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Pathologists' Assistant Program

The Pathologists' Assistant Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) offering a degree preparing students as a Pathologists' Assistant. After completing our program, students earn a Master of Science degree and are eligible to take the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) certification examination. Following successful passing of this exam, the graduate will be able to identify themselves as a PA (ASCP).

The Pathologists’ Assistant Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has a 100% first time candidate pass rate for the ASCP certification examination (mean to date is significantly above the national mean). Program student employment placement approaches 100% at graduation. The graduation rate of matriculated students is over 90%.


The Pathologists' Assistant is an allied health professional, qualified by academic and practical training to assist in providing service in anatomic pathology under the direction and supervision of an anatomic pathologist.

Pathologists' Assistants function as assistants to anatomic pathologists by participating in the examination, dissection and processing of tissues and by participating in gross autopsy dissection. Pathologists' Assistants are employed in a variety of settings, which include community and regional hospitals, university medical centers, private pathology laboratories and medical examiner offices. The ability to relate to people, a capacity for calm and reasoned judgment and a demonstration of commitment to patient quality care are essential for the Pathologists' Assistant. They must demonstrate ethical and moral attitudes and principles which are essential for gaining and maintaining the trust of professional associates, the support of the community, and the confidence of the patient and family. Respect for the patient and confidentiality of patient records and/or diagnoses must be maintained.

The high degree of responsibility assumed by the Pathologists' Assistant requires skills and abilities necessary to provide those services appropriate for an anatomic pathology setting.

Pathologists' Assistants are able to provide the following services under the direct supervision of a licensed and board-certified pathologist but are not limited to:

Surgical Pathology

The Pathologists' Assistant performs surgical specimen dissection by identifying the anatomical structures within the specimen, and assessing the nature and extent of the pathological process. The Pathologists' Assistant also assures appropriate specimen accessioning, obtains and assesses pertinent clinical information and ancillary studies, describes the gross anatomic pathology, selects tissue to be submitted for further histologic processing and microscopic examination by the pathologist. The Pathologists' Assistant also submits specimens for additional analytic procedures such as immunohistochemical staining, flow cytometry, image analysis, microbiological cultures, genetic analysis, chemical analysis, and toxicology, and assists in the photography of pathological specimens as indicated or requested.

Autopsy Pathology

The Pathologists' Assistant may be involved in the performance of postmortem examination, including the assessment of death certificates and obtaining proper legal authorization, and reviewing of the patient's medical record and pertinent clinical data. The Pathologists' Assistant may perform eviscerations as well as organ block dissection per the Departmental protocol, and triage autopsy specimens for special procedures and techniques as required. The Pathologists' Assistant may further select tissue for histologic processing and special studies, obtaining specimens for biological and toxicologic analysis, assist in photography of gross specimens, and communicate with clinicians regarding the autopsy findings. The Pathologists' Assistant may also be assigned to teaching, administrative, supervisory, and budgetary functions in Anatomic Pathology, depending on how a given position is structured.

Program Overview

The aim of the program is to prepare students for a career as a Pathologists' Assistant in a biomedical environment. A Pathologists' Assistant is an intensely trained professional who provides services in anatomic pathology under the supervision of a pathologist; the entire curriculum of the Pathologists' Assistant Program prepares you for the practice of the profession.

The required curriculum includes courses in general pathology, systemic pathology, surgical pathology, clinical pathology, autopsy pathology, lab management, physiology, and structure and function (anatomy training). In keeping with the standards of UMB's Graduate School, the minimum number of credits required for the master's degree in the Pathologists' Assistant Program is 38 credits. The program is structured to comply with both the university standards and those imposed by NAACLS.

Program Size

The usual class size is 10 students.

Academic Performance

Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average (CUM GPA) for the the duration of the program. Students who's CUM GPA falls below a 3.0 are placed on Academic Probation, will not be permitted to graduate, and face possible dismissal from the university.

The MANA 601 course: Structure and Development (Anatomy, Histology and Embryology) is offered during the second semester of enrollment and is a benchmark course. MANA 601 comprises a concentrated learning experience in human anatomy, histology, and embryology, which are essential for entry-level competency as a Pathologists' Assistant. This course also provides a foundation for the remainder of the two-year curriculum. Therefore, students must demonstrate a mastery of these subject areas by achieving a grade of C or better in MANA 601. Failure to do so will result in academic dismissal.

Clinical Rotations

Beginning with the summer semester, Pathologists' Assistant students fulfill clinical laboratory rotation requirements. Students rotate through area institutions to include University of Maryland Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Medical Examiners Office, and various community hospitals. Each rotation provides ample time to familiarize students with the duties and responsibilities of a Pathologists' Assistant for that particular institution