Master’s-degree physician assistant students

Welcome to the Physician Assistant (PA) program at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis

Best Physician Assistant ProgramsOur interprofessional PA program continues to prepare primary care providers for rural and underserved communities just as it did more than 40 years ago.

The PA program features:

  • Faculty who partner with you and invest in your success.
  • Emphasis on leadership
  • Dedication to inclusiveness
  • High-tech simulation learning
  • State-of-the-art facilities
  • No GRE or GMAT required

Our PA program mission and vision

In alignment with the school's vision to advance health, the mission of the physician assistant program is to educate health care professionals to deliver care as leaders and members of interprofessional health care teams as well as to improve the availability of culturally relevant primary health care to underserved populations throughout California.

Become a PA

Keoki Leong
What do graduates have to say about the PA program at UC Davis?
Read and hear what 2020 alumnus Keoki Leong says about his UC Davis experience »

PAs are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs 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-PA relationship, the PA exercises autonomy in medical-decision making and provides a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA’s practice may also include education, research and administrative services.

Preparing primary care providers

The PA program prepares clinicians with the knowledge and skills needed to serve in those capacities and meet the needs of a constantly changing health care system. Rooted in a growing body of research and nurtured by visionary faculty who seek to transform health care, the curricula embrace integrative case-based learning, technology and systems-wide perspectives. Instruction is also designed to be “more inspiring…and create an atmosphere of a community of learners,” as identified in a 2012 report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Dale Risenhoover, Physician Assistant Student, Class of 2015

Because of health care reforms and an increasingly aging population with advanced chronic illnesses, millions more people require primary-care services, exceeding the number of providers currently available. The PA program at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing provides a partial solution to this growing problem by educating and preparing primary-care providers experienced in preventive measures, who advance health through health promotion and disease prevention, practice in ambulatory and community-based settings and enhance the existing workforce. A key to that preparation is learning in a collaborative environment, rather than in the absence of other health professions.

The interprofessional PA program at the School of Nursing is designed to equip students with a greater ability to provide care and become leaders in a variety of settings. Through learning opportunities with students in the school’s other programs, students discover how to interpret different perspectives, collaborate and lead as members of health care teams. These experiences foster awareness and appreciation of other cultures and shape how students provide care once in practice.

About the UC Davis PA program

The PA program is led by the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group, an interprofessional team of more than 55 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. Students are encouraged to limit outside employment while enrolled in this full-time program of study.

All students must complete core academic courses, a scholarly project, and a comprehensive exam as well as 1,530 hours of 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 work, how to improve quality, as well as how to lead teams and manage business aspects of care, including informatics and reimbursement.

This is a 27-month, year-round program. Core courses are offered summer, fall, winter and spring quarters on the UC Davis Sacramento campus. The PA program is full time, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. -5 p.m.  Attendance is mandatory for all classes. Students are discouraged from working while in the PA program due to the fast pace and robust curriculum.  In addition, adequate means of transportation are required for the clinical year and highly recommended during the didactic year. This program is located in Sacramento, not in Davis.

Second-year students are expected to complete 4-6-week clinical rotations throughout California.  Required clinical experiences include primary health care (must include exposure to geriatric and adult patients), pediatrics, women’s health, psychiatry, emergency medicine, surgery and inpatient medicine. Students are not required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors. Students return to campus for a week at least once per quarter for coursework related to clinical skills, leadership and quality improvement. Read more about the program's courses. 

A mandatory orientation is provided for incoming students their first quarter. This full-time, three-day experience runs the week prior to the first summer quarter. Throughout this time together, students interact with School of Nursing leadership, participate in team building and develop one-on-one faculty relationships. The week serves as the foundation for the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate program curriculum.

Thinking of applying? Watch these how-to videos on getting ready to apply

Still have questions? Many answers are provided on the FAQ page. For additional assistance, the fastest way to get answers about School of Nursing programs, admission requirements and the application process is to email Also, sign up to be part of the P.A. program email group to receive regular updates and program news.

Thinking of applying? Watch these how-to videos on getting ready to apply