Which Schools Have Physician Assistant Programs in CA?

Find out which California schools offer physician assistant programs. See requirements, prerequisites and school information, and learn about the job prospects for a physician assistant career in California. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Physician assistants generally need to complete a 2-year master's degree program before they can gain licensure and work in the field. Most prerequisites to these programs including having a bachelor's degree and some professional experience in the healthcare field. Some 2-year schools do offer physician assistant or primary care associate programs that don't result in a master's degree. These programs still require applicants to complete up to 3,000 hours of work experience as a medical assistant, paramedic, nurse or similar type of healthcare professional before applying.


Physician Assistant Certificate Programs

Foothill College

  • Program Name: Primary Care Associate Program
  • Program Length: 21 months, full-time
  • Tuition: $159 per unit (2012)
  • Prerequisites: 3,000 hours of direct patient care experience; a grade of 'C' or better in specific courses like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, algebra, cultural anthropology, psychology and English; general education prerequisites, such as intermediate algebra, humanities, communication, multicultural studies and lifelong understanding
  • School Type: 2-year, public; undergraduate population of about 17,000
  • Address: 12345 El Monte Rd., Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
  • Phone: (650) 725-6959

Foothill College and the Stanford University School of Medicine jointly administer a 21-month program that trains you to assist primary care physicians. To be admitted into the program, you must complete a clinical, academic and general education prerequisite, unless you've completed an associate degree.

Consisting of classroom and clinical training, the program covers preventive health care, counseling, diagnosis and treatment. Your curriculum includes courses such as pharmacology, pathophysiology, infectious disease, core medicine and cultural medicine. You complete preceptorships in which you gain hands-on training under the supervision of physicians. Upon completion, you earn a Certificate of Clinical Proficiency.

Samuel Merritt University

  • Program Name: Master Physician Assistant Program
  • Program Length: 25 months, full-time
  • Tuition: $40,855 annually (full-time sequential track for 2012-2013)
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree; minimum GPA of 3.0; prerequisite courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry and statistics
  • Requirements: Health care experience (you should hold a minimum of 1,000 hours)
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; student population of about 1,400 (600 undergraduate)
  • Address: 3100 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
  • Phone: (510) 869-6608

Samuel Merritt University offers a Master Physician Assistant (MPA) program that combines didactic and clinical study; the first year consists mostly of classroom learning, while the second year is a clinical year. You may take classes like pediatrics, surgery, emergency medicine and geriatrics. You'll also delve into pharmacology, research methods and US healthcare systems. The clinical phase includes 7 required and 2 elective clerkships covering family medicine, internal medicine, pediatric, geriatric and emergency medicine. Additionally, admission into this program is competitive with over 1,200 applying, but only 55 admitted into the program.

University of California, Davis (UCDavis)

  • Program Name: Family Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant (FNP/PA)
  • Program Length: 24 months, full-time
  • Tuition: $11,220 per academic year in-state tuition; $26,332 per academic year out-of-state tuition (2011-2012)
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree, minimum GPA of 3.0, prerequisite courses in microbiology, chemistry, human anatomy, physiology, statistics, social sciences and composition; letters of recommendation
  • Requirements: 1,000 hours of clinical experience within past 2 years
  • School Type: 4-year, public; student population of approximately 31,000 (25,000 undergraduates)
  • Address: 2516 Stockton Blvd., TICON II Building Suite 254, Sacramento, CA 95817
  • Phone: (916) 734-3551

The UCDavis School of Medicine offers a FNP/PA program that explores primary care principles through didactic coursework and clinical experiences. The intensive, 24-month program explores concepts in behavioral science, ethics, health assessment, charting and interviewing. While your didactic sessions must be completed on-campus in the physician assistant program, you can complete clinical rotations in surgery, emergency-trauma and long-term care near your home. The physician assistant program includes 126.5 quarter units and will only qualify you to earn the physician assistant certificate; however, if you are an RN with a bachelor's degree you can complete additional clinical experiences to earn both the physician assistant and family nurse practitioner certificate.

University of Southern California

  • Program Name: Master of Physician Assistant Practice
  • Program Length: 33 months, full-time
  • Tuition: $1,420 per unit (spring 2012)
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree, minimum GPA of 3.0, prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, human anatomy, statistics, psychology, Spanish and composition; GRE or GMAT; letters of recommendation
  • Requirements: Clinical experience; community service
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; student population of approximately 37,000 (17,000 undergraduate)
  • Address: 1000 S. Fremont Ave., Alhambra, CA 91803
  • Phone: (213) 740-0551

The Keck School of Medicine offers a Master of Physician Assistant Practice (MPAP) program. The 33-month graduate program places emphasis on providing quality primary care for patients. The curriculum covers medical sciences, behavioral sciences and clinical skills. Some of the topics of study include human development, ethics, pediatrics, surgery, endocrinology, research, anatomy and physical assessment. The clinical portion of your program takes place at clinical sites throughout Los Angeles.


Licensing Information for Physician Assistants in California

As an aspiring California physician assistant, you'll need to apply for licensure from California's Department of Consumer Affairs Physician Assistant Committee. Licensure requires graduation from an approved physician assistant program, successfully passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and submitting your fingerprints. You need to complete 50 hours of continuing medical education every two years to renew your license.

Career and Outlook Info for Physician Assistants

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that, as of May 2011, 8,170 physician assistants were employed in California. These workers had an average annual salary of about $95,000 at that time. Additionally, California had the second highest employment level of physician assistants within the U.S.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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