Bachelor's Degree Programs in Clinical Laboratory Science
Bachelor's degree programs in clinical laboratory science can help you prepare for a lab position in a doctor's office, hospital or medical laboratory, or even with the federal government. Learn about program prerequisites, degree requirements and certifications, as well how you can complete some of your coursework online.
What Will I Learn in a Bachelor's Program in Clinical Laboratory Science?
Medical laboratory technologists conduct and analyze blood, cell and other medical tests, such as those that can determine if a patient has a bacterial infection, cancer or the potential for a genetic disease. A bachelor's degree program in clinical laboratory science is the usual requirement for obtaining a position in the field. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are nearly 300 colleges and universities in the United States that offer bachelor's degree programs in clinical laboratory science. When researching and choosing your schools, you may wish to look for programs that have been approved by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), as these can help you prepare for some key industry certifications.
Four-year programs in clinical laboratory studies usually lead to a Bachelor of Science and include a general education core. The programs can require approximately 123-127 credits to complete and cover topics in biochemistry, fluid analysis, molecular diagnostics and hematology. You may also take diagnostic courses in mycology, parasitology or virology. In addition to coursework, clinical laboratory science programs require professional practicums, such as those in immunology or microbiology, at a health care or related facility.
|Program Components||General education paired with medical background and diagnostic coursework and professional practicums|
|Prerequisites||Completion of core science coursework may be required for admission, and/or certification as a medical laboratory technician|
|Certification Requirements||Individual states or employers may require passing of the Medical Laboratory Scientist exam|
|Online Options||Hybrid programs do exist, with didactic lessons online, and hands-on practice at local healthcare facilities|
|Median Salary (2018)||$52,330 (for all clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)*|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||13% growth (for all clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Are the Program Prerequisites?
While some programs may only require that you have a high school diploma or GED, other programs may require the completion of prerequisites coursework in areas like anatomy and physiology, biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry. Courses in microbiology and statistics may also be recommended. Other schools may require an associate degree or equivalent coursework, as well as proof of certification as a medical laboratory technician. Additional admission requirements can include a criminal background check.
Are There Any Certification Requirements?
Individual states and employers may require medical lab technologists to be certified and/or licensed. Licensing requirements generally include a bachelor's degree in clinical or medical laboratory science and a passing score on an exam. NAACLS-accredited programs can prepare you for the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) exam, available from the America Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).
What Are My Online Options?
Some colleges and universities offer degree completion or hybrid programs in clinical or medical laboratory science, which combine online coursework with a clinical component in a local or state health care facility. As a distance-learning student, you'll be taught by the same instructors as your on-campus peers and complete the same degree requirements, including assignments, exams and group projects. Lectures, and even lab selections, are viewed online, after which you may have to participate in some face-to-face sessions on campus. In addition to online discussion boards, communication with your fellow students and instructors may take place through telephone or video conferences.