NAACLS-Accredited MLS/CLS Programs

Known in the field as “health detectives,” medical laboratory scientists (MLS) and clinical laboratory scientists (CLS) are responsible for a range of investigative medical laboratory tasks. Graduates from MLS and CLS bachelor’s degree programs have access to rewarding positions in medical labs performing a broad range of tasks including disease diagnosis and drug treatment research.

Degree-seeking students in MLS/CLS programs can rest assured knowing the job outlook for professionals with degrees in these areas is trending upward. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) predicts that openings for medical laboratory technicians and technologists will increase by 13 percent between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Most MLS/CLS technologist careers involve the daily use of microscopes, cell counters and other high-tech laboratory equipment to analyze biological specimens. Also, according to the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), a wide range of specializations are available for laboratory professionals: medical laboratory technicians, cytotechnologists, phlebotomists, and clinical chemists.

As the aging population in the United States continues to require more diagnostic medical care, the need for MLS professionals continues to increase. While many medical laboratory technologists deal primarily with matters related to bacteria, diseases, and viruses, other branches of medicine and science-based industries are also in need of MLS/CLS-trained technologists. Some examples of these unique medical fields and industries include:

  • Biotechnology companies developing new drugs and biofuel-sourced medical implants
  • Cosmetics research laboratories, fertility research clinics
  • Forensic research laboratories
  • Immunology clinics.

Globally-recognized certification for graduates of MLS/CLS programs is available through the ASCP and having this credential can give applicants a competitive advantage when looking for jobs in cutting-edge medical and biotechnology laboratories.

Read on to learn more about the admission requirements, program accreditation & professional certification, and seven featured online MLS/CLS programs accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Admissions Requirements & Accreditation

Admission requirements for MLS/CLS university programs vary by institution. Here’s a list of the most common application materials:

  • Two years of previous professional experience as a medical laboratory technician (MLT) or clinical laboratory technician (CLT)
  • Associate’s degree from a NAACLS-accredited MLT/CLT college program or equivalent course work and MLT/CLT certification through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
  • Application
  • 2.5 GPA or higher
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended schools
  • Letter of intent
  • Resume
  • Reference letters
  • Background check

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) is the international agency for program accreditation in clinical laboratory sciences and related healthcare professions. NAACLS is committed to setting high-quality standards for educational programs that confer MLT/CLT and MLS/CLS degrees. Students, employers, and industries can trust the validity and quality of educational excellence bestowed by this peer-reviewed organization.

Online NAACLS-Accredited MLS/CLS Programs

Here are seven universities that offer NAACLS-accredited online bachelor of science (BS) degrees in medical laboratory science. Please note that due to the hands-on nature of this field, a majority of distance-based MLS/CLS programs are degree completion tracks and require an associate degree and/or MLT certification.

University of Cincinnati – College of Allied Health Sciences

The University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Services offers a bachelor of science degree in medical laboratory science. Designed specifically for MLT and CLT associate degree holders who want to advance their education and careers, this program can be completed part-time in just seven terms.

The curriculum integrates innovative subjects in tandem with practical laboratory skills at community clinical health facilities. Graduates in this program are eligible and prepared to sit for the medical laboratory scientist credential exam offered by the ASCP.

  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Services (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $4,661 per semester
  • Program length: 24 to 28 months

University of North Dakota – School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Since 1949 the University of North Dakota has offered degrees in medical laboratory science. One of the largest accredited online programs in the United States, this program has over 70 clinical affiliates in 15 states and offers affiliation agreements with colleges and universities in five other states.

Created with working students in mind, the MLT/CLT to bachelor’s of science in MLS program is offered completely online and does not require any on-campus visits. Admission for this program is competitive; prospective students must first apply to the university and upon acceptance may submit an application to the MLS professional program.

  • Location: Grand Forks, ND
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Services (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $404 per credit
  • Program length: 36 to 48 months

Weber State University – Dumke College of Health Professions

For those who are considering an MLT (two-year associate’s degree) or an MLS (four-year bachelor’s degree) program, Weber State University has both types of online degree programs for aspiring medical laboratory professionals. High school graduates have the option of entering the program first as an MLT student and can later choose to complete their two-year associate’s degree or go on to earn their bachelor of science in MLS.

Graduates of the four-year bachelor of science MLS program are eligible to sit for the ASCP MLS certification exam after completing their degree program. The curriculum includes new instrument selection, workload management, microbiology, and hematology. Data collection is required for specific courses which can benefit students and the laboratories employing them. Prospective students must first apply for admission to the university before submitting an application for the online MLS program.

  • Location: Ogden, UT
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Services (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $4,892 per semester for residents, $14,679 per semester for non-residents
  • Program length: 24 to 48 months

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University (ODU) offers a fully online bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science. Some courses meet live at weekly intervals and the online courses follow the regular ODU academic schedule. ODU has partnership agreements with the Virginia Community College System to make transferring credits easy between selected institutions.

To graduate from this program, at least 30 credits must be earned at ODU. Admission to this MLS program is available for certified MLT professionals who want to earn a bachelor’s degree and a professional MLS credential.

  • Location: Norfolk, VA
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Services (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $365 per credit for residents, $407 per credit for non-residents
  • Program length: 24 months

Auburn University at Montgomery – College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Auburn University at Montgomery offers a fully online bachelor of science degree in MLS. This distance learning program is designed for certified MLT/CLT professionals who have previous clinical laboratory experience and military personnel who have completed MLT training.

Core courses focus on theoretical information related to students’ laboratory experience with modern clinical laboratory instrumentation. Clinical experience is demonstrated in an approved clinical facility where students are currently employed, eliminating the need for students to relocate and enabling them to remain in their jobs while completing their degrees.

  • Location: Montgomery, AL
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Services (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $3,076 per semester for two years, $2,139 per semester for three years
  • Program length: 24 to 36 months

University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi offers an online bachelor’s of science degree in MLS and was created specifically for working MLT professionals wanting to earn their MLS degrees while remaining in their current laboratory positions. The program is open to MLTs who have been employed in the field for at least two years and are currently employed at a laboratory.

The curriculum includes courses in the natural sciences, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, technical writing, public speaking, and a final capstone project. Scholarships specifically for online students are available.

  • Location: Hattiesburg, MS
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Services (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $8,625 per year
  • Program length: 24 months

South Dakota State University

South Dakota State University offers an MLS Upward Mobility bachelor of science degree empowering students to pursue their interests while gaining expertise. The MLT/MLS program provides a strong scientific background in hematology, hemostasis, chemistry, immunology, and specialized testing. Students applying to this program must have completed two years of general education requirements, at least two years of work experience in a clinical laboratory, and an MLT certificate. Graduates of this MLS bachelor’s program are eligible to take the MLS certification exam offered by the ASCP.

  • Location: Brookings, SD
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Services (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $340 per credit
  • Program length: 24 months