Accredited Online Medical Laboratory Technician Degrees

Job opportunities for medical laboratory technicians (MLTs) are increasing rapidly. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) found that positions for medical and clinical lab techs were expected to swell 14 percent between 2016 and 2026, adding 22,900 fresh openings in this field nationally. This preicted rate of growth is double the average anticipated across all occupations during that same decade (7 percent). Furthermore, the 164,200 skilled professionals in this field as well as medical technologists earned a median annual salary of $51,770 (BLS 2017) in the US higher than the average salary for all American occupations at $50,620 (BLS). In short, this is a relatively high-growth and lucrative occupation which is expected to have a wealth of openings in the years to come.

While many aspiring MLTs decide to enroll in traditional, on-campus programs, a growing number are pursuing their degree online. Currently there are several online medical lab technician degrees available from reputable schools, driven in part by the demand for people in this field as the industry expands. These associate degrees generally take two years to complete.

So how does an online MLT program work? These programs combine rigorous distance-based coursework and laboratory experiences that can be completed on campus or at approved facilities located close to a student’s home. Experienced mentors progressively sign off on skills attained to ensure students are achieving the learning outcomes necessary to be successful in the field.

Due to the requisite lab training in these degree programs, online MLT degrees are typically “hybrid” and involve a combination of in-person and web-based learning experiences. That said, those aspiring to become MLTs in the past used to be constrained by geographic or time-based considerations; however, distance-based MLT programs have opened up more convenient opportunities for people to study this in-demand discipline.

Who should enroll in an online MLT program? One of the groups that directly benefits from having flexible, web-based learning is working professionals. Online programs allow people to keep their jobs and stay in their communities as opposed to having to relocate. Furthermore, an online MLT program may prove a great option for parents with significant childcare responsibilities or for others with strict schedules. Of course, anyone who wishes to pursue a degree in this subject may benefit from the relative flexibility of an online program. Those who succeed are generally self-starting and have excellent discipline.

This page gives an overview of what to expect from an online medical laboratory technician program, including discussions of admissions requirements, typical coursework, and exemplary online MLT schools.

Admissions Requirements for Online Medical Lab Technician Degree Programs

The application materials for online medical lab technician degree programs vary by institution, but they typically include:

  • Official transcripts from last school attended with proof of prerequisite coursework (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics)
  • Competitive GPA (e.g., >3.0)
  • Personal statement or letter of intent (500-600 words)
  • Test scores (e.g., SAT, ACT, GRE, or TOEFL for ESL students)
  • Application fee

Please note that some programs may ask for candidate interviews, letters of recommendation from employers or professors, or sample work in a clinical portfolio. Also, some programs may accept students without either a diploma or a GED. Of course, these students will need to complete a number of college-level courses before they will be granted admissions. Still other online MLT programs require applicants to be actively working at a hospital, giving throuse students a ready-made location to complete their clinical hours.

Online MLT School Accreditation & State Authorization

Prior to seeking enrollment in a distance-based medical lab tech program, aspiring students are strongly encouraged to verify its accreditation and state authorization status.

There are varied organizations that accredit MLT programs and institutions. The predominant programmatic accreditation body in this field is the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), which “in collaboration with its professional organizations, provides comprehensive services including program accreditation, program approval, consultation, and continuing education.” Accreditation from the NAACLS is only applicable to the MLT program itself and may be required for certain certifications.

In addition to programmatic accreditation, there are institutional accreditation bodies that look at an entire school. Six regional accreditation organizations are recognized by the US Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), including the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation from an accredited program is a prerequisite in order to sit for the medical lab technician certification examination administered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification. In some states, this certification is a requirement in order to work in this field. Regardless one’s state of residence, credentialing shows that the holder has achieved a certain level of subject area knowledge and expertise.

In addition, online students should be sure to verify a school’s state authorization status. Most distance-based schools disclose this status on their websites, detailing the states from which they cannot accept students. Due to differing legislation surrounding the provision of distance-based education, institutions physically located in one state may not be able to accept program candidates from students residing in other specific states. If this information isn’t readily available on program websites, applicants should be sure to contact program coordinators to ensure eligibility.

Finally, aspiring online MLT students should check how many campus visits are required in their desired programs. Particularly at the associate degree level, there are no programs offered 100 percent online due to the hands-on nature of laboratory technology. All of the following programs are considered hybrid or blended learning, and require a mix of online and in-person experiences.

Curriculum & MLT Specializations

While the medical lab technology curriculum varies by degree level and institution, there are some commonalities. Students in these programs typically complete coursework in areas including:

  • Hematology
  • Urinalysis
  • Microbiology
  • Immunohematology
  • Serology
  • Clinical chemistry

As stressed above, online MLT programs typically require students to participate in clinical practicum courses in addition to their distance-based coursework. CLinical training can take place on campus or at a location conveniently accessible for distance learning students such as a hospital or clinic.

Also, some online medical lab technician degree programs may allow students to specialize in a specific field of laboratory science, although this will not always be possible. Where this option is available, students may specialize in areas such as:

  • Blood-banking
  • Histotechnology
  • Phlebotomy

In general, specializations available reflect the available certifications in medical lab technology. The main certifying organizations in this field include the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Medical Technologists (AMT), or the American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB). The ASCP, for instance, provides certifications in phlebotomy, donor phlebotomy, and histotechnology, as well as a general medical lab technician credential. Online MLT students should ensure that their program aligns with their credentialing goals.

Online Medical Lab Technician Degree Programs

A number of highly regarded schools currently offer MLT degrees online, including the following five accredited programs, several of which are included among the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) Guide to Online MLT Programs. The ASCLS is a partner of the NAACLS.

As mentioned above, due to the hands-on nature of MLT work, these programs require some in-person components and may be considered blended or hybrid learning. Some require students to reside in the immediate geographic region, such as in a bordering state in order to enroll.

SUNY Broome Community College (Binghamton, NY)

Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)

Students at SUNY Broome Community College can pursue an online associate in applied science (AAS) in clinical laboratory science. Sudents in this program must reside in the “immediate geographical location of the college,” even if they aren’t required to come to campus often.

Over the four semesters, students take classes in hematology & coagulation, urinalysis & body fluids, microbiology, anatomy & physiology, pathogenic microbiology, immunohematology, statistics, and other subjects. Students are required to complete 400 clinical training hours in approved medical facilities. SUNY Broome Community College provides a list of affiliated clinical locations, although students residing elsewhere can seek approval to precept at clinical locations in their specific geographic location.

Graduates of the program are eligible for New York State licensure and national certification. For the 2016-17 year, this program costs $2,364 per semester for NY state residents and $4,728 for out-of-state students.

Rasmussen College (Oak Brook, IL)

Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), Higher Learning Commission

At Rasmussen College, students have the ability to pursue a medical lab technician associate degree in a blended format, which includes both online and on-campus coursework and experience. Students may be eligible to graduate from this program in as little as 21 months, and will take courses on subjects such as blood banking, microbiology, clinical chemistry, hematology, and an MLT capstone.

This program also includes a mandatory 12-credit hour clinical practicum, which helps prepare enrolled students for the work they will perform when they begin working in this industry. Students who successfully complete this program will be eligible to apply to take the ASCP certification examination in order to become certified as medical lab technicians. To estimate how much this blended program costs, potential applicants can use Rasmussen’s tuition estimator.

Weber State University (Ogden, UT)

Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)

Weber State University offers an online medical lab technician AAS degree that can be completed in two years. This program is open to those currently employed in a hospital or clinical laboratory. The admissions standards for this specific program are slightly more stringent than others. Specifically, this program requires admitted students to possess an overall GPA of 2.5 or higher, and the same students must have completed at least 20 college credits and at least three college courses in certain subject areas, including chemistry, human anatomy and physiology, and microbiology. Classes in the program include introduction to laboratory sciences, principles of clinical hematology & hemostatis, clinical chemistry, and clinical microbiology, among others. The tuition for this 63-credit program is $4,892 per year for Utah residents and $14,679 for non-residents. Students are eligible to sit for national certification examinations upon completion of the program.

Barton Community College (Great Bend, KS)

Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), Higher Learning Commission

Aspiring MLTs studying at Barton Community College have the opportunity to pursue a hybrid medical lab technician associate of applied science degree. Students in this program are only required to visit the Great Bend, Kansas campus location for their MLT pinning ceremony, but they must visit an affiliated campus location periodically. Those residing in central and western Kansas, for example, visit the main Barton campus near Great Bend while those in the northeast or Kansas City metropolitan area meet in Overland Park. There are other facilities available, a full list of which are available from the school.

Students in this program have the option to work with an advisor who will help them create a personally tailored plan of study to help meet their individual needs. The school also offers a cooperative lab on campus, or the ability to work with a supporting cooperative laboratory or clinic near the student’s home. Courses include urinalysis & body fluids, immunohematology, human parasitology, mycobacterium & mycology, and human parasitology, among others. The program requires the completion of 68 credit hours in total. Tuition for this specific program totals $7,693 for the 2018-2019 school year.

Albany State University (Albany, GA)

Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS),

At Albany State University, students are able to pursue an online associate of science (AS) degree in medical lab technology. Before students will be granted admissions to this program, they must show successful completion of certain prerequisite courses as well as a letter of support from “a current clinical affiliate of the Program or a hospital willing to affiliate with the program that can meet the training needs” of the applicant.

The program generally takes two years to complete, or 70 credit hours for the entirety of the program. At $118 per individual credit hour, the total tuition for this program is $8,260 as of August 2018.

There are additional blended and online MLT programs available from the following institutions that have similar coursework and clinical requirements to those associate degree programs profiled above: