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Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) FAQs

How long is the program?

The program is 24 months in length. We begin in mid May, and the training is completed 24 months later in mid-May, including both summers.

Can this program be completed online?

No, we do not offer an online program.

Do you prefer the GRE or the MCAT, what are competitive scores, and is there a lower limit (minimum score)?

  • We prefer that applicants submit GRE scores, but will also accept MCAT results as part of the application.
  • Competitive applicants have scores on either exam in the 50th percentile or greater in all categories.

Must I take the general or a specific subject GRE?

Applicants must take the general GRE.

Where should the ETS send my GRE scores?

The scores should be sent to Institutional Code 2194 (Drexel University College of Medicine).

What is the minimum undergraduate GPA required for applicants?

Competitive applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above.

What courses must I take to be eligible to apply for the program?

NAACLS, our accrediting agency, requires the following as absolute prerequisites:

  • English composition
  • College mathematics
  • General biological and chemical sciences
  • Microbiology
  • Either organic chemistry or biochemistry

In addition, we require:

  • Human anatomy
  • Physiology

Other courses that strengthen an application, but are not required, include:

  • Histology
  • Human embryology
  • Immunology

What is the earliest I can apply, and when is the application deadline?

The deadline for applications is the second Friday in February of the year in which you intend to enroll. Applications are accepted from June until the following February application deadline.

Is there an online application?

Yes, there is. You can complete the online application by clicking "How to Apply" in the top right corner of any of our program's web pages and then clicking "Apply Now."

What do you expect as a letter of evaluation? Are there forms to be filled out? Should I submit the letters with my application form, or can they be submitted by the various persons providing the evaluation?

All evaluations should be in the form of a letter written on official letterhead with a signature. They can be sent in a sealed and initialed envelope or submitted online. There are no official evaluation forms to be completed.

If you answer "No" to the "Committee Letter of Recommendation" and "No" to the "Interfolio" questions in the application, you will be able to list separately the individuals who will be submitting letters.

I applied last year and was not accepted. If I wish to reapply for next year what materials must I submit and what can be carried over from the previous application?

We are able to use your previously submitted application materials. However, it is your responsibility to send us any documentation of updated transcripts, letters, work experience, shadowing experience, etc.

How many students are accepted for each class?

We accept a maximum of 12 students per year for the Philadelphia campus.

How many applications do you receive per year?

We receive an average of 60-70 applications each year.

What work experience is necessary to be eligible for application?

Work experience in surgical and autopsy pathology may be difficult to obtain. Therefore, we do not require our applicants to have actually been employed in anatomic pathology laboratories. However, we favor applicants who have shadowing experience in the field, preferably with a pathologists' assistant or, if that is not possible, an anatomic pathologist. The admissions committee looks favorably upon candidates who have shadowed and who have a good understanding of the profession.

Do you conduct open houses for prospective applicants?

We do not conduct general open houses. However, if a prospective applicant wishes to make an appointment with the program co-director for a general information question-and-answer session and facilities tour, this can be arranged on an as needed basis.

I am interested in forensics and crime scene investigation. Is the Pathologists' Assistant Program a good way to further my career in this area?

No, the Pathologists' Assistant program is not a forensics program. Although we provide an introduction to forensic technique at the Philadelphia Medical Examiners Office, the focus of our training and of the profession is anatomic pathology, predominantly surgical pathology and hospital autopsy pathology.

Is on-campus housing available?

Limited housing is available for graduate and professional students. Information for the Philadelphia campus can be found at the Graduate Housing website.

Can international students apply, and what are the requirements?

We welcome applications from all eligible candidates, including those outside the U.S. In addition to the general requirements (undergraduate degree, prerequisite courses, official transcripts, GRE or MCAT, letters of recommendation, etc.), applicants must:

  • Submit all transcripts from institutions outside the U.S. for evaluation by WES. WES will then forward the official evaluation to us.
  • If English is not your first language, provide proof of English proficiency with academic TOEFL scores no more than two years old.

In addition, non-U.S. citizens accepted for enrollment at Drexel University College of Medicine shall make or cause to be made a payment ("deposit") to the Office of the Bursar, for the purpose of ensuring financial stability, to meet each full year's educational cost in advance of matriculation. For Pathologists' Assistant students, the amount of this deposit shall be equal to the total costs of a student's first and second years, and includes tuition, fees and living expenses.

I am a graduate of a foreign medical school. Will you waive the requirement for GRE/MCAT?

We are unable to waive this or any other requirement for anyone wishing to apply to the program, regardless of prior experience.

I am already an on-the-job trained pathologists' assistant and wish to become certified by the ASCP.  If I complete the didactic portions of the program can I use my previous experience as the practical portion of the training?

No, in order to be deemed eligible by Drexel University to sit for the ASCP board exam, you must compete the entire two (2) years of training.

Can I complete the didactic portion of my training on site and then choose where I want to do my practical rotation?

No, all practical rotations are to be completed at our official affiliate institutions.

This sounds like an expensive proposition! Are there grants or scholarships available? What kind of financial aid can I expect?

We do not offer any grants or scholarships. The financial aid office works with our accepted applicants to provide enough aid to cover tuition, fees, living expenses, etc.

The ASCP offers scholarships for qualified second year students. That website is ascp.org/Laboratory-Science-Program-Directors/Awards-and-Scholarships.

In addition, the AAPA (American Association of Pathologists' Assistants) offers select scholarships to second-year students..

How many hours per day are devoted to classes and rotations? Will I be able to work while I am a student?

The first-year curriculum is quite rigorous and we strongly discourage first-year students from holding jobs. Although the length of time spent in class and lab may not be a full eight-hour day, the necessary study time precludes employment.

Second-year students are on practical rotations from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily during weekdays, so a traditional job is difficult to fit into that schedule. We do, however, allow students to hold positions that do not interfere with the rotations.

 

Graduate students in the Pathologists' Assistant (PathA) program at Drexel University College of Medicine.

   I cannot imagine a better PathA program than that at Drexel University. I was constantly impressed with this program because:
 
1. There are dedicated program directors with more than 20 years of PathA experience. The detailed planning and the straightforward lectures perfectly equipped me for what was to come. Moreover, the whole PathA community was like a family.
 
2. I performed clinical rotations in five different hospitals, including top hospitals in the nation such as Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, etc. The quality and quantity of clinic practices exposed me to different cases and trained me to adapt quickly.
 
3. Monthly tests during clinical rotations ensured that I kept up with the required knowledge for both the PathA BOC exam and my subsequent career.
 
I finished the program confident that I was well prepared for my profession. I feel extremely fortunate to have been part of the Drexel PathA program.   
Qiong Peng, MS, PA (ASCP)
Class of 2010