Program overview

Established in 1989, the Wayne State University Master of Science in Pathologists' Assistant (PAA) program is one of thirteen programs in the United States and Canada that trains students in the highly specialized field of anatomic pathology.

The Pathologists' Assistant program at Wayne State University is a two-year, full-time professional program that accepts 12-14 students per year. The program is structured to comply with both the university standards and those imposed by NAACLS. The first year of the program is fully didactic with comprehensive coursework in Anatomy, Pathology, Histology, among other subjects and extensive laboratory exposure in grossing methodology, histochemistry and autopsy techniques. The second year comprises clinical rotations in several different settings in the greater Detroit area as well as out-of-state.  In keeping with the standards of WSU Graduate School the minimum number of credits required for the master's degree in the Pathologists' Assistant program is 77 credits. Students are not required to pass a certifying, or other type of, examination administered or required by any outside agency to attain their Master of Science degree.

Program mission

The mission of the Pathologists' Assistant Program at Wayne State University is to educate qualified professional pathologists' assistants who are highly competent and exceed standards of practice in surgical and autopsy pathology as required in hospitals and medicolegal facilities.

Academic performance

A Pathologists' Assistant graduate student is expected to maintain an overall minimum professional course GPA of 3.00 or above throughout the curriculum (didactic courses and clinical performance scores) to remain in good standing.  Remedial work will be permitted for students receiving a final course grade between a 2.67 (B-) and a 2.00 (C). If, after remedial work is complete, the student's GPA falls below a 3.0, the student will be placed on Academic Probation, will not be permitted to graduate, and face possible dismissal from the university.

Clinical rotations

Clinical experiential placements begin in the Spring semester of the second year of the program and run for 11-months.  Each student will rotate at several clinical sites during the course of the year, and each rotation will provide ample time for the student to become familiar with the duties and responsibilities of a Pathologists' Assistant at that particular institution.  Student clinical placements are established randomly through our Clinical Dashboard System. 

Clinical training is offered throughout Michigan in cooperation with the Detroit Medical Center hospitals, Beaumont Health, University Hospital of Michigan Health Centers, Ann Arbor Veterans Affair Medical Center Healthcare System, Ascension-Providence Rochester Hospital, Henry Ford Health System, Michigan Health Clinics, Sparrow Health System, Bronson Healthcare Group, Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office, as well as out-of-state in cooperation with the University of Minnesota Physicians in Rochester, MN, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, OH, Southern Illinois Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, IL, Opus Pathology in Columbia, TN,  and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety- Medical Examiner.

Should the current number of clinical placements fail to become available, or is decreased, for the intended number of students enrolled in the second year of the program at the time of their clinical placement, students will be selected to rotate at the available clinical sites based upon their date of registration. 

Service work during clinical rotations

Service work is the compulsory, or non-compulsory, performance of any clinical or autopsy duties during scheduled clinical rotations without direct preceptor supervision.

While enrolled in the second year of the Pathologists' Assistant program students are prohibited from performing service work for compensation, or substituting for (uncompensated) any regular qualified staff employee at the clinical Institution. At each clinical affiliate site, students shall perform duties, and demonstrate procedural competencies, as established by the given clinical rotation objectives and under the supervision of a qualified clinical preceptor. 

Should the student be a paid employee of the clinical institution prior to the beginning of the second year of the Pathologists' Assistant program, the role onto which the student is contracted for, should not be practiced during the scheduled rotation hours.