Online Master's Degrees in Medical Laboratory Science

A career in medical laboratory sciences (MLS) is an opportunity to make a positive impact on health promotion, by way of diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases. An MLS master’s degree can put students on the fast track to success as a medical laboratory scientist or medical laboratory technician. This exciting field offers several avenues of employment for talented graduates in hospitals, private offices, and laboratories.

While a number of MLS master’s programs are offered completely online, some of them include a practical component that requires students to attend approved laboratories in order to earn a degree. The curriculum encompasses core clinical laboratory subjects such as clinical chemistry, hematology, microbiology, immunology, and molecular biology. Additionally, many of the courses are focused on developing leadership and management skills. As part of a rigorous program, students learn how to conduct research, detect diseases, identify infections, and ultimately, make meaningful contributions to the healthcare field. At the end of the program, graduates are prepared to conduct tests, evaluate results, solve complex problems, and assist in diagnosing patients.

An online MLS program opens up two major career tracks for graduates: medical laboratory technician and medical laboratory scientist. Medical laboratory technicians collect, analyze, and process biological specimens. They also perform lab tests and care for instruments. These positions generally require an associate degree or certificate, and are located in hospitals, laboratories, and doctor’s offices. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS 2018), medical lab technicians earn $51,770 per year or $24.89 per hour.

Medical laboratory scientists, on the other hand, usually hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD in medical laboratory science, biology or a related scientific field. Medical lab scientists not only perform laboratory tests, but also interpret results, conduct research, and develop new methods of testing. They use their skills in biology, medicine, clinical lab science, and in some cases biotechnology to solve complex challenges in their field. Medical lab scientists are also responsible for diagnosing disease, analyzing infections, and ensuring patient safety by monitoring drugs. These professionals work in offices and laboratories. Owing to the high level of specialization that the field demands, medical laboratory scientists earn a lucrative sum of $82,090 per year or $39.46 an hour, according to the BLS (2018).

This guide takes a look at six of the best online master’s programs in medical laboratory science. It also includes profiles of three standout faculty members.

Featured Online Master’s in Medical Laboratory Science Degree Programs

George Washington University, School of Medicine and Health Sciences

George Washington University offers a master of science in health sciences (MSHS) program in medical laboratory sciences (MLS). This online program consists of 36 credit-hours, 15 of which are focused on MLS. The coursework also includes 12 credit-hours of graduate research work, and three hours of electives.

Students that hold a certification in MLT or MLS/MT/CLS or other specialist technology certifications are eligible to apply. The curriculum explores core medical laboratory science topics including molecular pathology, research ethics and scientific enquiry, and education and assessment in MLS. Additionally, the program allows students to develop leadership competencies in healthcare and healthcare enterprise. In order to get a deeper understanding of the topics at hand, students are expected to complete graduate research courses including biostatistics and epidemiology for clinical and translational research.

All in all, the program provides students a thorough understanding of human disease processes and mechanisms. They also learn to develop and evaluate MLS instructional materials and tools. The leadership courses help students cultivate critical thinking skills and develop a holistic approach to healthcare. While the courses are all taught online, the program also includes a practical component. Students are required to complete practical courses in an approved diagnostic lab or hospital.

At the end of the MSHS program in medical laboratory sciences, students have a solid understanding of laboratory and health sciences issues. Graduates have several doors open to them including roles such as medical laboratory supervisor, MLS/MLT professor, public health laboratory scientist, and government research associate.

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $925 per credit-hour

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The MSHS in clinical laboratory sciences program offered by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley focuses on laboratory medicine as well as leadership and management. This degree prepares students to take up middle management roles in hospitals and laboratories.

This fully online program provides students with knowledge of essential laboratory systems. Taught by faculty well-experienced in laboratory sciences, the coursework includes instruction in health computer information systems, introduction to healthcare systems, and research in health sciences. The clinical laboratory sciences focused curriculum delves into pathophysiology of disease, advanced practice in clinical chemistry, and clinical applications of molecular diagnostics. As part of this program, students get a chance to explore disease processes, interpret diagnostic tests, and get an overview of cellular and tissue functions.

Students successfully completing the program gain in-depth knowledge of laboratory systems, as well as develop management skills. They are well-equipped to pursue advanced opportunities at private laboratories, hospitals, and universities.

  • Location: Edinburg, Texas
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $444.44 per credit-hour

The University of Southern Mississippi

This master’s program is ideal for certified medical laboratory scientists or technologists looking to further their career. On successful completion of the program, they can pursue roles including laboratory managers, education coordinators, science faculty members, and researchers. This online program is designed keeping in mind the flexibility working professionals need. Students opting for the non-thesis option have to complete 36 hours of coursework, while those doing a thesis have to complete a minimum of 30 hours of coursework.

Certification from a national certifying agency as a technologist is the minimum requirement in order to apply and graduate from this program. Individuals that hold a certification can pursue the program fully online. However, those who do not have a certification need to undertake laboratory science practical courses in order to get certified. Some of the courses that students in the program explore include clinical chemistry, clinical bacteriology, fundamentals of hematology, and introduction to clinical immunology.

  • Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 60 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $499.12 per credit-hour

The University of Texas Medical Branch, School of Health Professions

This online master’s program in clinical laboratory sciences is designed for certified clinical laboratory sciences graduates. It helps practicing professionals gain advanced knowledge and expertise in their field. Additionally, the program gives them an opportunity to hone their management skills, conduct clinical laboratory research, and get a taste of the latest techniques and procedures. Students can either pursue the degree on campus or online, part-time or full-time.

Through the program, students acquire an understanding of topics such as biostatistics, medical ethics, molecular diagnostics, and scientific writing. They also conduct laboratory research, clinical investigation, and study evidence-based laboratory medicine. The molecular diagnostics course also includes practical courses that require students to attend approved laboratories four times a week. At the end of the program, students complete a thesis, translating their theoretical knowledge into real-world usage.

The coursework provides students with a rich blend of practical and theoretical knowledge in biotech, research, hematology, microbiology, endocrinology, and toxicology. Graduates of this program are eligible to work in research, teaching, and management. Managerial positions in clinical laboratories and hospitals are also open to them.

  • Location: Galveston, Texas
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $706 per credit-hour

Rutgers School of Health Professions

The Rutgers School of Health Professions provides master’s and doctorate degrees in medical laboratory science. Graduates from these programs have the opportunity to pursue major roles in laboratory management including consultation, administration, test development, and research.

The program comprises 33 credits and is ideal for certified medical laboratory professionals. The curriculum gives students insight into clinical chemistry, health policy, transplantation, clinical microbiology, and hemostasis. Additionally, students develop fundamental skills such as leadership, strategic planning, finance, informatics, and quality assurance. One of the highlights of the program is the graduate project students undertake at the end. The project involves extensive planning and research as well as application of the principles learned throughout the program. Students are free to choose an issue relevant to their work and develop solutions for the same.

On successful completion of the medical laboratory sciences graduate program, graduates are well-equipped to deliver patient-focused care, review health sciences literature, understand new concepts, models, and theories, and design effective ways to provide clinical laboratory services. They can pursue lucrative career opportunities in hospitals, laboratories, biomedical companies, and academic and research institutes.

  • Location: Newark, New Jersey
  • Accreditation: Commission of Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12-72 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $698 per credit-hour

Michigan State University

Michigan State University offers a master of science degree in clinical laboratory sciences. The program encourages students to think outside the box and push the boundaries of traditional laboratory science. While applicants with a certification as a medical technologist or clinical laboratory scientists are preferred, it is not a requirement for application. Applicants are evaluated on the basis of experience, academic record, and their career goals.

The program comprises 30 credits, and includes thesis as well as non-thesis options. Students must take three mandatory courses: the fundamentals of scientific research, a biomedical laboratory diagnostics seminar, and communication in the sciences. As for core CLS subjects, these include cell biology, biochemistry, and statistics.

The program helps students explore new and emerging technologies in the field of clinical laboratory, as well as their applications. All in all, this degree is an opportunity for students to build on their current knowledge of CLS and boost their career prospects.

  • Location: East Lansing, Michigan
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24-72 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $931 per credit-hour

Admissions Requirements

These are some of the common admission requirements of the programs listed above:

  • A resume or CV is generally required. For some programs, those on active-duty military need not submit a resume; they can attach current orders instead.
  • Official transcripts from every university or college ever attended are required, whether a degree was earned or not. Students can also submit official military transcripts (for example: JST, CCAF) if it applies to them.
  • Two letters of recommendation must be submitted. After submission of contact details, recommenders will be sent a link through which they can upload their letter directly to the application. They must be either academic instructors and individuals who worked in a supervisory capacity and can attest to the work ethic of the student.
  • A statement of purpose must be attached to application. This essay should generally be 250-500 words, describing reasons for choosing a university, academic objectives, goals, and related qualifications.
  • An English language test is required for students who are not U.S. citizens. They can either submit official scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
  • A bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory sciences or a related science such as biology, chemistry, or microbiology from an accredited institution is required in some cases.
  • An overall GPA of 3.0 or higher is also a requirement.
  • Some of the programs listed above also require a national certification as a technologist, clinical laboratory scientist, or medical laboratory scientist.

Professors to Know in Online Master’s in Medical Laboratory Science Degree Programs

Dr. Marcia Firmani is program director at the medical laboratory sciences department, George Washington University. In addition to her supervisory duties, she teaches courses such as clinical microbiology and molecular diagnostics. Prior to George Washington University, she worked at the Louisiana State University and the University of Wisconsin. At both of these universities, she taught undergraduate and graduate level courses in clinical laboratory science. Notably, she has developed several continuing education classes, including one for the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. In addition to being an academic, she has also served as the principal investigator at the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC). Her research has appeared in respected journals such as the Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infection and Immunity. Additionally, she has authored chapters in textbooks on infectious disease. Dr. Firmani completed her PhD from the University of California; her MSPH from Tulane University; and her BS degree from Marist College.

Nadine Fydryszewski is a certified medical technologist, and currently serves as a professor of medical laboratory science at the Rutgers School of Health Professions. She brings extensive real-world experience to the classroom, having worked in several blood bank and hematology units in hospitals and private labs. Prior to Rutgers, she taught at the Monmouth Medical Center NJ for seven years. Later, she served as the founding director of the University of Medicine and Dentistry – School of Health Related Professions Center for Advanced and Continuing Education. Her research interests include web-based education in health professions, particularly clinical laboratory sciences. She has won several honours including the American Laboratory Science – NJ Outstanding Educator of the Year and the ASCLS-NJ Outstanding Medical Technologist of the Year. Dr. Fydryszewski earned her PhD from UMDNJ – School of Health Related Professions, and MS degree from Seton Hall University.

Dr. Eddie Salazar serves as the program director of the Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Science (DCLS) program at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Some of the classes he teaches include parasitology, urinalysis and body fluids, and seminars on clinical laboratory sciences. He is a member of several professional organizations including the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science as well as American Society of Clinical Pathology. His published work covers subjects such as nanomedicine, online education, health sciences, and drug delivery. He has also been the recipient of several grants from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Academy of Master Teachers. Dr. Salazar holds a PhD from Texas Tech University; an MS degree from the University of Houston Clear Lake; and a BS in clinical laboratory sciences from the University of Texas Medical Branch. Additionally, he also holds an MLS certification from the American Society of Clinical Pathology.