency-based" training program that accepts applicants with previous health care experience.

University of Washington 022 Odegaard Seattle, WA 98195-5502 (206) 543-2100 washington.edu

University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center

Founded in 1968, their Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant (CHA/PA) is a 3-year Master’s level program with an emphasis on specialized education in the care of infants, children and adolescents.

University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center 13001 E 17th Place Aurora, Colorado 80045 (303) 556-2400 ucdenver.edu

Baylor College of Medicine

This 30-month Master's level program program emphasizes preparation for community-oriented primary care coupled with a broad study of secondary factors affecting the health and illness of populations as a whole.

Baylor College of Medicine One Baylor Plaza Houston, Texas 77030 (713) 798-4951 bcm.edu

Oregon Health and Sciences University

Established in 1995, this young program is a 26-month, full-time course of study leading to a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree. Like many of the top programs they are focused on preparing students to provide primary care services to rural and urban medically underserved communities in the region.

Oregon Health and Sciences University 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Rd. Portland, Oregon 97239-3098 (503) 494-8311 ohsu.edu