10 Best Physician Assistant Schools in California 2024


Physician assistants work hand-in-hand with doctors and nurses to run check-ups on patients, diagnose them, prescribe necessary treatment, and ensure their general well-being.

PAs are also integral to clinical procedures like delivery, surgery, emergencies, and other operations. You can say that doctors cannot do without PAs. 


Interestingly, being a PA gives you more exposure than regular physicians because you can explore different healthcare aspects, thus, becoming more versatile.

In short, a PA can work in different medical fields, from drug prescriptions and patient check-ups to emergency treatment and surgeries – and more!


In California, several hospitals regularly employ PAs because they’re beneficial. However, to become a PA in California, you’ve got to be trained in an approved PA school.

We’ve compiled a list of California’s 10 best physician assistant schools. Besides our best 10 lists, we’ll take you through sub-topics and questions related to PA schools in California.

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Are There Physician Assistant Schools in California?

California is one of the most suitable places to venture into medical practices. The state houses several medical schools where interested students are groomed to be professional healthcare providers. As such, it’s unsurprising that some schools offer physician assistant programs in California. 

How Do I Get into A Physician Assistant School in California?

Criteria for getting into PA schools include earning a bachelor’s degree in any health-related field. During this time, your GPA mustn’t be lower than 3.0.

In addition, you are expected to submit your letters of recommendation and your statement ready. 

You must submit proof of shadowing experience with a licensed physician assistant. Also, some PA schools might require that you should’ve gained at least 2000 hours of direct clinical experience. Although not all schools require applicants to take the GRE, you can increase your chances by submitting your GRE score. 

How Long Are Physician Assistant Schools in California?

PA schools in California take up to three years before completion. The programs are designed as physical classes that hold five times a week. However, classes and clinical sessions might hold on weekends.

Best Physician Assistant Schools in California

Read on for a list of the 10 best PA schools in California. These schools have unique histories and excellent academic records. As such, they’re great choices for to-be physician assistants. They include:

#1. California Baptist University

Abbreviated as CBU, California Baptist University is a top-class Christian University that offers professional majors at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school’s government-approved, accredited by ARC-PA, and sought after by many students.

At the Riverside-based school, to-be PAs are groomed to become professionals in practice and committed and compassionate graduates. The school has modern-day laboratories and varied learning opportunities where students can learn from and with those from other medical programs.

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#2. Touro University

Touro University is the only university in California to combine two Master’s programs into one package; this means that you can earn two Master’s degrees simultaneously, and that’s a huge advantage. The school’s located in Vallejo, CA, where both classroom drills and clinical sessions are comprehensive. The program’s duration is two years and is handled by well-versed teachers, some of who are in-practice PAs.

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#3. University of California – Davis

For over 35 years, the Davis-based University has provided quality training to students interested in the PA career. The program’s a full-time, five-day-a-week intensive medical training – weekends can be engaging too.

You’ll be taken through leadership, primary healthcare, and clinical ethics at the school. Also, you’ll be taught how to diagnose patients, conduct researches, handle emergencies, and perform surgeries. Finally, you’ll manage supervised projects that qualify you as a PA.

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#4. Loma Linda University

The PA program at Loma Linda is top-notch and considerate about the less-privileged population. As such, students are encouraged to focus more on ensuring the health of local and international residents of underserved areas.

The program’s duration is about two years. During this time, you’ll be trained in aspects like women’s and children’s health, anatomy, medical ethics, and mental well-being. Afterward, you’ll be exposed to real-life cases where your skills will be developed or built.

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#5. Stanford University

The PA program at Stanford University in Stanford, CA, prepares you for real-life healthcare provision through comprehensive simulation learning and intensive classroom drills. The school has state-of-the-art medical facilities that help disseminate information faster and more efficiently, creating long-lasting effects on to-be PAs.

Theory and practice are what the school believes. As such, you will learn about emergencies, neuro-related sciences, surgeries, or clinical ethics; you’ll surely try your hands on them. This way, you’ll become a professional physician assistant in no time.

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#6. Western University of Health Sciences

Here, you’ll receive detailed training and proper guidance on what the PA career entails. The Pomona-based school promotes diversity by allowing students to tap into various experiences like volunteering, clinical, and student clubs. So far, the school has maintained its ranking among the best in California, having consistently high pass rates in PANCE.

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#7. Samuel Meritt University

With facilities like a cadaver lab and simulation tech, this Oakland-based university ensures that students are proficient in the practice. The teachers are certified, expert-level tutors who offer students experience, skill, and knowledge. Also, the schools train students in areas like diagnosis, family health, emergency treatments, and ethics.

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#8. University of the Pacific

If you’re seeking to learn at a school with a high PANCE pass rate, the University of the Pacific is a great choice. The Stockton-based program requires you to complete courses in physical sciences, psychology, and other aspects. Afterward, you’ll embark on a year of detailed teachings. Then, through student-oriented facilities, you must take up clinical rotations to build on your skills as you advance in your PA career.

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#9. Marshall B. Ketchum University

Undoubtedly, this school’s PA program is top-class because of the small student-teacher ratio, which gives room for unrivaled teachers’ attention and easy student assimilation. The school’s located in Fullerton, CA, where you’ll gain vast knowledge in different clinical areas. You’ll be taught a lot, from ethics, diagnosis, and drug prescription to research and emergency treatment at this school.

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#10. Southern California University of Health Sciences

Within two years of intensive in-class and clinical training, the Southern Carolina University of Health Sciences grooms potential PAs into experts in patient care. The school, located in Whittier, CA, allows students to be exposed to various medical practices and equipment usage.

The program covers aspects ranging from diagnosis, anatomy, and imaging to family health, emergency treatments, and surgeries.

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What Are the Easiest PA Schools to Get into in California?

While all physician assistant schools in California have procedures before admissions can occur, some are easier to get into than the rest. Simply put, some PA schools in California have higher acceptance rates than others. So, if you’re interested in knowing the most accessible PA schools in California, they include:

  • Samuel Meritt University 
  • University of California – Davis
  • Touro University

What Are the Cheapest PA Schools in California?

Unlike others, some physician assistant schools in California are cheap so you can get the approved PA courses for less. Since every PA school seeks to build a good reputation, you can rest assured that you’re getting nothing lesser than quality. The following are the cheapest physician assistant schools in California:

  • Marshall B. Ketchum University
  • Touro University
  • Southern California University of Health Sciences

Can PAs Practice Independently in California?

No! A PA in California cannot practice independently. Instead, you can operate in a setting where there’s a supervising physician. The physician must be licensed to monitor the PA’s activities and responsible for every patient in the PA’s care.

How Much Does A Physician Assistant Make in California?

Typically, the salary range of a PA in California falls between $116,574 and $139,627. You should note that, as a PA, your salary might depend on criteria like educational achievements, experience level, and additional skills.

Physician Assistant Schools in California That Don’t Require GRE

With many criteria to meet, the thought of sitting for the GRE mightn’t be so exciting. Some students don’t do pretty well in standardized tests; others don’t have time to study. Regardless of your reason, some accredited PA schools in California don’t require GRE in their admission processes. They include:

  • California Baptist University
  • California State University Monterey Bay
  • Charles R. Drew University
  • Dominican University of California
  • Loma Linda University

Are There PA Master’s Programs in California?

Yes, there are PA Master’s programs in California. However, unlike other California-based universities, Touro University offers two Master’s Degrees in one program. At the school, students can earn Master’s Degrees in Physician Assistant Studies and Public Health; thus, solidifying their certification.

Are There Online PA Courses in California for International Students?

Yes, there are PA Master’s programs in California. However, Touro University offers two Master’s Degrees in one program, unlike other California-based universities. At the school, students can earn Master’s Degrees in Physician Assistant Studies and Public Health, thus, solidifying their certification.

How To Become A PA in California

Firstly, you must be fully prepared for life at an accredited PA school. Before you get accepted, your details must be complete and convincing. When accepted, you’re to gain as much experience as possible – classroom and practical. 

Afterward, it would be best if you took the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). You can apply to the Physician Assistant Board in California upon passing the exam. Should you obtain your license, you should maintain its validity by abstaining from practices that can get it suspended or lost.

Physician Assistant Certification Council of California

The Physician Assistant Board (PAB) in California oversees the enlightenment and protection of consumers by ensuring that only certified PAs operate in the state. The board coordinates activities related to license processing for to-be physician assistants. In addition, the PAB accredits PA programs in the state. As such, they issue licenses to PAs who complete training programs at approved schools in California.


How Long Does California PA License Last?

Any medical license in California lasts only two years. As such, a valid PA license becomes invalid on the expiration date. And it’s illegal to operate with an invalid license. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law.

What Should I Expect in the PANCE Exam?

If you plan to take the PANCE exam, you should expect 300 multiple-choice questions. The 300 questions, however, are divided into five sections containing 60 questions each. An hour is allocated to each section, although you’ll have about 45 minutes of breaks between the components.

How Many Are PA Schools in California?

There are over 14 schools in California where students can be groomed to become professional PAs. These schools offer quality training to students and ensure that at the end of the training, students have gained various applicable experiences.


Becoming a professional PA requires thorough training from schools where tutors bring their clinical experiences to the table. From hands-on to in-lab training, PA schools in California equip you with the skills necessary for a smooth PA career. Through this article, we hope you find a great choice among California’s best physician assistant schools.


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