Online Master's in Medical Laboratory Science Degree Programs

A career in medical laboratory sciences (MLS) is an opportunity to positively impact health promotion through disease diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. An MLS master’s degree can put students on the fast track to success as medical laboratory scientists or medical laboratory technicians. This exciting field offers several employment avenues for talented graduates in hospitals, private offices, and laboratories.

While several master’s programs in MLS are offered completely online, some of them include a practical component that requires students to attend approved laboratories to earn a degree. The curriculum encompasses core clinical laboratory subjects such as clinical chemistry, hematology, microbiology, immunology, and molecular biology.

Additionally, many courses focus 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 healthcare. At the end of the program, graduates are prepared to conduct tests, evaluate results, solve complex problems, and assist in diagnosing patients.

Medical laboratories in hospitals and external facilities such as private labs and doctor’s offices often employ some combination of medical laboratory technicians (MLTs) and scientists.

Technicians must have earned at least an associate degree in a related field, as well as an MLT or clinical laboratory technician (CLT) certification. Medical laboratory scientists, on the other hand, must have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in lab science, plus an MLS or medical technologist (MT) certification.

MLT and MLS responsibilities overlap to some degree, but medical lab scientists are qualified to assume additional responsibility.

Medical laboratory technicians collect, analyze, and process biological specimens. They also perform lab tests and care for instruments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023), clinical laboratory technologists and technicians had a median annual wage of $60,780. Note that this number includes both technicians and technologists.

So, it may be useful to look also to medical scientists, who typically hold a PhD, but in some cases may hold a master’s, in medical laboratory science, biology, or a related science. Medical scientists have a deeper theoretical knowledge of medical laboratory sciences. They perform laboratory tests, interpret results, conduct research, and develop new testing methods.

They use their biotechnology, medicine, and science skills to solve complex challenges in their field. Medical scientists are also responsible for diagnosing diseases, analyzing infections, and ensuring patient safety by monitoring drugs. Owing to the high level of specialization that the field demands, medical scientists had a lucrative median annual wage of $100,890, according to the BLS (2023).

Master’s-level online MLS programs are most commonly designed for clinical laboratory professionals working at the MLT or MLS level who wish to sharpen their clinical skills and develop their research and management abilities.

This guide looks at ten of the best online master’s programs in medical laboratory science.

Featured Online Master’s in MLS Degree Programs

Arizona State University
University of Cincinnati Online
Brandeis University

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, 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 of this 36-credit program includes instruction in health computer information systems; introduction to the healthcare system quality improvement; and research in health sciences.

The clinical laboratory science-focused curriculum delves into the pathophysiology of disease; advanced clinical chemistry practice, and molecular diagnostics clinical applications. As part of this program, students can 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 (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months

The University of Southern Mississippi

This master’s program is ideal for certified medical laboratory scientists or technologists looking to further their careers. Upon successfully completing 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 must complete 36 hours of coursework, while those doing a thesis must 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 who hold a certification can pursue the program fully online. However, those who do not have a certification need to undertake laboratory science practical courses to get certified.

Some of the courses that students in the program explore include clinical laboratory management; comparative diagnosis of microbial pathogens; clinical oncology; clinical endocrinology; clinical toxicology; special problems in medical laboratory science; infectious disease epidemiology; and professional development for med lab scientists.

  • Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 to 36 months

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 allows them 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 understand topics such as biostatistics, 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); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

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 can pursue major roles in laboratory management, including consultation, administration, test development, and research.

The master’s degree program comprises 30 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 program’s highlights is the graduate project students undertake at the end. The project involves extensive planning and research and applying the principles learned throughout the program. Students are free to choose an issue relevant to their work and develop solutions for the same.

Upon completing 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: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 to 72 months

Michigan State University

Michigan State University offers an online 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 scientist are preferred, it is not a requirement for application. Applicants are evaluated based on experience, academic record, and career goals.

The program comprises 30 credits and includes courses such as 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 clinical laboratory field and their applications. Overall, this degree allows 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; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 72 months

George Washington University, School of Medicine and Health Sciences

George Washington University offers an online master of science in health sciences (MSHS) program in biomedical laboratory science with a concentration in medical laboratory sciences (MLS). This online program consists of 36 credits, 15 of which are focused on MLS and 15 credits of core courses. The coursework also includes six credits of electives.

Students with 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 integrity; and education and assessment in MLS.

Additionally, the program allows students to develop leadership competencies in healthcare and healthcare enterprises. To better understand 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 with 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 Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati’s online master’s in medical laboratory science is designed to provide working medical laboratory science and related professionals with additional skills, attributes, and knowledge in management, leadership, education, advanced practice methods, and research. As part of this fully online program, students will have the opportunity to gain the national American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) specialty certification within any laboratory science core.

Made up of 30 semester credits, the program includes coursework in the fundamentals of interprofessional leadership and collaboration in healthcare; medical laboratory leadership; issues and ethics in medical laboratory science; human and adult learning in medical education; applications and analyses in molecular diagnostics, advanced concepts & applications for clinical immunology; and leadership theory for healthcare.

At the end of the program, graduates will be ready to take up roles such as administrators, advanced practice specialists, educators, lead technical specialists, and technical supervisors.

Applicants to the program must have a bachelor’s degree program from a regionally accredited institution and must be certified as medical laboratory scientists or medical laboratory technologists. Those who are not certified must demonstrate a minimum of two years of professional practice as a laboratory science professional or related experience.

  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

University of Missouri

The University of Missouri offers an online master’s in clinical and diagnostic sciences with an emphasis on clinical laboratory science, which is ideal for practicing clinicians. The program prepares students for effective leadership roles in interprofessional workplace environments by combining discipline-specific and interprofessional classes. Graduates of the program will be prepared to teach courses in educational programs, lead interprofessional teams, and take on nonclinical roles in marketing, product or customer support, or sales.

Consisting of 30 credits, the program includes courses such as clinical analytics; clinical management; clinical leadership; principles of public health; interdisciplinary perspectives in global health; human health and the environment; and principles of epidemiology. This is a 100 percent online program and does not require any campus visits.

Graduates will be ready to take on positions such as clinical educators, team leaders, clinical or teaching professors, and clinical specialists.

  • Location: Columbia, Missouri
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota’s online master of science in medical laboratory science program is ideal for working professionals allowing them to take the next step in their career while continuing to work and gaining experience.

The program comprises 33 credits, including courses such as advanced clinical chemistry; advanced clinical immunohematology; advanced clinical immunology; advanced molecular diagnostics; advanced clinical bacteriology; advanced non-bacterial microbiology; and advanced clinical hemostasis. The program does not require any campus visits.

Admission requirements to the program include a BA or BS degree with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 and successful completion of an MLS/CLS/MT certification examination. International applicants must provide proof of English language proficiency and previous work experience as an MLS/CLS/MT is recommended.

Graduates of this program can be found working as lead medical technologists, medical laboratory managers and supervisors, quality assurance specialists, medical lab scientist educators, and clinical laboratory consultants.

  • Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Full-time (18 to 24 months); part-time (30 to 36 months)

University of North Carolina School of Medicine

University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine offers an online master of clinical laboratory science program with a medical laboratory science track preparing graduates to become leaders in the laboratory profession through advanced coursework in research design, molecular diagnostics, educational methods, and laboratory administration. This program is ideal for laboratory professionals who wish to prepare for teaching roles, advance in administrative roles, or deepen their scientific knowledge.

The program consists of 33 credits. As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as biostatistics for laboratory professionals; principles of molecular diagnostics; molecular genetics and diseases; clinical laboratory administration; and educational methods and applications.

To be eligible for admission, applicants must have one of the following: a baccalaureate degree and certification as an MLS or MT or equivalent US certification; or a baccalaureate degree in a biological science and certification as an MLT, or equivalent US certification, plus two years full-time experience working in the U.S. or Canada in an accredited clinical laboratory; or a baccalaureate degree in a biological science and US certification in a specialty area plus two years of full-time work experience.

  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Admissions Requirements for Online MLS Programs

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 resumes; 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 (e.g., 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 to upload their letter directly to the application. They must be either academic instructors or individuals who work in a supervisory capacity and can attest to the student’s work ethic.
  • A statement of purpose must be attached to the application. This essay should generally be 250 to 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 sometimes required.
  • An overall GPA of 3.0 or higher is also a requirement.
  • Some of the programs listed above also require national certification as a technologist, clinical laboratory scientist, or medical laboratory scientist.
Farheen Gani
Farheen Gani Writer

Farheen Gani has immense knowledge about medical technology schools, having researched topics such as medical billing and coding, health information management, nursing informatics, and biotechnology degree programs since 2018. She is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about healthcare, technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).