Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MS)

Become a Physician Assistant — ranked first by U.S. News and World Report's 100 Best Jobs of 2021 and first for Best Healthcare Jobs of 2021. Learn the practice of medicine from expert medical providers, while building your network in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Physician assistant student group watch professor conduct a demonstration.

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 Physician Assistant 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.

Physician Assistant Studies 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


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You will leave Dominican prepared to make significant contributions to the diverse communities you serve and to the advancement of the PA profession. 

– Dr. Joseph Habis, MD

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Admissions and Aid

  1. Completed CASPA Application Apply Now!
    (Note: A Dominican University application is not required)
  2. Bachelor's Degree
    A Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from a regionally accredited institution of higher education is required. Your degree must be listed as awarded/earned/conferred on your official transcript at the time of submission
  3. 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 and fall 2020, and spring and summer 2021 semesters.

  4. 3.0 GPA or Higher
    Required for overall coursework and in the last 30 hours of science courses.
  5. Personal Interview
    Applicants who have been selected to continue on in the application process will receive an invitation to interview.
  6. Three Letters of Recommendation
    From previous instructors or employers. Recommendations from clinicians are given more value.
  7. Personal Statement
    Real-time, self-written personal statement on why Physician Assistant is your choice of profession.
  8. 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.
  9. Physician Assistant Shadowing
    A minimum of eight hours shadowing or working with a Physician Assistant. 
  10. 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 to those with more than 4000.
  • A degree from Dominican University of California
  • An 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. 

BE ADVISED: All students who are admitted into the MSPAS Program must demonstrate complete COVID-19 vaccination in order to complete the program. All clinical rotation sites require this vaccination for all MSPAS students' rotations. The clinical rotation sites do not allow vaccination waivers. Should an admitted student choose to request exemption from vaccination, they will not be able to complete the program. 

Students are not required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors.


Please note: After admissions to the Physician Assistant Studies master’s program, but before matriculation, degree candidates must undergo background screenings. Background checks continue periodically throughout the program and satisfy clinical requirements for graduation and licensure. Background screening will also occur before placement on clinical rotations. Some clinical rotation sites require an additional background screening immediately before the start of the rotation; therefore, students may be required to complete multiple background screenings throughout enrollment. Facts uncovered due to the background screening, which could preclude licensure and practice in the profession, may impact the student’s ability to begin or continue the program. Students are responsible for the costs associated with the background screening. 

Criminal background checks, or information relating to a student’s criminal background, are not used as part of the admissions process at Dominican University of California (DUOC). Students should be aware that some programs train students to sit for the State of California or national licensure and certification examinations that qualify them to work in the field relating to their program of choice.

The following programs constitute a list of 2021/2022 DUOC programs that train for licensure or certification: Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physicians Assistants, Counseling Psychology, Art Therapy (Marriage & Family Therapy), and Education. 

Students with questions relating to criminal background requirements, who wish to enroll in these programs at DUOC should speak to an Academic Advisor and reference the specific qualifications for degree completion, and license or certification. 


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

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 and fall 2020, and spring and summer 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 = 3 semester units or 4-6 quarter units.
  • Statistics: 1 semester = 3 semester units or 4-6 quarter units.
  • General Psychology: 1 semester = 3 semester units or 4-6 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 and degree completion, via transcripts, is required at the time of application submission. 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. Upon matriculation, students must complete the entire MSPAS curriculum, and no transfer of units will be accepted into the program.

Fall 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 Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Dominican University of California Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Dominican University of California. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be March 2032. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy. 

The program's accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at

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.

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

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.

Undocumented, DACA or DACA-Eligible Applicants

The MSPAS program at Dominican University remains in alignment with our university mission and values regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. The MSPAS program welcomes applications from qualified applicants who are undocumented, including those who have DACA immigration status or who are DACA-eligible. All applicants are reviewed under the same process, regardless of immigration status. All applicants who are admitted to DU's MSPAS program must undergo a background check prior to matriculation. A valid Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) is required to complete this process.

Dominican University of California's MSPAS program also seeks to provide full disclosure to undocumented individuals regarding their ability to complete the program.

The aim of our program is for our students to complete all program requirements so that they:

  •  Successfully graduate from the program
  • Are eligible for national certification as a Physician Assistant (NCCPA)
  • Are eligible for state licensure in order to practice medicine.

To complete program requirements, all students must successfully pass all didactic and clinical courses. Clinical courses (i.e., supervised clinical practice experiences) take place off-campus at various clinic and hospital locations. Each facility has its own defined set of rules and regulations for student presence that are outside of the program's control.  Students must be able to complete health records/immunization requirements (to prepare for clinical site onboarding), per MSPAS Student Handbook.

The program cannot guarantee that an undocumented student (who does not have a social security number, permanent residency status, and/or tax identification number) will be able to be cleared for student presence by our clinical site partners. Therefore, the program cannot guarantee completion of the required clinical courses and thus completion of the program.

In addition, it is to be noted that to practice as a physician assistant in the State of California, or any other state, physician assistant graduates must complete the following: 

  • Successfully pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE)
  • Apply for and obtain a state license to practice. 

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) determines the criteria for eligibility to sit for the PANCE. Eligibility to qualify for physician assistant licensure is determined by each state. Prospective students are encouraged to review the requirements of the licensing authority in the state(s) of their anticipated future practice.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Format and Career Paths

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.

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.

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
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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
Graduating students celebrating together

MSI Designation

Awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Dominican has qualified specifically as both a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI), with more than 25% of undergraduate students identifying as Latinx and more than 25% identifying as Asian American or Pacific Islander.

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Physician Assistant Studies by the Numbers

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No. 1

Best Jobs of 2021 by U.S. News and World Report

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PANCE Pass Rate for 2020 First Time Takers

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Job Placement

Class of 2020 6 months after graduation.

One Graduate's Story

photo of Michael Burns (center) with his fiancee and son for story on newest graduates of Dominican's Master in Physician Assistant Studies program

The second cohort class in the Master of Science Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) Program at Dominican University of California graduated in December and Michael Burns ’20 couldn’t be more proud...

MSPAS Program Meeting Demand For No. 1 Job In 2021

The Dominican Experience

Faculty and Staff

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Michelle Nichols, MD

Medical Director
Jennifer Wurz headshot

Jennifer M. Nicolosi, MSPAS, PA-C

Assistant Professor
Ellen Bartkowski

Ellen Bartkowski Lynch

Program Administrative Manager
Zilola Khashimova headshot

Zilola Khashimova, MD, MBA, SP

Associate Professor
Barbara McCamish headshot

Barbara McCamish, MPT, MSN, RN

Director, Clinical Simulation Services
Kelly Newhouse headshot

Kelly Newhouse, MS, PA-C

Program Director, Chair, Physician Assistant Studies
jan stottlemyer headshot

Jan Stottlemyer, MSPAS, PA-C

Assistant Professor
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Cary B. Wilson, MPAS, PA-C

Adjunct Professor
Shiva Fatemi

Shiva Fatemi, MD, MS

Assistant Professor
Wendy Walling

Wendy Wallin, MSPAS, PA-C

Assistant Professor Director of Curriculum and Assessment
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Kimya Baradaran, MSPAS, PA-C

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Becky Hohe Baker headshot

Becky Hohe Baker

Clinical Administrative Manager
Brett Sibley headshot

Brett Sibley, MSPAS, PA-C

Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies Director of Clinical Education
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Kelliann Masterson, MPAS, PA-C

Adjunct Instructor
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Grey Copeland

Clinical Development Coordinator

Physician Assistant Studies: In The News