MA in Pathology

Changes to this program will take effect in the 2015–2016 academic year.

The Master of Arts in Pathology program focuses on the basic science and laboratory techniques of pathology and related disciplines. The master’s program was founded in 2003 by Dr. Adrianne Rogers, professor emeritus of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and former associate chair of the department. Graduates are prepared to work in basic science, biotechnology, and other biomedical research laboratories designing, performing, and evaluating research using methods based on morphology. Students learn to prepare and evaluate animal or human cells and tissues for the effects of test compounds, devices, or procedures using morphologic methods.

Techniques include gross, microscopic, and ultrastructural techniques for examination of cells and tissues, including histochemical staining and immunohistochemical, immunofluorescence, and radioisotopic methods; and certain clinical chemistry, hematological, immunological, and radioisotopic methods for examination of blood and tissue fluids or extracts. Offerings include some or all of the following specialized techniques in the basic laboratory rotations or in the student’s laboratory research project: laser capture techniques, in situ hybridization including fluorescence detection (FISH) and confocal or electron microscopy, image analysis, and virtual pathology. Students learn and rotate in modern, well-equipped laboratories on the BU Medical Campus.


Candidates are required to complete a minimum of eight semester courses (32 credit hours) at the graduate level, including an original laboratory-based thesis. The degree program is usually completed within two years.

Requirements by Topic

Updated curriculum is consistent with the currently approved program alternatives.


  • GMS PA 700 Introduction to Pathology and Pathophysiology of Disease (4 cr, spring)
  • GMS PA 710 Introduction to Basic and Applied Pathology (2 cr, fall)
  • GMS PA 800 A1 Pathology Seminar (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 810 The Business of Science (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 801 Pathology Special Topics (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 900 Pathology Laboratory Rotations (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 901 Pathology Research (varies, 2–10 cr)
  • GMS PA 910 Human Biospecimens for Research (2 cr)


  • GMS BI 752 Biochemistry and Cell Biology (4 cr, fall)


  • GMS CI 670 Biostatistics with a Computer (4 cr)


GMS offers a selection of electives for your second year of study; to be approved by the program director.

First Fall Semester

  • GMS BI 752 Biochemistry and Cell Biology (4 cr)
  • GMS CI 670 Biostatistics with a Computer (4 cr)
  • GMS PA 710 Introduction to Basic and Applied Pathology (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 810 The Business of Science (2 cr)
  • Pathology Seminar (not for credit)

Total credits: 12

First Spring Semester

  • GMS PA 700 Introduction to Pathology and Pathophysiology of Disease (4 cr)
  • GMS PA 800 Pathology Seminar (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 801 Pathology Special Topics (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 900 Pathology Laboratory Rotations (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 910 Human Biospecimens for Research (2 cr)

Total credits: 10–12 or more, depending on the choice of courses

Attendance at a weekly departmental seminar is required throughout the program in the fall and spring semesters. The courses are usually completed in the first year of study, as are two laboratory rotations. The rotations teach basic histomorphologic techniques and their applications. Each rotation lasts 6–8 weeks part time (at least 15 hours per week) or 3 weeks full time (e.g., in summer or intersession). These rotations teach basic tissue preparation techniques, including special stains and quality control methods in use in clinical and experimental anatomic pathology laboratories. The second rotation is determined by the student’s particular interest and generally will be in the student’s likely thesis research laboratory. It might, for example, be focused on immunohistochemical or molecular diagnostic techniques or in situ or confocal or electron microscopic techniques in use in a laboratory. Research laboratories at the medical center or in biotechnology companies are the sites used for both rotations and thesis research with which the department or individual faculty has managing, consulting, or service associations.

Laboratory Research

The mentor’s laboratory is chosen from laboratories and mentors approved and listed by the department. The director of graduate studies and members of the Graduate Studies Committee of the department will advise students on their choice of thesis research laboratory. The decision is made by mutual agreement between the student and the mentor. The research project usually takes one year to complete. A thesis documenting the student’s research is read and approved by the laboratory mentor and one additional faculty member of the department who is knowledgeable in the area of the student’s research. Fourteen (14) research credits are awarded for the required Master of Arts thesis work.

Criteria for Admissions

A bachelor’s degree (or higher) from a recognized college or university, including courses in general biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus; the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test; the (TOEFL) Test of English as a Foreign Language if the applicant’s native language is not English. Course grades follow the Division letter grade system. Division rules apply to fulfillment of course requirements for the degree.

All admissions go through the Division office in which basic credentials and exam results are checked. The TOEFL requirement is set by the University at 600.


With the growing use and development of highly sophisticated morphologic techniques, the demand for well-trained technical personnel in academic and biotechnological laboratories is growing. Students interested in careers that involve technical work using morphologic techniques to examine tissues from patients or laboratory animals will benefit from this program and, upon its completion, will likely find attractive employment opportunities. Our graduates will also be well prepared to enter a doctoral degree program in biomedical sciences or to apply to medical school.

Our graduates are currently employed in diagnostic and research laboratories, and we make every effort to facilitate job opportunities for them.