Please consider the following and review the program of study, admission requirements and application process before applying.

Applicants should have a passion for anatomy.

Pathologists' Assistants work in an environment which necessitates:

  • fine motor skills
  • visual acuity
  • long periods of standing
  • working under high pressure
  • exposure to chemicals
  • infectious disease risks
  • strong communication skills
  • computer work
  • confidentiality.

The application and documents deadline for Fall 2023 admission is April 1, 2023.

It should be understood that eligibility does not guarantee admission.

1. Admission Requirements
All applicants require:
  1. at least a bachelor's degree or its academic equivalent.
  2. the following prerequisite courses at the postsecondary level: Microbiology (3 units of course weight), Biology (6 units), Physiology (3 units), Biochemistry (6 units), Human Anatomy (3 units), Mathematics (3 units), English (6 units). It is to the applicant's advantage to have completed all prerequisite courses within the last 10 years.
  3. successful completion of a Medical Terminology course. This course can be in any format (online, in person, correspondence) and taken from any institution.
  4. an admission grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on the University of Alberta 4-point scale, or the equivalent qualification from another institution - this is calculated on the most recent course work (equivalent to 60 units of course weight or the last two years of full-time study).
  5. proof of English language proficiency (ELP) if the applicant does not hold a degree from countries or international universities listed on the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research page of  Recognized English Language Countries and Institutions The following ELP examinations are recognized; minimum scores required by Laboratory Medicine and Pathology are:
  • internet-based TOEFL score: 95 with at least 21 per section;
  • IELTS (Academic) score: 7.0 with at least 6 on each band;
  • PTE (Academic) score: 65 with a minimum band score of 60;
  • CAEL score: 70 with at least 70 on each subtest.
  • Duolingo English Test (taken after February 1, 2020) are temporarily being accepted as one of the ways to meet English Language Proficiency requirements. Minimum Duolingo English Test scores required by Laboratory Medicine and Pathology are 125 overall, with no subscore below 105.
2. Additional Requirements

Admitted students are responsible for these requirements and any fees associated with them.

Police Information Checks: Applicants should be aware that a clear Police Information Check, which must include a Vulnerable Sector Check, is required at the time of admission. Students who fail to provide a clear Police Information Check may be required to withdraw from their program. See the University of Alberta Calendar for more information on the requirements for Police Information Checks and the fees associated with them.

Immunizations: Students are required to obtain specified immunizations. The form and further details will be provided on admission to the program.

3. Application Process

A maximum of 2 students will be accepted into the program each year.

Applicants to this program are required to apply using the graduate studies online application system.

Start term: Applications are accepted for the Fall (September) term only.

Application and supporting documents deadline: Applications and all supporting documentation, including reference letters, must be received by April 1.

Supporting documents:

  1. Official transcripts or marksheets and degree certificates from each university or post-secondary institution previously attended
  2. Proof of English language proficiency (if necessary).
  3. Proof of successful completion of a Medical Terminology course. This course can be in any format (online, in person, correspondence), taken from any institution. if the course will not be completed by the application deadline, submit a Medical Terminology Course Plan instead.
  4. Curriculum vitae or resumé (do not use the University of Alberta's CV Form)
  5. Letter of intent. This letter should address the following:
    • Why have you chosen this profession?
    • Why are you a good fit for this profession?
    • What are your professional goals and ambitions?
    • Demonstrate / reflect on your attention to detail, fine motor skills, ability to multitask and manage competing priorities, computers skills.
  6. Three references (see Reference Letters Instructions)

Except for references, all supporting documentation is uploaded during the application process.

Names and email addresses of referees are provided during the application process, and reference request emails are sent upon final submission of the application.

In preparation for the online application, applicants must combine the Proof of successful completion of a Medical Terminology course or Medical Terminology Course Plan, Curriculum vitae or resumé, and Letter of Intent into a single pdf file.

Evaluation of applications: All eligible applications will be assessed and ranked by the program's admissions committee. Candidates who are shortlisted will be invited to an interview in May or June (in person or via videoconference).

Offers of admission: The applications of successful candidates will be forwarded to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) with a recommendation for admission. The FGSR makes a final review of the application, and only the FGSR may extend the official offer of admission.

4. Reference Letters Instructions

References may be academic or work. While the online application system requests 2 work references and 1 academic reference, this is a guideline only; we will accept any combination of work and academic references.

Applicants are to advise their referees to address the following in the General Appraisal section of the referee form and/or in their reference letter:

  1. Provide an appraisal of the following specific qualities of the applicant:
    1. Critical thinking / problem solving
    2. Work ethic / industriousness
    3. Multitasking / managing competing priorities
    4. Judgment
    5. Attention to detail
    6. Fine motor skills
    7. Communication skills
  2. Address the applicant's ability to carry on advanced study and research, teaching ability, potential for successful study in the applicant's field, and weaknesses, if any. Please provide specific examples to support your comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Pathologists' Assistant program NAACLS accredited?
The program has achieved full accreditation status with the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) as of April 30, 2022. Graduates are eligible to write the ASCP certification examination. For complete information on the NAACLS accreditation process see:, NAACLS  5600 N. River Rd, Suite 720 Rosemont IL  60018-5119; ph: 773.714.8880; fx: 773.714.8886; 
Is there Canadian certification?
Graduates will be eligible to write the certification examination from the Canadian Association of Pathologists (CAP).
What will the Pathologists' Assistant program cost?

Based on the current fee structure, for a Canadian/Permanent Resident, the approximate total cost in tuition and fees for this two year program (24 months) is ~$15,000 CAD.

For an international student, the approximate total cost in tuition and fees for this two year program (24 months) is ~$34,000 CAD.

These are estimates only; see Fee & Cost of Living Estimates for more information.

Is there funding available for students in the Pathologists' Assistant program?

There is no funding support (stipend) offered to students in this program.

Students admitted to this program may compete for such awards as:

Are non-Albertan and international applicants eligible?
Yes, however preference may be given to Canadians and permanet residents of Canada. A maximum of 2 applicants are admitted each year and all eligible applicants are considered regardless of residency.
What is a competitive admission GPA for this program?
The minimum admission GPA is 3.0 on the University of Alberta 4-point scale. Successful applicants have admission averages of ~3.6.
How are applicants ranked?

Applications are reviewed first for eligibility, i.e. that the minimum required admission GPA has been met, proof of English language proficiency requirement has been met (if necessary), all prerequisites courses have been taken, and all supporting documentation has been received and is in order. Once that initial assessment is made, the admissions committee will evaluate eligible applications. The factors considered are the admission GPA, prerequisite course grades, the applicant's CV, the letter of intent, and the referees' appraisals. Academics (admission GPA and prerequisite courses) are weighted more heavily.

The top applicants are shortlisted for an interview (either in person or teleconference) and the result of the interview is also factored into the final decision. A maximum of 2 applicants are offered admission.

How long should the letter of intent be? What format?
There is no specified length or format for the letter but applicants are reminded to address the key points as specified in the admissions Application Process section.
What medical terminology course is required?

While the medical terminology course can be a university course, it does not have to be.

For a non-university course, the applicant must demonstrate successful completion of course, not just "participation". Often a certificate of completion is issued. This course can be in any format (online, in person, correspondence) and taken from any institution. Courses include offerings from NAIT, SAIT, Canadian Red Cross, Medix Online, and Universal Class but are not limited to these.

A standalone course dedicated to medical terminology must be taken. Medical terminology taught within the context of another course (or series of courses) is not considered sufficient for admission purposes.

If you are uncertain whether a course you are considering would meet this prerequisite, please provide the details of the course to our office ( and we will advise you.

Does the medical terminology course need to be completed by the application deadline?
No. The course does not need to be completed by the application deadline but you will need to submit the Medical Terminology Course Plan form indicating your intent. If admission is offered, admission will be conditional to successful completion of the course by June 30.
Do postsecondary courses need to be completed by the application deadline?

No. If your course work or degree program is still in progress at the deadline (April 1), your application will be considered based on the work completed. However, if admission is offered, admission will be conditional on successful completion of the coursework to a minimum standard by June 30. If the condition is not met, the offer of admission would be immediately withdrawn.

Postsecondary courses not in progress at the application deadline will not be considered.

How are prerequisite course equivalents determined?

All prerequisite courses must be successfully completed at the postsecondary level from a recognized institution. Typically 3 units of course weight is a 1-term course; 6 units would be a 2-term course or two 1-term courses.

Prerequisite course Number of terms Description
Microbiology (3 units) 1 term General microbiology
Biology (6 units) 2 terms General biology
Physiology (3 units) 1 term Human physiology preferred; animal physiology accepted
Biochemistry (6 units) 2 terms Introductory biochemistry; plus any other
Human anatomy (3 units) 1 term Human anatomy
Mathematics (3 units) 1 term Any mathematics
English (6 units) 2 terms English literature and analysis; Writing.

If you are uncertain whether a course is a suitable prerequisite, please provide the details of the course to our office ( and we will advise you. Include as much detail as possible (institution, course name and number, course description, course syllabus or outline, etc).

Is proof of English language proficiency the same as the prerequisite English course(s)?
No. Applicants who are required to supply proof of English language proficiency must still take a full year (two-terms) of graded university-level English studies to meet the admission requirement. Typically such courses are English literature and analysis, or writing.
What are the graduation rates and certification exam pass rates?

Graduation Year






Graduation Rate






Attrition Rate






CCCPA Exam Pass Rate






ASCP-BOC Exam Pass Rate






Employment Placement Rate






# No students were enrolled in the final half of the program (practicum) with expected graduation in 2021.

CCCPA - Canadian Certification Council of Pathologists’ Assistants.

ASCP-BOC- American Society for Clinical Pathology-Board of Certification.  Prior to NAACLS accreditation (graduation year before 2020), graduates were not eligible to write the ASCP-BOC exam.  

For any additional inquiries regarding admission, please contact