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The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing

The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing

Master of Health Services — Physician Assistant Studies Degree Program

The Master of Health Services — Physician Assistant Studies Degree Program prepares graduates to deliver care as physician assistants. In alignment with the school's vision to advance health, a primary goal of the physician assistant program is to improve the availability of culturally relevant primary care to underserved populations and educate clinicians to deliver care as a member of a health-care team.

Physician assistants are health-care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, physician assistants conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery and write prescriptions. Within the physician-physician assistant relationship, the physician assistant exercises autonomy in medical decision making and provides a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A physician assistant’s practice may also include education, research and administrative services.

The Master of Health Services — Physician Assistant Studies Degree Program is led by the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group, an interprofessional team of more than 40 faculty from disciplines such as nursing, medicine, health informatics, nutrition, biostatistics, pharmacy, sociology and public health.

The master's-degree program is a full-time, professional degree program that includes academic courses, clinical skills courses and supervised clinical practice. Academic courses provide a broad education that includes advanced skills in understanding complex problems and generating solutions, how health systems and health care works, how to improve quality, how to lead teams and business aspects of care including informatics and reimbursement.

Graduates are prepared to work as leaders of health-care teams and learn methods to continually critique and improve their care, provide care that is evidence-based, and to establish systems of care to address population health. All students must take core academic courses and complete a thesis as well as 1,630 hours of supervised clinical practice.

Master of Health Services students take core courses plus electives and must complete a thesis. This is a 27-month program. Core courses are offered summer, fall, winter and spring quarters. A mandatory Leadership Immersion Week serves as an orientation for students. This full-time, four-day experience runs Monday through Thursday the week before fall quarter begins. Throughout the week, students experience nursing leadership, team building and develop faculty relationships. The coursework provided that week serves as the foundation for the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate program curriculum.

How to apply

Applications open: mid-April 2014
Application deadline: September 1, 2014

Students applying for the physician assistant program must complete a Centralized Application System for Physician Assistants (CASPA) application and meet selection criteria for an invitation to apply through the UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies. Click here to learn how to apply.

Admission requirements

All admission requirements must be completed, submitted and verified by CASPA by the application deadline of Sept. 1.

  • A bachelor’s degree (B.A. or B.S.)
  • A minimum undergraduate G.P.A. of 3.0 is required
  • A minimum 2.7 G.P.A. in all science prerequisite coursework  is required
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of paid or volunteer experience in a clinical environment with direct patient exposure
  • Statement of purpose, personal-history statement, research interests and future goals
  • The application process may require an interview
  • The G.R.E. is not required
  • TOEFL (international applicants only)
  • Three letters of recommendation; refer to CASPA website for more information
  • Official transcripts from each institution attended (submitted on-line through CASPA website)

Admission is competitive. Students applying for the physician assistant program must complete a Centralized Application System for Physician Assistants (CASPA) application and meet selection criteria. Following that process, a select pool of qualified applicants will receive an invitation to apply for UC Davis graduate admissions. All invited applicants must meet UC Davis graduate admissions requirements. Applications are now closed for summer 2014 classes. Online applications for summer 2015 will open in spring 2014, please check back for details. Click here for more on the application process.

Physician assistant prerequisites

All prerequisites are required at the college level from an accredited school and must be included on the submitted transcript as part of the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) application process. Each prerequisite is expected to be one full course, either a quarter or a semester, and a minimum of three units depending on the location where it was completed. Completion of prerequisite course work online is acceptable; however prerequisite course work with a lab component must be completed in-person, at an accredited school. No online lab work is acceptable. Advanced Placement scores awarded in high school are NOT accepted to fulfill prerequisites. These courses must be completed with a grade of "C" or better:

  • One course in human anatomy with lab — must be completed within five years of application deadline.
    (NOTE: Mammalian and/or animal anatomy will not fulfill this requirement.)
  • One course in human physiology with lab — must be completed within five years of application deadline.
    (NOTE: Mammalian and/or animal physiology will not fulfill this requirement.)
  • One course in general chemistry with lab.
    (NOTE: Seminar courses will not fulfill this requirement.)
  • One course in microbiology or bacteriology with lab 
  • One course in algebra, calculus or statistics (basic or advanced)
  • One course in English composition
  • Two courses in social sciences. Ideal courses provide exposure to human or organizational behavior — such as psychology, sociology, ethnic studies, women’s studies or cultural anthropology.
    (NOTE: Social science courses may be completed in two different subject areas, or within the same subject area.)

Visit the FAQ page for additional details about the Physician Assistant program requirements and prerequisites.

Degree program requirements

  • Full-time enrollment (12 units per quarter) is required
  • Required courses for the master’s-degree program include a combination of core courses and electives.
  • A master’s thesis is required
  • Physician assistant students are expected to complete the program in 27 months


The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation – Continued status to the UC Davis Master of Health Services —Physician Assistant Studies Degree Program sponsored by University of California - Davis. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program complies 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 2017. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

Click here to view accreditation information for all School of Nursing programs.

Additional links

Contact us

Still have questions? The fastest way to get answers about School of Nursing programs, admission requirements and the application process is to direct all questions to BettyIreneMooreSON@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.