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Hi! I have been accepted by several programs and would appreciate some advice! From all of my acceptances, I narrowed it down between 2 schools in Wisconsin - Marquette University and Carroll University. I will be commuting from home for both of them since they are in my area. They both have several pros and cons.


  • About 25 min. commute from home
  • New PA facility
  • Experienced faculty 
  • Tuition - $124k 
  • Accreditation - probation
  • Class size - 75
  • Program length - 28 mo. 
  • I have been told there may be 3-4 distant clinical rotations
  • Schedule: M-F 8-5
  • 100% PANCE pass rate
  • Paid parking
  • Amazing reputation and connections


  • About 40 min. commute from home
  • Separate Grad building, but PA class has 1 room
  • Flexible schedule, varies
  • Accreditation - Continued (for 10yrs.)
  • Tuition - $97k
  • Class size - 32
  • 93% PANCE pass rate
  • Free parking
  • Program length - 24 mo.
  • Not as big of a reputation
  • I have been told there may be 1 distant clinical

Being from Milwaukee, I know that Marquette has an absolutely amazing reputation and there is an immense amount of pride surrounding it. (It's also been my dream school!) Nearly all of the PAs that I've spoken to at the company I work at have attended Marquette's program, but I haven't seen/met any from Carroll here. Either way, I know both would be great programs, but I am torn!

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In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter where you attend PA school (cheapest is best). That said, your PA school experience is entirely up to you, so if spending an extra few thousands (think loan interest rates) for an ease of mind to attend a program you're passionate about (sounds like you're favoring Marquette)...go there. A 93% passing rate is just as good as 100%. Just don't be the 1 person who doesn't pass lol. 

If it were me, and it is not...I'd opt for the cheaper, reduced class size, and shorter program. 

Employers only care that you have a license to work. 

Edited by Diggy
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Diggy is very correct.  All employers care about is that you have a license.  Remember, the real goal of PA school is to get that 1st paycheck.  All PA school does is prepare you to be a beginner.  You'll really learn your trade in your 1st job.

That being said, here are a couple of other things that do matter with your school choice:

  • rotations: besides your learning, they serve as an important start to the networking process to finding that all important 1st job.
  • some schools do a better job at teaching things that are very useful that aren't on the PANCE, like procedural and ultrasound training.  You should ask about that.

Still, it would take a lot to create enough value to overcome the cost differential.

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Factors used in my decision: reputation in the community (providers spoke highly of the caliber of graduates), placement of students in rotations (I wanted quality, established rotations. In fact, I got my job while on rotation and thru the years have kept in touch with and have received job offers from my preceptors), PANCE pass rate, employment rate within 1 year of graduation (do schools even keep track of that anymore?), and location. 

Another consideration is commute: 50min vs 80min. That's an extra 30 min of sleep, studying, exercise, etc DAILY. 

Go to the cheapest school that will offer you great training/framework. Regardless of cost, pay off your loans STAT!

And as others above have said, it also depends on what you put into the program in terms of self-study and learning. 

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Money makes a difference but there are other considerations. PA school is an experience; the goal is certainly to graduate and pass the PANCE, but the environment plays a big role in your experience there.

Are they well-set for clinical sites in the areas you think you might be interested in? Can you get the attention you might need if something comes up? Are the facilities adequate for the number of students? Is the program flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen issues? Has the faculty been here before? I know getting out 4 months early sounds nice but what the the 28 month program do with the extra time? (It might be a benefit in the long run).

There is clearly no one right answer or there would only be one school out there. Think about what's best for you; that's the real right answer.

Best wishes.


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On 2/22/2024 at 7:55 AM, SedRate said:

Has the program addressed/spoken to this?

Thank you all for your responses! I'm a first generation student and the first in my family to pursue a graduate education, so all the advice I can get means a lot! 

To answer your question, Marquette states that:

"Specific to Marquette, citations received largely concerned the structure of our clinical rotations and the manner in which student learning outcomes were documented in certain medical subdisciplines (Women’s Health, Pediatrics, and Behavioral Health). While our practice had been a common one, the program has begun working to establish additional training from board-certified providers (physicians and board-certified PAs) in these specialties that will ensure optimal experiences for students in these disciplines.  

Additionally, the accreditation commission is requiring a more robust assessment of student outcomes and effectiveness of administrative processes. This effort is also already underway, as the program has begun working with an external consultant to improve its assessment processes and its evaluation of how students meet the learning outcomes of the program and thus become ready for clinical practice. We are also hiring an education specialist to spearhead analyses of assessment data."

ARC-PA's citation list also states that Marquette "lacked evidence the program secures clinical sites and preceptors in sufficient numbers to allow all clinical students to meet the program’s learning outcomes for supervised clinical practice experiences" and "lacked evidence the program director is knowledgeable about and responsible for program administration". I found this surprising, as it seems like a well-established program with very good staff and connections to the large hospital branches in our area. Students in the program currently say that the citations shouldn't be concerning because ARC-PA just wants Marquette to have specific, separate rotations for women's health, pediatrics, and behavioral health (hence the possibility of now having 3-4 distant clinicals, but students told me this may improve). With the reputation the school has and the amount they've put into the program and facility, I believe they will eventually be able to get everything back on track.

As for Carroll, they state that "the majority of the clinical sites are located in southeastern Wisconsin." (Which is good news!) Carroll has its own clinic, the Waukesha Free Clinic at Carroll University, which is where students go to supplement their family and internal medicine rotations. I have been told that some students also rotate with the MDs who teach in the PA program in Waukesha, as well. (Carroll has 4 MDs and 3 PAs in their program, Marquette has 1 MD and many PAs) As for the rest of the clinicals, I am unsure since I haven't found any graduates from the program and have only spoken to students that are in their didactic year. 

I do love the idea of having a shorter commute (especially during winter!) and the convenience of coming home quicker from Marquette, even though the schedule is a consistent 8-5 M-F. I have been told that class times could vary for Carroll, sometimes going from 9-3, 9-4, 9-5, and Fridays ending at 12. That changes by year, so they told us a general time of 8am-6pm, but if they do actually end earlier like it does for current students, maybe that would even it out with the commute. The free parking is a great perk, too. With that drive time, though, I know I would miss out on events and try to go home immediately after class.

Both schools have stated that they have job placement after graduation and students even get offered jobs during clinicals - that would be fantastic! I currently have 2 jobs at 2 different hospitals within the same company, and I am planning on going 0 assigned/per diem once school starts. Marquette and Carroll are both connected to the company that I work at on the company's website for clinicals, as well. In the case that I don't get offered a job during clinicals, I'm hoping that the years I've spent at this company will help me get a start! 

It's definitely a tough call since nearly all of the PAs in the area that I've had contact with have gone to Marquette. Carroll has great perks to their program like ending 4 months earlier and having a smaller class. I just wonder which is most worth it!

Edited by WisPAC
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I did some further connecting and also research on clinical placements - both programs have great connections it seems! (Marquette just didn't have a women's health rotation in the past, which they should be fixing now.) Students from both programs generally rotate within Milwaukee/surrounding area. 

I would still love to know if anyone has any experience with either of these programs, in terms of post-graduation and job placement too.

In addition, what are the benefits, if any, to staying longer at a more prestigious university, rather than graduating a couple months earlier? Does anyone have any experience with that, regardless of the program attended?

Is it worth the price difference to pay for Marquette's extra resources, such as the Da Vinci robot, new facility, etc. and longer breaks?

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On 2/28/2024 at 2:41 PM, WisPAC said:

In addition, what are the benefits, if any, to staying longer at a more prestigious university, rather than graduating a couple months earlier? Does anyone have any experience with that, regardless of the program attended?

If it's in the form of an extra elective rotation or other beneficial course, yes, highly recommend. For example, my program had two electives, one of which got me my job and the other gave me great experience that helped shaped my future career. If the extra months are in the form of vacation, some may see that as helpful. At the time, I would've loved a break or two. But in reality, it would've been a temporary escape. So ultimately for me, kinda not worth the extended graduation timeframe so I'm glad I didn't have breaks. I do regret not taking a long vacation between graduation and employment, but I digress.

On 2/28/2024 at 2:41 PM, WisPAC said:

Is it worth the price difference to pay for Marquette's extra resources, such as the Da Vinci robot, new facility, etc. and longer breaks?

Maybe, but most likely not. Ask the program what kind of career benefits you should expect to see from these perks. Most surgical jobs that want DaVinci experience require that you are "certified" meaning that you attended a training of some sort AND assisted on real cases. I doubt you'll get the latter so not sure you'll find any true benefits from that. (Last I checked a couple years ago, there's no real DaVinci certification.) 

I would inquire about procedural trainings and if these perks give you extra exposure to them. 

Their fancy facility is being funded by your tuition. Not sure you'll get a great ROI on that when it comes to being a good medical provider...

Edited by SedRate
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Unless you have scholarships to pay for it all, then go for the cheaper one.  Nobody outside of academics cares where you get your degree.  $27K cheaper, smaller class size.

The extra 15 minute commute is a thing, but it's also another 30 minutes of listening to podcasts.

In 30 years when you are looking at retirement you will thank me.

$27K invested at 10% over 30 years is $471,000.

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