Three new Northern Arizona University graduate programs that start next fall will help produce a new generation of leaders and professionals in fields that are facing unprecedented challenges in Arizona and across the nation.

One area of opportunity—the health care field—is increasingly impacted by tremendous growth in medical knowledge and technologies.The new master’s of physician assistant studies program will provide students with the clinical and professional knowledge to deliver compassionate medical care as a physician assistant, of particular importance in states like Arizona with a substantial rural population.

The program will be housed at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus and conducted in collaboration with the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

The degree qualifies graduates to take the physician assistant national certifying exam for licensure as a physician assistant in all states. Program evaluation for accreditation is under way through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.

Another health care program responds to the shortage of qualified faculty to train medical support personnel. NAU’s new doctorate in nursing practices, a clinical doctorate emphasizing expert clinical practice, will give students a broader capacity to provide high-quality health care within a multifaceted and increasingly strapped health-care system. The degree also qualifies clinical faculty to teach advanced students.

A master’s degree has been the required degree for advanced nursing practice, but the American Association of Colleges of Nursing has mandated that all advanced practice registered nurses be prepared at the doctoral level by 2015.

The demand for solutions to complex environmental concerns requires scientific experts who possess a creative, interdisciplinary perspective. A new doctorate in earth sciences and environmental sustainability will ground students in environmental sciences, policy and engineering while also preparing them to communicate with policymakers, business leaders and the public.

The program stresses a mastery of quantitative science and a deep understanding of the economic and social contexts underlying today’s environmental issues, along with the policy sophistication to mobilize scientific knowledge. Graduates will hold competitive advantages for positions in government, industry and academia.

Program details, contacts and application deadlines are available at Graduate Degrees and Programs.