Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

Philadelphia University Combination FAQs

General Questions

Why did Thomas Jefferson University & Philadelphia University decide to come together?

This is a combination of two educational institutions focused on creating a national comprehensive university designed to deliver high-impact education and value for students in medicine, science, architecture, design, fashion, textiles, health, business, engineering and more. The new Jefferson creates a unique model focused on interprofessional and transdisciplinary approaches to learning supported by design and systems thinking, innovation, entrepreneurship, empathy, and the modes of thought central to the liberal arts and scientific inquiry. It provides a vibrant and expandable platform for professional education and the ability to prepare students for current and yet-to-be-imagined 21st-century professions.  Long before we announced our intent to combine in December 2015, leadership from TJU and PhilaU had met frequently to discuss potential partnership opportunities. It was determined through these conversations that great synergies and complementary programs exist within the distinctive, diverse academic offerings of our two academically and financially strong universities.

For example:

  • Jefferson is recognized as one of the first health professions universities to require students to have hands-on clinical experience in the care and treatment of patients; Philadelphia University is renowned for its experiential, hands-on learning and its commitment to professional education in all areas of study.
  • Philadelphia University is nationally recognized for its transdisciplinary learning and collaborative discovery; Jefferson is known worldwide as one of the first institutions to develop an interprofessional approach to healthcare education in the U.S.

Together, this allows us to reimagine education and launch our students into the careers of their passion in a bigger, bolder way.

When was the merger of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University finalized?

The merger of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University was effective as of July 1, 2017, creating a comprehensive university focused on 21st-century professional education and designed to deliver a high-impact academic experience and value for students in architecture, business, design, fashion, engineering, health, medicine, science, textiles and more.

To finalize the combination, notices were provided or consents obtained from approximately 30 accrediting agencies, including Middle States Commission of Higher Education, the Departments of Education of the United States of America and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the NCAA and the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.

This integration was initiated in December 2015 when the two universities signed a Letter of Intent, followed in September 2016 with a signed Definitive Agreement to move forward with the combination.

Why is this happening now & why do the two institutions want to combine?

Combining Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University to form a distinctive comprehensive professional university will drive innovation, enhance both universities’ current offerings and create unprecedented opportunities of value for students and employers of the 21st century. By coming together we will be known nationally and internationally for preeminence in transdisciplinary, experiential education in architecture, business, design, fashion, engineering, health, medicine, science and textiles. Our desire to integrate is based on our commitment to addressing and reimagining the future of work, the future of health and the future of education for the benefit of our students, alumni, employers and society. 

What is the name of the combined University?

The name for the combined institution is Thomas Jefferson University and will be referred to as Jefferson in common usage – Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University).

In considering the name for the combined university, a comprehensive study was conducted that included more than 200 personal interviews and a quantitative survey of 3,100 faculty, staff, alumni, current and prospective students, trustees and hiring managers. The research took into account the important contributions of both universities to the new brand, including Philadelphia University’s 133-year reputation for excellence in design, architecture, textiles, engineering, fashion and business, and the nearly 200-year-old Thomas Jefferson University, with world-renowned expertise in the health sciences, research and clinical care. In addition, we have established the Philadelphia University Honors Institute of Thomas Jefferson University.

The name of the combined university is Thomas Jefferson University and will be referred to as Jefferson in common usage. The Honors Program will be housed in one of the newly formed Philadelphia University Honors Institutes. All existing academic programs and degrees from both Universities will continue and many will be expanded.

What happens to the individual universities – Philadelphia University & Thomas Jefferson University?

Since signing a definitive agreement in September 2016, we launched a combination process through a broad strategic planning effort that has involved many faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community from both Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University. Groups have looked at overall strategy and how to best integrate student life, academics, operations, branding and marketing, enrollment management, culture, philanthropy and innovation. The combination will occur over an eighteen month to three-year period.

Our vision is to create a singular comprehensive university including all of the renowned programs and colleges of both institutions: health, medicine, science, architecture, design, fashion, textiles, business and engineering. This will create a new standard for interprofessional, transdisciplinary learning and collaborative discovery.  Through an active, engaged, and real-world approach to education, we will continue to develop professionals with the robust skill set and cross-functional fluency they need to tackle complex problems when they enter the work force.

Thomas Jefferson University & Jefferson Health are all about health care. Does this combination mean they are broadening their scope beyond health?

Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health are indeed leaders in healthcare delivery, discovery and especially education. The Jefferson vision for its academic pillar has been to develop forward-thinking education that integrates new learning models and delivers programs that meet the evolving needs of today’s students, employers, patients and society.  The combination of Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University creates a comprehensive university to transform professional education through transdisciplinary, experiential learning while also providing a foundation in the liberal arts.  And the synergies and breadth of real-world learning that can be achieved by the complementary programs within our distinct, diverse academic programs will benefit graduates in health, medicine, the liberal arts, architecture, science, design, fashion, textiles, business, biomedical sciences and engineering.

How will the merger affect academic programs from both institutions?

All existing academic programs—more than 160 in all—and degrees from both legacy universities will continue and many will be expanded. The University is also considering new programs in a variety of disciplines to meet emerging needs that will add value for students and society.

How will the combination affect other TJU & PhilaU partnerships?

The combination retains the partnerships that TJU and PhilaU already have in place as they provide students with more opportunities for educational pursuits, networking, clinical exposure, research experiences, and career placements.

How does a Jefferson education create added value for students?

The new Jefferson provides a unique model for professional education focused on interprofessional and transdisciplinary approaches to learning supported by design and systems thinking, innovation, entrepreneurship, empathy, and the modes of thought central to the liberal arts and scientific inquiry. It provides a vibrant and expandable platform for professional education and the ability to prepare students for current and yet-to-be-imagined 21st-century professions.

Jefferson also is committed to providing students with these critical competencies considered essential to succeed in the workplace both today and in the future: to communicate and collaborate; identify and solve problems; to be creative, diligent and resilient; and to be lifelong  learners.

In addition, the combined University has even greater ability to meaningfully expand research and discovery in the spheres of basic, translational, clinical, health policy and applied research. Research faculty already have begun collaborating to create joint grant applications to federal agencies, industry and foundations.

What are some highlights of both organizations?

Jefferson encompasses Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, representing our academic and clinical entities. Together, the people of Jefferson, 23,000 strong, provide the highest quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, educate the health professionals of tomorrow, and discover new treatments and therapies that will define the future of health care.

Thomas Jefferson University enrolls more than 4,050 future physicians, scientists, nurses and healthcare professionals in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC), Jefferson Colleges of Biomedical Sciences, Health Professions, Nursing, Pharmacy, Population Health and Jefferson Health – Aria School of Nursing, and is home of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

Jefferson Health comprises nine hospitals, 32 outpatient and urgent care locations, and physician practices that deliver care throughout the city and suburbs across Philadelphia, Montgomery and Bucks Counties in Pennsylvania, and Camden and Gloucester counties in New Jersey. Together, these facilities serve nearly 97,000 inpatients, 363,000 emergency patients and manage 1.9 million outpatient visits annually. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is the largest freestanding academic medical center in Philadelphia. Abington Hospital is the largest community teaching hospital in Montgomery or Bucks counties. Aria-Frankford Hospital and Aria-Torresdale Hospital comprise the largest healthcare provider in Northeast Philadelphia. Other hospitals include Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience in Center City Philadelphia; Methodist Hospital in South Philadelphia; Abington-Lansdale Hospital in Hatfield Township; Aria-Bucks County Hospital in Langhorne; and Rothman Orthopaedic Specialty Hospital in Bensalem.

For more information and a complete listing of Jefferson services and locations, visit www.jefferson.edu.

Philadelphia University, founded in 1884, is a private university with 3,750 students enrolled in more than 70 undergraduate and graduate programs. As the model for professional university education, the University, through its award-winning Nexus Learning approach, prepares students to be leaders in their professions in an active, collaborative and real-world learning environment infused with the liberal arts.

With nationally ranked programs in physician assistant studies, architecture, fashion design, graphic design, strategic leadership and occupational therapy, and opportunities for industry partnerships and internships with top companies, PhilaU graduates have achieved a job success and graduate school placement rate of 95 percent.

Philadelphia University includes the innovative Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce; the College of Architecture and the Built Environment; the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts; the School of Continuing and Professional Education; and PhilaU Online. For more information, visit www.PhilaU.edu.

How will the combination process work?

The combination process will occur over the next eighteen months to three years along with an outside consultant the Executive Planning Committee has begun to develop a structure for the strategic plan. Hundreds of stakeholders from across the newly formed university will be included in the strategic planning process.

The process includes creating a clearly defined Mission Statement, establishing a budget and resource allocation process; reviewing evidence of sufficient personnel, facilities and IT resources to support our students; developing a governance structure including the  Board of Trustees; creating a comprehensive administrative structure; formulating transparent communication to all constituencies; and building an extensive model for assessing institutional effectiveness.

What are the benefits of a combination of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University for students?

The combination of Philadelphia University with Thomas Jefferson University results in increased visibility and recognition in higher education by creating a world-class, comprehensive university that gives students real-world professional education that prepares them to build successful 21st-century careers.

Students have access to:

  • more state-of-the-art programs and facilities
  • increased Nexus Learning, interprofessional and transdisciplinary opportunities
  • more internship opportunities
  • programs designed for emerging professions
  • enhanced expertise across all disciplines, in architecture, business, design, fashion, engineering, health, medicine, science and textiles
  • multiple campuses/locations that will provide students with suburban-like and Center City experiences
  • more studio, clinical and active-learning spaces
  • more opportunities for undergraduate scientific and applied research
  • global opportunities involving study abroad, research and community engagement
  • a combined alumni base of 63,500
  • a student base of more than 7,800
  • nearly 4,000 combined faculty
  • more employers who will continue to regard the profession-ready skills of our graduates, particularly within the context of our combined and innovative approach to education plus the continuation of an intimate living and learning community with small class sizes, connected and involved faculty and innovative curriculum

What will happen to TJU- & PhilaU- specific philosophies & programs like Nexus Learning and interprofessional education?

It is important to emphasize that the reason both organizations sought to combine is because there is such depth and breadth of complementary programmatic and academic strengths at both TJU and PhilaU. A combination that emphasizes the strengths of our existing programs can only further drive the reach of these approaches for the benefit of our faculty, staff, students and communities.

What tuition rate should I reference to understand the cost?

The combination of our two institutions will be an eighteen month to three-year process. At this point, you will pay the tuition of the program and campus to which you are accepted.  

Will I continue to contact the same admissions personnel and/or program director or faculty?

The combination of our two universities will a multi-year transition period. Until that process is complete, you should continue to contact the admissions personnel and program staff at the campus to which you are applying. Continue to communicate with them to make sure that you are meeting deadlines and for answers to any questions or concerns.

What is the leadership structure for Jefferson?

Effective July 1, 2017, Stephen Spinelli Jr., PhD, MBA, previously Philadelphia University president, became chancellor of Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University). Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, is president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. Mark Tykocinski, MD, is vice chancellor and provost of the university, as well as dean of Sidney Kimmel Medical College, and Kathleen Gallagher is executive vice president for the university.

Prospective Physician Assistant Student Questions

Which institution will confer my degree?

Thomas Jefferson University is the name that will appear on diplomas for students graduating in 2018 or later. We are exploring whether or not students who entered Philadelphia University originally will have the opportunity to choose what goes on their diplomas in 2018. Once we know this information, we will communicate that to graduating students.

What does the combination mean for students entering the M.S. Physician Assistant Studies program in Pre-Fall 2018?

The newly integrated Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) will continue to offer two separately accredited PA programs operating under their existing ARC-PA accreditation.  The former Philadelphia University PA Program will continue to operate two campus locations in East Falls, Philadelphia and New Jersey.  The former Thomas Jefferson University PA program will continue to operate on the Center City, Philadelphia campus. 

There is no change in the application process for each of the programs.  For students interested in applying to the pre-combination Thomas Jefferson University PA Program located in Center City Philadelphia, you should apply, via CASPA, to Thomas Jefferson University and select the PA Program in Center City.  For students interested in applying to the pre-combination Philadelphia University PA Program, you should apply, via CASPA, to Philadelphia University (now Thomas Jefferson) and select the campus location(s) you are interested in applying to; the East Falls, Philadelphia campus or the New Jersey campus.

Students accepted to and enrolled in each of these programs will complete the existing ARC-PA accredited program.  

How will the combination affect my didactic education?

For the foreseeable future, the former Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University Physician Assistant Studies programs will remain separate, each continuing to deliver the curriculum outlined by the respective programs.

How will the combination affect my clinical education?

For the foreseeable future, the former Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University Physician Assistant Studies programs will remain separate, each delivering the clinical rotations outlined by the respective programs.  Clinical faculty from both programs are collaborating on new clinical site development to meet each program’s needs.

I am interested in applying to the programs at both institutions. Do I fill out applications for both schools?

Yes, each program will maintain its own application form through CASPA under their current institution names for the 2018 CASPA cycle.  

What tuition rate should I reference to understand the cost?

The combination of our two institutions will be an eighteen month to three-year process.  At this point, you will pay the tuition of the program and campus to which you are accepted. 

Prospective Occupational Therapy Student Questions

What does the combination mean for students entering into one of Thomas Jefferson’s Occupational Therapy degree programs in fall 2017?

Students accepted into any of the new and integrated Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) entry-level degree programs would enter and complete the program into which they matriculated. Entry-level programs include the BSMS, Master’s and Doctorate.

Students accepted into Jefferson’s Post-Professional Doctorate or Advanced Practice Certificate Programs would enter and complete the program into which they matriculated. 

What does the combination mean for applicants to Thomas Jefferson’s Occupational Therapy degree programs for Fall 2018?

The current Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University’s Occupational Therapy Programs will continue to exist in the new University for fall 2018 applicants. These programs include:

Thomas Jefferson University’s currently existing programs:

  • Combined Bachelors and Master’s in Occupational Therapy (Transfer and High School applicants)
  • Master’s in Occupational Therapy (Traditional and High School applicants)
  • Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, Entry Level (OTD)
  • Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy
  • Advanced Practice Certificate Programs


Philadelphia University’s currently existing programs:

  • AAS in Occupational Therapy Assistant Studies (OTA)
  • MS in Occupational Therapy
  • Combined BS/MS in Occupational Therapy (High School Applicants)

Both Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University offered a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy. Jefferson now offers two Master's degree programs. What are the differences?

The MSOT On-campus, Center City Philadelphia program is delivered in a full-time, day format.

The MSOT Hybrid, East Falls Philadelphia Program is delivered in a blended-learning format where students attend classes, on-campus, during two weekends a month (Friday-Saturday). The remaining teaching and learning occurs online. Between 70-80 percent of classes are taught on campus and the remainder delivered online.

Both Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University offered a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy, how will the combination impact these programs?

Each program is separately accredited by ACOTE. For the foreseeable future both programs will continue to be offered, delivering the curriculum outlined by each program. 

I am interested in applying to both of the Master’s Degree programs. Do I fill out applications for both programs?

Yes, you will need to apply to both programs. The MSOT On-Campus, Center City Program (formerly TJU’s Program) is listed in OTCAS under Thomas Jefferson University. The MSOT Hybrid, East Falls Program (formerly Philadelphia University’s Program) is listed in OTCAS under Philadelphia University (now Thomas Jefferson University).

You will need to select both programs in OTCAS and meet each program’s requirements/criteria for admission as they differ.  

I am interested in applying to the Master’s and the Doctorate programs. Can I?

Applicants can apply to both Master’s programs; however, they cannot simultaneously apply to the Master’s and Doctorate programs. We request, at the time of application, for applicants to make the determination between the Master’s or Doctoral-level coursework. 

How will the combination affect my classroom education?

For the foreseeable future, all OT programs will continue to deliver the curriculum outlined by the respective programs.

How will the combination affect my fieldwork education?

For the foreseeable future all OT programs will continue to deliver fieldwork experiences as outlined by the respective programs.  

What tuition rate should I reference to understand the cost?

The combination of our two institutions will be an eighteen month to three-year process. At this point, you will pay the tuition of the program and campus to which you are accepted.