Medical Laboratory Science Schools

It may be reassuring to know that trained medical laboratory technologists, often called clinical laboratory scientists (CLS) or medical laboratory scientists (MLS), are behind the more complex procedures being carried out on patient specimens in a laboratory.

Due to the broad level of knowledge required in biology, chemistry, and microbiology, these professionals can specialize in several areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Degree specialties in medical or clinical laboratory science include immunology (carrying out specimen tests on the human immune system and its reaction to foreign bodies), immunohematology (collecting, classifying, and preparing blood for use in transfusions), and molecular biology (carrying out protein and nucleic acid tests on samples of cells).

Aspiring medical laboratory scientists can earn a bachelor’s degree in a general or specialized field of science from one of many medical laboratory science schools.

There are many other specialty fields that an MLS can enter, including cytotechnology, microbiology, and clinical chemistry. Compared to clinical laboratory technicians, who usually have an associate degree, medical laboratory scientists are qualified and certified to carry out more complex procedures.

When employed in a small lab, an MLS may do various tests, but when working in a larger lab, they may be able to specialize. Read on to learn more about the educational requirements for an MLS and what types of certifications may be available to help them discover the best possible job outcomes.

MLS fast facts
Projected Jobs Created21,800
Projected Job Growth7 percent
Average Salary$57,800
Low Salary$30,280
High Salary$79,340
Entry-Level EDU Bachelor's Degree
Sourced from BLS, 2022

MLS Degree & Certification Programs

A bachelor’s degree is typically needed to start an MLS career, according to the BLS, and this means an investment in a four-year bachelor’s degree in clinical / medical laboratory science. That said, students in some programs may complete a degree part-time or even accelerate their speed of learning for an earlier graduation date. Below are a few MLS programs for prospective medical lab scientists:

Arizona State University

The bachelor’s of arts in applied medical laboratory science (BAS) degree is available at the Phoenix-based Arizona State University campus. The program features both on-campus options and a selection of courses in an online format. In addition, the program includes clinical rotations through which students gain practical experience, including lab work in hematology, immunology, and many other fields, and the use of current technology and automation similar to what would be found in a lab setting.

Made up of 120 credits, the program includes courses such as laboratory leadership; clinical urinalysis and body fluids; hematology and hemostasis; immunohematology and immunology; clinical microbiology; and clinical chemistry.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $714 per credit

Ohio State University

Located in Columbus, Ohio State University offers a bachelor’s degree in MLS with four curriculum tracks. Students who have a bachelor’s degree in another field also can complete coursework for a second degree at the school or pursue a certificate of study to further their skills in this area.

An internship in an Ohio-based hospital is included as part of the program to help students seek certification through the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Indeed, the school reports that between 2018 and 2021, at least 98 percent of students who sought ASCP MLS certification successfully passed the exam and received certification over the past four years.

Comprising 120 credits, the program includes courses such as molecular genetics; microbiology; hematology; phlebotomy; chemistry; immunohematology; microscopy; immunology; and professional issues.

  • Location: Columbus, OH
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Accreditation: National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $480.21 per credit

University of North Dakota

Offering a degree in MLS since 1949, the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks allows students to either pursue a 2+2 route, comprised of pre-professional and professional education, a 4+1 route for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, or a medical laboratory technician (MLT) to MLS route, which also offers online learning options. In fact, the MLT to MLS program can be completed online while working at a medical facility.

A total of 126 credits are needed to graduate from the MLS 2+2 program, which would be for students just starting college, with the professional portion in MLS beginning during the fall of the junior year and including a summer semester of 13 credits between the junior and senior years.

The curriculum includes courses in immunology; hematology; laboratory calculations; molecular diagnostics; medical microbiology; biochemistry; preanalytical testing; clinical urinalysis; clinical immunohematology; medical mycology; and clinical body fluids.

  • Location: Grand Forks, ND
  • Duration: 48 or 60 months
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $422.78 per credit

University of Washington

Based in Seattle, the University of Washington offers an MLS program through the university’s department of laboratory medicine that features pre-professional and professional portions. Subjects including bacteriology, biochemistry, clinical hematology, mycology, virology, and others are featured in the professional part of instruction.

Students also complete their final year (three quarters) in the lab at the university. Students also have the opportunity to learn about more complex laboratory procedures by completing an internship.

The curriculum includes courses such as introduction to immunology; introduction to biochemistry; introduction to medical laboratory science; molecular diagnostics; medical bacteriology; introductory clinical chemistry; medical virology; medical mycology and parasitology; clinical coagulation; and laboratory analysis of urine and body fluids.

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS); Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition: $745.25 per two credits (residents); $2,644.23 per two credits (non-residents)

University of Vermont

A bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science is offered through the University of Vermont, located in Burlington. Two concentration areas are available in clinical and public health. In the spring semester of the senior year, students start intensive laboratory experiences and begin to work one-on-one with a staff technologist. The school has affiliations with several labs in the Northeast part of the country, including Vermont, New York, and Connecticut.

The curriculum includes courses such as medical terminology; human cell biology; human anatomy & physiology; microbiology & infectious disease; fundamentals of biochemistry; applied molecular biology; immunology; general chemistry; and introduction to organic chemistry. The program comprises 121 credits.

  • Location: Burlington, VT
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS); New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Tuition: $678 per credit (residents); $1,720 per credit (non-residents)

Weber State University

Based in Ogden, Utah, Weber State University provides a bachelor of science degree in medical technology (MT) and an associate degree to pursue a career as a medical laboratory technician (MLT).

The bachelor’s degree offers two tracks. The first is for students who intend to use their MT degree to work in a medical lab. In contrast, the second is designed for those who plan to go on to graduate-level education to become veterinarians, physician assistants, or attend medical school. All programs have online as well as on-campus options available.

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as biostatics, research & laboratory practices; advanced clinical immunohematology; advanced clinical hematology & hemostasis; advanced clinical chemistry; advanced clinical microbiology & molecular diagnostics; and clinical lab immunology/virology.

  • Location: Ogden, Utah
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS); Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Duration: AAS (24 months); BS (48 months)
  • Tuition: $291 per credit (residents); $387 per credit (non-residents

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List of Clinical/Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) Schools

Filter by state :
School City State Website grads (2018)
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Cincinnati Ohio 181
University of North Dakota Grand Forks North Dakota 116
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Milwaukee Wisconsin 93
Michigan State University East Lansing Michigan 89
Austin Peay State University Clarksville Tennessee 71
Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus Ohio 69
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Lubbock Texas 58
San Francisco State University San Francisco California 55
The University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston Texas 53
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond Virginia 53
University of Rhode Island Kingston Rhode Island 52
Idaho State University Pocatello Idaho 45
CUNY Hunter College New York New York 43
University of Utah Salt Lake City Utah 42
Inter American University of Puerto Rico-San German San German Puerto Rico 39
Stony Brook University Stony Brook New York 39
California State University-Dominguez Hills Carson California 38
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth North Dartmouth Massachusetts 35
University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell Massachusetts 35
University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences San Juan Puerto Rico 34
Brigham Young University-Provo Provo Utah 33
University of Delaware Newark Delaware 32
Farmingdale State College Farmingdale New York 31
Saint Cloud State University Saint Cloud Minnesota 31
Illinois State University Normal Illinois 30
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus Bowling Green Ohio 29
Northern Illinois University Dekalb Illinois 29
University of Kentucky Lexington Kentucky 28
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Stevens Point Wisconsin 28
Wichita State University Wichita Kansas 28
The University of West Florida Pensacola Florida 27
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill North Carolina 27
West Virginia University Morgantown West Virginia 27
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico-Ponce Ponce Puerto Rico 25
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock Arkansas 25
University of Washington-Seattle Campus Seattle Washington 25
DeVry University-Arizona Phoenix Arizona 24
Grand Valley State University Allendale Michigan 24
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse La Crosse Wisconsin 24
Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti Michigan 23
Ferris State University Big Rapids Michigan 23
The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso Texas 23
University of Central Florida Orlando Florida 23
Wayne State University Detroit Michigan 23
Eastern Kentucky University Richmond Kentucky 22
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-New Orleans New Orleans Louisiana 22
University at Buffalo Buffalo New York 22
University of Vermont Burlington Vermont 22
University of Maryland Baltimore Baltimore Maryland 21
Andrews University Berrien Springs Michigan 20
CUNY York College Jamaica New York 20
Georgia Southern University Statesboro Georgia 20
Inter American University of Puerto Rico-Metro San Juan Puerto Rico 20
Oakland University Rochester Hills Michigan 20
Tarleton State University Stephenville Texas 20
University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham Alabama 20
University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage Alaska 20
Marist College Poughkeepsie New York 19
Seattle University Seattle Washington 19
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg Texas 19
University of Kansas Lawrence Kansas 19
Loma Linda University Loma Linda California 18
Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Albany New York 18
Long Island University Brookville New York 18
Texas State University San Marcos Texas 18
University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield Illinois 18
Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi Corpus Christi Texas 17
Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia Pennsylvania 17
Universidad Ana G. Mendez-Gurabo Campus Gurabo Puerto Rico 17
Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers Florida 16
Jefferson College of Health Sciences Roanoke Virginia 16
Wright State University-Main Campus Dayton Ohio 16
Carolinas College of Health Sciences Charlotte North Carolina 15
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Indianapolis Indiana 15
Marquette University Milwaukee Wisconsin 15
Mercy College Dobbs Ferry New York 15
Saginaw Valley State University University Center Michigan 15
Salisbury University Salisbury Maryland 15
University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe Louisiana 15
Upstate Medical University Syracuse New York 15
Dominican University of California San Rafael California 14
Texas Southern University Houston Texas 14
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio San Antonio Texas 14
University of Connecticut Storrs Connecticut 14
McNeese State University Lake Charles Louisiana 13
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Lancaster Pennsylvania 13
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston Texas 13
Winona State University Winona Minnesota 13
Arkansas State University-Main Campus Jonesboro Arkansas 12
St John's University-New York Queens New York 12
The University of Texas at Austin Austin Texas 12
University of Bridgeport Bridgeport Connecticut 12
University of Hartford West Hartford Connecticut 12
Kean University Union New Jersey 11
Mercy College of Health Sciences Des Moines Iowa 11
University of Rochester Rochester New York 11
Bellarmine University Louisville Kentucky 10
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas Nevada 10
College of Staten Island CUNY Staten Island New York 10
Michigan Technological University Houghton Michigan 10
Minnesota State University-Mankato Mankato Minnesota 10
North Dakota State University-Main Campus Fargo North Dakota 10
Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette Indiana 10
University of Michigan-Flint Flint Michigan 10
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport Shreveport Louisiana 9
Stevenson University Stevenson Maryland 9
University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College Blue Ash Ohio 9
University of North Texas Denton Texas 9
York College of Pennsylvania York Pennsylvania 9
DLP Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center Johnstown Pennsylvania 8
Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University Baton Rouge Louisiana 8
Lincoln Memorial University Harrogate Tennessee 8
Monmouth University West Long Branch New Jersey 8
Rush University Chicago Illinois 8
Saint Louis University Saint Louis Missouri 8
University of South Dakota Vermillion South Dakota 8
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Oshkosh Wisconsin 8
University of Wyoming Laramie Wyoming 8
Baptist Health College Little Rock Little Rock Arkansas 7
Clarion University of Pennsylvania Clarion Pennsylvania 7
East Carolina University Greenville North Carolina 7
Howard University Washington District of Columbia 7
Louisiana Tech University Ruston Louisiana 7
Northeastern State University Tahlequah Oklahoma 7
Southeast Missouri Hospital College of Nursing and Health Sciences Cape Girardeau Missouri 7
Southern Adventist University Collegedale Tennessee 7
University of Iowa Iowa City Iowa 7
University of South Florida-Main Campus Tampa Florida 7
University of Toledo Toledo Ohio 7
West Liberty University West Liberty West Virginia 6
Dixie State University Saint George Utah 6
George Mason University Fairfax Virginia 6
Kent State University at Kent Kent Ohio 6
Morgan State University Baltimore Maryland 6
The University of Montana Missoula Montana 6
University of California-Davis Davis California 6
University of the Sciences Philadelphia Pennsylvania 6
Youngstown State University Youngstown Ohio 6
Auburn University Auburn Alabama 5
Ball State University Muncie Indiana 5
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania East Stroudsburg Pennsylvania 5
Miami University-Oxford Oxford Ohio 5
Minot State University Minot North Dakota 5
Mississippi State University Mississippi State Mississippi 5
Norfolk State University Norfolk Virginia 5
Northwest Missouri State University Maryville Missouri 5
St Luke's College Sioux City Iowa 5
SUNY College at Plattsburgh Plattsburgh New York 5
Texas Woman's University Denton Texas 5
University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison Wisconsin 5
University of Maine Orono Maine 4
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences Memphis Tennessee 4
Brookline College-Phoenix Phoenix Arizona 4
Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus Indiana Pennsylvania 4
Nazareth College Rochester New York 4
Oklahoma Christian University Edmond Oklahoma 4
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Winona Minnesota 4
The University of Texas at Arlington Arlington Texas 4
Baylor University Waco Texas 3
Bradley University Peoria Illinois 3
Eastern Illinois University Charleston Illinois 3
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Edinboro Pennsylvania 3
Holy Family University Philadelphia Pennsylvania 3
Indiana State University Terre Haute Indiana 3
Itawamba Community College Fulton Mississippi 3
Lake Superior State University Sault Ste Marie Michigan 3
Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield Missouri 3
Ohio Northern University Ada Ohio 3
Pittsburg State University Pittsburg Kansas 3
Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick New Jersey 3
Salem State University Salem Massachusetts 3
Salve Regina University Newport Rhode Island 3
Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau Missouri 3
Southwest Minnesota State University Marshall Minnesota 3
St. Joseph's College-Long Island Patchogue New York 3
St. Joseph's College-New York Brooklyn New York 3
SUNY at Fredonia Fredonia New York 3
University of Central Oklahoma Edmond Oklahoma 3
University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu Hawaii 3
Washburn University Topeka Kansas 3
Indiana University-Southeast New Albany Indiana 2
Bemidji State University Bemidji Minnesota 2
Blue Mountain College Blue Mountain Mississippi 2
Indiana University-East Richmond Indiana 2
Keuka College Keuka Park New York 2
King's College Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania 2
Marian University Indianapolis Indiana 2
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Perkinston Mississippi 2
Northern State University Aberdeen South Dakota 2
Purdue University Northwest Hammond Indiana 2
Roberts Wesleyan College Rochester New York 2
The College of Saint Rose Albany New York 2
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville Tennessee 2
Western Illinois University Macomb Illinois 2
Western Kentucky University Bowling Green Kentucky 2
Arkansas Tech University Russellville Arkansas 1
Brescia University Owensboro Kentucky 1
Briar Cliff University Sioux City Iowa 1
Caldwell University Caldwell New Jersey 1
DePaul University Chicago Illinois 1
Dordt College Sioux Center Iowa 1
Drury University Springfield Missouri 1
Elmira College Elmira New York 1
Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Campus Madison New Jersey 1
Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus Teaneck New Jersey 1
Gannon University Erie Pennsylvania 1
Kansas State University Manhattan Kansas 1
Lincoln University Jefferson City Missouri 1
Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis Missouri 1
Missouri Southern State University Joplin Missouri 1
Missouri Western State University Saint Joseph Missouri 1
Mount Mercy University Cedar Rapids Iowa 1
Quincy University Quincy Illinois 1
Ramapo College of New Jersey Mahwah New Jersey 1
SUNY College at Brockport Brockport New York 1
Union College Lincoln Nebraska 1
University of Arizona Tucson Arizona 1
University of Central Missouri Warrensburg Missouri 1
University of Evansville Evansville Indiana 1
University of Idaho Moscow Idaho 1
University of Indianapolis Indianapolis Indiana 1
University of Mary Bismarck North Dakota 1
University of Sioux Falls Sioux Falls South Dakota 1
Wartburg College Waverly Iowa 1
Washington Adventist University Takoma Park Maryland 1
Western New Mexico University Silver City New Mexico 1
Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania 1
2017-2018 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in November, 2019)

Hybrid and Online MLS Degree Programs

Students looking for online programming as part of their MLS education typically will find two options: a hybrid bachelor’s degree program with some campus visits required or a track for employed MLTs to complete a bachelor’s degree and further their careers.

Students take online courses for general education requirements or electives while traveling to campus for MLS courses in the first track. The second track can be appropriate for those who have earned an associate’s degree and are already employed as medical laboratory technicians who want to complete a four-year degree. The two years needed to finish this degree may necessitate that students complete clinical, internship, and practicum experiences, but many schools may allow these to be done in the area where the student resides.

Here are some schools that offer bachelor’s degree completion programs in medical laboratory science:

Georgia Southern University

With campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, and Hinesville, Georgia Southern University offers an MLT-to-MLS degree that can be completed by taking 48 credits in the field, 15 of which must be done in clinical practicums. Another three credits are to be taken in laboratory management and education, which provides students insight into the financials, leadership, management, and personnel administration required at a lab.

To be accepted into the program, students must already be employed at an approved clinical site. Students can finish the degree in as little as 16 months, with some graduates finding work with the Centers for Disease Control, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the American Red Cross.

  • Location: Savannah, GA
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS); Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges
  • Duration: Four semesters
  • Tuition: $182.13 per credit

University of Cincinnati

Medical laboratory technicians (MLTs) already working in the field who want to complete two more years of education for a bachelor’s degree in MLS can turn to the University of Cincinnati for an online MLS degree program. Each term in the program, students are assigned to a specific cohort of students led by an instructor and interact through chat sessions, message boards, and other formats.

Preparing students for the ASCP MLS certification exam, this 100% online program can be completed in just over two years. Comprising 60 credits, the program includes courses such as clinical immunology; clinical fluid analysis; clinical microbiology; principles of immunohematology; statistics; hematology; hemostasis; clinical chemistry; and diagnostic molecular biology.

Admission requirements to the program include an associate degree in MLT or CLT from a NAACLS accredited institution, a minimum grade point average of 2.5, and proof of ASCP, AAB, or AMT CLT/MLT certification.

  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $571 per credit (residents); $586 per credit (non-residents)

University of New Mexico

Many of the University of New Mexico’s MLS courses are offered online through the UM School of Medicine with required on-campus lab training. Students can complete their MLS bachelor’s degree in just one-and-half years of full-time study or three years of part-time study.

Admission dates are August and January of each year. Students complete their practical experiences at sites affiliated with the school in the state, such as Quest Diagnostics, TriCore Reference Laboratories, and the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center.

Comprising 63 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to clinical chemistry; clinical microbiology; clinical hematology & hemostasis; clinical immunohematology; clinical parasitology; urinalysis rotation; and clinical serology.

  • Location: Albuquerque, NM
  • Duration: Full-time (18 months); part-time (36 months)
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $264.20 per credit (residents); $954.34 per credit (non-residents)

University of Tennessee

Students at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center can complete a bachelor’s degree in MLS by taking 36 credits in medical laboratory science. Based in Memphis, the school has several affiliate sites in Tennessee, including Baptist Memphis Hospital and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, through which students can complete clinical and practical hours.

Students can expect to gain clinical hours at more than one hospital in the state. This program prepares graduates to be eligible for the MLS licensure exam offered by ASCP, a certification required by many employers. The curriculum includes courses such as clinical chemistry; medical laboratory practices; hematology; blood bank; clinical microbiology; and advanced laboratory practices.

  • Location: Memphis, TN
  • Duration: Three terms
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $8,750 total (residents); $10,375 total (non-residents)

It is essential to know that to even be accepted into an online MLT-to-MLS program, students often need to have graduated from a program accredited through the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Other requirements also may be necessary for acceptance, including a specific minimum GPA or even letters of recommendation. Finally, there are more schools, in addition to those listed above, that offer certification-only programs. For more information about MLS certification, please see the licensing and certification section below.

School City State Website grads (2018)
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Cincinnati Ohio 181
University of North Dakota Grand Forks North Dakota 116
Michigan State University East Lansing Michigan 89
George Washington University Washington District of Columbia 74
Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus Ohio 69
The University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston Texas 53
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond Virginia 53
Winston-Salem State University Winston-Salem North Carolina 36
National University La Jolla California 28
University of Kentucky Lexington Kentucky 28
University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha Nebraska 27
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill North Carolina 27
University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg Mississippi 27
South Dakota State University Brookings South Dakota 26
Marshall University Huntington West Virginia 25
Augusta University Augusta Georgia 23
Northern Michigan University Marquette Michigan 23
Old Dominion University Norfolk Virginia 20
Tarleton State University Stephenville Texas 20
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis Tennessee 15
University of Mississippi University Mississippi 14
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Flex Milwaukee Wisconsin 13
Santa Fe College Gainesville Florida 12
East Mississippi Community College Scooba Mississippi 4
2017-2018 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in November, 2019)

Medical Laboratory Science Core & Elective Courses

More than 240 MLS programs are accredited through the NAACLS, which means that students should have plenty of opportunities in the U.S. to be accepted into a program that has gone through rigorous outside review by this agency. Often, in MLS degree programs, there are pre-professional and professional components that need to be completed. For example, the pre-professional phase may include biology, chemistry, statistics, and general education requirements ranging from English to the social sciences or arts.

Students need to successfully complete their pre-professional courses, including obtaining a specific GPA, to be able to move on to the professional part of the program. The final two years of an MLS degree program include courses in:

  • Blood banking
  • Clinical parasitology
  • Hematology & hemostasis
  • Introduction to clinical chemistry
  • Introduction to clinical microbiology
  • Advanced clinical microbiology
  • Laboratory operations math

Students may also need to complete clinical rotations, which are typically done after all of a student's MLS coursework has been finished. Lab hours are usually done on campus. If the program is offered online (as may be an option in some MLS completion programs), students may need to report to the campus lab or an approved lab elsewhere to complete this portion of their education.

Accreditation of Medical Laboratory Science Programs

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) oversees the accreditation of MLS programs, in addition to programs in other related fields, such as cytogenetic technology (CT), histotechnician (HT), diagnostic molecular scientist (DMS), and more. Students may choose to attend a NAACLS-accredited program as a form of assurance that they will receive a quality education from qualified instructors.

The NAACLS, a nonprofit, independently accredits schools using a process that begins with submitting a self-study, which is then reviewed by the NAACLS and then sent back to the school for response and follow-up. From there, a site visit by NAACLS is scheduled.

Accreditation, when granted, can be given on a probationary basis, a two-year basis or, even for five years, depending on the number of non-compliance issues found. Perhaps, more important is that the NAACLS offers a search page on its website, allowing students to look for accredited programs by program name, institution name, or state.

In addition to programmatic accreditation through NAACLS, students should be sure to verify a school's institutional accreditation. Offered through US Department of Education-approved accrediting bodies such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) or the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), this accreditation applies to the school as a whole. The institutional accrediting process is similar to programmatic accreditation but must be broader to cover all programs.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS (2022), demand for clinical technologists and technicians—a field related to MLS—is expected to grow by 7 percent from 2021 to 2031. Numerous factors are expected to contribute to this growth, including an aging Baby Boomer population in need of more services, such as lab work, to help identify Type 2 Diabetes or cancer conditions.

Because of this anticipated job growth, some 21,800 new positions are expected to become available in that decade. It is important to note that this outlook data applies to all medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, including medical laboratory scientists.

Career Facts MLS
Related CareersChemist, Cytotechnologist, Histotechnologist, Materials Scientist, Microbiology Technologist, Veterinary Technologist
Common Job TitlesMedical Technologist, Medical Laboratory Scientist, Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Clinical Laboratory Technologist
Technology & EquipmentMicroscopes, Advanced Analytical Equipment, Precision Testing Equipment, Computers
Sourced from BLS 2022

Licensing & Certification of Medical Laboratory Scientists

Upon graduation from a bachelor's level program, students may want to seek certification of their skills through an organization, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), Board of Certification (BOC). The fee for its MLS certification exam is $250 as of July 2023.

To be eligible, a candidate must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited MLS program or from a program that includes biology, chemistry, and math courses in the past five years. There are six pathways of eligibility for the MLS examination.

When a student's eligibility documentation has been approved by the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC), they can schedule their exam through a Pearson Professional Center. If students pass the exam, they will receive their certification within three to five weeks of notification of their exam scores, and the certification is good for three years.

Why seek certification through the ASCP BOC? It allows professionals to demonstrate their competence in carrying out various responsibilities in the profession. Certification also can result in better job opportunities, higher pay, and even garnered respect from work associates. The ASCP BOC reports that its certifications (including in many fields and MLS) are sought by seven times as many lab professionals as lab certifications offered through different credentialing organizations.

In addition to certification, state licensure is required in some areas. According to the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS), state licensure is required in 11 states: California, Hawaii, Florida, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee, Louisiana, Nevada, West Virginia, Montana, and Georgia as well as Puerto Rico.

The licensing process is different in each state but typically requires proof of certification, education, and fingerprinting. Therefore, any aspiring MLS who plans to work in a state requiring licensure should be sure to research that specific state's requirements before enrolling in an MLS program to ensure they can meet all standards upon graduation.

Rachel Drummond
Rachel Drummond Writer

Rachel Drummond is a freelance writer, educator, and yogini from Oregon. She’s taught English to international university students in the United States and Japan for more than a decade and has a master’s degree in education from the University of Oregon. A dedicated Ashtanga yoga practitioner, Rachel is interested in exploring the nuanced philosophical aspects of contemplative physical practices and how they apply in daily life. She writes about this topic among others on her blog (Instagram: @racheldrummondyoga).