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 or volunteer work, has health care experience and understands the PA profession. Proficiency in a second language is also highly valued.

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 are required.  To gain hours, candidates typically work in one of the following positions:  emergency medical technician, licensed vocational nurse, medical technologist, military medical corpsman, paramedic, psychiatric technician, radiology technician, respiratory therapist, health educator, registered nurse, medical assistant (back office) or surgical tech. Other health care experience is equally acceptable as long as the clinical experience is hands-on in nature. It is important that PA applicants are familiar with medical care environments. Direct patient interaction and 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.

California vs. Out of State Applicant?

For the Class of 2020, 85% were in-state applicants while 15% were out-of-state. The Program is not required, however, to matriculate a certain percentage of California residents.

Does speaking a second language help?

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

Does the program value PA shadowing?

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

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 the lectures. Those that require small group work, for example when learning how to perform physical exams, 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 average 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 JUST a PA program, or do you only have a joint MPH and MSPAS program? What are the differences in length/pre-requisites if you do have just a MSPAS program?

No, we do not offer an independent PA program.

What is the current cost of tuition?

Current tuition for the Class of 2022 is $137,120 for the three year program.  While a significant increase for fall 2020 is not expected, the University reserves the right to increase tuition with or without notice. 

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). Students will be required to move (relocate) during their clinical year experiences.

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.