Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) Schools - Accredited Degrees

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 improving care and outcomes.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that by 2033 there will be a shortage of nearly 139,000 physicians in the US. The demand for physician extenders, such as pathologists’ assistants, who can work independently under supervision, is growing.

While pathologists’ assistants work in a variety of 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, prepare samples of tissues and fluids for examination, photograph specimens, write reports, and assist with administrative lab tasks.

In order 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 pathologists’ 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 Canada. NAACLS accreditation assures students that a program meets minimum levels of It is imperative that students attend an accredited program as this is required for American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) certification.

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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. Required coursework pathology, anatomy, leadership skills, and microbiology. 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. Admission requirements include prerequisite coursework, GRE scores, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts demonstrating a completed bachelor’s degree.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Accreditation: National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $56,000 for the entire program
  • Program Length: 24 months

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 a variety of administrative skills, including managing budgets, supervising, and teaching.

Required coursework students must complete includes cell and molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, gross and microscopic human anatomy, pathology, human physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, and immunology. This program can be completed in just under two years. Graduates are eligible to sit for the ASCP certification exam.

  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Accreditation: National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $28,334 per year
  • Program Length: 23.5 months

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 prerequisite coursework, letters of recommendation, a statement of intent, a current resume, and official transcripts. GRE scores are not required.

  • Location: Hamden, CT
  • Accreditation: National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $1,075 per credit hour
  • Program Length: Two years

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 for full-time students and can be completed in only 22 months.

  • Location: Baltimore MD
  • Accreditation: National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $1,290.70 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 22 months

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

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 in transplant pathology and carcinogenesis of the pancreas.

Dr. Cardona has been an associate professor of pathology at Duke University’s School of Medicine for more than a decade. She is a prolific writer and was listed as an author on no fewer than eight publications in 2020 alone. She was recently promoted to the role of director of anatomic pathology laboratories at Duke.

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.

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.

Kimmy Gustafson
Kimmy Gustafson Writer

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.