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Physician Assistant Program

Master Physician Assistant Department Mission Statement

The Master Physician Assistant Department at Samuel Merritt University strives to serve the University and the medical community by preparing graduates who are interdependent medical providers, demonstrate commitment to the community and the profession through active leadership, manifest critical and creative thinking, utilize effective communication skills, and who possess the educational foundation for continued growth and development in a changing world of diverse cultures.

 The MPA Department has adopted the following goals for our Program:

  • To educate highly skilled, knowledgeable Physician Assistants who contribute to the provision of high quality health care to all individuals in a wide variety of clinical settings;
  • To provide rigorous didactic and clinical education in the basic and behavioral sciences and medical disciplines necessary to produce excellent clinicians;
  • To enhance appreciation for social and cultural effects on the delivery of health care through exposure to a wide variety of clinical settings reflecting the diversity of patients and the communities in which they reside;
  • To equip students with an understanding of health policies and delivery systems to promote their participation as health care leaders in identifying solutions to community and professional endeavors;
  • To educate students in the current information exchange systems and their associated technologies to enhance their productivity as students and professionals;
  •  To support and encourage service to the profession and leadership activities through involvement in Physician Assistant professional organizations.

Core Values

The Samuel Merritt University Physician Assistant Program faculty place significant importance on the admission process. We believe that recruiting high quality candidates who will actively engage in graduate medical education and honor the responsibility placed on a health care provider is imperative to the success of our graduates and our institution. To this end, the MPA faculty has identified core values that will be evaluated in all candidates for admission to our program. These values, in order of importance to PA faculty are:

  • Interpersonal/Interprofessional Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Critical Thinking
  • Patient Interaction/Professional Exposure
  • Responsibility
  • Patient Contact
  • Technical Skill
  • Medical Knowledge

In our review of your application, we will be looking carefully for evidence demonstrating these values. It is the applicant's responsibility to use the components of the application to demonstrate the above values in clinical experiences, community service, recommendation letters, personal statements, etc.

Competitive Candidate Profile

A competitive applicant will:

  • Have completed a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution prior to application.  Applicants coming directly from undergraduate studies may be at a disadvantage as they may have fewer hours of health care experience than other applicants.  Starting with the fall 2016 admission, the bachelor’s degree must be completed by the end of the fall term of the application year.
  • Have completed all prerequisite courses prior to application.  For the fall 2015 admission, preference will be given to candidates who have all prerequisite courses completed by the end of the fall 2014 term. Starting with the fall 2016 admission, all prerequisites need to be completed by the end of the fall term of the application year.
  • The most competitive candidate will have over 3.2 for both the cumulative and science GPA’s as calculated by CASPA. 
  • Have acquired a minimum of 1000 cumulative hours of health care experience, paid and/or volunteer, that reflects a combination of the core values of the MPA program.
  • Demonstrate adequate exposure and knowledge of the Physician Assistant profession, including scope of practice, roles and responsibilities.  This should include Physician Assistant shadowing experiences.  A minimum of 50 hours is recommended.
  • Submit three letters of reference, including references from healthcare providers who have directly supervised the candidate and can comment on how the applicant's work reflects the core values of the program.


Learn more about the Physician Assistant Program faculty.

 Virtual Drop-Ins Now Available - Join an MPA online chat room

We are pleased to offer virtual drop ins to prospective MPA students.  You are welcome to virtually “drop in” and ask quick, general questions of an Admission Counselor.  This is entirely online.  Dates and times are:

Friday, February 6, 2015                            2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 12, 2015                      10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015                  1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Friday, February 27, 2015                           1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015                        10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Please note that all times are Pacific Standard Time (California time zone).

Please click here for more information about the VIRTUAL DROP INS.  After you have reviewed the general chat information and are ready to start the chat (see dates and time above), click here to join the chat.

Drop-In Counseling (Oakland only)

If you have a quick question or just need to know one or two things, drop-in counseling may be perfect for your busy schedule. No appointment is needed. Drop-in counseling is available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. These are brief visits designed to provide you with some quick information. Drop-in counseling is not available during the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's.

Admission Requirements

Diversity within the PA profession is greatly valued and the PA department is committed to recruiting a class which is representative of the community in which we operate.  Admission to the PA program is competitive. Each applicant is evaluated based on the core values as listed above.

Admission Statistics for all SMU programs are available on our website at Admission Statistics.

MPA Fall 2013 Data



Seats Available


Average Overall GPA*


Average Science GPA*


* Data is based on enrolled students.

Applicants must meet the following prerequisite criteria:

  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • A preferred minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 as calculated by CASPA.
  • A preferred minimum science GPA of 3.0 as calculated by CASPA.
  • International medical graduates and students educated abroad may apply for admission. Regardless of previous professional training and academic degrees earned, Samuel Merritt's MPA curriculum must be completed in its entirety. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all International Medical Graduates. All international academic transcripts must be evaluated by a U.S. evaluation service that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluations Services (NACES) for degree, course content, semester unit equivalencies and science and cumulative GPAs prior to the application deadline. The evaluation must be sent to CASPA as part of the application.  Information on NACES may be found at For all applicants educated outside the United States it is strongly recommended that they complete one semester (15 units) of graduate or undergraduate work at a U.S. college or university. In addition, all other admission requirements must be met.
  • The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all International Medical Graduates and scores should be submitted with the application. The need for a TOEFL for other applicants will be assessed based on information provided by applicants on their application. If required a score of 100 (Internet Based Test) is required and scores should be provided.
  • GREs are not required.

Prerequisite courses - Starting with the fall 2016 admission, all prerequisites need to be completed by the end of the fall term of the application year

    1. A minimum of 16 semester units of biological sciences are required including human anatomy*, human physiology* and microbiology*. The remaining units can be in any area of the biological sciences.
    2. A minimum of 8 semester units of chemistry are required. This must include 4 semester units of Inorganic/General Chemistry and 4 semester units of Organic Chemistry*.  We require chemistry courses at the level a biology or premed major would complete. 
    3. Statistics (three semester units)

*Strong preference will be given to those who have completed these courses within the past 5 years. This recency recommendation is less stringent for those currently working in the health care field.

Health Care Experience

The MPA program defines health care experience as direct, "hands on" patient contact that is paid and/or volunteer and reflects the core values listed above.  Most competitive applicants will have a minimum of 1000 hours of related direct patient contact. We acknowledge that applicants may have diverse health care experiences.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to address how their particular experience incorporates the aforementioned core program values in the application.  This can be accomplished in the job duties and/or personal statement.


Three references are required, including references from healthcare providers who have directly supervised the candidate and can comment on how the applicant's work reflects the core values of the program.  Letters from relatives or family friends will not be considered. 


Upon receipt of your verified application from CASPA, the review process will begin. Approximately 144 individuals will be invited to interview and a class of 44 will be accepted. Academic potential, personal integrity and maturity, interpersonal skills and knowledge of the health care system in the United States are all part of the evaluation process and weigh heavily in the final admission decision.  The interview is a mandatory, all day, on campus interview.  


Candidates are notified of the Admission Committee’s decision by email. Candidates who are interviewed are notified as early as two weeks after the interview. Deposits of $350.00 are required to reserve a place in the class. This deposit is non-refundable and is attributed to the first semester's tuition.

Each year an alternate list is generated from the candidates who have interviewed. Should an accepted candidate withdraw from the program prior to the start of classes, the position is offered to the highest ranked candidate on the alternate list.

Applying for Admission

The MPA program at Samuel Merritt University participates in the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Applicants apply online at

Applications for the upcoming fall are generally available on the CASPA website beginning mid-April.

Applicants must e-submit their CASPA application by 11:59pm EST on the deadline date posted. Documents are not required to be received by the deadline date.

For applicants with questions about completing the online application:
CASPA's "Help" contact number is (617) 612-2080
CASPA's e-mail address is

For a representative Application/Admission Processing Timeline for fall 2014, please click here

Use the following mailing address to send your completed material to CASPA:

PO Box 9108
Watertown, MA 02471

Admissions Questions

All admissions questions should be directed to Pam Harrison, Associate Director of Admission at 510-869-6608 or  If you would like to schedule an on campus or phone counseling session, please call 510-869-1550.