Top 10 PA Schools in California in 2024

By | February 13, 2024

California is the most populous state in the US, with a population of 39.1 million people. It is known for its sunny beaches, Hollywood glamor, and Silicon Valley innovation. California also has a diverse economy that ranks among the largest in the world. There are many factors to consider when choosing which public health school to attend. For example: location, cost of attendance, curriculum, student body diversity, and more. Here’s a list of our top 10 picks for public health schools in California:

10 Best PA Schools in California in 2022

If you’re an aspiring PA and you’re looking for a school to send your application, then consider one of these California based schools.
There are many benefits to attending PA school in the state where you plan on practicing. You will be able to learn about the culture and healthcare system of your future work location while being close to home. The schools listed below offer excellent programs, competitive programs, and provide resources tailored specifically for those interested in becoming a practicing PA in California.


You are considering attending a PA school in California and you want to know which school would be the best fit for you. You’re not alone; there are many different factors that will help you decide which school is right for you. From location and the cost of tuition, to if it has the program that you want, this article will help guide you through your decision. This article will also compare some of the best schools in California with what they have to offer.

Is it hard to get into PA school in California?

In order to obtain a PA license in California, you must first complete a graduate degree and then take the PANCE exam. The PANCE is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). If you’re interested in being a PA, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. This article will discuss some of the difficulties that come with applying for PA school in California.

With the rising cost of medical school, more and more people are considering becoming a physician assistant instead. There’s no doubt that becoming a physician assistant is a great opportunity. The average starting salary for a physician assistant is $120,000. PAs work in all sorts of areas: emergency rooms, clinics, hospitals and much more.
If you’re thinking about PA school in California, here are some things to consider before making the leap:

Who is a Physician Assistant?

The role of physicians is very essential in the health sector but, they cannot handle all the tasks alone that is why there is a need for physician assistants.


A physician assistant is a medical personnel who works with licensed physicians to provide medical care to patients by helping doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals with a wide variety of tasks. They serve multiple functions that help the hospital or clinic function efficiently.

Related: Learn About Being a Physician Assistant

To help the doctor perform their work, a physician assistant will review patients’ medical information, conduct basic examinations, write prescriptions, or monitor patients in medical facilities, give treatment, and educate or counsel patients according to their needs. While doctors perform the diagnosis and create a treatment plan, physician assistants conduct these tasks depending on the specific job.

In addition, a physician assistant will work in all areas of medicine, from primary care to emergency service and psychiatry. The amount of work they put in, and the amount of oversight needed from physicians, will vary depending on the job and state or regional regulations.

Why Become a Physician Assistant?

Physician assistants play a key role in balancing the health sector through the constant use of their professional services. Their versatility makes it easy for them to practice and be fully involved in any health care system as they can function in areas like pathology, dermatology, and cardiothoracic medicine.

The ability to work in different settings and environments makes it interesting for you as a physician assistant. You get to take some time off as you wouldn’t always be on call 24/7. And you’re not always scared of getting a call to come for an emergency at this time.

As a PA, you get paid well for your contribution to the medical industry. On average, a PA’s median salary is about $105,000. Although factors such as age, experience, and location can tweak the figures, you still earn enough to take care of your responsibilities.

Conclusively, the knowledge of not getting emergency calls and making good money don’t compare to the fulfillment that comes from this role. The joy on the faces of a family when you play a key role in resuscitating one of their loved ones or providing professional counsel and guidance on how they can recover their health is orgasmic. You can always make money and impact as a physician assistant.

How can I become a Physician Assistant?

Earn a Bachelor Degree

The first step to becoming a Physician Assistant is to earn a bachelor’s degree in an accredited institution. Though prospective physician assistants can major in any area, a degree in health science provides the background knowledge needed when pursuing entry-level positions or advanced study. The undergraduate program available include the following:
> Medical Terminology
> Statistics
> Healthcare Ethics
> Quantitative Methods

10 Best PA Schools in California in 2022

California has a few great options for future PAs. With so many colleges and universities in the golden state, you might be feeling overwhelmed with the number of PA schools to choose from. It’s important to do your research and know what you want out of your PA program before applying. We compiled a list of the top 10 PA schools in California that are worth looking into. You can find more information on each school on our website, including links to their websites, admissions statistics, and alumni reviews.

The Physician assistant studies available are mostly 2-year degree programs at a graduate level in various public and private universities although you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in medical-related fields and experience to qualify to enroll in the master’s program.

Apparently, only a few physician assistant programs in California community colleges are available at the certificate degree level. Also, note that all the schools in this publication are approved PA programs in California.

Below is the overview of 10 accredited best PA schools in California ranking, requirements tuition and program Duration for each school respectively.

1. California Baptist University

Tuition Accreditation Duration
$97,380 ARC-PA 2

California Baptist University (CBU) was founded in 1950. The school is one of the top private Christian colleges and universities and also one of the best pa schools in Southern California.

CBU is one of the best PA schools that offers more than 80 majors, with more than 150 major concentrations, and more than 50 minors at the undergraduate level. Also, offers more than 30 masters and five doctoral programs at the graduate level.

In addition, the institution is approved and accredited by ARC-PA for the Physician Assistance studies and generally approves by the following bodies.

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
  • Board of Behavioral Science Examiners
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • National Association of Schools of Music
  • State of California Board of Registered Nursing
  • Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education
  • Board of Registered Nurses
  • American Council for Construction Education

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2. Southern California University

Tuition Accreditation Duration
$14,590 ARC-PA 28 months

Standard University is well known as one of the best PA schools in California and was founded in 1911 as a health science school.

SCU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The school offers education-related financial assistance opportunities(direct loans and scholarships ) to students in order to cover their educational expenses.

the institution is generally approved and accredited by the following commissions.

  • Doctor of Chiropractic Degree Program Accreditation
  • Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Program Accreditation
  • Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Program Accreditation
  • Master of Science: Physician Assistant Accreditation
  • Ayurveda Certificate Program Accreditation

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3. Western University of Health Sciences

Tuition Accreditation Years
$44,065.00 ARC-PA 2-years,

Western University of Health Sciences was founded in 1977 as the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific and is one of the best PA schools in Califonia.

WesternU prepares Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) graduates for competency in core medical and clinical sciences, interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, families, health care providers, professional associates, and the health care system.

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4. Marshall B. Ketchum University

Tuition Accreditation Years
$36,654 ARC-PA 27-month

Marshall B. Ketchum University is a private, non-profit educational institution and is well known as one of the best PA schools in Califonia ranking high.

Correspondingly, the School of Physician Assistant Studies at Marshall B. Ketchum University was founded in 2012 and offers a 27-month, post-baccalaureate program leading to the degree, Master of Medical Science.

Also, the student-teacher ratio in MBKU PA school is 8:1 and that has given a collegial atmosphere making the school qualify as one of the best PA schools in Califonia.

In addition, the institution provides financial aids to students that will help meet their educational expenses necessary to achieve their career goal of becoming outstanding Physician Assistants (PAs).

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5. Samuel Merritt University

Tuition Accreditation Duration
$117,356 ARC-PA 2 and a half years

Samuel Merritt University was founded in 1909 as a private, not-for-profit, health sciences institution with campuses in Oakland, Sacramento, and San Mateo, California.

The Master Physician Assistant Department at Samuel Merritt University prepares graduates to be interdependent medical providers, demonstrate commitment to the community and the profession through active leadership, manifest critical and creative thinking, and utilize effective communication skills.

Additionally, the Physician Assistant program at Samuel Merritt University offers a variety of educational funding to students including scholarships, work-study, and student loans.

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6. Touro University California

Tuition Accreditation Duration
 $29,141 ARC-PA 33 months

Touro University California is a private graduate health science school and located on Mare Island in Vallejo, California.

The 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.

TUC dual MSPAS/MPH Program awards financial aids and scholarships to the Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program through the assistance of the Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA). Their program mission includes:

  • Educating quality Physician Assistants to work with underserved populations.
  • To Recruit candidates or individuals with a demonstrated interest in serving these communities.
  • Increase access to care for underserved populations.

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7. University of California Davis

Tuition Accreditation Duration
$164,925 ARC-PA vary

The University of California Davis was founded in 1961 and is one of the world’s leading physician assistant schools and teaching institutions, located in Davis, California.

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the best physician assistant schools in California, one that is committed to providing the best in student-centered educational experiences.

In addition, the school offers several sources of educational funding including scholarships, loans program, and short-term loans to their students. Also, note that the tuition posted here are estimated based on currently approved amounts and are subject to change.

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8. University of the Pacific 

Tuition Accreditation Duration
$119,252 ARC-PA 27-month

The University of the Pacific is one of the best Pa schools in Califonia. it is a private university that has three campuses located in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Stockton.

The school offers 114 units in the full-time PA program which consists of 54 didactic and 60 clinical and does not offer an online or part-time option.

Pacific trains the PA students to become proficient in skills such as completing medical histories, performing physical examinations, performing clinical skills and procedures, providing treatment, and counseling patients.

Additionally, the school acceptance and graduation rate are 66% and 72% respectively and offer an average cost-after-aid of $31,000.

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9. Loma Linda University

Tuition Accreditation Duration
$56,044 WASC 24-month

Loma Linda University (LLU) is a Seventh-day Adventist educational health-sciences institution located in the Inland Empire of Southern California. LLU medical school was founded in 1966. The school is one of the best PA schools in California and is dedicated to training highly skilled and dedicated healthcare professionals from diverse religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.

The school prepares students to demonstrate critical-thinking and clinical skills in patient care settings by applying the basic sciences to physician assistant sciences. Also to demonstrate a commitment to making the best out of the physician assistant and general medical profession.

In addition, the LLU medical school is accredited and approved by the various bodies listed below.

  • Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRCE-DMS)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)
  • The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
  • Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
  •  Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
  •  National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE), in collaboration with the
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  •  Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
  • California Department of Public Health (CDPH)
  • Laboratory Field Services (LFS)

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10. Standford University

Tuition Accreditation Duration
$118,105 30-month

Stanford University was established in 1891. it is one of the world’s leading teaching and research institutions and also one of the best physician assistant schools in Califonia.

However, the physician assistant studies at SU is a 30-month program that includes courses in stimulation lab, and world-class clinical anatomy experiences as well as early exposure to patient care.

In addition, the school admits between 25 and 30 students into the program each year and offers the following support to them.

  • School/Life Balance Support
  • Academic Support
  • Accessibility Support
  • Student Life and Wellness Advising
  • Career Support
  • Children and Families Support
  • Dispute Resolution and Legal Issues Support
  • Financial and Administrative Support and Assistance
  • Health and Counseling Resources
  • Housing

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How Much is the Physician Assitant Salary and Job Outlook?

Data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics show that the median annual wage for physician assistants was $108,610 in May 2018. Correspondingly, the employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 31 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

In addition, Physician assistants work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, clinics, schools, outpatients and other healthcare Agencies.


The role of a physician assistant is vital to the medical profession. while the physician diagnoses diseases, the PA provides preventive and health maintenance services.

The essential attributes of the 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.

However, before you can become a PA, you need to first earn a bachelor’s degree in any medical-related discipline in an accredited college or university. Secondly, you have to obtain a master’s degree in a similar discipline, and finally, obtain licensure after passing the required examinations.

However, if you will love to study in the United States, you can enroll in any of the accredited best PA schools in California including the University of the Pacific, University of California Davis, Samuel Merritt University, and Marshall B. Ketchum among others.


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