How to Choose the Best Medical Laboratory Science Bachelor’s Degree

Working as a medical laboratory technician (MLT) likely means there’s never a dull moment in your day, especially if you love what you do and are challenged by the work. Your days are spent collecting and analyzing blood and tissue samples for various medical tests and performing other critical responsibilities integral to ensuring high-quality patient care.

But what if you yearn to do more and hope to leap from an MLT to MLS, a medical laboratory scientist?

Moving up in the laboratory science field can allow you to do more fulfilling, higher-level work and earn a bigger paycheck or a new job title. Organizations that need to staff the MLS role often look for people with a bachelor’s degree and industry certifications, so new hires are well-positioned to take on more senior responsibilities.

Benefits of an Online MLT-to-MLS Completer Degree

If you’ve made it a priority to take the next step in your laboratory science career, you probably started your research, checking into educational programs and certifications that will help you move up.

An MLT-to-MLS completer program, such as the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Medical Laboratory Science from the University of Cincinnati (UC) Online, is a great option to explore. It’s open to students who completed their clinical laboratory technician (CLT) or MLT associate degree from an accredited National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) program.

The NAACLS stamp of approval helps you assess the solid programs from the just-so-so ones. Here’s another quality indicator: The program must be thoughtfully designed for medical laboratory professionals who must juggle school with work demands and their personal lives. For a growing number of people today, earning their bachelor’s degree online is the most flexible and efficient path to take.

UC Online’s medical laboratory science program is a stand-out degree in many aspects. First, it’s available 100% online, unlike other “online” bachelor’s degree programs that require a set amount of in-person, on-campus attendance.

Our program is set up to remove the traditional barriers found in an on-campus experience, which means:
  • No traveling to and from UC saves you time and energy and allows you to learn and study when and where you want.
  • The program is open to anyone in the U.S. who has the prerequisites, and we also welcome qualified international students.
  • Course material, available 24/7 and taught by medical laboratory science experts, is relevant and ready for immediate application, so you start applying what you learn right away.
  • You meet and interact with instructors and fellow students online, thanks to modern, easy-to-use communication and collaboration tools.
  • You set the pace for how quickly you want to complete the BS in Medical Laboratory Science program. (Most students complete the degree in just over two years.)
Criteria for Best Online BS in Medical Laboratory Science Degrees

We know that your decision about where to get your medical laboratory science degree is a big one. You want the best option to meet your career goals and other needs.

Here are eight aspects to consider as you narrow down the options to find the best program for your career goals, along with information about how UC Online’s program stacks up.

Degree program longevity – Newly introduced online programs can fill a need in the educational market. But there’s something about a long-standing bachelor’s degree program that underscores its credibility. As you evaluate online degrees, see if you can learn more about the program’s history to know if it has a more limited or extensive track record.

UC Online’s medical lab science program has its roots in our on-campus degree program that’s been around 75 years. Our commitment to lab science is long-running, that’s for sure!

“Direct entry” program – Some online programs have stringent admission requirements requiring you to take extra courses to even begin the lab science bachelor’s program. If you hope to complete the degree ASAP, the additional courses will slow you down.

One key difference between UC’s program and other universities is that there’s “direct entry” from a two-year degree, meaning we don’t require additional credits from the get-go. (Side note: Our program is designed for people with an associate degree from an accredited school. If you’re uncertain if your school is accredited, reach out to our support team and ask for their help in determining.)

Relevant, real-world coursework – Medical science bachelor’s programs can vary from school to school. As you explore the courses you would take, see how the school’s class line-up meshes with your interests. Does the curriculum include any current topic-focused courses? Does the program address areas you want to know more about?

We created our medical lab science program to enhance the technical and academic skills you need today to be a competent MLS. The well-rounded program includes a variety of courses, including chemistry, microbiology, and hematology. And UC Online prepares you for the competencies, ethics, and professionalism outlined by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. (View UC Online’s curriculum.)

Quality of staff – Spend time exploring the online program’s biographies of the instructors and professors to see their backgrounds. Do you see people with experience that shows their expertise? What are their certifications and notable achievements?

We might be biased, but we truly believe our program staff is the best! Take Erin Rumpke, MS, MLS (ASCP)cm and Mel Woods, MA, for example. Both have significant in-lab experience, hold key industry certifications, and have wide professional networks that extend beyond UC and Ohio. (Side note: You can learn more about Erin in this article on our blog.)

“In the field” emphasis and life-experience credits – Online programs devoid of any opportunity to practice offline what you learn virtually can make you feel disconnected from the real world of working as an MLS. As you compare schools, look for opportunities where the program takes you into the field. And don’t forget to inquire about life-experience credits, which can vary from school to school.

UC Online’s program includes options to gain clinical experience or do clinical rotations, which our students find valuable, should they want to take advantage of these. And we have a defined process that helps us assess what life-experience credits our students can earn that helps to reduce the number of courses or eliminate clinical rotation hours.

UC’s medical laboratory science program graduates are well-prepared for the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s Board of Certification Exam in medical laboratory science.

How rates stack up (certifications, graduation, and placement) – A smart way to measure the value of an online medical laboratory science degree is to find out what happens to graduates when they finish the program. Did their studies adequately prepare them to be nationally certified? What’s the program’s graduation rate and placement rate post-graduation?

UC makes this information readily available to you on our online degree program page (see the image above). We work hard to help ensure these rates remain high, bringing the most bang for the buck to our students. We’re proud to say our graduates consistently perform higher than the national average on the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s Board of Certification Exam in medical laboratory science.

Respected, accredited university with deep expertise in online learning – As you evaluate different schools, remember to research the background of the school itself, as well as its online-degree department, as some schools are newer to virtual learning.

UC is a renowned public research university with a rich 200+-year history of education. The UC Online division began more than 20 years ago and is considered a leader in online education.

Support you need to complete your degree and enjoy the experience! – Does the online university you’re considering offer any personal help that stands out as being beneficial? If you’re not able to determine this from what you read online, this could be a sign the school prefers students to go it alone instead of getting one-on-one help.

UC Online has a team of people dedicated to your success here, including the professors and instructors and a student advisor who helps you with things like choosing the right courses. We have another person on staff, the student success coordinator. (We call them UC Online’s difference-makers.) Shortly after you enroll, we introduce you to your student success coordinator who is by your side from day one through graduation. (Get to know Mallery Schulkers, one of our student success coordinators, and learn how her role is focused on student satisfaction.)


Take the Next Step Today

When you move from an MLT to an MLS, you advance your career in a field that’s vital to patient diagnosis and treatment. As disease management and intervention professionals become even more in demand, the distinct role of medical laboratory scientists can truly answer the call to help people live longer, healthier lives. And what a great opportunity to do meaningful life work!

We hope you see that UC Online’s BS in Medical Laboratory Science checks all the boxes for a high-quality program. If you’re ready for the next step in your MLS journey, reach out to a program specialist at (833) 556-8611. Representatives are here Monday–Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST. If you prefer, you can send a message to the team. They’ll answer your questions about the program, covering topics like financial aid, upcoming start dates, and how we help active-duty military students, veterans, and their military family members.

We look forward to meeting you and welcoming you into UC’s Bearcat family!

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