20 Top PA Schools in California-Tuition & Requirements

It does matter what PA schools in California you attend, considering their prestige and how strict their qualifications are, we have a list of the PA schools in California where you can start your journey.

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A physician assistant is a licensed medical practitioner who possesses an advanced degree and is able to administer direct patient care. They work with patients of all ages and specialize in various areas of medicine. They work in collaboration with a licensed physician. 

A physician assistant is not the same thing as a nurse practitioner, a PA is taught using a disease-centered curriculum model, while a nurse is trained using a patient-centered curriculum model. 

Roles and Responsibilities of a Physician Assistant

The following are routine activities performed by a Physician assistant:

  1. Giving patients advice on best health practices and preventive care 
  2. Assisting in surgery
  3. Running patient diagnosis
  4. Prescribing medications for patients 
  5. Requesting and interpreting test results and X-ray scans. 
  6. Development and management of treatment plan. 

Steps to Become a Physician Assistant 

If you have always dreamt of being a medical practitioner who deals directly with patients, then you should take out time to study what it takes to become a physician assistant.

The cost of education for a Physician Assistant is way lower than that of a physician (see best Medical school in Texas).  

Getting a degree from one of the PA schools in California is not the only thing you need to do in order to become a physician assistant. Below is a summary of the complete step to becoming a PA.

  1. Get a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field. 
  1. Obtain over 1000 hours of healthcare experience (HCE) or patient care experience (PCE).
  1. Complete a PA master’s degree program preferably in one of these pa schools in California listed below. 
  1. After graduation, you must sit for and pass your 300 questions, 5 hours Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). 
  1. Apply for state licensure. 

Areas of Specialization for Physician Assistants

PA has the freedom to specialize in any area of medicine. Below are some of the areas you may consider becoming a specialist in: 

  • Neurology
  • Radiology
  • Cardiology 
  • Anesthesia
  • General practice 
  • Dermatology
  • Internal medicine
  • Emergency medicine 
  • Family medicine 
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • ENT/Otolaryngology

How Much Does a Physician Assistant Make in California

According to Salary.com, the average salary of a PA is $126,642. Generally, the salary ranges between $116,574 and $139,627. This information is as of July 26th, 2022.

The List of Top 19 PA Schools in California 

In no particular order, these are the best PA schools in California that you should seriously consider when applying to study. Links to the schools’ official websites are also provided. 

A.T Still University of Health Sciences

  • The deadline is the 1st of  September
  • Tuition: $49,958 for year 1 students 

This university prioritized teaching the art and science of medicine for whole body care via osteopathic tradition.

The PA department is learner-focused and they ensure that students grow into becoming properly trained professionals via lecturing, clinical exposure, laboratory training, etc. 

This university is partnered with the National Association of Community Health Centers and graduates, therefore, have the opportunity to deliver quality primary care to underserved populations at these partnered health centers across the country. 

Their 2022 admission data shows a class size of 70 persons out of 351 persons interviewed, average age of 24, and an average science GPA of 3.49. 

You can visit their official website here for more info. 

Admission Requirements: This school requires completion of prerequisite courses with a minimum grade of C, and completion of a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited institution.

Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree or higher from an accredited institution. 

Applicants must submit 3 letters of recommendation, and possess a 3.0 overall CGPA and 3.0 science GPA. All applications are submitted through CASPA.

California Baptist University 

  • The deadline for application is the 1st of December. 
  • Tuition: $20,610 per semester 

This is a faith-based school and maybe the one you have been searching for. This school not only trains you to become a physician assistant, but it also stirs the spirit of service and commitment in you. 

This school provides state-of-the-art facilities which are available at the college’s new health science campus.

This school is renowned for encouraging interprofessional collaboration between students of various Health science programs. 

This school offers a Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS)  program which lasts around 2 years and focuses on preparing medical professionals in providing quality patient care to underserved populations. It is without a doubt one of the best PA schools in California. 

You can view more info on their official website

Admission Requirements: No more than 30 students are admitted at a time. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution is required, all official transcripts from colleges and universities attended, also a minimum CGPA of 3.2 and science GPA of 30 is required. 

Transcripts are submitted via CASPA, after acceptance, you must resubmit them to the university.

Finally, you need three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and an English language proficiency document. 

California State University – Monterey Bay

  • The deadline for application is the 1st of April. 
  • Tuition: $83,142 is the total cost for year 1 students. 

Physician assistants are responsible for the expansion of quality and affordable care to underserved populations. That is why the California state university offers a Master of Science Physician Assistant (MSPA)  program for students who apply, this program builds them into becoming some of the best in that particular field.  

Some of their state-of-the-art facilities include their procedural technical skills room, Anatomage lab, etc. This program takes over 2 years of full-time study to complete and consists of 83 credit loads in total. 

You can view more information on their official website

Admission Requirements: Just like most schools, they require you to have a bachelor’s degree, a minimum CGPA of 3.0, and you must have completed your prerequisite courses. 1000 hours of direct patient care and 8 hours of shadowing experience are also compulsory. 

Submit your application, alongside official transcripts and letters of recommendation via CASPA

Chapman University

PAs are clinical experts who are expected to have been rigorously trained. They are expected to show professionalism and provide quality care to patients.

This is why the Chapman university’s mission is to produce PA graduates who excel both in theoretical and practical aspect of medicine. 

Their vision is to bring forth Physician assistants who show commitment and are competent, ethical, and insightful.

There also provide undergraduate programs for who those interested in taking up this course of study. 

This school boasts of state-of-the-art emergency simulation rooms, exam labs, several patient exam rooms, etc.

The master’s program at this school lasts for 2 years of full-time studies and 124 credit courses. 

You can view more information on their website.  

Admission Requirements: You must have completed your prerequisite courses with a minimum grade of C. You have to have a strong CGPA from your undergraduate studies, preferably over 3.0 CGPA.

Other requirements include; letters of reference, transcripts, voluntary community service, shadowing experience, and healthcare work experience. 

The deadline for admission is August 1st and applications are to be submitted via CASPA. Admission Email: [email protected] 

Tuition: $21,265.00 for full time students 

Charles R. Drew University

This university receives students who strongly believe in sharing medical ideas and information that benefits the world.

Passion and willingness to serve are some of the criteria you need to study in Charles R. Drew university. 

For applicants who hope to be exemplary medical care providers, this is the school for you.

During your time here, you will learn the best clinical skills there are, you will also obtain experience in essential areas like health promotion, disease management, and prevention, etc. 

This is a 27-monthly program that trains you to become a Master of Health Sciences. You can view their website for more information. 

Admission Requirements: This school makes use of the CASPA application process. Some of the documents you are to submit via this method include; your personal statement, all official transcripts, and 3 letters of reference (one from a physician, another from a professor, and a final one from a professional affiliate). 

A Bachelor’s degree and completion of all prerequisite courses are also mandatory. 

  • The deadline for application is September 1st.  
  • Tuition: annual tuition and living expense budget is around $36,304.

Dominican Republic of California

  • The application deadline is on the 1st of October. 
  • Tuition: $120,140 for the entire program

At this university, not only do students sharpen their clinical skills, but they also learn civic and social responsibility.

This 28-month degree program boosts your critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and judgment of problems. 

During your course of study, you gain the necessary knowledge and skill needed to respond effectively to problems of various nature in healthcare delivery.

This school will make you prepared to make relevant contributions to the underserved communities in which you may find yourself. 

More information is on their official website

Admission Requirements: Application is via CASPA, you must have completed your prerequisite courses with a minimum grade of B.

You need to have had a 3.0 CGPA, a baccalaureate degree. Documents you need to submit include 3 letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and official transcripts. 

Relevant experience needed includes 500 hours of patient contact and 8 hours of physician assistant shadowing. 

Keck Graduate Institute

  • The application deadline is on the 1st of September.
  • Tuition:  $117,850 for the entire program.

For those who hope to become vital members of healthcare teams and help in the expansion of quality and compassionate care to communities around them, this is the school for you. 

This is a 27-month program that also adds leadership training as part of its curriculum, to fully prepare them for leadership roles in the healthcare system and also give them a deep understanding of the social determinants of health. 

View the official website for more info. 

Admissions Requirement: You need a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, and you need to have completed all prerequisite courses.

A minimum of 3.0 CGPA on a 4.0 scale. Relevant experience required includes; 1000 hours of direct patient care.

Personal statements and letters of reference are also to be submitted via CASPA

Loma Linda University 

In California, there are over 11,000 physician assistants working in hand with a licensed physician.

Nationally, there are over 150,000, so you have to be one of the best to excel in this particular field.

One of the ways to become an excellent PA is to attend one of the best PA schools in California, which is why you should seriously consider applying to Loma Linda University. 

Their 2 years Masters’s program consists of a 12 months didactic phase that introduces you to biological, behavioral, medical sciences, and your final year is filled with clinical practice in various medical fields. 

Visit the official website for more info. 

Admission Requirements: CASPA application process is used and the deadline for application is October 1st

A baccalaureate degree is required, science and an overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, a minimum of 2000 hours of patient care, official transcripts, and 3 letters of recommendation. 

Tuition: $64,660 in year 1 and $43,020 in year 2.

Marshall B. Ketchum University 

  • The application deadline is on the 1st of November. 
  • Tuition: $50,850 for full time students. 

This university offers a Master of Medical science post-baccalaureate degree that spans a period of 27 months.

It began in 2012 and since then it has gone on to produce some of the finest Physician assistants the world has ever known. 

Some of the perks of attending this institution include the low student-teacher ratio which lies somewhere around 8:1, collaborative community service programs, and also because of the small population, you are able to properly relate to everyone in a family-like atmosphere.

You can view more on their website

Admission Requirement:  Your overall and science GPA should be a minimum of 3.0, 2000 hours of direct hands-on patient care, and 3 letters of recommendation.

You also need to have completed your prerequisite courses and baccalaureate degree. 

No more than 40 students are admitted at once, you have to submit your application via CASPA. The application deadline is September 1st.  

Tuition: $52,510 for fulltime students. 

6.10 Point Loma Nazarene University

Just like the California Baptist University, this is a faith-based institute and its vision is to produce competent professionals who give standard and compassionate care to underserved populations. 

Several things you will be exposed to in their curriculum include the didactic phase and clinical work phase.

Students are also given a month each year where they are exposed to domestic, national, or international medical practices via the university’s network in southern California. 

The program lasts a period of 28 months and 115 units are needed to graduate. You can view more details on their official website

Admission Requirements: CASPA website is used for the application process. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, an overall GPA and a science GPA of 3.0 as a minimum is required.

You must have completed the prerequisite courses with a minimum grade of C. 

Relevant experience required includes 500 hours of direct patient care. 

Samuel Meritt University 

  • The application deadline is on the 1st of September. 
  • Tuition: $128,525 for the entire program. 

This university is highly focused on inter-professional collaboration, so they teach their students to become efficient interdependent medical providers.

They require students who are committed to community service and are ready to take leadership roles, using their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities to boost the healthcare system. 

The 27 months program only accepts a class of 44 students out of 144 students annually into their Oakland campus.

The first four semesters are mainly used for basic medical and clinical sciences, the final 3 semesters are focused on surgery, emergency, primary care, and geriatric. 

More information can be found on their official website

Admission Requirements: A minimum of C- on all prerequisite courses, transcripts, statements, letters of recommendation, and a baccalaureate degree are all required. Application is done via CASPA

Southern California University of Health Sciences

  • The application deadline is September 1st
  • Tuition: $15,571 per term or $108,997 tuition to complete the entire program. 

This university is one of the first to immerse students in integrative healthcare studies.

One of the perks o studying at this institution is that students of various medical disciplines are taught alongside to promote cross-collaboration. It exposes students to real patients and real practice. 

This is a 2 years and 4 months program with so many benefits. You can find out more details on their official website

Admission Requirements: This school makes use of the CASPA online application.

You need your bachelor’s degree, completion of prerequisite courses, and 2000 paid hours of healthcare experience.

Your transcripts, statement and letters of recommendation are required. A CGPA of 3.0 minimum is required. 

Other requirements are compassion, integrity, professionalism, etc. 

Stanford University 

This is one of the best universities in the world and its PA program aims at producing the world’s best and most clinically skilled physician assistants who would have a positive effect in health services, clinical research, medical education, etc. 

Students are heavily immersed in scholarly concentrations to transform them into world-class professionals using state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities. You can view more information on their official website.

Admission Requirements: A minimum CGPA of 3.5 is required and you need to submit your transcripts, letters of reference, and statement.

You need to have passed all prerequisite courses. You need to have had relevant life experiences, perhaps multiple hours of hands-on patient care, shadowing, etc. 

Submission of application is via CASPA, and the application deadline is August 1st.  

Tuition: $165, 808 for the entire program. 

Touro University California 

This is a 33-monthly program that accepts just 48 students annually into the institution.  

Its mission is to; train standard physician assistants who will expand healthcare services to underserved populations, and give admission to interested applicants from these underserved communities who have the passion and qualification to serve, and improve access and quality of healthcare in underserved populations. 

You can read more on their official website

Admission Requirements: you need a minimum of 3.0 CGPA. A minimum grade of C in all prerequisite courses, 1000 hours of healthcare experience, 3 recommendation letters, statements, and transcripts. 

The deadline for application is November 1st. Submission of application is via CASPA

Tuition: $8,670 for 37 credit program

University of California – Davis

This school offers admission to students whose attributes align with the school values and students who possess unique backgrounds.

Applicants who may stand out during the admission process include those who are the first to attend college in their family, those with a military background, those who speak more than one language, etc. 

You can find out more information on their official website

Admission Requirements: A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with a minimum CGPA of 3.0. 1000 hours of direct patient care, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and transcripts are to be submitted to CASPA

The admission deadline is on the 1st of August. 

Tuition: $151,515 for 2022 student’s entire program. This is subject to change on a yearly basis. 

University of La Verne 

If you are looking to apply to a school that will prepare and advance your career, then this school is the one for you.

Its mission is to train collaborative, diverse, ethical, and holistic medical care providers who are passionate about eliminating health disparities. 

It takes 27 months to complete this degree program and the total credit course unit is 118. Visit the official website for more details. 

Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree from accredited university, successful completion of all prerequisite courses, CGPA of 3.0 minimum, personal statement of not more than 5000 words, three letters of recommendation, and submission of official transcripts. 

The application deadline is on the 1st of  August. Submissions are made via CASPA.

Tuition: $110,985 for entire program

University of Southern California 

This program is administered by the Keck school of medicine and all you need to be able to apply for this program is a bachelor’s degree in any discipline in the United States. Other few requirements are added below. 

More information about this program can be found on their official website

Admission Requirements: A minimum GPA of 3.0, completion of all prerequisite courses, statement, letters of reference, and official transcripts are all mandatory.  Patient care experience is also necessary as well as hours of shadowing a licensed physician. 

The admission deadline is on the 1st of November and submissions of applications is made on CASPA

Tuition: $200,398 is the total fee for the entire program

University of Pacific

The rich curriculum of this school is one thing that makes it stand out, it is packed with innovative modalities, diverse professional experiences, high-level technical skills, etc. 

This 27 months program includes 3 elective rotations that allow students to select a single specialty based on the curriculum’s pathway tracks. You can find more info on their official website

Admission Requirements: 3.0 CGPA on a 4.0 scale, bachelor’s degree, completion of prerequisite courses, minimum of 1000 hours of direct patient care. 

The application deadline is the 1st of August and you can apply on CASPA

Tuition: $125,902 is the cost for the 27 months of program.

Western University of Health Sciences

Physician assistants are highly rated professionals in the medical healthcare system.

There is also a need for students who want to follow this path to apply to schools like the western university of health sciences which provides you with great infrastructures and learning facilities. 

Learning at this institution improves your interpersonal and communication skills, your sense of responsibility, and also critical analysis and problem-solving ability. You can learn more on their official website

Admission Requirements: Application is done via CASPA. You are expected to have a bachelor’s degree, successfully passed all prerequisite courses, and submit 3 letters of recommendation, and your statement of purpose. Necessary experience includes 1000 hours of direct patient care.

The application deadline is the 1st of November.

Tuition: $75,486.00 is the total budget for the entire program. 

Is becoming a Physician assistant worth it? 

Although the program is rigorous and complex, it is worth it. The highest paid professionals earn over 162 thousand dollars annually. This profession is one of the fastest growing professions according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How many years is a PA degree? 

The Master’s program takes a maximum of 3 years.

Is GRE required for a PA program?

GRE is not required by every school and if you do not have your GRE, you simply have to apply to a school that does not require it.

How long does it take to become a Physician assistant? 

It takes between 7-9 years, undergraduate study inclusive. However, it may take some people more years as it is not the easiest of courses. 

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