Accredited Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) Schools (2023)

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Pathologists’ assistants have a deep understanding of human anatomy and diseases. Through education and training, they learned specialized clinical skills to assist in autopsies and examinations. Their findings help physicians diagnose diseases or causes of death. The work pathologists’ assistants complete is critical in the research to improve care and outcomes.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that by 2034 there will be an estimated shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians in the US. The demand for physician extenders, such as pathologists’ assistants, who can work independently under supervision, is growing. In fact, the BLS (2022) predicts that employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 28 percent from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the average for all occupations (5 percent). The BLS currently classifies pathologists’ assistants as physician assistants.

While pathologists’ assistants work in various settings, including morgues, teaching facilities, and labs, they are most typically employed at hospitals. Day-to-day duties they perform include gross (initial) examinations of specimens, preparing samples of tissues and fluids for examination, photographing specimens, writing reports, and assisting with administrative lab tasks.

To work in this field, pathologists’ assistants must complete a National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredited program. These two-year programs include one year of study and one year of hands-on clinical rotations to gain the skill necessary to excel in this field.

Continue reading to learn about top NAACLS accredited programs and outstanding professors in this field.

Pathologists’ Assistant Admissions Requirements & Accreditation

Admission requirements for pathologist’ assistant programs typically include:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Prerequisite coursework in chemistry, organic chemistry, and biology
  • GRE score
  • Shadowing experience in pathology
  • A completed application
  • Pay an application fee
  • Letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL or IELTS score for international applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • A personal statement
  • Current resume

The National Accrediting Agency Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredits pathologists’ assistant programs. There are only 12 accredited pathologists’ assistant programs in the US and only four in Canada. It is imperative that students attend an accredited program as this is required for American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) certification.

On-Campus Pathologists’ Assistant Programs

Drexel University – College of Medicine

The two-year master of science in pathologists’ assistant (PathA) at Drexel University College of Medicine merges a year of intensive classroom study with the second year of practical fieldwork. The program’s curriculum includes courses such as medical terminology; applied anatomic pathology; biomedical photography; medical terminology; autopsy pathology; medical microbiology; and medical pathology, among others. Graduates will have the necessary education and training to work independently under the supervision of a pathologist.

Students must complete a total of 91 semester hours credits to complete this program. A bachelor’s degree in allied health or biological science with a grade point average of at least 3.0 is the minimum requirement for acceptance into this program. Additional requirements include prerequisite coursework, GRE scores, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts demonstrating a completed bachelor’s degree.

Graduates will be ready to take up positions in a variety of settings such as community hospitals, private pathology laboratories, government hospitals, medical examiner offices, medical research centers, and academic centers such as university hospitals and medical schools.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Full-time ($10,044 per semester); part-time ($761 per credit)

Duke University – School of Medicine

The Duke University School of Medicine master’s in health science pathologists’ assistant degree trains students in surgical and autopsy pathology. In addition to technical skills, students will also learn various administrative skills, including managing budgets, supervising, and teaching.

Comprising 94 credits, the program includes courses such as an introduction to practical anatomic pathology techniques; foundations of patient care; neuroscience and the autopsy; introduction to autopsy pathology; anatomic pathology and digital analytics; surgical pathology; the pathologic basis of clinical medicine; laboratory technologies and techniques; and photography. This program can be completed in just under two years. Graduates are eligible to sit for the ASCP certification exam.

  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 23.5 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $28,334 per year

Quinnipiac University – School of Health Sciences

Quinnipiac University’s School of Health Sciences offers a two-year master’s in health science pathologists’ assistant program. The outstanding faculty in this program are dedicated to their student’s success. Class sizes are kept small to foster close relationships between professors and students. This program has graduated more than 600 students since it began in 1973.

To graduate, students must complete 89 semester credit hours in coursework such as surgical pathology; autopsy pathology; histochemistry; disease mechanisms; and human embryology. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, prerequisite coursework, letters of recommendation, a statement of intent, a current resume, and official transcripts. GRE scores are not required.

  • Location: Hamden, CT
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE); National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,095 per credit

University of Maryland – School of Medicine

With only ten students per class, the master’s of science for pathologists’ assistants at the University of Maryland School of Medicine is a small and intimate program that graduates outstanding professionals in this field. This program boasts a 100 percent job placement rate and 100 ASCP pass rate since 2018. With a focus on both surgical and autopsy pathology, students receive a well-rounded education.

Upon completing two semesters of classroom-based coursework, students will engage in three full semesters of clinical rotations to practice their pathology skills in actual morgues, hospitals, and labs. This program is only offered to full-time students and can be completed in only 22 months.

Made up of 38 credits, the program includes courses such as systemic pathology; general pathology; autopsy pathology; surgical pathology; cell and systems physiology; laboratory management; clinical pathology and microbiology; and structure and development (anatomy, histology, and embryology).

  • Location: Baltimore MD
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 22 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($764 per credit); non-resident ($1,320 per credit)

Wayne State University

(Video) Pathologist Assistant Day in the Life

Wayne State University’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences offers a master of science program in pathologists’ assistant program that trains students in this highly specialized field, preparing them for their careers through comprehensive experiential learning. Students will be prepared to assist pathologists in surgical, anatomic, autopsy, and forensic pathology.

To get accepted into the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0, completion of all prerequisite coursework, submission of two letters of recommendation, and TOEFL scores for students whose first language of instruction is not English.

Consisting of 77 credits, the program includes courses such as applied general pathology; medical photography and techniques in pathology; human anatomy and physiology for pathologists’ assistants; human embryology and pediatric pathology; histochemistry for the pathologists’ assistants; neuroanatomy for the pathologists’ assistant; surgical pathology; and clinical pathology.

  • Location: Detroit, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($68,051 total); non-resident ($131,349.62 total)

West Virginia University

West Virginia University School of Medicine’s pathologists’ assistant program culminates in a master’s degree in health science. Class sizes for this program are kept small, consisting of just 16 students per class. The program’s first year includes hands-on experiences in surgical pathology gross rooms and autopsy suites, while the second year comprises clinical rotations in several medical settings providing students with a wide range of experience before employment. Graduates will be eligible to take the ASCP board certification exam.

The 74-credit curriculum of the program includes courses such as anatomical pathology techniques; educational methodologies; systemic pathology; fundamentals of physiology; microbiology; medical laboratory management; advanced microanatomy; and autopsy and surgical procedures.

Admission requirements to the program include a bachelor’s degree in any science, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, two letters of recommendation, completion of prerequisite courses, a statement of purpose, a current resume, and current transcripts.

  • Location: Morgantown, WV
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($513 per credit); non-resident ($1,449 per credit)
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Online Pathologists’ Assistant Programs

Due to the hands-on nature of pathologists’ assistant work and training, there are no fully online programs at this time, although select courses may be completed in a distance-based or hybrid format.

Pathologists’ Assistant Professors to know

Accredited Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) Schools (1)

Cheryl Hanau, MD Drexel University College of Medicine

Dr. Cheryl Hanau serves as a professor and the Richard Shuman, MD Chair in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Drexel University. Prior to being appointed chair, she was the associate dean for admissions, as well as the program director of the pathology and laboratory science residency program.

Dr. Hanau has many accolades to her name, including being named a “Top Doctor” by Philadelphia Magazine and receiving the Lindback Award, the June Klinghoffer Clinical Educator Award, and several Golden Apple awards. She earned her MD at Jefferson Medical College, where she completed fellowships in surgical pathology and cytopathology.

(Video) Master of Pathologists' Assistant program overview

Accredited Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) Schools (2)

Diana Marcella Cardona, MD Duke University School of Medicine

Dr. Diana Marcella Cardona earned her doctor of medicine degree from the University of Miami and completed her pathology residency at the University of Florida. She then went on to complete a fellowship in gastrointestinal and liver pathology. Her primary areas of specialization are transplant pathology and carcinogenesis of the pancreas.

Dr. Cardona has been an associate professor of pathology at Duke University’s School of Medicine for over a decade. She is a prolific writer and was listed as an author in no fewer than eight publications in 2020 alone. Her research has been published in prominent journals such as The American Journal of Surgical Pathology, Blood, and Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Accredited Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) Schools (3)

Olga Ioffe, MD University of Maryland School of Medicine

(Video) How to become a Pathologist Assistant - Applying to School

Dr. Olga Ioffee completed medical school in Moscow, Russia. She then traveled to the US to complete her residency in internal medicine and anatomic and clinical pathology in Maryland. She is the division head for anatomic pathology and the associate chair for education at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Her primary specialties are surgical pathology and cytopathology. She also has a clinical specialization in breast and gynecology pathology and routinely consults in this area. She is currently participating in several National Institute of Health-funded research projects on breast cancer. When not researching or teaching, she also works as the editor-in-chief at the American Journal of Surgical Pathology: Reviews and Reports.

Pathologists' Assistant Certification & Licensure

Certification for pathologists’ assistants is voluntary, although it is an industry standard and most employers require it. This field’s primary certification is the Pathologists Assistant (PA) certification through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

To be eligible for this exam, candidates must hold at least a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university and complete a NAACLS accredited Pathologists’ Assistant program within the past five years. This exam costs $530, must be completed in two and a half hours, and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.

Licensing requirements for pathologists’ assistants vary by state. For licensing purposes, pathologists’ assistants often fall under the category of clinical laboratory personnel. Aspiring professionals in this field should contact their local state board to learn about licensing requirements and ensure they have the necessary qualifications.

Accredited Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) Schools (4)

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Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with a passion for sharing stories of bravery. Her love for world-traveling began when her family moved to Spain when she was six and since then, she has lived overseas extensively, visited six continents, and traveled to over 25 countries. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in French. When not writing or parenting she can be found kiteboarding, hiking, or cooking.

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