Overview of the P.A. ASCP

The American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants (AAPA) was founded in 1972. The first program was at Duke University in response to the demand for qualified assistants in the specialty of Anatomic Pathology and a decline in the number of Pathology residents. The profession has emerged as one of the fastest growing specialties in medicine, focusing on Surgical and Autopsy Pathology (including anatomy and disease mechanisms), with additional training in Laboratory Management, Clinical Pathology, Forensics and Biomedical Photography.

In practice, Pathologists’ Assistants are responsible for the processing of the Surgical Pathology specimen from receipt to dissection and description to submission of tissue to Histology. In Autopsy practice, the PA is involved in reviewing the medical record of the decedent, evisceration, dissection, and selection of tissue for submission to Histology as well as formulation of a Preliminary Anatomic Diagnosis and Autopsy Report under the direction of a Pathologist. Many PA s are involved in Laboratory Management, teaching at the University level, training of residents and medical students, forensic investigation, or research.

Please visit www.pathassist.org. We invite you to review the AAPA Code of Regulations and Professional Standards. The WVU Pathologists’ Assistant program adheres to these regulations and standards. The goal of our program is to prepare graduates to uphold these standards of professionalism and capability.


The goal of the program is to educate and train qualified Allied Health Professionals as Pathologists’ Assistants, with the objective also being that the graduates pass the national certifying exam. Successful completion of the program enables alumnae to obtain employment in hospital laboratories, clinical laboratories, research facilities, and academic centers.


Although our objective is to academically prepare students to pass the national certifying exam, granting of the Master's degree in Health Science is not contingent upon passing any external certification exam, only successful completion of the approved program curriculum.

Mission Statement

The mission of the program for Pathologists’ Assistants at West Virginia University is to provide a high quality educational experience leading to a Master’s Degree in Health Science as a Pathologists’ Assistant. This degree prepares Pathologists’ Assistants for their integral role as a member of a healthcare team.

Program Goals

  • To provide a program for Pathologists’ Assistants which meets the academic standards of the University.
  • To offer high quality, skilled graduates for a variety of health care settings to provide surgical pathology and autopsy services.
  • To provide an educational background which enables graduates to assume teaching and supervisory roles in pathology and medical laboratories.