Cal State San Bernadino’s developing Master of Science in Physician Assistant program has secured $2 million in federal funding. Pending a successful accreditation review, the program plans to matriculate its first class of 40 students in August 2025.

The federal funding, which has been designated to help purchase teaching and laboratory equipment for the program, was the work of U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, D-California, and Congressman Pete Aguilar, D-San Bernardino, and was listed in the federal fiscal year 2023 appropriations package, which after being approved by the House and Senate, was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Dec. 29.

“This is great news that will not only help fund our MSPA program, but also shows the strong support of the federal government,” said CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales. “I’d like to offer my thanks to Sen. Padilla and Congressman Aguilar for their ongoing help as they recognize and understand the importance of the program to help the people of the inland region.”

Sonia Otte, who serves as the MSPA’s founding program director, said the developing program will help meet the current and future health care needs of communities in the two-county Inland Empire, which faces a critical shortage of health care providers.

“This funding will allow us to deliver our innovative curriculum most effectively. Through meaningful classroom and community experiences, our graduates will be fully prepared to provide quality care to patients using compassion and cultural humility,” Otte said.

“I am proud to have secured funding for Cal State San Bernardino’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant program, which will help usher a new wave of health professionals in the Inland Empire,” Sen. Padilla said. “This program will not only help fill a critical need in the region, it will also set up a new generation of students on the path to good-paying careers. This isn’t just an investment in CSU San Bernardino — it’s an investment in the entire Inland Empire.”

“I have made it a priority to address health inequities and a shortage of health care professionals in our region,” Rep. Aguilar said. “This funding for Cal State San Bernardino’s Master of Science Physician Assistant program is a much-needed investment to improve health care outcomes and increase access to high-quality, affordable health care for all residents in the Inland Empire.” 

As the founding program director, Otte holds a critical role in establishing the MSPA program, including designing the curriculum, planning program facilities, creating community partnerships, and obtaining accreditation.

The rapidly growing Inland Empire has just 35 primary care physicians per 100,000 patients, which is far fewer than the recommended range of 60 to 80 primary care physicians per 100,000 patients.

California State Sen. Richard Roth (D-Riverside) advocated for CSUSB to receive state funding to launch the MSPA program. Since 2021, Roth has successfully obtained $11.8 million to support the startup, including hiring personnel and creating new facilities.

The CSUSB MSPA program expects to begin recruiting for faculty and staff positions starting in January 2023. The initial positions include a director of didactic education, director of clinical education, and a part-time medical director. Additional faculty and staff positions will be available over the next few years as the program continues to develop.

California State University, San Bernardino has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). California State University, San Bernardino anticipates matriculating its first class in August 2025, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status at the March 2025 ARC-PA meeting.

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.

For more information, visit the CSUSB MSPA program website.The page will be updated frequently to include more information about the program, including admissions criteria, curriculum and more.