Physician Assistant, M.S.M.

Physician Assistant, M.S.M.


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.   

Take a tour of PLNU's Balboa Regional Center, which offers state-of-the-art classroom, research, and fitness spaces for PLNU graduate students.


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.

Program Tuition and Fees

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


Program Fees$550$550
Annual Total$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?

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2023 - August 28, 2023

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2023 - November 1, 2022

The 2022 CASPA Cycle opens April 28, 2022.

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. In addition, students must complete the PLNU Supplemental Application. In order for a candidate to be considered, both the verified CASPA and the PLNU Supplemental applications must be received by the November 1, 2022 deadline. 

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

Your application will be reviewed when the CASPA application has been verified and your PLNU PA Program Supplemental Application received.  Applications must be verified by CASPA by the November 1, 2022 deadline. Prerequisite courses must be completed by December 31, 2022. Interviews will be conducted in the fall and winter either virtually or in person as safety dictates. All applicants will be notified of their admission status by March 1, 2023.

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 must meet the program’s technical standards

Prerequisite Courses for PA Program

  • 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: 6 semester hours or 8 quarter hours 

  • Organic Chemistry with lab: 3 semester hours or 4 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, 2022. Documentation of official grades received must be submitted to the program by January 31, 2023.

PLNU Supplemental Application

To begin your supplemental application please create an account on the Point Loma Nazarene Online Application Portal. Please make sure to create your account using the same email address as your CASPA application and follow the following steps to locate the Physician Assistant Supplemental Application:

  • Create an account using your CASPA email address
  • Select Graduate 
  • Please select "Physician Assistant" for the initial questions of "I want to study"
    • From there you will be able to select the Physician Assistant, MSM major as well as the Fall 2023 term.
  • To finalize click "Start Application"

Please be sure to have your CASPA ID number ready as it is required for this supplemental application.

The PLNU Supplemental Application fee is $35. If you feel you are experiencing a financial hardship that renders you unable to pay the PLNU Supplemental Application fee, please contact the program at to inquire regarding a fee waiver.


A minimum of five hundred hours of direct (hands on) patient care experience is required and must be completed at time of application.  Hours must be paid, professional experience providing face-to-face patient care. Volunteering and shadowing, while helpful, do not count toward these hours. Hours accrued as a student as part of an educational program are not accepted.

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%

Below are the application averages of our current accepted students:

Class of 2023:

  • Overall GPA: 3.7
  • Science GPA: 3.7
  • Patient Care Experience Hours: 3332
  • Community Service Hours: 349

Class of 2024:

  • Overall GPA: 3.77
  • Science GPA: 3.78
  • Patient Care Experience Hours: 3603
  • Community Service Hours: 580

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.

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. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the CASPA application due?

November 1, 2021

Does the PLNU admissions cycle operate on a rolling basis?

The application cycle opens once per academic school year, however within that cycle we review applicants on a rolling basis.

What is the application timeline?

The application will open from April to November of 2021 through CASPA. Interviews will be conducted from July to December 2021. 

What does provisional accreditation mean?

Every developing PA program goes through a rigorous application and review process and can receive provisional accreditation if all standards are met. Accreditation will remain provisional until the first class is ready to graduate (2023) and the next site visit will take place around that time. If for some reason the program was to lose accreditation, the graduating students would finish and be eligible to take the PANCE (national certifying exam). PLNU was excited to receive provisional accreditation in April of 2021. 

What type of work qualifies for direct hands-on care?

Any paid health care position that requires specialized training, certification or licensure meets this definition. Given the liability limitations placed on volunteer work, neither shadowing nor volunteering can be considered. Some examples of Patient Care Experience include, but are not limited to: EKG tech, CNA/LVN/RN, patient care tech, Medical Assistant, corpsman, chiropractor, EMT/paramedic, dental hygienist, phlebotomist, exercise physiologist, licensed massage therapist, audiologist, speech pathologist, optometrist, occupational or physical therapist.

How can I make myself a better applicant for this program? How can I stand out?

Look carefully at the values espoused by this or any program you are considering. In our case, we value prior academic work, health care experience and community service, particularly to under-served and under-represented diverse communities. Also look at the average GPA and number of health care hours of prior classes to understand the academic and experience of successful candidates.

Some of the names of my science classes are different from those listed on your website- how do I know if the classes I’ve taken meet your prerequisite requirements?

Email the program ( and provide the name of the course and the prerequisite you believe it fulfills, the catalog description of the course(s) in question and, if requested, the syllabus as well. 

If I was not born in the US, do I need to have a TOEFL score? And if yes, should I have the score before I complete the application?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), taken within the last 2 years, is required of all applicants for whom English is not their native language. What language do you speak at home? If other than English, then you should take the TOEFL. We may waive the TOEFL requirement for applicants with a Bachelors, Masters, or Doctoral degree 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.

I have a degree from an institution outside of the United States. How do I know if my classes and degree meet the requirements of your program?

The degree and corresponding transcripts will need to be evaluated and verified by World Educational Services (or any NACES evaluating agency) who then provide documentation of their findings.  We will need this verification in order to determine whether or not your undergraduate degree and the corresponding coursework is comparable and meets the specific unit requirements of our program.

When science prerequisites are retaken, does the new grade replace the old grade, or are the two averaged?

Applicants are responsible for choosing what courses they would like to apply towards prerequisite requirements on their CASPA application. Whichever courses the applicant chooses will be used for the prerequisite grade. However, the total sum of all grades on an applicant’s transcripts will be averaged into the overall GPA.

What does it mean for the PA program that PLNU is a Christian institution? How will faith be integrated into the curriculum, if at all? And what does this mean for students from different faith backgrounds?

As a graduate medical program, the curriculum is limited to the  content specifically relevant to the skills and knowledge needed to become a PA and to the intersection of society and medicine. PLNU is a faith-based university with faculty and staff who share similar values. That faith is manifested in our mission of service to all people regardless of their faith or beliefs. We seek students who share a similar orientation to service especially to underserved and marginalized communities regardless of their faith. Cultural awareness and sensitivity are strong values of our program and it will be an expectation of our students that they are respectful and compassionate towards patients from all walks of life.

Can I work while completing the program?

We strongly discourage it. The rigor and intensity of the program has repeatedly demonstrated that students who work while enrolled do not do as well academically.

How large will the classes be?

Our initial cohorts will be 30 students rising to 34 over the next few years.

Do you accept pass/fail courses?

We do accept pass/fail courses that have a grade of pass.

Are the GRE or MCAT required?

No, our program does not require either test to apply. While the CASPA application will allow applicants to submit test scores, the Admissions Committee does not consider this information within its evaluation of an application. 

When will classes meet?

Classes, labs and directed clinical experiences during the didactic phase meet Monday - Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.. In general, students can expect to spend 24 - 28 hours in class each week with study time interspersed. Clinical rotations however may be scheduled any day and any time as the clinical facility is open.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Physician Assistant, M.S.M. program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Students can enroll in this online course to meet the anatomy prerequisites requirement.

Anatomy Prerequisite