Accredited Online Medical Lab Science Degree Programs

Medical laboratory scientists fulfill an invaluable function in a healthcare setting; they work behind the scenes to ensure the scientific integrity of medical diagnoses. The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (2023) states that “medical laboratory science professionals, often called medical laboratorians, are vital healthcare detectives, uncovering and providing laboratory information from laboratory analyses that assist physicians in patient diagnosis and treatment, as well as in disease monitoring or prevention (maintenance of health).”

Specifically, these professionals perform a battery of tests incorporating various disciplines such as microbiology, immunohematology, and molecular biology, among others.

Notably, those seeking to work as medical laboratory scientists are joining a growing field; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022), openings for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are expected to rise 5 percent nationwide between 2022 and 2032, which is higher than the average growth projected across all occupations during that same decade (3 percent). Furthermore, the BLS (May 2022) reported that the 333,600 clinical laboratory technologists and technicians earned an average annual salary of $59,130. With healthcare advancements leading to more job security, medical laboratory science is a valuable career opportunity offering lucrative prospects.

It’s important to distinguish between the medical laboratory scientist (MLS) – sometimes called a clinical lab scientist (CLS) or medical technologist (MT) – and the medical laboratory technician (MLT). The technologist typically has at least a four-year bachelor’s degree, while the technician has typically earned a two-year associate degree. As a result, the medical lab scientist generally boasts more advanced abilities, certification opportunities, and management potential than the technician.

Before seeking employment, an aspiring medical laboratory scientist must get the requisite training and credentialing. Many people in this line of work still attend on-campus degree programs. However, for those with significant scheduling or geographic limitations, a growing number of distance-based medical lab science (MLS) programs are available from accredited institutions across the country.

This piece examines accredited online medical laboratory science programs in the United States, detailing the admissions requirements, coursework, and expected tuition to prepare an individual for this high-growth career field.

How Do Online Medical Lab Science Programs Work?

Auburn University of Montgomery
University of West Florida
Grand Canyon University

Though not all students will benefit from an online program in medical lab science, this type of educational experience does offer specific advantages, such as flexibility concerning time and physical location.

First, online programs generally include both asynchronous and synchronous coursework. In other words, students complete two types of assignments: those within a general timeframe and those requiring simultaneous student login from a distance.

Second, distance-based students can pursue a degree without living close to campus, although some schools may require periodic visits throughout the semester or year. In addition to coursework, students in online MLS programs typically must complete clinical hours at approved healthcare facilities to ensure that they’re receiving adequate supervised hands-on training. Luckily these training sites are typically located close to a student’s home.

Above all, students in online MLS programs require self-discipline, self-motivation, and time management skills to succeed.

Admissions Requirements for Online MLS Programs

Like all higher educational programs, online degree programs in medical lab science require students to meet specific prerequisites before enrolling, mirroring those of on-campus MLS programs.

In general, most online MLS programs require the following for admissions:

  • High school diploma or GED with proof of specific coursework (e.g., chemistry, biology, physics, algebra, etc.)
  • Solid GPA (e.g., >3.0)
  • Personal statement or letter of intent (500-600 words)
  • Application fee

Additionally, some programs may ask for letters of recommendation, a CV/resume, a candidate interview, or SAT/ACT scores.

In some cases (e.g., University of Cincinnati), students may need an associate degree for admission or active certification as a medical lab technician to qualify for an online bachelor’s degree program. Such programs may or may not be descriptively named “MLT-to-MLS” programs, so be sure to clarify requirements prior to applying.

Aspiring medical lab scientists should note that many programs require that students follow the same general calendar as the on-campus institution, abiding by the timeline of semester start- and end dates, exam windows, and other important program milestones.

Curriculum & MLS Specializations

Although the curriculum for online medical lab science degree programs varies, students will likely take similar courses throughout their studies. A two- to four-year online MLS program typically includes instruction in the following:

  • Clinical immunology
  • Fluid analysis
  • Statistics
  • Hemostasis
  • Molecular biology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunohematology
  • Chemistry
  • Clinical practice
  • Laboratory concepts
  • Laboratory operations

Furthermore, some programs may allow students to specialize in a certain field within medical laboratory science. For example, students may be able to pursue additional skills in the following areas, opening up the prospect of achieving multiple certifications upon graduation:

  • Urinalysis
  • Serology
  • Hemostasis
  • Immunohematology
  • Microbiology
  • Flow cytometry
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Hematology

It’s important to note that these specialization opportunities will not be available at all institutions. Because of this, students interested in further developing their skills in one of these areas should reference program websites or contact coordinators directly with questions before applying for admissions.

Accredited Online Medical Laboratory Science Programs

Here’s a list of accredited online programs for aspiring medical lab scientists to prepare for this high-growth career field. All programs featured here are programmatically accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) and institutionally accredited by a regional organization approved by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). 

University of Cincinnati

At the University of Cincinnati’s College of Allied Health Sciences, students can pursue a bachelor’s degree in medical lab science entirely online. UC requires no campus visits, making it ideal for busy working professionals. Students can access their coursework at any point throughout the day and have the option of taking between seven to ten credit hours per term.

Providing students with the academic and technical skills necessary for today’s medical laboratory scientists, this online program prepares students for the ethics, professionalism, and competencies outlined by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. Graduates will be well-prepared for the medical laboratory science board certification exam.

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

This post-associate degree program generally takes two years to complete, including 60 credit hours of instruction in areas such as clinical fluid analysis; statistics; hemostasis; advanced immunohematology; special topics in medical laboratory science; clinical microbiology; principles of immunohematology; clinical chemistry, and other cornerstones of the discipline.

At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as clinical supervisors, technical specialists, pharmaceutical representatives, laboratory information specialists, and medical laboratory management professionals.

  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $556 per credit (residents); $571 per credit (non-residents) 

Weber State University

Students at the Weber State University of Ogden, Utah, have the option of pursuing either an online associate of applied science (AAS) degree in medical laboratory technician (MLT) or a bachelor of science (BS) degree in medical laboratory science (MLS). Aspiring students must have at least 20 hours of qualifying college credit to apply for either online program and must apply to both WSU’s general and program-specific admissions offices.

All courses for WSU’s degree programs are available entirely online. The distance-based AAS includes 67 to 68 credit hours of instruction in principles of hematology & hemostasis; clinical chemistry; clinical microbiology; and immunohematology. The online BS has 120 credits of coursework in advanced clinical micro & molecular diagnostics; advanced clinical chemistry; laboratory teaching and supervision; integrated human anatomy and physiology; medical microbiology; and epidemiology and biostatistics, among other subject areas.

Students are not required to visit the campus throughout their studies, although they are encouraged to attend graduation, if possible. Graduates of the AAS program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination offered by ASCP, while graduates from the BS program will be ready to take up work in a variety of growing and high-demand healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, physician practices, pharmaceutical labs, research institutions, forensic labs, veterinary clinics, and blood donation or transplant centers.

  • Location: Ogden, UT
  • Duration: 2-4 years
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU); National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $291-$387 per credit hour

Texas Tech University

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of Lubbock allows students to obtain a second degree online in clinical laboratory science in one year of study. This program is specially designed for those who have earned already a bachelor’s degree.

To qualify for admission, students must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Application requirements include a completed online application, official transcripts of college coursework from all colleges attended, and proof of English proficiency for international applicants.

Comprising 35 credits, the curriculum includes courses in clinical immunology; foundations of hemostasis; foundations of clinical chemistry; foundations of clinical microbiology; analysis of body fluids; principles of molecular diagnostics; advanced microbiology; and foundations of immunohematology. All didactic material is delivered online, although the program includes a six-day on-site laboratory session at the end of each semester (two sessions total).

From 2020 to 2022, 78.6 percent of program graduates passed the ASCP certification exam on their first attempt, and 99 percent secured employment within one year. 

  • Location: Lubbock, TX
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $3,010 total (residents); $8,890 total (non-residents)

George Washington University

Students at George Washington University of Washington DC may enroll in the bachelor of science in health sciences (BSHS) program in medical laboratory sciences, which can be completed entirely online or in a hybrid format. The program prepares students to start a valued and satisfying career in MLS by gaining the hands-on skills and knowledge needed to become board certified in laboratory science.

Admission requirements include a completed application, an associate’s degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university, a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5, a current resume, a personal statement, one letter of recommendation, and TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS scores for applicants who are not U.S. citizens, but who are otherwise eligible to study in the United States.

Consisting of 60 credits, the program requires coursework in immunology & serology; professional ethics for MLS; molecular diagnostics; clinical biochemistry; hematology; immunohematology; clinical bacteriology; parasitology, mycology, and virology; and writing in the health sciences, among other subjects.

GWU also has a 48-credit post-baccalaureate certificate in medical laboratory science and a 36-credit MSHS in medical laboratory sciences program, both of which can be completed online.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSCHE); National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $64,700 per year

University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi, based in Hattiesburg, offers a degree completion program (MLT to MLS) available for medical laboratory technicians who have completed an accredited AAS degree in MLT and have a certification as MLT(ASCP). Applicants must have two years of experience and be employed as technicians. Students meeting these criteria will be eligible to earn a BS degree and will have the possibility of earning the MLS(ASCP)CM credential.

The program comprises 124 credits, including courses such as introduction to medical laboratory science; phlebotomy; clinical bacteriology; fundamentals of hematology; clinical chemistry; introduction to clinical immunology; body fluids, clinical mycology; and clinical immunodiagnostics, among others.

The University of Southern Mississippi also offers an on-campus bachelor of science program in medical laboratory scientists (MLS).

  • Location: Hattiesburg, MS
  • Duration: 24 to 48 months
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $383.59 per credit

Medical Laboratory Science Program Accreditation

Before applying to a specific program, aspiring students are strongly advised to ensure that their program is accredited. This program- and institutional-approval process ensures a baseline quality standard concerning curriculum, program facilities, student outcomes, and other important measures of educational effectiveness.

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) is the predominant programmatic accreditation agency in medical laboratory science. It’s worth noting that graduation from a NAACLS-accredited program is required to sit for the American Society for Clinical Pathology exam; in some states, certification and/or state licensure are required to work as a medical laboratory scientist. For details, please contact local MLS associations or state credentialing organizations.

As for institutional accreditation, the US Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has recognized six regional, institutional accreditation agencies. These include:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Lastly, before applying to an online or hybrid program, students must verify an institution’s state authorization status through NC-SARA. State authorization refers to the ability of an online college in one state to offer distance-based education to residents of other states. Please check out the accreditation section below to learn about how programs are approved by reputable national organizations. Note that all of the following schools boast both programmatic and institutional accreditation.

Jocelyn Blore
Jocelyn Blore Managing Editor

Jocelyn Blore has interviewed dozens of medical technology and healthcare professionals, and edited hundreds of articles related to this field since 2015. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Jocelyn traveled the world for five years as freelance writer and English teacher. After stints in Japan, Brazil, Nepal, and Argentina, she took an 11-month road trip across the US, finally settling into lovely Eugene, OR. When Jocelyn isn’t writing about college programs or interviewing professors, she satirizes global politics and other absurdities at Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). Thank you for being so interested.