Accredited Online Medical Laboratory Technician Degrees

There are two types of jobs when it comes to healthcare: those that interact directly with patients and those that support patients behind the scenes. Medical laboratory technician positions are among the most in-demand healthcare jobs that serve the needs of patients from a laboratory rather than from a traditional setting like a clinic or hospital environment.

Keeping pace with other healthcare occupations, medical laboratory technician (MLTs) jobs are on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that positions for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, a similar job title to medical laboratory technicians, are expected to swell 7 percent between 2019 and 2029 (BLS 2021). At this rate, 24,700 fresh openings will open in this field nationally. By comparison, this predicted growth rate is nearly double the average across all occupations during that same decade (4 percent).

Furthermore, the 337,800 skilled professionals in this field earn median annual salaries of $54,180, which keeps pace with the national average for all occupations at $56,310 (BLS May 2020). With a two-year associate’s degree required for most positions, this is a high-growth and lucrative field with a wealth of openings in the coming years.

While many aspiring MLTs decide to enroll in traditional, on-campus programs, a growing number are pursuing their degree online. Several online medical lab technician degrees are available from reputable colleges and universities, driven in part by the demand for people in this field as the industry expands. Associate degree programs for medical laboratory technicians 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 achieve the learning outcomes necessary to be successful when they find jobs in the future.

Due to the requisite lab training in these degree programs, online MLT degrees are typically offered in “hybrid” formats, which involve a combination of in-person and web-based learning experiences. The hybrid format provides increased access to MLT degrees and jobs because students do not have to be constrained by geographic or time-based considerations to earn a degree.

Who should enroll in an online MLT program? Anyone who requires flexible, web-based learning. By earning a degree with a hybrid MLT program, working professionals and people with family responsibilities can earn a degree and on-the-job experience. Hybrid and online programs allow students to keep their jobs and stay in their communities instead of relocating to complete a degree program.

An online MLT program may prove an excellent option for parents with significant childcare responsibilities or 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. Successful hybrid and online students should have strong time management skills or be willing to learn how to structure their time well to succeed.

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 typically include:

  • Official transcripts from the 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. Some programs may accept students without either a diploma or a GED. Of course, these students will need to complete some college-level courses before they are granted admission. Still, other online MLT programs require applicants to actively work at a hospital, supporting students by offering opportunities to earn clinical hours and school credit.

Online MLT School Accreditation & State Authorization

Before seeking enrollment in a distance-based medical lab tech program, aspiring students are strongly encouraged to verify the accreditation and state authorization status of the institution and programs. Accreditation is granted at the program and institutional levels.

In this field, the predominant programmatic accreditation body 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 specific certifications.

In addition to programmatic accreditation, there are institutional accreditation bodies that evaluate 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).

Graduating from an accredited program is a prerequisite 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 to work in this field. Credentialing shows future employers that an MLT has achieved a certain level of subject area knowledge and expertise.

All students applying to online or distance-based programs are encouraged 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 receive program candidates from students residing in other specific states. If this information isn’t available on program websites, applicants should 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.

Medical Lab Technology Curriculum & Specializations

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

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

As emphasized 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 in 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, the specializations available reflect the available certifications in medical lab technology. The leading 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.

Featured Online Medical Lab Technician Degree Programs

Several 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 neighboring state, to enroll.

SUNY Broome Community College

Students at SUNY Broome Community College can pursue an online associate of applied science (AAS) in clinical laboratory science. Students 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 area. Graduates of the program are eligible for New York State licensure and national certification.

  • Location: Binghamton, NY
  • Duration: Two years
  • Tuition: $2,544 per semester (in-state residents); $5,088 (out-of-state residents)
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)

Rasmussen University

Rasmussen University offers a blended on-campus and online associate’s degree program to become a medical lab technician (MLT). Students can earn a degree in a blended format, including online and on-campus coursework and experience. Students may be eligible to graduate from this program in as little as 21 months.

Students take courses on blood banking, microbiology, clinical chemistry, hematology, and an MLT capstone. Students in this program can receive credit for what they already know through a program called Flex Choice which awards credits based on previous knowledge and coursework.

This program also includes a mandatory 12-credit clinical practicum, which helps prepare enrolled students for the work they will perform when they begin working in this industry. Students who complete this program will be eligible to apply for the ASCP certification examination to become certified as medical lab technicians. The examination fee is included in the total program cost.

  • Location: Oak Brook, IL
  • Duration: 21 to 24 months
  • Tuition: Varies; see Rasmussen’s tuition estimator
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS); Higher Learning Commission

Weber State University

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. It requires 20 college credits and at least three college courses in specific subject areas, including chemistry, human anatomy and physiology, and microbiology.

Classes in this MLT program include an introduction to laboratory sciences, principles of clinical hematology & hemostasis, clinical chemistry, and clinical microbiology, among others. Upon completing this program, students can graduate and find work as medical laboratory technicians or continue their studies in the online bachelor of science program in the medical laboratory science program. Graduates from this program are eligible to sit for national certification examinations upon completion of the program.

  • Location: Ogden, UT
  • Duration: Two years
  • Tuition: $5,090 for two, full-time semesters (in-state residents); $15,272 for two, full-time semesters (out-of-state residents);
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)

Barton Community College

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. At the same time, those in the northeast of the Kansas City metropolitan area meet in Overland Park. To help students meet on-campus requirements, a complete list of other facilities available from the school.

Students in this program can 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. The program requires the completion of 68 credits in total.

  • Location: Great Bend, KS
  • Duration: Two years
  • Tuition: $150 per semester-credit
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), Higher Learning Commission

Albany State University

Albany State University’s Darton College of Health offers a 70-credit online associate of science (AS) degree in medical lab technology in traditional and online distance learning formats.

Before students are granted admission to this program, they must show successful completion of specific 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. Once admitted, students in the MLT program take courses in human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, medical laboratory technology, and parasitology, mycology, and virology.

An externship is required to provide students with the hands-on learning experience necessary to prepare graduates for MLT work. In addition to tuition, students should be ready to pay for additional costs to support their learning and clinical work, such as liability insurance, personal protective equipment, immunizations, drug screenings, and a background check. Graduates from this program are eligible to sit for the MLT exam offered by the ASCP.

  • Location: Albany, GA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Tuition: $95 per credit
  • Accreditation: Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

In addition to the schools listed above, there are several blended and online MLT associate degree programs available from the following institutions that have similar coursework and clinical requirements:

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).