Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Application Information 

What does the Joint Program consider to be a qualified applicant?

A qualified applicant has a solid academic record with demonstrated commitment and understanding of the program mission, as evidenced through community service, volunteer work, and/or healthcare experience.  A strong understanding of the PA role and profession and proficiency in a language other than English are also highly valued. With regard to academics, we review prerequisite coursework and trends in grades over time to look at overall improvement.

For more information about application review considerations, please visit our Admissions Process page.

It's been quite some time since I submitted my application and I haven't heard back.  Am I still being considered?

During peak application periods, the CASPA process may take from 4 to 8 weeks before your application is released to programs.  Applications received from CASPA are generally reviewed within 2 to 4 weeks to determine initial eligibility (i.e., to make sure that minimum requirements have been satisfied) and applicants are notified accordingly.  Review timelines may be longer during periods of high volume (mid-September through mid-December).

Eligible applicants are then invited to interview on a space available basis.  Applicants may be invited to interview at any time between September and May and not all applicants be invited to interview. 

I would like to know how I compare to the students you typically admit.  What are the demographics of the most recent entering class?

Class demographics are posted to our Demographics page.

What is the average amount of health care experience of a qualified applicant?

1,000 hours of Patient Care Experience (PCE) is our minimum requirement.  To gain these hours, candidates typically work in one of the following positions:  medical assistant (back office), medical technologist, military medical corpsman, psychiatric technician, radiology technician, respiratory therapist, registered dietitian, nurse (RN or LVN), emergency medical technician, paramedic, or surgical tech. Other health care experience is equally acceptable as long as the clinical experience is direct patient care. It is important that PA applicants are familiar with medical care environments, clinic workflows, and the general U.S. healthcare system.  Direct patient interaction and care in which you are responsible for making decisions regarding patient medical care is strongly encouraged.

Do you offer any tools for me to assessment my chances at gaining acceptance to this program?

Yes.  An Applicant Assessment Questionnaire is available to assist you with carefully examining your applicant portfolio.

Does the program give preference to in-state applicants?

As a private institution, we do not have any mandate stipulating a certain percentage of in-state students.  The program does enroll a large number of California residents (refer to Program Demographics) but that is a function of the applicant pool, which includes a large majority of California applicants.

Does speaking a second language help?

Proficiency in Spanish or other foreign languages is highly recommended for practice as a PA and as such, is considered an advantage for an applicant.

Does the program value PA shadowing?

Yes. Shadowing a PA in person gives the applicant true insight to the role of a PA in a healthcare team, as well as the expectations and responsibilities of that role.

Is it possible to take just the coursework for the MSPAS degree and not the MPH degree?

No.  As a joint program, all our students must complete coursework for both degrees.  Our goal is to fill each cohort with applicants who are very interested in both fields of study.

I have earned or I will be earning a MPH degree before applying to PA programs.  Am I eligible to apply to this program after previously earning a MPH degree?

No.  The Joint Program does not award credit for coursework completed prior to enrollment. Designed as a joint MSPAS/MPH curriculum, applicants who already hold a MPH degree are not eligible to apply to this program.

Do you have any collaborative arrangements with other institutions regarding the admissions process?

Yes.  Memorandums of Understanding (MOU's) exist with various institutions serving as pipelines for underrepresented and disadvantaged students to enter our joint MSPAS/MPH program with a goal of increasing diversity within the PA profession. 

Currently, we have MOU's with the following partners:

  • San Francisco State University
  • CA Army National Guard
  • TUC MSMHS program

Program Information

What is the teacher to student ratio in most classes I would be taking if I were in the PA program?

All courses have a faculty course coordinator and many have outside speakers providing lectures. Those that require small group work, for example when learning how to perform physical exams or practicing EKGs, have 1 faculty member for each group of 6-8 students.

How is it possible to get both a MPH and a MSPAS in 33 months, when other schools only give a MSPAS in the same amount of time? Do you learn everything that other students learn in different programs at different schools? Is it a much more rigorous program since at the end students are awarded two masters?

The median length of a PA program is 27 months, so our students complete two rigorous programs and receive two master’s degrees (an MPH as well as the MSPAS) in an additional six months of training. Although a number of other PA programs offer the option of getting an MPH, we are the only program where all students earn both degrees. Students receive their MPH training through the TUC Public Health Program. Twelve credits are awarded through the PA training, with an additional 30 credits of PH course work. See the Public Health website for details.

Our students go through a complete PA training course, and as with any other PA program we are accredited by the ARC-PA. The PA education that the students receive is rigorous and thorough, as evidenced by the success of our alumni as PAs and by their pass rates on the PANCE.

Is it more rigorous? Our students earn 144.5 semester hour credits in 33 months.  By contrast, the average PA program requires 108 semester hour credits in ~27 months.

Do you have a standalone PA program?

No, we do not offer a standalone PA program.  All students must complete both the MSPAS and MPH degrees.

What is the current cost of tuition?

Tuition and cost of living figures may be reviewed by visiting the Financial Aid Cost of Living page.  

Do you have any additional information graduation rates, PANCE pass rates, or other information?

Additional information regarding the program may be found on the Essential Information page.

Clinical Rotation Information

If accepted to the Program, do I get to choose the location of my clinical rotations?

The program's priority is ensuring every student receives a quality clinical educational experience as well as appropriate clinical exposure in each of the required rotations. Given the nature of clinical training sites and program accreditation requirements, the program places all students in the clinical year. Consistent with the program mission, the majority of clinical sites are located throughout California (i.e., Central Valley, Los Angeles, Northern California), although we do have long standing relationships with clinics in states like Arizona, Oregon, Texas, and New York. Students will be required to move (relocate) during their clinical year experiences at least 3 times, per the current Clinical Year Handbook. We specifically recruit sites in rural and underserved areas, consistent with our mission. Anything located within 100 miles from our campus in Vallejo is considered local in our policy. Just before clinical year, students do meet with the Clinical Year team to note preferences, locations where they may have secure housing, and clinical interests to help determine placements. Students may also refer the Clinical Year team to new sites where they may have a connection, although the process of setting up a legal affiliate agreement between TUC and the said clinician or site is not quick and is never guaranteed.

Does the program cover the cost of moving and clinical year rotations?

No. The clinical year cost is factored in with total tuition cost of the program. The Office of Financial Aid calculates cost of the clinical year when making a determination of financial aid need including moving expenses, travel, and living expenses.

Where do the students do their clinical hours during the program? What hospitals?

The Program has over 200 clinical rotations, including hospitals, the majority of which are in California. The Program continually works on recruiting new sites.