Master in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

Become a Physician Assistant, ranked third by U.S. News and World Report's 100 Best Jobs of 2020 and second for Best Healthcare Jobs of 2020. Learn the practice of medicine from expert medical providers, while building your network in the San Francisco Bay Area.

students in a medical lab classroom

Gain the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to respond positively and effectively to challenges and opportunities relating to trends in healthcare delivery. You will learn in groups, through discussions and lectures and role-playing, and through the use of standardized and simulated patients, independent research, and case-based problem-solving.

Our program will prepare you for critical thinking, ethical decision making, and the synthesis and judgment of problems, based on an integrated biopsychosocial medical model. Learn more about our mission, vision and educational philosophy on our department page.

Physician Assistant students will learn to be reflective, insightful, and aware of professional roles as well as the limitations, needs, styles, and values of patients and other health professionals.

Program Highlights

  • Earn your degree in just 28 months
  • Gain real-world experience by participating in nine clinical rotations
  • Learn the importance of civic skills and social responsibility


Apply Now

Program Format

Dominican's Master in Physician Assistant Studies is a 28-month program. Students complete 16 months of didactic education in medicine utilizing various teaching modalities. Students then embark on a 12-month journey through clinical rotations including family and internal medicine, women's health, pediatrics, surgery, behavioral health, emergency medicine, and other specialties. Students return in their last month for a summative evaluation and preparatory work transitioning them from program to clinical practice.

Career Paths

Students receiving a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies are prepared for a wide range of careers as a PA in all medicine and surgery specialties and subspecialties, as well as careers in clinical research and education.

Admissions and Aid

A Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from a regionally accredited institution of higher education is required to apply to our graduate programs.

  1. Completed CASPA Application Apply Now!
    (Note: A Dominican University application is not required)
  2. Prerequisite Courses
    Prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of B or higher, however, a grade of B- will be considered. Open the next tab to review all prerequisite requirements.

    *Dominican University of California's MSPAS Program will accept passed courses taken in a pass/fail grading structure during the spring and summer 2020 semesters. Pass grades will not be used in GPA calculations for admission requirements.

    *The MSPAS program will accept online labs taken during the spring, summer, fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.

  3. 3.0 GPA or Higher
    Required for overall coursework and in the last 30 hours of science courses.
  4. Personal Interview
    Applicants who have been selected to continue on in the application process will receive an invitation to interview.
  5. Three Letters of Recommendation
    From previous instructors or employers. Recommendations from clinicians are given more value.
  6. Personal Statement
    Real-time, self-written personal statement on why Physician Assistant is your choice of profession.
  7. Direct Patient Contact Hours
    A minimum of 500 paid or volunteer direct-patient contact hours as a paramedic, phlebotomist, nurse, radiology technician, dental assistant, respiratory therapist, medical assistant, medical scribe or other direct patient care contact.
  8. Physician Assistant Shadowing
    A minimum of eight hours shadowing or working with a Physician Assistant. 
  9. Exams
    GRE: recommended but not required, code: 2587

    TOEFL: Applicants whose native language is not English and who have not completed their degree in the U.S. or Canada will be required to submit current TOEFL scores, regardless of their citizenship status. Minimum TOEFL score required: 600 or above on the paper-based test; 100 or above on the internet-based test.

    International candidates must meet additional admissions requirements.

Additional Admissions Application Preferences

Preference will be given to those who additionally have one or more of the following: 

  • Overall and last 30 science GPA of ≥ 3.50
  • Veteran status
  • Emergency Medical Tech (EMT), Paramedic certification or other healthcare profession
  • Experience as a medical technician in the military
  • A job in healthcare with direct patient contact of more than 500 hours will be given preference. Additional preference will be given to those with 2000-4000 hours and extensive preference will be given for those with more than 4000.
  • A degree from Dominican University of California
  • A SES disadvantaged background
  • Residence in a medically-underserved geographic catchment area or residence in a county with geographic proximity to Dominican
  • Foreign language fluency, esp. Spanish
  • PA shadowing more hours than required or in multiple settings. 
  • Preference is also given to those who have performed more than 50 hours of volunteer work.
  • Completion of recommended coursework.

Clinical Participation: Requirements

Prior to any clinical experiences, students must have proof of up-to-date immunizations and screening and must meet the Technical Standards required for admission. 


Applicants from all academic disciplines are welcome to apply, provided they have completed a Baccalaureate degree and have met the required minimum prerequisites.

Prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of B or higher, however, a grade of B- will be considered.

Minimum Required Prerequisites

Prerequisite courses may be taken at any regionally accredited community college or four-year college/university. Online courses for science prerequisites will not be accepted**, however non-science courses may be taken online.

In order to enroll in the MSPAS Program, students must demonstrate they have successfully completed a BA or BS degree, plus or including the following, with a grade of "B" or higher in all prerequisite courses.  (A grade of "B-" in any prerequisite course will be considered.)

Completion of all prerequisites is mandatory.

*Dominican University of California's MSPAS Program will accept passed courses taken in a pass/fail grading structure during the spring and summer 2020 semesters. Pass grades will not be used in GPA calculations for admission requirements.

**The MSPAS program will accept online labs taken during the spring, summer, fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.

  • Biological Sciences: 2 semesters = 8 semester units or 12 quarter units (Should be comprised of courses with laboratory components and that are sequenced for majors in human biology.)
  • Chemistry: 2 semesters = 8 semester units or 12 quarter units (Should be comprised of courses with laboratory components and that are sequenced for chemistry majors; inorganic or organic chemistry may be substituted.)
  • Human Anatomy with laboratory: 1 semester = 4 semester units or 5-6 quarter units. (Must be completed within 10 years of expected year of matriculation.)
  • Human Physiology with laboratory: 1 semester = 4 semester units or 5-6 quarter units. (Must be completed within 10 years of expected year of matriculation.)
  • Microbiology with laboratory: 1 semester = 4 semester units or 5-6 quarter units.
  • College Algebra or higher: 1 semester = 4 semester units or 5-6 quarter units.
  • Statistics: 1 semester = 4 semester units or 5-6 quarter units.
  • General Psychology: 1 semester = 4 semester units or 5-6 quarter units.

Strongly Recommended:

  • Physics
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Medical Terminology
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Spanish (ability to converse) or other second language

All courses intended to meet prerequisite requirements must be completed at the time of application with a grade of "B" or higher. (A grade of "B-" in any prerequisite course will be considered.) Coursework in progress will not be accepted.  

  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher is required in overall coursework.
  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher is required in the last 30 hours of science courses.

Proof of successful course completion, via transcripts, is required prior to matriculation. We only accept transcripts that have been uploaded to and verified by CASPA. This allows us to maintain the quality and integrity of our application admissions process. No advanced standing, placement or transfer of credits will be accepted into the program.

Fall 2021

CASPA Application Window May 1-October 1
Interviews September-November

Applications reviewed on a rolling basis between May 1-October 1.

Dominican has a rolling admissions policy, which means we evaluate applications as they are received and will continue to evaluate applications until we’ve filled all the slots for our incoming class. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

Learn about tuition per unit, additional fees and total tuition.

We'll also show you how a Dominican education is more affordable than you might think with support from financial aid, scholarships and loans. 

tuition and Aid

Accreditation, PANCE Performance and more

The Master of Science Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) Program is a 28-month year-round program.

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Dominican University of California Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Dominican University of California.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website.

Upon completion of the PA program at Dominican University of California the PA graduate will have demonstrated the specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to enter medical practice. These include the following competencies:

  • Medical knowledge includes an understanding of pathophysiology, patient presentation, differential diagnosis, patient management, surgical principles, health promotion and disease prevention. Physician assistants must demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care in their area of practice. In addition, physician assistants are expected to demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills encompass verbal, nonverbal and written exchange of information. Physician assistants must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients.
  • Patient care includes age-appropriate assessment, evaluation and management. This includes appropriate clinical and technical skills, using clinical reasoning and problem-solving abilities.  Physician assistants must demonstrate care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of wellness.  
  • Professionalism is the expression of positive values and ideals as care is delivered. Foremost, it involves prioritizing the interests of those being served above one’s own. Physician assistants must know their professional and personal limitations. Professionalism also requires that PAs practice without impairment from substance abuse, cognitive deficiency or mental illness. Physician assistants must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Practice-based learning and improvement includes the processes through which clinicians engage in critical analysis of their own practice experience, medical literature and other information resources for the purpose of self-improvement. Physician assistants must be able to assess, evaluate and improve their patient care practices.
  • Systems-based practice encompasses the societal, organizational and economic environments in which healthcare is delivered. Physician assistants must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of healthcare to provide patient care that is of optimal value. PAs should work to improve the larger healthcare system of which their practices are a part.

Sexual Misconduct, Title IX, and Discrimination Policy

Dominican is firmly committed to providing a community in which students, faculty, and staff are protected from discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct and retaliation, and prohibits such behavior in all University operations. Read our Sexual Misconduct, Title IX, and Discrimination policy.

Safety and Emergency Information

Campus safety and security is a top priority for the University, and we are committed to promoting the safety, health, and welfare of all members of our campus community. Learn more on our Safety and Emergency Information page.

See details and learn more about the Masters in Physician Studies program goals, program outcomes and the PANCE performance report.

View Goals, Outcomes and Report

hns students in the classroom

Frequently Asked Questions

We're here to answer all your questions about the Physician Assistant Studies Program.

Read the FAQs Ask Your Admissions Counselor
students work in simulation lab wearing lab coats

Clinical Simulation Services

Our learning labs allow students to collaborate with their peers and faculty in order to gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their prospective healthcare fields.

Clinical Simulation Services

Physician Assistant Studies by the Numbers

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No. 3

Best Jobs of 2020 by U.S. News and World Report

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PANCE Pass Rate for 2019 First Time Takers

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Student to Faculty Ratio in 2019-2020

Physician Assistant Studies: In The News

Faculty and Staff

Carl Garruba headshot

Carl Garrubba, MPA, PA-C

Program Director, Professor
Jacob Adkison headshot

Jacob K. Adkison, DNP, MSN

Director of Clinical Education
Marybeth Culler headshot

Mary Beth Culler

Program Administrator
Adrienne Duff headshot

Adrienne Duff

Clinical Administrative Coordinator
Joseph Habis headshot

Joseph A. Habis, MD

Medical Director, MSPAS
dominican seal

Elizabeth Hager, CHSE, MDiv

Standardized Patient Educator and Simulation Technician
Charity Keplinger headshot

Charity Keplinger, DHSc

Associate Director Clinical Education, Assistant Professor
Zilola Khashimova headshot

Zilola Khashimova, MD, MBA, SP

Assistant Professor
Barbara McCamish headshot

Barbara McCamish, MPT, MSN, RN

Director, Clinical Simulation Services
dominican seal

Kelly Newhouse, MS, PA-C

Assistant Professor
John Ramos headshot

John Ramos, EM-CAQ, MMS, PA-C

Assistant Professor
Cary Wilson headshot

Cary B. Wilson, MSPAS, PA-C

Director of Clinical Education
Jessica Wirth headshot

Jessica Wirth, MHS, PA-C

Assistant Professor, Physician Assistant Studies
Jennifer Wurz headshot

Jennifer M. Wurz, MSPAS, PA-C

Assistant Professor