Physician Assistant, M.S.M.

Program Overview

About the Program

The Physician Assistant program at Point Loma Nazarene University is unique to the PA profession in several ways. As a faith-based university, our aim is to produce competent, professional clinicians who practice evidence-based medicine, demonstrate cultural sensitivity, and have the opportunity to manifest their faith through service to the community. The program blends service experiences into the curriculum throughout both the didactic and clinical phases, including a dedicated month each year allowing domestic, national, or international medical exposures through the extensive networks and local connections in Southern California.   


The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Point Loma Nazarene University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the Point Loma Nazarene University

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 at

Program Tuition and Fees

Semester One (Fall)   
Program Fees$550$550$550
Semester Two (Spring)   
Program Fees$550$550$550
Semester Three (Summer)   


Program Fees$550$550$550
Annual Total$49,650$50,850$52,080

University One Time Graduation Fee




 Year OneYear Two
Lab Coats/Scrubs$100$200
Diagnostic Equipment$800$0
Background Check$50$50
Drug Screen  $50$50
AAPA/CAPA student membership (opt)$105$30

Additional Expenses    

Students are responsible for expenses associated with laptop/computer, housing, transportation, parking, health insurance and professional expenses related to the National Certifying Examination for Physician Assistants. 

Program Policies and Procedures

Students enrolled in the Physician Assistant program must read and follow the Physician Assistant Student Handbook.

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More Health Science Master's Degrees

PLNU also offers an accelerated one-year Master of Science in Kinesiology with concentrations in Exercise Science, Integrative Wellness, Sport Performance, and Sport Management.

Program Goals

  1. Recruit qualified individuals who successfully complete the Master of Science in Medicine degree at PLNU.

  2. Maintain an accredited program that meets or exceeds the ARC-PA Standards for Accreditation of a Physician Assistant program ensuring that graduates have the requisite knowledge and skills for the practice of medicine as physician assistants.

  3. Foster a commitment to service to medically underserved communities.

  4. Educate students in a collaborative team model that promotes critical thinking and medical problem-solving skills.

  5. Graduate students with PANCE pass rates above the national average.

Success in Achieving these Goals

GOAL #1 will be assessed using evaluation of admission statistics, student progress individually and in the aggregate, student attrition and graduation statistics and published annually.

GOAL #2  The Point Loma Nazarene University PA Program has achieved this goal having received Accreditation Provisional in 2021. 

GOAL #3:  our commitment to service to medically underserved communities will be assessed though the number of hours spent in service to our community over the course of the curriculum, reflective papers written at the conclusion of the service elective, exit interviews with our graduates and subsequent employment with practices serving the underserved and marginalized.  Achievement of these goals will be reported annually.

Goal #4 PLNU will be using multiple approaches throughout the program to explore all aspects of interprofessional collaboration.  Didactic instruction in the various health professionals and their contribution to the well-being of the patient will be provided.  Skills will be put into practice through simulations including health profession students from PLNU and other San Diego county health professions students.  Achievement of this goal will be through class participation in the didactic components, various simulation activities and student feedback on interprofessional opportunities over the course of their clinical year and will be published annually.

Goal #5 achievement will be measured by the NCCPA PANCE performance data of the first class (2023) as provided by the NCCPA in early 2024.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Gather a history and perform a physical examination.

  2. Prioritize a differential diagnosis following a clinical encounter.

  3. Recommend and interpret common diagnostic and screening tests.

  4. Enter and discuss orders and prescriptions.

  5. Document a clinical encounter in the patient record.

  6. Provide an oral presentation of a clinical encounter.

  7. Form a clinical question and retrieve evidence to advance patient care.

  8. Give or receive a patient handover to transition care responsibilities.

  9. Collaborate as a member of an interprofessional team.

  10. Recognize a patient requiring urgent or emergent care and initiate evaluation and management.

  11. Obtain informed consent for tests and/or procedures.

  12. Perform general procedures of a physician assistant.

  13. Identify system failures and contribute to a culture of safety and improvement.


The Point Loma Nazarene University Physician Assistant Education Department will publish first-time Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) rates for the five most recent graduating classes as provided by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) when this information becomes available.

Become a Preceptor 

Physician Assistant students often remember their clinical rotations as the most important component of their education. It provides clarity in learning the diagnostic process, deepens their understanding of diseases and their manifestation, and transitions them from theory to practice. Your contribution to their success cannot be overstated. Just as you remember people who were pivotal to your success in mastering your profession, so will these students benefit from your hard-earned expertise. Finally, precepting students allows you to informally interview them as a prelude to employment after graduation.  

Thank you for your interest in the Point Loma Nazarene University Physician Assistant educational process. Your support is invaluable to us and critical to our students. Please click on the link below to share some information with us.

Interested in being a preceptor?

Course List

Required Courses

MSM 6001 – Anatomy (5 units)
MSM 6002 – Physiology (3 units)
MSM 6003 – Foundations of Medical Science (4 units)
MSM 6004 – Medicine and Society I (2 units)
MSM 6005 – Introduction to Patient Assessment (3 units)
MSM 6100 – Fundamentals of Hematology and Oncology (2 units)
MSM 6101 – Fundamentals of Dermatology (2 units)
MSM 6102 – Fundamentals of Infectious Disease (2 units)
MSM 6103 – Fundamentals of Cardiovascular Disorders
MSM 6104 – Fundamentals of Pulmonology (3 units)
MSM 6006 – Medicine and Society II (2 units)
MSM 6200 – Pharmacotherapeutics I (3 units)
MSM 6105 – Fundamentals of Gastroenterology (4 units)
MSM 6106 – Fundamentals of Nephrology and Genitourinary Disease (3 units)
MSM 6107 – Fundamentals of Neurology (3 units)
MSM 6108 – Fundamentals of Endocrinology (2 units)
MSM 6008 – Medicine and Society III (3 units)
MSM 6201 – Pharmacotherapeutics II (3 units)
MSM 6300 – Fundamentals of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine (2 units)
MSM 6199 – Fundamentals of Musculoskeletal Disease and Rheumatology (3 units)
MSM 6301 – Foundations in Pediatrics (2 units)
MSM 6302 – Foundations in Women's Health (2 units)
MSM 6303 – Foundations in Emergency Medicine (3 units)
MSM 6304 – Foundations in Surgery (2 units)
MSM 6010 – Medicine and Society IV (2 units)
MSM 6202 – Pharmacotherapeutics III (2 units)
MSM 7100 – Internal Medicine (5 units)
MSM 7101 – Family Medicine (5 units)
MSM 7102 – Pediatrics (5 units)
MSM 7103 – Women's Health (5 units)
MSM 7104 – General Surgery (5 units)
MSM 7105 – Behavioral Medicine (5 units)
MSM 7106 – Emergency Medicine (5 units)
MSM 7200 – Elective I (5 units)
MSM 7201 – Service (1 units)


This 28 month curriculum is designed to maximize student learning by using the clinical presentations to assist learners in organizing their knowledge into information packets. There are three major factors in learning and memory retrieval: meaning, encoding which is the context and sequence of learning and task practice. The strongest of these is the degree of meaning and the degree to which it can be imposed on the material to be learned. The domain of medicine can be organized into about 125 clinical presentations representing the most common way that patients, groups of patients, or populations present to the provider. These clinical presentations create meaning for the learner and, while there may be many variations on the presentation or the number of diagnosis, the clinical scenario presents a method of organizing the material into retrievable “chunks” of manageable groups of diagnoses. This creates a powerful tool for both the organization of knowledge memory and its retrieval necessary for subsequent problem solving.

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2021 - August 30, 2021
  • Fall 2022 - August 29, 2022

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2021 - March 1, 2021
  • Fall 2022 - November 1 2021

The 2021 CASPA Cycle opens April 29, 2021

Application Process

Application to the program can only be made through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Please visit the CASPA website for more information.  

CASPA (Central Application Service for Physician Assistants)
Telephone (617)612-2080

Your application will be reviewed when the CASPA application has been verified and CASPer results received.  Prerequisite courses must be completed by December 31, 2021.  Interviews will be conducted between August and November either virtually or in person as safety dictates. All applicants will be notified of their admission status by March 1.

You must also complete the Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer) evaluation. Please go to to sign up for the American Professional Health Sciences test (CSP10101) and reserve a test using your CASPA application ID number and a piece of identification. 

Application Criteria

Undergraduate degree

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university recognized by a regional accrediting agency.  College seniors are eligible to apply providing they will receive their degree prior to the August start of the program.
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 
  • A minimum science GPA of 3.0

Technical Standards

All applicants much meet the program’s technical standards

Prerequisite Courses

  • Anatomy: 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours
  • Physiology: 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours

Combined Anatomy and Physiology courses are acceptable if they meet a minimum of 6 semester hours or 8 quarter hours.  Labs are preferred but not required. If the combined course is a two-semester sequence (e.g. A & P I and A & P II) then both courses must be taken.

  • Microbiology: 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours
  • General Chemistry with labs: 8 semester hours or 10 quarter hours 
  • Organic Chemistry with lab: 4 semester hours or 5 quarter hours; the two-semester sequence for science majors is strongly recommended
  • Biochemistry: 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours
  • Statistics: 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours

All prerequisites must be completed at a regionally accredited college or university and must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.  A C minus is not acceptable.  Courses for which credit was awarded by examination, such as AP courses, will not meet the criteria for any prerequisite courses.  

Applicants may apply to the program with no more than two outstanding prerequisites (including any in progress at the time of application), but prerequisites must be completed by December 31, 2021. Documentation of official grades received must be submitted to the program by January 30, 2022.


Applicants must complete the Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer) evaluation.  Information and registration can be found at to sign up for the American Professional Health Sciences test (CSP10101).  A test may be reserved using your CASPA application ID number and a piece of personal identification.   Applicants for the 2021-2022 admission cycle must submit their CASPer assessment to the PLNU program by November 1, 2021. The CASPer evaluation cost $25 to complete and $12 to have the results forwarded to each of the schools of your choice.


A minimum of five hundred hours of direct (hands on) patient care experience is required and must be completed at time of application.  Volunteering and shadowing, while helpful, do not count toward these hours. 

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), taken within the last 2 years, is required for any applicants for whom English is not their native language. The TOEFL requirement may be waived for applicants with a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited US institution. To review your application, we must receive official scores from ETS for the TOEFL. Only the IBT (Internet Based Test) form of the TOEFL will be accepted. We require a total score of 93 and a speaking score of 26 for entry into our program.


  • Point Loma Nazarene University graduates

Advanced Placement

The PLNU PA Program values rigorous academic preparation and previous health care experience in the evaluation of applicants. However, it is not the policy of the program to award advanced placement or, to accept for credit, any previous academic or other experiential learning toward completion of the MSM degree. All matriculated students are required to participate in and complete the entire curriculum of the program to meet the requirements of graduation.

Student Selection

Point Loma Nazarene University’s PA program is mission driven and strives to recruit students who are committed to serving their communities by increasing health care access to underserved and underrepresented populations.  We seek students from diverse backgrounds who can create a vibrant learning environment rich in opportunities for collaboration, exploration of shared values and respect for differing perspectives.  We seek those who have demonstrated their commitment to their community through service and volunteer activities.   We seek students who have demonstrated their strength academically.

In general, the guidelines used for weighting these criteria are as follows: 

  • Prior academic performance: 45%
  • Prior health care experience: 22%
  • Volunteer and Service activities: 22%
  • Miscellaneous items such as references and the CASPA narrative: 11%

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

View the estimated cost of attendance for the Physician Assistant program. 

Career Opportunities

About the PA Profession

Physician assistants are well-recognized and highly sought-after members of the health care team. Working interdependently with physicians, PAs provide diagnostic and therapeutic patient care in virtually all medical specialties and settings. They take patient histories, perform physical examinations, order laboratory and diagnostic studies and develop patient treatment plans. In California as well as all other states, PAs have the authority to write prescriptions. Collectively they treat over 9 million patients per week with responsibilities as diverse as the physicians with whom they collaborate, including patient education, team leadership, medical education, administration and research.

According the NCCPA Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants 2018, just over one quarter of PAs provide primary care in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine or Pediatrics (25.8%) with another 21% in surgery and its subspecialties and 13% in Emergency Medicine.

As autonomous members of the health care team who contribute to all aspects of patient care, non-clinical tasks have been integrated into the PA role, particularly in the institutional and larger clinic setting. For example, PAs in the tertiary care setting are often involved in the acquisition, recording and analysis of research data, the development of patient and public education programs, and the administration of their departments’ clinical and educational services. Involvement in these other services has provided job advancement for PAs in these settings.

Physician assistant educators use their strong clinical background to ensure the highest quality education to their students. Physician assistants with backgrounds in public health contribute their clinical expertise to the improvement of population medicine both domestically and internationally while PAs with administrative backgrounds bring these skills to their hospitals and clinics.

PLNU Licensure and Professional Certifications Information

Point Loma Nazarene University has determined that completion of the Masters of Science in Medicine – Physician Assistant degree prepares graduates to apply for licensure in any of the 50 states. Licensure is required for physician assistants and each state sets its own requirements for a license as a physician assistant. To obtain a license, an individual must graduate from a U.S. PA program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certifying of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Click the button below for a list of states in which the PLNU Physician Assistant Program meets the academic requirements for state licensure:

View the List of State Approvals

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More Health Science Master's Degrees

PLNU also offers an accelerated one-year Master of Science in Kinesiology with concentrations in Exercise Science, Integrative Wellness, Sport Performance, and Sport Management.

Department Faculty