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Deciding Between Acceptances: Duke vs Wayne State

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I've been fortunate enough to have gotten acceptances to two great programs.  Both programs have major pros and cons so I was hoping to get input from the PA community.  Both schools have similar PANCE pass rates (96% averages) and both schools have had no students drop out in recent years.


Wayne State University

  • Pros
    • Class 8 am - 3 pm (except class runs late one day a week due to anatomy lab)
    • Tuition.  Current tuition is ~$40k but there has been mention of a tuition increase.  Still no word on the new tuition rate but I'm expecting ~$50k.
    • Local so I'd be able to live at home. This saves money and time.  I've never lived away from home so the thought of suddenly taking on the responsibilities of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. while starting PA school seems intimidating.  Having the support of family would be great during such a stressful time.
  • Cons
    • Commute.  With clear roads and no traffic the commute is 35 minutes.  Wayne State is in Detroit so roads are pretty horrible.  Winter driving is horrible.  
    • Some rotations.  I've spoken with a couple recent grads and both of them mentioned they had one or two rotations they weren't fond of.
    • Paying for gas and parking.  Parking pass for one semester is $287.  Commute each way is about 36 miles.  These things add up.



  • Pros
    • Commute.  I'd most likely get an apartment near the school, winters aren't nearly as harsh, and the roads are in better condition.
    • Great rotations.  
    • Living in North Carolina.  A change of scenery.
    • Their page states they not only prepare us for clinical medicine but they also prepare us for research and administration.
    • Prestige?
  • Cons
    • Tuition (~$80k)
    • Cost of rent, furniture, food, etc.  Their site provides an estimated expense of ~$50k for food, board, transportation and misc. 
    • Class 8-5 daily
    • Dealing with the responsibilities of shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. for the first time in my life.


Would attending Duke possibly provide better job prospects in the future?  Would it open more doors if I ever decide I'd like to pursue research or administration?  Or is it true that it really doesn't matter where you go and the savings of Wayne State should be taken advantage of?

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The bottom line advice I received from PAs and MDs:
go to the less expensive school.

All the other might change before you get there or while you're there but the one constant is the level of debt you'll get into and how long before you can dig yourself out.  Years after graduation when you're no longer in debt and can make decisions free from the burden of debt you'll see the wisdom in it.  I'm applying to a dozen programs but hands down without question I want my state school to pick me up....

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Do you want to work in Michigan in the future? If so, then I think Wayne State makes more sense in terms of cost, being able to live at home without responsibilities/chores, and networking for a job. Duke has a more prestigious name, but I don't think in necessarily meets the goals you have listed. I believe you could pursue research or administration with a degree from either. Regardless you are choosing between two great schools! Congrats!

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