7 Terms | 2 Years and 4 Months
Fall: September 5th, 2023
SCU’s model of experiential learning in interprofessional settings combines learning alongside other healthcare disciplines, coursework, clinical experiences, community engagement, and campus activities and clubs that introduce students to a variety of philosophies, practices, and treatment options; help students develop a broad base of knowledge; and prepare future healthcare professionals with a deep understanding of integrative, evidence- and team-based, whole-person healthcare.
Education at SCU is supplemented by advanced anatomical teaching tools. All learning technologies are available on site, and many are also accessible at home. SCU offers convenient access to anatomy educational materials outside of normal classroom hours. Advanced learning technologies include:
Our practitioner faculty bring timely experience to the classroom every day, supplementing their lectures with practical advice. Discover real-world insights from faculty who currently practice, and who are deeply connected to the field beyond a theoretical and academic perspective. At the intersection of two worlds, our practitioner faculty help guide your first steps into the world of practice, paving the way for a more gentle and gradual transition from student to professional.
Healthcare that improves outcomes and lowers costs takes a team effort. A first-of-its-kind program, SCU’s Master of Science: Physician Assistant program is the first to offer PA students the opportunity to learn alongside other healthcare disciplines. You will be introduced to a variety of philosophies, practices, and treatment options for integrative, whole-person healthcare.
Cadaver-based anatomy is a classic teaching method that offers invaluable lessons and insight into the shape, feel, and function of the body. During this unique experience for future Physician Assistants, students express reverence and awe as they approach the body to make their first cut in real tissues and structures. The cadaver lab offers unparalleled insight into anatomical variation, structure, and function to help you become an outstanding provider.
SCU develops leaders to be thoughtful and compassionate practitioners who are qualified to provide high-quality care to a diverse population.
The SCU University Health Center provides care to over 45,000 patients per year and is equipped with an expansive herbal pharmacy, diagnostic imaging, and an electronic health record system. PA students train at a modern health center with an enriched teaching environment. You will interact with other health professions and disciplines and learn how to co-manage patients in an integrated setting within an interdisciplinary team environment.
All PA students complete core clinical rotations in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Women’s Health (Obstetrics and Gynecology), General Surgery, Behavioral Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Integrative Medicine. Learn more about each rotation.
PA students also choose two elective rotations. Elective rotation choices include Cardiology, Dermatology, Otolaryngology (ENT), Nephrology, Orthopedics/Sports Medicine, Neurosurgery, Gastroenterology, Hematology/Oncology, Pain Management, Plastic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Urology, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Endocrinology, and Interventional Radiology.
Our program will prepare students to participate in integrative healthcare teams and deliver healthcare with a primary care focus to a diverse population by providing evidence-based instruction.
Faculty, students, and graduates will be recognized as innovative leaders, incorporating integrative modalities into patient-centered healthcare.
For more information about progress toward achieving program goals, visit our Program Goals document.
*Portions of the above text are taken from Accreditation Standards for Physician Assistant Education, Fifth Edition, ARC-PA, page 3, 2019.
Median annual wage for Physician Assistants in California, according to AAPA data.
PAs tied for 7th on list of fastest-growing professions, according to AAPA data.
U.S. News and World Report named PA one of the top jobs in the U.S. in 2023.
SCU’s Master of Science: Physician Assistant Program will prepare students to participate in integrative healthcare teams and deliver healthcare with a primary care focus to a diverse population by providing evidence-based instruction.
For full program information, view our MSPA Handbook.
Total Terms: 7
Total Credits: 145
The second year is devoted to core clinical rotations, elective rotations, and seminars. Providing our PA students with these opportunities is integral to the basic foundation of their clinical skills. The start date for clinical rotations will be the fifth trimester. Clinical assignments are, at minimum, 32 hours per week. Students are expected to fully participate in all clinical activities (e.g., “call,” grand rounds, journal club).
Each student will complete one, 4-week rotation in each of the required core clinical experiences. Elective time of up to 8 weeks may be available to students in good standing.
Internal Medicine: You will work in an approved Internal Medical practice and learn how to provide care for a variety of presenting conditions in adult patients, with particular emphasis on acute, chronic, geriatric and preventative care.
Pediatrics: You will work in an approved Pediatric practice and learn how to provide care across the lifespan, with an emphasis on infants, children and adolescents. You will gain an understanding of a diverse patient population from newborn to adolescent, with a variety of medical circumstances. You will also develop necessary skills for interacting with parents and guardians.
Family Medicine: You will acquire a basic comprehension of health care delivery in Family Medicine. You will be assigned to an approved Family medical practice and learn how to provide care for a variety of presenting conditions in adult and pediatric patients, with particular emphasis on acute, chronic, and preventative care across the lifespan. You will have a better understanding of various medical conditions from simple to complex and will be able synthesize and apply knowledge to clinical encounters.
Women’s Health: Obstetrics and Gynecology: You will work in an approved Women’s Health: OB/GYN practice and learn how to provide care for a variety of presenting conditions, with particular emphasis on prenatal and gynecological care. You will gain an increased awareness of the importance of prenatal care, preventative cancer screening, and menopause issues. You will also acquire practical experience in the discipline of Obstetrics and Gynecology. You will have a better understanding of various medical conditions from simple to complex and will be able synthesize and apply knowledge to clinical encounters.
General Surgery: You will gain a basic comprehension of health care delivery in General Surgery. You will work in an approved surgical practice and learn how to provide surgical assessment and operative management for a variety of surgical conditions, with particular emphasis on pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative care.
Behavioral Medicine: You are assigned to an approved Psychiatric/Mental Health practice. At the conclusion of the 4-week rotation in Behavioral and Mental Health, you will have a solid understanding of common psychiatric conditions across the lifespan. You will also learn about community resources that are available to patients dealing with psychiatric illness.
Emergency Medicine: You will gain a basic comprehension of health care delivery in Emergency Medicine. You will work in an approved hospital-based emergency room to gain exposure to emergency medicine medical topics with particular emphasis on diverse, acute, and emergent care across the lifespan. Upon completion of this 4-week emergency medicine rotation, you will be able to perform a methodical, rapid, and accurate assessment of patients presenting to the Emergency Department and formulate a management plan. You will also gain experience working with patients and families in high stress, emergency situations.
Integrative Medicine: You will gain a basic comprehension of health care delivery in Integrative Health. You will work in an approved Integrative Health medical practice and learn how to provide care for a variety of presenting conditions, with particular emphasis on alternative health delivery systems and working as a member of an interprofessional healthcare team. At the conclusion of the 4-week Integrative Health rotation, you will have a better understanding of various non-traditional treatment modalities and be able to apply those to patient care situations.
Students are not required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors.
SCU’s MSPA program is a 28-month program, with terms 5-7 dedicated to core clinical rotations, elective rotations, and seminars. By serving as a clinical preceptor for our students, you will play an integral role in contributing to the basic foundations of their clinical skills. The clinical year is comprised of 10 clinical rotations – 8 core rotations and 2 elective rotations. Each rotation is four weeks in duration.
Our program emphasizes a holistic approach, teaching students to use science and evidence-based research to provide patient-centered, whole-person health care. SCU is the first university to offer a PA program with an integrative health focus. MSPA students take core classes with other students pursuing a variety of healthcare careers — including future chiropractors and acupuncturists. This unique interprofessional environment empowers students to excel within integrative healthcare teams.
Our clinical team is ready to assist you in preparing for, working with, and evaluating students.
Our Associate Program Director of Clinical Education, Ashley Larsen, MPA, PA-C, is committed to developing and maintaining high-quality clinical rotations for our physician assistant students.
Feel free to contact us at any time:
Melanie Catalano, MSPA, PA-C
Ashley Larsen, MPA, PA-C
Associate Program Director of Clinical Education, Clinical Director
Sonya Earley, MA, DCES, PA-C
Sara Wiens, MS, RD, MPAS, PA-C
Clinical Administrative Support
Our clinical site information page contains the necessary preceptor resources to make the clinical experience successful for the preceptor and students. Our clinical team is also readily available to assist our preceptors with additional resources and information as needed. Please contact us at any time.
Visit our Clinical Site Information Page for more information.
Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc (ARC-PA)
Attrition: ARC-PA Student Attrition Rate
In compliance with 34 CFR 668.43, the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) program at Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) provides information pertaining to professional licensure for the program. Students should refer to the information below and contact the appropriate licensing board to ensure they will meet the licensure requirements in the state(s) in which they intend to practice upon graduation.
Upon completing an ARC-PA accredited program, graduates are eligible to sit for the professional board exam given by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Upon passing the exam, candidates are given the designation of Physician Assistant–Certified (PA-C). The candidate may then apply for state licensure and for a DEA certificate to prescribe controlled medication. SCU’s Master of Science: Physician Assistant program meets the educational requirements for licensure in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Some states have requirements in addition to educational requirements – prospective and enrolled students are encouraged to research licensure requirements for the state that they intend to practice in. These licensure requirements vary from state to state.
Neither acceptance for admission into the program nor the subsequent earning of an MSPA degree guarantees that a state or foreign country will grant a graduate a license to practice. Each state and foreign country, through its legislative and administrative process, defines the standards of competency and scope of practice of PA’s within its jurisdiction. The American Academy of PAs maintains a list of licensing boards at their website List of Licensing Boards – AAPA.
Please note that licensure requirements are always subject to change. Although SCU will confirm the licensure requirements on a routine basis, we strongly recommend that you inquire with the licensing agency to confirm that you understand and will meet the requirements for licensure before enrolling in your program of choice. Additionally, while progressing through the program, we recommend that you check licensing agency requirements regularly to monitor whether they have changed in a manner that impacts your licensure plans.
All international students are strongly encouraged to check the credentialing requirements in the country where they intend to practice.
The main reason I chose to come here for PA school was the excellent staff and faculty. They were all lovely, helpful, and welcoming during the admissions process, including my interview. Once I stepped on campus, I felt like I was finally home. Getting that phone call that I was admitted to SCU was truly the best day of my life. I have completed my first year of school, and that feeling has not faded. Our cohort is very close with the faculty and staff, who are always available for help. I do not doubt that they are thoroughly preparing us for the PANCE exam and to be excellent providers.
I chose SCU when looking for a PA program because of their Integrative Medicine approach. I am from Michigan, and not many programs focus on this Integrative, Holistic approach when it comes to patient care in the Midwest, and I felt that was very important for me to learn as a future provider. My transition to semi-virtual learning has been very smooth and quite enjoyable. My favorite part about attending SCU is how tight-knit and diverse the community is. Coming from a large undergrad university and moving so far, it was very important for me to have a PA program that made me feel valued and invested in my success. At SCU, they do a great job of making you feel that.
Applications must be submitted through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Applications must be verified with all requirements completed by January 15, 2023. Applications may be submitted with pending requirements prior to the application deadline; however, applications will not be reviewed until all requirements are met. Applications with in-progress degrees will be reviewed if all other requirements have been met by the above deadline and the anticipated degree completion date is August 31, 2023.
The PA program does not offer advanced placement. Transfer students are not accepted.
Email PhysicianAssistant@scuhs.edu with any questions.
A regionally accredited college or university is an institution that holds active accreditation recognized by the Department of Education from one of the following accreditation agencies. All degrees must be conferred by August 31, 2023, to be eligible for fall enrollment.
If you hold an international degree and are applying to our program, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited U.S. institution to be eligible for admission.
All prerequisite courses must be completed at a regionally accredited college or university. Official transcripts verifying successful course completion must be uploaded by CASPA by January 15, 2023. Applications may be submitted with pending prerequisite courses, however, the application will not be reviewed until the official transcript for each pending course is uploaded by CASPA.
All prerequisite courses must be completed with a C grade or above. Pass/fail grades will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, however, please note that pass/fail grades are not calculated into CASPA GPAs. AP and IB courses will be considered with a score of 3 or above, however, individual transcripts must be submitted if the AP or IB score is not listed on the college transcript. Online courses are accepted. Unit requirements are inclusive of quarter and semester units. No quarter-to-semester unit conversion is applied.
Each course used to satisfy the requirements below must have been completed no earlier than 2015 (7 years from the current admissions cycle). Introductory core science courses are accepted, but upper-level courses are preferred. A laboratory component is not required but is strongly encouraged.
*A combination human anatomy & physiology course will be accepted; however, you cannot use the same course to fulfill both the anatomy and physiology prerequisites (exceptions include 8-unit combination courses). If not titled “Human”, a course description must demonstrate a human focus to be considered.
*Any course not titled “English Composition” must be a writing-intensive course that includes instruction on comprehension, investigation, evaluation, explanation, and refutation.
2,000 paid hours of clinical experience are required.
Clinical experience may include (but not limited to):
*The core science prerequisite GPA includes all chemistry, human anatomy, human physiology, and microbiology courses, regardless of the earned grade, that would otherwise qualify as a core science course.
Applicants are expected to demonstrate professionalism in their interactions with the program and our faculty and staff. Applicants who demonstrate unprofessional behavior at any time will not be considered for admission.
Academic or licensure infractions, misdemeanors, and/or felonies may prohibit participation in required supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPE), eligibility to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam, and/or eligibility for state licensure. Due to this, all academic or licensure infractions, misdemeanors, and/or felonies must be disclosed on CASPA and any supplemental applications and will be assessed by the Admissions Committee on a case-by-case basis. Failure to disclose the above will result in applicant denial and recension of an enrollment offer or dismissal from the program, if applicable. Additionally, programs are required to report an applicant’s failure to disclose this information to the Physician Assistant Education Association.
All admissions decisions are made in accordance with our program mission, vision, and goals. Additionally, preference is given to applicants with evidence of the following:
*SCU does not refund CASPA application fees under any circumstance, including loss of accreditation during the application cycle.
Once the class is fully seated, information about additional requirements will be provided. These may include the following requirements which must be completed prior to matriculation.
Students seeking reasonable accommodations or support services while enrolled at SCU can do so through the Student Services Office (SSO). We encourage you to register with SSO as early as possible to allow sufficient time for the approval and notification process.
|Charges from SCU by Term||Charges from Third Parties by Term|
|Term||Tuition*||Program Fees**||EXXAT Fees||MSPA Uniform Scrubs||Petition to Graduate Fee||Clinical Fees (ACLS/BLS)||Medical Equipment||NCCPA Practice Exam||Background Check||Total Term Cost***|
*PA students enrolled in less than 12 credits will be charged on a per-credit basis of $1,298 per unit.
**Program fees listed are for the 2022-2023 academic year and are subject to change. Program fees include charges for technology, malpractice insurance, student health, professional affiliation, and ASB.
***Books, supplies, and other equipment not included in the tuition and fee schedule may be required for this program.
Fees associated with conditional acceptance are the responsibility of the student and include the following:
*The Background Standard package includes all third-party fees other than the New York Statewide (NYOCA) which would be billed to the school, when applicable. The current NYOCA fee as of August 2020 is $95. Please note that this is NOT a Universal Background Screening fee, it is a state of New York fee that is subject to change at any time.
Fees are subject to change
The student will assume the following responsibilities: housing/board, textbooks, laptop computer, medical scrubs.
The majority of clinical rotations, while enrolled in the SCU MSPA Program, are within a 75-mile radius of campus, however, students are expected to travel to rotation sites regardless of distance from campus.
Students are responsible for their transportation, housing, and living expenses during the clinical year. Expenses will vary depending on the location of each rotation site.
$15,571/term* or $108,997 tuition to complete the program
SCU’s distinctive Fixed Rate Tuition Guarantee for degree programs provides students with confidence in planning for their educational investment.
Fixed Tuition Guarantee Benefits:
Some limitations apply. View the Fixed Rate Tuition Program page for more information.
If you would like to learn more about fixed-rate tuition, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at FinancialAid@scuhs.edu.
*Tuition rate reflected above represents the fixed rate for a student entering during the 2022-2023 academic year.
Note: Tuition rates are subject to change and may not be reflected on this website or other SCU materials. Please contact us for the most updated information.
View our application requirements above or fill out a request for information to start speaking with an enrollment advisor today.
Graduate students have a variety of ways to help fund their education. From graduate-dedicated federal loans to specialty grants and scholarships, paying for your education can be easy at SCU. In addition, our distinctive Fixed Rate Tuition Guarantee for degree programs provides students with confidence in planning for their educational investment.
It’s not always possible to come to campus. However, there are a variety of ways to see buildings and spaces, interact with current students, and ask staff questions no matter where you are. Check out our virtual experiences to make connections and learn what it is like to be part of the University.