MS Pathologists’ Assistant Program Track

The Master of Science in Pathology, Pathologists’ Assistant Track, focuses on educating students in all areas of responsibility of a pathologists’ assistant, including gross surgical pathology, frozen section preparation and autopsy pathology. Pathologists’ assistants provide service in anatomic pathology under the direction and supervision of a qualified anatomic pathologist.

This program is not research-based, and no thesis is required. The program is designed to serve individuals holding baccalaureate degrees in various science-related fields (clinical laboratory science, cytotechnology, biology, chemistry, etc.) who have an interest in pathology, particularly the anatomic aspect of pathology. Find details on the Master of Science Pathologists’ Assistant Program curriculum.

Prerequisite Courses

To qualify for this program, students must have completed one year (two semesters) of general chemistry with lab (quantitative and qualitative), at least one semester of organic chemistry with lab, a college-level math course, a biology course, a microbiology course, and English composition. Recommended but not required courses include anatomy, human physiology, immunology and genetics. Work experiences in an area of pathology is viewed favorably but is not required.


Applications for the Master of Science in Pathology, Pathologists’ Assistant Track, at IU School of Medicine are accepted starting in the fall of the year before desired entry into the program (through March 1). Applications are reviewed when received to ensure that the appropriate prerequisite courses have been taken and applicants meet other criteria. In mid- to late-January, the Admissions Committee begins reviewing completed applications and inviting qualified applicants for interviews. This process continues until available positions are filled. Applicants are encouraged to apply before mid-January to receive full consideration. Final admission offers are usually announced by April 1. When completing the online application, prospective students should choose “Pathology M.S.”

Working as a Pathologist Assistant

Demand for certified pathologists’ assistants is high, and the employer demand exceeds the supply of pathologists’ assistants produced at present. Pathologists’ Assistants may work in academic medical centers, community hospitals, private laboratories, coroners’ and medical examiners’ offices, and other locations in which their services are needed.

Pathologists’ Assistants are qualified by academic and practical training to provide a range of support services under the direction and supervision of a pathologist. Among these duties is the preparation, gross description and dissection of human tissue surgical specimens including obtaining clinical history, describing gross anatomic features, dissecting surgical specimens, preparing tissues for histologic processing, and photographing all pertinent gross specimens and microscopic slides. Pathologists’ Assistants also prepare human postmortem examinations which involves conferring with the attending pathologists to identify any special techniques and procedures to be utilized in the completion of the postmortem examination; performing postmortem examinations; selecting, preparing and submitting appropriate gross tissue sections; performing special procedures such as coronary artery perfusion, central nervous system perfusion, enucleation, inner ear bone dissection, spinal cord removal, etc.; and organizing information pertinent to the preparation of the preliminary summarization of the clinical history. Other duties typically include freezing tissue removed at surgery in preparation for intra-operative examination by a pathologist and performing administrative, budgetary, supervisory and teaching duties.

Pathologists' Assistant Accreditation and Certification

Pathologists’ assistant is a recognized specialty accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), which has established the didactic and clinical experiences necessary for effective education of pathologists’ assistants. The IU School of Medicine Program is fully accredited by NAACLS.

Upon completion of an accredited pathologists’ assistant program, graduates are eligible to sit for the pathologists’ assistant certification examination offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Passing the certification examination is not a requirement for MS degree completion, but the credential is required by most employers in the United States.

The American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants (AAPA) is the professional organization for pathologists’ assistants in the United States. The AAPA is the only national organization that unites pathologists’ assistants and provides guidelines for their appropriate practice. Visit the AAPA website to read more about the responsibilities and career opportunities of pathologists’ assistants.

Program Application Frequently Asked Questions

Four or five students are accepted into the M.S. Pathologists’ Assistant Track each year.

The M.S Pathologists’ Assistant program typically receives an average of 65-75 applications each year.

Both math/science and total cumulative GPAs are evaluated. The average math/science GPA for successful applicants is 3.65. The average total cumulative GPA for successful applicants is 3.75. Both math/science and total GPA required minimums are 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants with math/science or total cumulative GPA’s below 3.3 are seldom competitive for admission.

For the GRE, scores that map to the 55th or higher percentile are preferred for the verbal and quantitative sections of the exam. For the analytic writing section, a score of 4.0 or higher is preferred. For the MCAT, scores that map to the 60th or higher percentile are preferred.

The institution code is 1325 (for Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis—IUPUI). The department code is 0215 (for IU School of Medicine Department of Pathology and Laboratory Science).

In the most recent ten years, all (100 percent) students who’ve entered the Pathologists’ Assistant Track have completed the program requirements and graduated.

In the most recent five years, all (100 percent) students who’ve completed the Master of Science in Pathologists’ Assistant program have passed the ASCP Board of Certification Exam.

In the most recent ten years, all (100 percent) students who’ve graduated from the Pathologists’ Assistant Track have secured relevant employment within six months.

After completing the program, most graduates secured jobs in hospital-related or private pathology groups. Graduates have accepted positions throughout the United States and globally.

Graduate-level basic science classes—including human physiology, histology (microscopic anatomy), microbiology, and human gross anatomy (with cadaver dissection)—that have been completed within the three years prior to admission can be considered for transfer for credit toward the degree. Decisions regarding course equivalency are made on a per case basis. Documentation of course content and a final grade of at least 3.0 are required. No more than 10 transferred credits can be counted toward the degree. No substitutions can be made for professional sequence courses, so no transferred courses are considered for credit toward the degree.

No online options are available for coursework required for the Pathologists’ Assistant Track.

Additional information about the Pathologists’ Assistant Program policies on service work, student advising, student grievance/appeals, criteria for program completion, and rules and regulations for conduct can be obtained by contacting the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pathology Academic Coordinator Hollyn Mangione. Email Hollyn Mangione.

Laboratory Science Track

Laboratory Science Track

The Master’s degree track for Laboratory Science is a research-based program that allows students to focus in an area of pathology, such as hematopathology, transfusion medicine, cytotechnology, and others.
Experimental Pathology Track

Experimental Pathology Track

The Master’s degree track for Experimental Pathology is designed for students with an interest in basic research, preparing for careers as research scientists in a subspecialty area of pathology.
Pathologists’ Assistant Track Curriculum

Pathologists’ Assistant Track Curriculum

The Pathologists’ Assistant Track has a standardized 22-month curriculum that begins with a full year of basic science courses; the second year highlights anatomic pathology techniques courses and practical experience.