7 Terms | 2 Years and 4 Months
Fall: September 5th, 2023
Become a highly trained clinical provider at the first Physician Assistant (PA) program with an integrative education. Through a whole-person approach, students learn to use science and evidence-based research to provide patient care alongside other disciplines, including SCU’s Chiropractic and Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine programs. Physician Assistants are in high demand and enjoy careers that are rewarding both personally and professionally. U.S. News & World Report ranked Physician Assistant among the top five Best Jobs overall and #2 in Best Health Care Jobs.
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 Health System provides care to over 45,000 patients per year. The University Heath Center 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, Radiation Oncology, Pain Management, Plastic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Urology, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Endocrinology, Interventional Radiology, Pediatric Allergy/Immunology, Critical Care, and Urgent Care.
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.
Physician Assistants (PAs) are healthcare providers who are nationally certified and state-licensed to practice medicine and prescribe medication in every medical and surgical specialty and setting. PAs practice and prescribe in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories. PAs are educated at the graduate level, with most PAs receiving a master’s degree or higher.
Physician Assistants (PAs) are academically and clinically prepared to practice medicine on collaborative medical teams. The collaborative medical team is fundamental to the PA profession and enhances the delivery of high-quality health care. Within the collaborative medical team, PAs are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider.
The role of the PA demands intelligence, sound judgment, intellectual honesty, appropriate interpersonal skills, and the capacity to respond to emergencies in a calm and reasoned manner. Essential attributes of the graduate PA include an attitude of respect for self and others, adherence to the concepts of privilege and confidentiality in communicating with patients, and a commitment to the patient’s welfare.
With thousands of hours of medical training, PAs are versatile and collaborative. PAs practice in every state and in every medical setting and specialty, improving healthcare access and quality. The clinical role of PAs includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practice settings. PAs may also work in the areas of medical education, health administration, and research.
*Portions of the above text are taken from Accreditation Standards for Physician Assistant Education, Fifth Edition, ARC-PA, page 3, 2019.
SCU’s MSPA Program offers a flexible learning experience that combines online interactive and on-campus learning. During the didactic portion of the program, students can participate in online interactive instruction from the comfort of their homes, with only 1-2 days per week dedicated to on-campus labs. This allows students to save on travel time and provides the convenience of studying from home while still benefiting from hands-on learning opportunities on campus. Once students transition to the clinical year, all learning is conducted in person for clinical rotations.
The MSPA Program is dedicated to participating in service opportunities. With the assistance of our PA Student Society representatives and leadership, our students are encouraged to provide service in the community, participate in health fairs, volunteer time to pre-PA student clubs, and provide outreach alongside other healthcare workers, with a focus in underserved areas. Our faculty members actively support our students in this effort, as we believe that service is a vital part of promoting our mission here at SCU.
The MSPA Professionalism Honors Program acknowledges motivated students who maintain professionalism honors status throughout the duration of the program. If accomplished, upon graduation the student will be awarded a letter of acknowledgement from the Program Director which can be presented to a prospective employer as evidence of that student’s dedication and regard for professionalism in medicine.
SCU’s MSPA Program is unique in that we offer a PANCE Preparedness Program. Each student receives a customized report of strengths and areas in need of improvement, a personal study plan, one-on-one tutoring and mentorship up to the date of their exam. This program extends even after graduation and is one of the many ways we support our students!
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.
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 Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) accredited program, graduates are eligible to sit for the professional board exam given by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). 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 Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) certificate to prescribe controlled medication. SCU’s Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) 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 a Master of Science: Physician Assistant (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 Physician Assistants within its jurisdiction. The American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) maintains a list of licensing boards at their website.
Please note that licensure requirements are always subject to change. Although Southern California University of Health Sciences (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.
Upon program completion and successfully passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), students are eligible to apply for licensure in their desired state. Licensing requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and may require a background check and/or other additional steps. Information about state-specific licensing requirements can be found on the American Academy of Physician Associates’ (AAPA) website.
To practice medicine within the designated scope of practice and have services reimbursed by third-party payors, graduates may be required to have the following:
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.
The 2023-2024 application cycle for our program opens on April 27, 2023, and closes on January 15, 2024, for applicants who wish to matriculate with our next cohort on September 3, 2024. Applications must be submitted and verified through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) by January 15, 2024.
Applications must have all admissions requirements completed at the time of submission except for pending prerequisite courses and in-progress degrees. Applications submitted with pending prerequisite courses will not be reviewed until official transcripts are received. All transcripts, including Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) score reports, must be received by January 15, 2024. 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 no later than August 31, 2024.
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, 2024, 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. Applications may be submitted with pending prerequisite courses; however, your application will not be reviewed until the official transcript for each pending course is received. Official transcripts verifying successful course completion must be received by January 15, 2024.
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. Online courses are accepted. Credit requirements are inclusive of quarter and semester credits. No quarter-to-semester credit conversion is applied. One course cannot be used to fulfill multiple prerequisites. Repeated courses cannot be used to fulfill additional credit requirements for prerequisite courses.
Prerequisites in the core sciences must have been completed within the last seven years (2016 to present). Introductory core science courses are accepted, but upper-level courses are preferred. A laboratory component is not required but is strongly recommended.
*Combination human anatomy & physiology courses are accepted; however, you cannot use the same course to fulfill both requirements (exceptions include 8-credit combination courses). If the word “Human” is not included in the course title, a course description or syllabus from the term the course was taken must demonstrate a human focus to be considered.
Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) credits will be accepted to fulfill the Mathematics, Psychology, English Composition, and Statistics prerequisites only. You must receive a score of 3 or above on an AP or IB exam to receive credit for the applicable prerequisite course(s). If this score is not noted on your official college or university transcript, you must request an official score report from the College Board or International Baccalaureate Organization which must be received by January 15, 2024. Prerequisite courses cannot be fulfilled through the College-Level Examination Program or certificate courses.
*Any course without “Composition” in the title must be a writing-intensive course that includes instruction on comprehension, investigation, evaluation, explanation, and refutation. A course description or syllabus from the term the course was taken must demonstrate the above to be considered.
A total of 2,000 paid hours of healthcare experience are required at the time of application submission. Updates to experiences will not be accepted after submission. Please note that experiences marked as both paid and volunteer will not be accepted.
Experiences 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. The MSPA Program will accept updates to the core science prerequisite GPA up to the application deadline.
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. Clarification regarding your application may be requested via email. If we request clarification of any items on your application, you will have 30 days to respond to our request. If you do not respond via email within 30 days your application will be denied.
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 may result in applicant denial, recension of an enrollment offer, or administrative withdrawal from the program. 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:
Students enrolled in the Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences (BSHS) or Master of Science in Medical Science (MSMS) programs are preferentially provided an interview with the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program if they meet all minimum admissions requirements as outlined above and fulfill the following additional requirements at the time their application is reviewed:
Please note that preferential interviews are only provided for the application cycle during which the student is in the applicable program with an anticipated degree completion date of August 31 in the year of anticipated matriculation, as well as the cycle immediately after graduation. Additional preferential interviews will not be granted after this period and applicants will be reviewed as part of the general application pool for an interview in future application cycles. Being invited for an interview as a BSHS or MSMS student does not guarantee acceptance into the MSPA Program. If an applicant is accepted after a preferential interview, matriculation into the MSPA Program is contingent upon the successful completion of the BSHS or MSMS program at SCU.
*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||Background Check||Total Term Cost***|
*PA students enrolled in less than 12 credits will be charged on a per-credit basis of $1,377 per credit.
**Program fees listed are for the 2023-2024 academic year and are subject to change. Program fees include charges for technology, malpractice insurance, student health, professional affiliation, National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) practice exam(s), fit testing, and the Associated Study Body (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 standard background check 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 2023 is $98. Please note this is not a Universal background check 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.
$16,530/term* or $115,710 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 2023-2024 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.
Licensed Physician Assistants (PAs) can choose to work in private practices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, surgical centers, community health centers, nursing homes, and mental health facilities. PAs can also choose to work in non-clinical roles, such as in administrative, educational, and research settings. Some PAs decide to work as patient care providers for the military.
PAs can build unique career trajectories around their interests and professional preferences. Some work in family medicine or acute care, while others work in oncology, pediatrics, radiology or even surgery, where they assist during procedures and provide post-surgical care. PAs can transition between specialty areas of medicine.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. may face a shortage of over 120,000 physicians by 2032. PAs may help bridge the gap as one of the fastest growing professions in the country. Nearly 40,000 new PA jobs will be created over the next 10 years—a growth rate of 28%.
One of the top jobs in the country
U.S. News & World Report named PA one of the top jobs in the U.S. in 2023.
The PA pathway offers great versatility in your career. While each specialty has distinct practice guidelines, PAs are qualified to work in all of them when licensed. PAs are not required to recertify in order to change specialties or work in new settings. This means you can launch a career you love and then pivot if you discover a new area of interest. You might go from Emergency Medicine, for example, to Family Practice.
PAs have a measurable impact on patients and health systems. Physician Assistants play a crucial role in providing health care to underserved patient populations (e.g., the uninsured, rural-dwelling individuals) and will likely provide even greater access to care in the future. In some areas of the United States, PAs are the only licensed healthcare providers in the surrounding region.
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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.