Top 10 PA Schools in Southern California

Physician Assistants (PA) play an important role in the medical field. So, their knowledge and training must be perfect for the job. Southern California has several schools for Physician Assistant programs. These schools are both in the public and private sectors. Each school has its PA program several features and benefits for the students. Graduates from these schools earn a good living in the USA and all across the world.

Who is a Physician Assistant (PA)?  

A Physician Assistant (PA) is a medical personnel who assists licensed physicians to provide medical care to the patients by helping doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals with a variety of tasks. They are helpful in multiple functions in hospitals and clinical setups.

How can you become a Physician Assistant?

To become a Physician Assistant you need to:

  1. Earn a Bachelor Degree

To become a Physician Assistant you have to earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. A degree in health science provides th3 background knowledge a student needs when pursuing an entry-level position or advanced study. Following undergraduate programs are available:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Healthcare Ethics
  • Statistics
  • Quantitative Methods
  1. Earn a Master’s Degree:

The next step is to obtain a Master’s degree which takes at least two years to be completed before you enter this field. Following options are available for the Master’s program:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Pathology
  • Clinical Medicine
  • Medical Law and Ethics
  • Pharmacology

3.      Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exams (PANCE):

You need to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exams to be an officially certified Physician Assistant. This test is practiced by The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

4.      Obtain a Physician Assistant Licensure:

After passing the PANCE, the candidates are eligible to obtain the Physician Assistant Licensure required for the job.

Relevant Topics:

Best PA Schools in Southern California

To become a Physician Assistant, you have to get the right formal training and experience, and to obtain that, you must enroll yourself in a good PA school. Here is the list of the top 10 PA schools in Southern California along with their program details, tuition fee details, acceptance rate, and admission requirements: 

1. University of Southern California

Top 10 PA Schools in Southern California

Founded in 1911 as a health science school, the University of Southern California is one of the best PA schools in California. This PA school also offers education-related financial assistance to students which is approved and accredited by multiple national and private commissions. 

Total Enrollment: 19,606

Accreditation: ARC-PA

Regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

  • Program Detail: This program consists of 7 terms which are completed in 2 years and 4 months.154 accredited programs and 44 graduates annually. PA Students are taught to learn the cognitive skills required for decision-making and the institute also provides the students with a wide range of educational and clinical resources that contribute to the excellence in training for PA.
  • Tuition Fee: $14,590
  • Duration: 28 months, 7 Terms
  • Acceptance rate: 20%
  • Admission Requirement: To apply for PA in USC you’ll have to get a minimum GPA of at least 3.58. The PA program accepts the Quantitative and Verbal GRE score of not less than 295.
  • Salary expectation: Average annual income of PA is $129,950.

2. Western University of Health Sciences

Western University of Health Sciences was founded as the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific back in 1977. It is one of the best PA schools in Southern California.

Total Enrollment: 31,171

Accreditation: ARC-PA

  • Program Detail: This institution prepares Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPs) graduates for competency in core medical and clinical sciences. It also prepares for interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective exchange of information with patients, families, healthcare providers, professional associates, and the health care system.
  • Tuition Fee: $44,065
  • Duration: 2 years 
  • Acceptance rate: 20%
  • Admission Requirement: You need a bachelor’s degree with a heavy emphasis on science courses with a minimum GPA of 2.5 is essential. To be considered for admission, applicants must achieve a minimum 80% average on six Ontario Grade 12U- or M-level courses, including the required courses.
  • Salary expectation: $113,48

3. Stanford University

Top 10 PA Schools in Southern California

Stanford University is one of the finest institutions and is one of the world’s leading teaching and research institutions. Stanford is one of the best Physician Assistant schools in Southern California. This institution also admits 25 to 30 deserving students into the program each year and offers multiple supports and aids to them. Find out the master’s program at Standford.

Total Enrollment: 16,914

Accreditation: ARC-PA

  • Program Detail: SU offers a 30-month Physician Assistant program that includes courses in stimulation lab, world-class clinical anatomy experience, and patient communication skills.  
  • Tuition Fee: $118, 105
  • Duration: 30-months
  • Acceptance rate: Less than 2%
  • Admission Requirement:

There are two requirements for admission:

  1. A qualifying bachelor’s degree
  2. Completion of the CASPer assessment.
  3. Salary expectation: Range typically falls between $128,357 and $153,742.

4. California Baptist University (CBU)

CBU is one of the top private Christian colleges and also one of the best PA schools in Southern California. This institute is accredited by ARC-PA and is approved by multiple bodies.  

Total Enrollment: 8,109

Accreditation: ARC-PA

  • Program Detail: CBU offers more than 80 majors, more than 150 with major concentrations, and more than 50 minors at the undergraduate level. It also offers more than 30 masters and five doctoral programs at the graduate level.
  • Tuition Fee: $97,380
  • Duration: 2 Years 
  • Acceptance rate: 36.6%
  • Admission Requirement: With a GPA of 3.6, California Baptist University requires you to be above average in your high school class. The GRE or MCAT is not required.
  • Salary expectation: $112,260

5. Marshall B. Ketchum University

Top 10 PA Schools in Southern California

Marshall B. Ketchum is a private, non-profit institution and is known as one of the best PA schools in Southern California. The School of Physician Assistant Studies at Marshall University was founded in 2012. It also offers financial aid to students that help them meet their educational expenses.

Total Enrollment: 739

Accreditation: ARC-PA

  • Program Detail: It offers a 27-month, post-baccalaureate program leading to the degree, Master of Medical Science.   
  • Tuition Fee: $36, 654
  • Duration: 27 months 
  • Acceptance rate: 55%
  • Admission Requirement: Following are the requirements for the PA program at this institution:
  • Overall GPA of 3.0.
  • Science GPA of 3.0.
  • Prerequisite GPA of 3.0.
  • Last 60 hours GPA of 3.0.
  • 1000 hours of verifiable, direct, hands-on patient care experience.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation2 (required)
  • Supplemental Application (available on CASPA)
  • GRE is not required.
  • Salary expectation: It ranges from $99,968-$109,014.

6. Touro University California

Touro University California is a private, non-profit graduate health sciences school and is located on Mare Island in Vallejo, California. TUC dual MSPAs/MPH Program offers financial aid and scholarships to deserving students through the help of the Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA). 

Total Enrollment: 5,520

Accreditation: ARC-PA

  • Program Detail: These schools offer a dual master’s program in the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and a Master of Public Health with the mission of increasing access to quality healthcare.
  • Tuition Fee: $29,141
  • Duration: 33 months 
  • Acceptance rate: Less than 2%
  • Admission Requirement: At a minimum, candidates must obtain Cumulative and Science GPAs of 2.90 or greater. The GRE is not required.
  • Salary expectation: Range: $98k – $144k, Average: $120,197

7. Samuel Merritt University

Samuel Merritt was founded in 1909 as a private, non-profit, health sciences institution with campuses in Oakland, Sacramento, and San Mateo, California. The Physician Assistant program at Samuel Merritt University also offers several educational funds and financial aids. It also helps the students increase their communications skills, and boost up their critical and creative thinking.

Total Enrollment: 2,065

Accreditation: ARC-PA

  • Program Detail: The Master Physician Assistant Department of this institute prepares graduates to be interdependent medical providers, demonstrating a commitment to the community.
  • Tuition Fee: $117,356
  • Duration: 2.5 Years
  • Acceptance rate: Around 2%
  • Admission Requirement: The minimum overall GPA is 3.0 and the institution is focused on candidates having a GPA above 3.2 with a minimum of 1,000 hours of healthcare experience, background, and letters of recommendation.
  • Salary expectation: Hourly Rate for Physician Assistant graduated from this school is: Range:$35 – $45, Average:$40

8. University of California Davis

Top 10 PA Schools in Southern California

The University of California Davis was founded in 1961 and is known to be one of the best PA schools in Southern California located in Davis, California. This institute is committed to providing the best student-centered educational experiences. It also provides several financial aids and is approved by multiple national and private bodies.

Total Enrollment: 39,074

Accreditation: ARC-PA

  • Program Detail:
  • Tuition Fee: $164,925
  • Duration: Vary
  • Acceptance rate: 41.2%
  • Admission Requirement:
  • A bachelor’s degree
  • A minimum bachelor’s-degree GPA of 3.0.
  • A minimum 2.7 GPA in all science prerequisite coursework is required (expected to increase to a 3.0 minimum shortly)
  • Salary expectation: Average UC Davis Health Physician Assistant hourly pay in the United States is approximately $74.78.

9, University of the Pacific, California

The University of the Pacific is a private university that has three campuses located in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Stockton and is known as one of the best PA schools in Southern California.

This institute trains PA students to become proficient in skills such as:

  • Completing medical histories
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Performing clinical skills and procedures
  • Providing treatments
  • Counseling patients

Total Enrollment: 1,758 (Fall 2020)

Accreditation: ARC-PA

  • Program Detail: This PA school offers 114 units in the full-time PA program which consists of 54 didactic and 60 clinical days. It does not provide an online or part-time option.
  • Tuition Fee: $119,252
  • Duration: 27 months
  • Acceptance rate: 66%
  • Admission Requirement:
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • All prerequisite coursework
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Minimum overall science GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Minimum of 1,000 hours of health care experience.
  • Salary expectation: Average $101,664

10. Loma Linda University, California

Loma Linda University (LLU) is a health-sciences institution founded back in 1966 and is located in the Inland Empire of Southern California. LLU is one of the best PA schools in Southern California and is dedicated to providing training for highly skilled and dedicated healthcare professionals. Also, LLU medical school is accredited and approved by various national and private bodies. 

Total Enrollment: 4,514

Accreditation: WASC

  • Program Detail: During the 24-months PA program, this institute prepares students to demonstrate critical thinking and clinical skills in inpatient care settings.
  • Tuition Fee: $56,044
  • Duration: 24-months
  • Acceptance rate: 31.6%
  • Admission Requirement: Following are the requirements:
  • A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours (approximately 1 year of full-time work) of hands-on paid patient care experience before entering the program.
  • An overall GPA of at least 3.0 or higher and a science GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Salary expectation: Range: $57,940-$118,904.

About The Author

Hassan Zaka

I am an experienced technical writer with an ACCA qualification. I have written on various topics including finance, business, and technology. My writing style is clear and simple, and I am skilled in using infographics and diagrams.

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