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Pathologist Assistant Schools: How to Choose

Pathology assistants work under the supervision of licensed pathologists in surgical and autopsy settings in order to diagnose and study disease. Students must obtain a master's degree in pathology assistance to enter the profession, and certification from the American Society of Clinical Pathology is often a professional standard.

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How to Select a Pathology Assistant School

Bachelor's degrees in biology, chemistry or nursing could prove advantageous for admission to a graduate program in pathology assistance. Typically, any major is sufficient, though students should complete undergraduate courses in science-based studies before enrolling. Practical or observational experience in a pathology assisting capacity is recommended or required. These programs are typically found at 4-year universities.

Summary of Considerations

  • Hands-on training
  • Accreditation

Hands-on Training

Students who prefer hands-on training may want to consider a program that offers multiple clinical externships throughout the duration of the program. Others may choose to participate in didactic learning prior to gaining work experience in the field. Some master's programs offer assisting opportunities in various settings, such as hospitals and private clinics, while others utilize an on-campus medical center for students to gain experience. Applicants should determine the value they place on performing learned procedures when researching potential schools and programs.


The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredits pathologists' assistant master's degree programs. Students will need to graduate from an accredited master's program in order to sit for the Pathologists' Assistant examination. Applicants should ensure that the selected program meets these requirements and adequately prepares them in the necessary topics.

Pathology Assistant Program Overview

Master's Degree in Pathology Assistant Studies

A master's degree in pathology assistance prepares students to diagnose and study disease through dissecting and examining tissues during the performance of surgery or autopsy. Clinical experiences typically account for half of the syllabus, and students will learn dissection techniques, as well as how to describe and report findings. Programs typically take 24 months to complete, with some schools requiring full-time summer attendance as well in which students complete clinical experiences. Many programs require students to maintain an above-average GPA to continue in the program. Coursework typically includes:

  • Anatomy
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Methods used to study diseases, defects and illnesses
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